by Alena Carhart – April 4, 2017
The WISE Women Are Hooting Local Officials To Promote Social Progress
On January 21, the Women’s March on Washington brought more than 1 million participants to Washington, D.C. “It was a really passionate, exciting experience,” recalled Kathy Bain, a steering committee member of the recently established WISE (Women, Indivisible, Strong, Effective) group. “After the march, we were like, ‘Shouldn’t we do something as well?’ We didn’t want to just march; we wanted to actually have a group that would bring likeminded women together – women that don’t want to see the country go backward, women prepared to stand up and voice their concerns to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
The WISE movement started with eight members, and within two months, grew to 430 members. “Most of them are people who have never been truly politically active, who are not just marching but now calling, writing and testifying [on] bills,” said Robin Peters, another steering committee member.
WISE is a nonpartisan group that, in addition to activism, has 14 teams that focus on issues such as the environment, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) issues and criminal justice reform.
“This is what grassroots activism is: when people locally build from the bottom and are actually able to do something political,” said steering commitee member Monica O’Connor.
The women chose an owl to be the image of WISE, and they decorated rocks to resemble owls to send to legislators. “It was a way to let legislators know that there are all these women, and you are going to have to listen to us, and we are going to make an impact. So we came up with this idea of getting these painted owl rocks with pink hats on them. We have a little message on them that says, ‘You have been hooted. We’re WISE women, we’re active, we’re organized, we’re watching,’ and we put our addresses on there,” said Peters.
The WISE women have hooted Senator Ed Reilly, Delegates Sid Saab and Michael Malone and County Executive Steve Schuh. Representative Anthony Brown is scheduled to come to their April meeting, and they met staffers from the offices of Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen on March 30.
“This is a lot of very educated women, not just a bunch of socialite women who are upset,” said Peters. “We have been to advocacy training, so … we are getting trained on advocacy and how the whole process works – looking and studying the bills, looking at the impact, the research behind it.”
The women had training with Indivisible, www.moveon.org and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and they meet up with other huddle groups, such as Women’s Huddle Network (Annapolis), Progressive Maryland and Annapolis Action.
To get educated on local legislation, or for more information, go to www.wisesevernapark.com, or search for the group on Facebook by entering “Women Indivisible, Strong and Effective” or Twitter @WISE_SP.