I Am an Emotional Creature – An Evening with Eve Ensler

Last night I attended Inforum’s evening with legendary playwright/activist, Eve Ensler.  For those of you not familiar with her, she is a force of nature and has dedicated her life to eradicating violence against women. But most people know her as “The Vagina Lady,” thanks to her now world famous play, “The Vagina Monologues.”  Her latest work is called, “I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World.”

Because of my work with women and girls through the lens of public speaking, I had a whole slew of questions lined up for Ms. Ensler along those lines. Things like, “What is your advice for those struggling to find their own authentic voice?”  But, as I sometimes do, I get caught up in the moment, and next thing you know, I’m ignoring my prepared questions.

What hijacked me was the story “Let Me In,” from the new book.  The story reaches a crescendo when the main character, presumably a high school age girl, finally stands up to the very daunting “mean girls."  And by “stands up” I mean “completely loses it” when they block her from sitting at the lunch table. She is exhausted by trying unsuccessfully to be “good enough” for the group, which typically means convincing her working class mother to cough up ungodly sums of money for clothing that become no longer “hot” within minutes of the purchase.  She’s exhausted by trying to figure out who at school is on the outs and should be ignored, and who she should suck up to.  As she has this moment of truth, this moment of utter social ruin, she suddenly realizes that her fate is now sealed.  She is now utterly alone.  Moments later, another young girl, an outcast – Wendy Apple - comes to her side:

“She says I have hit bottom. And that it feels terrible now. But I am lucky it has happened so young. She says she will be my friend if I can stop worrying about being popular…. She says there is another world and the door is open.”

So as I approached Ms. Ensler, I forgot all of my “professional” questions, and asked “What if you don’t have a Wendy Apple?  What if you have to take a stand, and face the chasm that opens up – by yourself?  How do I teach my daughters to speak their truths, even without a Wendy Apple to help them?”

To this, Eve Ensler replied,

“Your job is to teach your daughters to BE the Wendy Apple. To BE the friend that loves even when no one else does.”  Eve Ensler was then moved to tears, talking about the friend who inspired the Wendy character, and how she literally saved Eve Ensler’s life – simply by being there, and standing by Eve, in all of her intensity and boldness and fire.

It started me thinking about my own Wendy Apples. I have been able to take risks that I perceived as socially dangerous at various stages of my life because I knew that my Wendy Apples would love me no matter what, and would be my friends through it all.  These individuals (you know who you are) were and continue to be a tremendous help to me on my path to finding and using my own voice.

The greatest gift of my interaction with Eve Ensler was this realization: In our quest to raise the next generation of Joans of Arc, the world is also in desperate need of Wendy Apples.

An Open Letter : I Hate Vista

Dear Microsoft,

I don’t often reach out like this, but I’m lost in a sea of confusion, and have no other way of reaching you.

Why? Why have you done this to me? I‘ve been faithful to you. I get my updates and upgrades. I have strayed a bit, wondering what owning a Mac would feel like, but really, this is normal during the course of such a long standing relationship.

I have purchased a new computer (a very sexy HP, btw), pre-loaded with Vista and then purchased Office 2007. I know your intentions were good. You wanted me to have a new environment… one that made more sense, with the software equivalent of a new home with granite counter tops and new plumbing. You thought buying me the software equivalent of a brand new house in a tract neighborhood would be a good thing. It’s not. I’m miserable and I want out. I want my stately old Victorian with the water heater that I had to kick a certain way to make it work.

Enough metaphor. I hate this new Vista/Office 07 world, and here’s why: Simply trying to save a file, or send it as an attachment in an email… these small tasks have become nothing short of an exercise in insanity. I feel crazy. I feel like I have this gorgeous new home, but can’t figure out how to turn on the hot water. Or, like I’m desperately trying to get to work, but can’t find my toothbrush. This is what Vista and Office 07 have done to me. It’s affecting everyone I know and work with, as none of my files are readable.

What used to be a marriage of convenience has now become Sudden Hate Syndrome. I want to scream at you, Microsoft. I hate what you’ve done with Vista, and I loathe what’s become of Office 2007. If I didn’t have so much time and money invested, I would surely go Mac. But I cannot.

Instead, what I will do is rain down hate on every chat board that will take my comments, expressing in fine detail exactly why these new versions are disastrous, even if they do make more sense from a usability standpoint. You’ve trained me for too many years to start introducing logic into our relationship now. I don’t have time for this. Either fix this mess, or lose me forever. If you make amends, I’ll tell the world. If you don’t, I’ll tell the world.

Love, Bronwyn

Nifty site worth checking out

Given that ever retailer is shoving Christmas down our throats before Halloween even began, I'm beginning to once again turn my attention to interesting approaches to seasonal PR.

I stumbled on a fantastic gift site thanks to RealSimple Magazine, and notices some very nice Web 2.0 worthy PR in progress. First of all, the gifts featured are beyond darling, and are from some wonderfully creative independent toy/gift shops across the country. Second of all, as I was shopping around, I thought, these guys need a word of mouth program... this site is very buzz worthy. Then I noticed they actually have a blog on the site. Hmm... says I. While I LOVE that they're thinking this way, I'm a little disappointed in terms of execution. I'd like more "stories" that talk about the people behind their cool products (lots of mom and pop type stuff) and less "look where we were featured today!!" (that belongs in the "press" section). But maybe it's a work in progress. Either way, check it out... really wonderful stuff.


Edelman - are you kidding?!

Edelman Apologizes For Wal-Mart 'Flog'

This is unreal... the supposed kings of word of mouth marketing committed the number one biggest rookie mistake you can make. You can't create fake blogs. It's bad business, bad PR, and it makes you look like a liar. I feel bad for Steve Robel, their web 2.0/viral guru. He's horrified I'm sure.

Who Needs Lexis/Nexis When You Have Google Archives?

I've always resented that moment every year when I write my check to Lexis/Nexis. Like MediaMap online, it's expensive, clunky to use, and usually isn't nearly as effective as just looking something up on your own.

Google has quietly launched (or so it seems to me) their News Archive search offering. This allows you to search all the way back through 2005... ok, not perfect, but its a start, and every year will only get better of course.

Just go to www.news.google.com and you'll see "google archive" listed below the search bar. Enjoy!!

Sometimes the cheesy stuff gets picked up

Ever been in one of those brainstorms trying to come up with a "media event" that will draw broadcast attention? You know the "let's donate X to children with Y disease and invite the press"... those sessions. Not to sound cynical, because these causes often really do benefit and they truly are a bright spot amongst the dull churning of every day news.... but I had to laugh when I saw this not becuase it's bad, but because it sounds like it's straight out of one of those sessions... every consumer PR person has thrown out a "support the troops" related PR stunt in the past 12 months, I guarantee it. Congrats, Xerox, looks like Fox News really dug your story. And it's viral as can be... it was forwarded to me from a few folks.