This video project, We Will Harbor You: The History of Minnesota's Battered Women's
Movement, has been a huge undertaking. And behind it all, we see the
faces of women and children in pain. And those faces extend backwards
into history as well -- women have tried to shelter and protect
each other since the beginning of patriarchal cultures and written
records in Sumer 2300 BCE. It's old news, unfortunately. . .
So, what is new?
I cite a line by a pair of writers most cogent on the issues of the battered Women's movement, R. E. and R. P. Dobash, who remind us in their 1992 book, Women, Violence and Social Change, "...the process of change stops and starts, moves forward and backward, and occasionally takes a step sideways."
Various changes have caused a long interruption in this work of editing the film. It can only be counteracted by an entirely different but equal forward momentum, that has already begun inside me. Holding dear vast stores of material, pictures and voices, secrets and stories, I persist in the belief that it can be boiled down to an hour or maybe 90 minutes. I persist in thinking that this video, when done well and distributed, will make a difference, flowing where it needs to go on the voices of these women who already did make a difference. My work will be done and their work will live on as witness, history and grounding for future visionaries.
Sadly, we have now lost 2 of our beloved film participants - Ellen Pence and Monica Erler, and one of our most generous funders, Walker Pearce. May they rest in peace while they use their incredible long view abilities to oversee the proper conclusion of We Will Harbor You. Ellen, in particular, told me she would haunt me until it is done. It will get done, my friends. I have plenty of editing to do without incurring debt; for the finishing work which will cost money, I have some of your donations still in the account of my fiscal sponsor,. Springboard For the Arts; and as of Nov 2013, we are starting to raise the rest of the money we will need through a Springboard GiveMN Razoo fundraising page on the internet. Check the Razoo page to see how much of our goal we have achieved. . .
Here's the link to the Razoo Page - there's still time to contribute!
I also designed a YouTube channel, HarborVideo/work-in-progress, for people to watch a number of video clips from We Will Harbor You footage. I plan to keep uploading new clips from time to time
Thank you to all those who have already helped and still stand by my side in many different ways, as we take action towards the completion! Send me good energy - Kathleen Laughlin
Past screenings of work in progress:
June, 2012 - "About Change: MCAD Alumni & Acts of Transformation" Main Gallery, Minneapolis College of Art and Design - part of a 30 day group exhibition, a retrospective of Laughlin's film work-including a continuously running computer station showing clips from We Will harbor You footage
March, 2009 - 10th Annual International Women's Day Celebration, Coffman Union, U of M Minneapolis - premiered a 30 min segment titled "Culturally Specific Advocacy"
January, 2006 - MN
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Minneapolis, MN
February, 2006 - MN
Association of University Women Annual Meeting, Red Wing MN
June, 2006 - National
Women's Studies Association Conference, Oakland, CA
October,2006 - MN
Coalition for Battered Women Annual Conference, Brainerd, MN
Our October 24 screening for the 2006 Statewide
Conference of MCBW was their opening night feature. The venue
was Ruttger's Lodge by the scenic and chilly Bay Lake in northern
Minnesota. We presented to about 75 women and a few men who were
there offering workshops or representing member organizations.
We began with our 27 minute sampler - an
overview of the larger video. Then we showed a new rough cut segment
of about 20 minutes, temporarily titled "Growing a Movement".
It focused on the momentum of the early years from 1976-78: the
early local and national media notice of the emerging movement;
their own first media - a powerful slide show; the early ambitious
strategies to get word out locally, statewide and nationally -
about the need for shelter and also about the broader issue of
violence against women; the book that broke ground in the US -
"Battered Wives" by Del Martin - and it's connections
to Minnesota's Women's Advocates' shelter; the amazing Carter
administration National Meeting in 1976 which drew grassroots
shelter advocates from across the country to Washington DC, and
inspired the birth/merger of a national newsletter; the National
Civil Rights Commission consultations in 1978 again in Washington,
which led to further connections between the women working in
shelters and programs in all parts of the US - the catalyst that
created the National Coalition for Domestic Violence, or NCADV.
Even in the dark we learned a lot from
this responsive audience. After the screening they shared with
us how respected they felt by the focus and tone of the video.
We will continue to be open and responsive on this project, working
within the perimeters of the time and money we have. We appreciate
that the audience also shared their ideas and new ways to find
$25,000 to finish this project - and we are happy to listen to
more advice in this department!
In all, we were the ones honored by this
opportunity to pass our work-in-progress by such a knowledgeable
and generous audience.We thank MCBW for another chance to see
the Minnesota activists in this movement gather together, exchange
ideas and commit to another year of work to end violence against
women, as they and others have been doing for 35 years - it is
an astounding sight.
Previous "whats new" blurbs:
TRAILER: We have made a 27 minute video
sampler that conveys the flavor of our documentary. It opens a
great discussion about this trove of history that contains lessons
to inspire us now. We are thrilled that Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet
Honey in the Rock agreed to let us use her song "Will You harbor
Me?" in the trailer.
WEBSITE: We do have a website, as you
can see! Thanks go to Kelly Povo and Neng Lee - two students in
Pat Olson's Graphic and Web Design 2004 class at the College of
St. Catherine, and Edwin Beylerian, who served as a consultant
to the final design work, and still is a guiding hand.
2005 FUNDRAISER: Our fundraiser at Plymouth
Congregational Church on April 15 was a successful and exciting
community event, and we thank the church, and everyone who helped,
showed up and gave support and money. It was a thrill to show
our sampler video to an auditorium full of people, some who knew
a lot about our subject, and others who were anxious to learn.
For us it was a night where we connected to the larger community
and felt an exchange going on. Your presence that evening energizes
us right now, and your gifts reinforce our ability to continue
Photos from fundraiser
2006 Project Update:
Thanks to you, our generous funders, 2006 was
a busy and productive year. Since our successful fundraiser in
April of 2005 and generous gifts from two private donors we have
been able to make significant progress.
With many shoots planned and executed in late
2005 and 2006, we are drawing near to completion of that phase.
We videotaped Minnesota women and men who have worked nationally
and internationally on battered women's issues, including represetatives
from: Praxis International, the Battered Women's Justice Project
(BWJP), and the Woman's Human Right's Program of the Minnesota
Advocates for Human Rights (MAHR).
We worked extensively on the judicial and courts
segment of the video. We interviewed former MN State Supreme Court
Judge Rosalie Wahl, and former Ramsey County Court Judge Mary
Lou Klas. With the help of Hennepin County Court Judges Lloyd
Zimmerman and Tanja Manrique we taped a re-enactment of a Hennepin
County OFP hearing. We interviewed at Hennepin County's Domestic
Abuse Service Center (DASC), videotaped a meeting of the Hennepin
County Family Violence Co-coordinating Committee, and collaborated
with MN Center Against Violence & Abuse (MNCAVA) and Domestic
Abuse Project (DAP) on videotaping "Are Batterer's Groups Effective?",
a local presentation at the U of M by Jeff Edleson and a panel
of practitioners moderated by Dave Matthews in April of 2006.
In 2005 we taped the "Advocacy 101" training
at the Minnesota Coalition for Battered women and continued interviewing
some of their staff. We did a video interview with a representative
from the St. Paul Police Department. We completed our coverage
of early Minnesota shelters with interviews at Tubman Family Alliance
in Minneapolis and Casa De Esperanza in St. Paul. We returned
to interview the director and record recent changes at Women's
Advocates, the first shelter in St Paul.
We discovered more archival video, including
a 1986 Denver Public Television video "Beyond the Shelter Door",
a 1984 program, "Battered Dreams" done by local public television,
KTCA, and another local program produced by WCCO from 1993 called
"Battered Lives". We've also had access to powerpoint programs
and promotional/educational videos from MN organizations - Women's
Advocates, TubmanFamily Alliance, MCBW, MAHR, Praxis, DAIP, and
St Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, as well as video
material relating to religion and battered women's issues.
We collected archival materials from libraries
and private collections and found a wealth of corroborating information
as well as some good visual material to enhance the interviews.
The long and tedious task of entering the pertinent pieces (and
then some...) into the computer continues even as the editing
structure starts to pull them all together.
We continue our fundraising efforts. Our goal
is $25,000 for finishing funds. We appreciate all donations and
ideas for funding. Thanks for your help and interest.
We are still looking for old photographs, graphic
items like flyers, and film/video tapes on certain historical
subjects - if you think you might have some good material, please
let us know. And many thanks to those who have already dug through
For instance, does anyone have the finished copy
(with cover) of the original divorce info booklet/manual written
by the women on the hotline that became Women's Advocates? Or
the flyer for the 1975 winter meeting at Sister Kenny in Minneapolis
with, among others, Jeanette Milgrom & Sharon Rice Vaughn?
HELP....something we could use on many aspects
of the project - keeping the web site updated, running errrands,
database work in our mail list, creating an email list, helping to negotiate cost and
permissions for archival footage and music, and who knows what
else - talk to Kathleen if you're interested!
Where we're headed, an overview:
We began our project by researching the last
35-40 years of the battered women's movement, and how it grew into
the intricate web of philosophies and operations it is today.
We listened to stories of the birth of Women's Advocates, one
of the first shelters in the nation. We have videotaped and transcribed
interviews with dozens of Minnesota women - from founders to young
advocates, gathered material from older women's support groups,
and taped controversial public policy hearings, legislative meetings,
college classes, paramedic trainings, marches, rallies, and celebrations
-- 140 tapes in all.
Now in the stage of assembling a rough edit,
we are excited about what we are seeing in the aggregate. We working
on graphic and illustrative ways to get across the dynamism of
the timeline and layers of the movement -- shelters opened, foundation
funding, laws enacted, programs begun, government involvement,
people, events, changes, changes, changes!
We have been working on this part time since
1998, and are now at the costliest part of making a video. We
need to work with a writer, do some final shoots, pay for the
archival footage, music rights, some original music, a sound mix,
and all the final enhancements that allow the story to shine.
It is a joy to be working with such material
and such women! We will finish in 2014, with our founders and participants as guests of honor at the premieres.
Looking forward to the distribution phase, we
hope for some specific funding committment to subsidize the cost
of a DVD for shelters and battered women's programs all across
Minnesota, as well as help for PR and screening initiatives in
as many communities that are interested to show it. We also expect
a public televsion collaboration.
As we comb three decades worth of lessons from
the battered women's movement in our state and beyond, working
with the words and actions of the remarkable Minnesota pioneers
and continuing ranks of dedicated people carrying the work forward,
we know we have collected powerful stories that must reach a broader
We intend that this video/DVD will generate
understanding, rethinking, new direction and action within the
movement, within the larger systems impacted by domestic abuse,
and throughout the mainstream society - there is a role for every
single one of us in challenging our fellow citizens to end violence