We will harbor you




Ellen Pence
(Minnesota's) Silent Witness
National Initiative
in Washington, DC 1997
in front of US Capitol Bldg
Project Status

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 the work.

Fundraiser Invite, FYI

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 their attics.

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 audience.

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 against women.



© 2013 Kathleen Laughlin laughlink@goldengate.net
    and Terri Hawthorne terrihawthorne@comcast.net