The Women’s March and Activism in 2017

The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball – the further I am rolled the more I gain.

– Susan B. Anthony

In the early days since the inauguration, the world has overwhelmingly responded. I woke up on Saturday morning to pictures and headlines of Women’s Marches happening from every corner of the globe — hours before our Des Moines, Iowa rally was to kick off. It was so heartening to see demonstrations of solidarity from other nations.

The Women’s March drew impressive numbers: 2.9 million participants in the United States alone — the largest in U.S. history! I was struck by the 26,000+ participants at the Iowa State Capitol and how kind, accommodating and positive the crowd was. Chants of “Women’s rights are human rights!” and  “Every nasty woman here: Roar!” filled the balmy-for-January air.

Since the election, it has been hard not to feel alone, frustrated and helpless. Yesterday was an antidote to all of those negative emotions.

It’s More Than Just Feel Good, It’s Democracy in Action

Our founding forefathers knew that the road to democratic progress is filled with many types of people from different backgrounds with different belief systems. That’s why they began the Constitution with the First Amendment – freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition.

Yesterday was an impactful day that sent an overwhelming message to Donald Trump and his administration that he would be held accountable for his words, his actions and his policies. Messages from the Women’s Marches were wide-arcing as they called for human dignity and decency, respect for women’s voices and bodies, access to healthcare and reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, Black Lives Matter, and more. All messages shared the central theme of respect and inclusion — two things that Trump has struggled to reassure all Americans that he cares about based on his past behavior and the ongoing thin-skin defensiveness and attacks that permeate his communications/Twitter feed.

There is room for everybody’s opinions at the table. Just because we don’t agree, doesn’t mean that we can’t be civil. I’ve seen a lot of comments online from friends and from strangers that say that it was “women bashing men” and a lot of copy-paste generalizations that allude to extremism and that “liberals should go get a job.” Bottom line: That’s ignorant and it’s divisive. It was not just women at the rally, it was not just liberals. It was a wide and varied group of people – women and men – standing up to a bully that has made no secret of his disdain for others not like himself or that question his motives.

Caring about our leadership is not extremism, it’s about accountability and exercising American freedoms. When my daughter reads about the 2016 election in her history classes, I want her to know that her parents did not stay home and complain.

It Doesn’t End On January 21st

“Yesterday, Donald Trump was sworn in as President. That sight is now burned into my eyes forever and I hope the same is true for you. We will not forget, we don’t want to forget. We will use that vision to make sure we fight harder, we fight tougher and we fight more passionately than ever.”

– Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

By showing up to marches, rallies and school board meetings, calling our legislators, signing petitions and helping fundraise for causes — it keeps democratic principles in action and doesn’t allow fear to dictate progress and action.

Now, more than ever before, there are organizations that need your support, advocacy and attention. Whether its attending the Planned Parenthood fundraiser or door knocking for a city council candidate or gearing up your own campaign or mentoring at an after-school program or donating art supplies to a local elementary school — there are many ways to get involved and positively impact our communities. And yes, by showing up yesterday, and adding my presence to the 26,000+ gathered at the Iowa State Capitol, I was part of the message and the progress.

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“Heirloom Anthology” Collection Bridges Jewelry and Art

Rather than allowing beautiful, vibrant old jewelry to languish in boxes, jewelry designer and artist, Christine Hilbert, wants to give it new life and inspiration in her collection “Heirloom Anthology”.

Hilbert debuted “Heirloom Anthology” at Leona Ruby on Thursday, June 23rd. Each necklace and pair of earrings was created with different vintage artifacts and accompanied by a matching framed print.

“These things are treasured and often kept in a box somewhere,” said Hilbert. “I wanted to create something that commemorates the treasure but doesn’t mess with its integrity… From Grandma’s jewelry to, say, 900 of Grandpa’s fishing lures.”

The “Heirloom Anthology” jewelry and print collection is available online at Prints are $19-50 and jewelry prices are available upon request.

This story was also featured on dsm Weekly: July 19, 2016.

"Heirloom Anthology" jewelry and art by Christine Hilbert, 2016


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2016 Give a Damn! Fashion Show & Pre-Caucus Party

Early 2016 rang in the best way possible: in an over-caffeinated flurry of excitement, champagne, and pre-caucus hustle. The Iowa Caucus media cycle was in full effect, along with political events, campaign rallies, and so many parties and fundraisers. I found myself in the middle of a quick-and-dirty fashion show planning cycle right up until the day before the caucuses — Give a Damn DSM: The Final Pre-Caucus Party, co-hosted by The Des Moines Register and The Des Moines Social Club. What I really loved about this fashion show was the unique challenge of combining fashion with politics.

Event Coverage

“Models strutted down the runway wearing outfits inspired by various former presidents or periods of political history. Women with their heads half-shaved modeled dresses in the style of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, followed by bearded and mohawked men showing off a Teddy Roosevelt-inspired menswear collection. The finale consisted of models carrying masks featuring each of the 2016 presidential candidates. Ted Cruz’s model twerked on the platform.” – Olivia Becker, Vice News, “Here’s How Young Voters in Des Moines Are Getting Ready for the Iowa Caucuses”

Plus… The Des Moines Register, “ICYMI: ‘Give a Damn’ models hit the runway in politically inspired attire”

and… Yahoo! Politics, “On the eve of the caucuses, a political catwalk”

Special Thank You’s

While a fashion show’s lifespan is fleeting it takes an enormous amount of time and energy to put together a high quality production. Cheers to the wonderful team involved in making this happen!

  • Jeff Naples for being the best-husband-ever // creative and co-producer
  • Zach Mannheimer for always bringing everyone together at the right time
  • Bethany Arganbright and the Des Moines Social Club crew for endless, obsessive hours
  • Libby Crimmings: GAD boss lady, enough said
  • Amalie Nash and The Des Moines Register for their vision and support
  • Mayim Yael, our Lead Stylist, plus the styling team that got everyone dressed and runway ready
  • Joelle Blanchard for exceptional model/talent recruitment
  • Amanda Snell and Lauren Elizabeth, the show’s official hair stylists (and for flawless execution of Jackie Kennedy-volume)
  • Dominique Braun, the show’s official MUA
  • Mike Draper, Taylor Frame and Lauren Pearson from RAYGUN
  • Renee from Atomic Garage
  • Sarah Dornink from Dornink Couture
  • Aaron and Joel Clutts from b.vander
  • Van Holmgren and Anna Frederick for their infinite creative abilities
  • Jeff Eaton for creating an ambiance through exceptional music
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