Has It Been Three Years? Yes, and look at what we've done.
Updated: Feb 3
50 Ways, what a three years these have been! I am so grateful to be accompanied in our shared work to resist the torrent of inhumane actions of our national government and, in so doing, to build community in constructive and sometimes unexpected ways. Thank you for sharing your vision, intelligence, and energy in this project.
Five key moments, or events, stand out for me—spread across the three years of our existence. I will never forget the energy and verve of the Lexington-Rockbridge Women’s Rights Rally on that cold Friday afternoon in March, 2017. Carrying over the enthusiasm and sense of purpose of the January women’s marches across the globe, we gathered to hear people young and old speak of equality for all women and equality for people of all genders. The students who were so key in organizing the event spoke as a generation of future leaders and stewards of the earth. They were inspiring, as were the over 350 people who gathered on Randolph Street that day.
In the second year, the re-founding of the NAACP under wonderful new leadership and the Rockbridge NAACP banquet spoke to our shared desire to celebrate the successes of the African-American community and to address structural concerns that affect us both locally and nationally. The packed banquet, inspiring speeches, and lovely performances brought our community together in the shared message of love and advocacy for racial justice.
Also in 2018, a less public but certainly major event took place. As the executive branch continued to treat immigration and immigrants violently, our local community, guided by 50 Ways but supported by many other groups, held an intake session to see if individuals could be supported for a path to citizenship. That session, and the fundraising surrounding it, has changed the lives of local individuals and their families, and I am forever grateful for that.
Last year, 2019, we were tired but somehow still kept up the pace of environment committee forums, get out the vote efforts, educational panels, rallies, letters to the editor, email and Facebook communications, website overhaul, and meetings, meetings, meetings. A key moment was Election Day, when Virginia turned fully blue—the happy Blue Wave! An equally memorable moment was the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors meeting on the so-called Second Amendment Sanctuary issue. That’s when I despaired that 50 Ways was not pulling enough of its members to protest at important moments. This has led to individual and collective soul-searching, which will stand us in very good stead for 2020. We have had a “big tent” philosophy, meaning that we welcome feisty political debate and a variety of issues groups. We shall see in the upcoming year if we maintain this approach or adopt another.
For me, the three fixed 50 Ways meetings I go to every month—for the board, LGBTQ/Women’s Rights, and Mentoring/Education—along with participation in various other groups’ initiatives, have shown me how continued conversations and steady work help us to stay in touch with each other. In and of itself, this builds community, as do the many actions we choose to take together. I have come to know and respect so many people in Lexington, Rockbridge, and our region, and I feel incredibly fortunate to learn from and work with this crew, especially knowing that this collaboration is also a form of resistance.
-- Ellen Mayock, 50 Ways Board Member
For a more in-depth review of 50 Ways' yearly accomplishments, check out Ellen's personal blog, Gender Shrapnel.