Journal of the
              Lecture Series

 Volume 3, Issue 6
In This Issue
Well, we got here! The final Journal issue for the 2018-19 program year. I missed the first speaker featured, but was personally inspired, moved, and fascinated by the final four. The five speakers covered health, politics, history, theater, and three rather different personal journeys. Zach Whitlow, in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the 20th Amendment, gave us a summer activity by introducing us to the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument. Kathleen McGuinness' description of her 500+ mile journey on the El Camino pilgrimage trail was by turns funny, astounding, and occasionally a bit scary. I have been looking for the movie The Way ever since....

Lily Qi was compelling, not least because it was absolutely fascinating to see our county and its politics through the fresh eyes of a naturalized citizen. She spoke with passionate focus about what we need to do to make sure Montgomery County remains competitive in the years ahead. John Shuchart was, as promised, funny -- and open -- and equally passionate about his desire to reclaim mental health challenges from the shadow of stigma and learn to laugh away the pain. 

Lori Pitts and her colleagues in Voices Unbarred put us to work in the final session, using theater games to explore social challenges. It was thoughtful, engaging, and inspiring -- all words easily applied to the Wednesday Morning Group. 

Folks - I want to give a shout out to the volunteers who make this Journal come to life: Kirstie Saltsman, who puts each issue together in Constant Contact; Pat Cascio who organizes all of the material so that Kirstie can do so; Melinda Robbins -- yeeeesss, the recap nudge extraordinaire; Lisa Forte, our ace photographer; Karen Deasy, who is always ready to lend an ear and edit a recap
Cathryn Meurer and Vera Ashworth, who have both lent a hand in the editorial department, despite their work load; and a shout-out to Harri for tidying up after us and ensuring that we maintain the Journal's high editorial standards -- thank you! And to all the recappers -- well, you know how we feel....

Enjoy this issue, and the rest of your summer. See you in September!

Adrienne Athanas
Celebrating Women's Suffrage
Zach Whitlow--May 15, 2019

Zach Whitlow
Photo by Lisa Forte
The Belmont-Paul Women's Equality Monument is a recent addition to the National Park Service (NPS), having been designated a national monument on April 12, 2016. This hidden gem, only a stone's throw from the Hart Senate Office Building, has a long history. NPS Park Ranger Zach Whitlow entertained us with stories of the house, the women's movement, and a brief introduction to the early stages of event-planning for the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Many find it hard to believe that women did not have the right to vote until 1920!
 
Robert Sewell built the original house on Capitol Hill in 1800 where it served as the residence of Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury from 1801-1813. The British burned the house to the ground during the War of 1812, but Sewell rebuilt it in 1820. The house was purchased in 1929 by the National Woman's Party (NWP) to serve as their national headquarters.  Alva Belmont, NWP President from 1920-1933 and its primary benefactor (heiress...Belmont Stakes fortune), donated thousands of dollars to the women's equality movement.
 
Alice Paul was a Quaker who believed strongly in the equality of the sexes. She was highly educated for the time, having received her master's in sociology in 1907 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1912 from the University of Pennsylvania. It was while continuing her education in the United Kingdom that she was introduced to the suffragist movement, learning tactics such as hunger strikes and militant protests. Upon returning to the United States, she joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Here, the story got really interesting. Objecting to NAWSA's approach working within the system, Paul formed the National Woman's Party; much of their advocacy was focused on the passage of a federal suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
 
Whitlow shared many tales of horror and headline news during this period. For example, their first march in Washington, DC in March of 1913, eclipsed Woodrow Wilson's inauguration the following day. Riots broke out, the police were unprepared, and over 100 women were hospitalized. They were the first group ever to picket the White House as "silent sentinels," with protests continuing from 1917-19. Once the United States entered WW I, their protests were viewed as unpatriotic. Arrests began in June 1917, leading to six-month prison sentences under horrible conditions, including hunger strikes and forced feedings. Unfavorable press coverage of their treatment, coupled with considerable activity across the nation on behalf of women's rights, raised support across the country for the women's suffrage amendment. Interestingly, the NAWSA and NWP met behind the scenes, creating a "good cop/bad cop"  dynamic in support of this important legislation.
 
Recap by Mary Jo Ververka
The Susan B. Anthony Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the Senate in June 1919. It was ratified in 20 months and became law on August 26, 1920. This was 72 years after the Seneca Falls Convention, the first conference dedicated to women's rights. Alice Paul stated that the fight had just begun, thus necessitating the move to a location closer to Congress. NWP focused on lobbying activities until 1997. Today, their mission is focused on education.
 
Whitlow indicated that the NPS is at the early stages of planning their celebratory activities for the centennial. He encouraged a visit to the Belmont-Paul House and tracking announcements on the NPS website, where y ou can also learn more about the history and work of the NWP .

Invited by Brenda Bachman
This Cowgirl Didn't Cry: She Tackled the 500-mile El Camino
Kathleen McGuinness--May 22, 2019

Kathleen McGuinness
Photo from K. McGuinness

Although stand-up comedy isn't on Kathleen McGuinness's résumé, you wouldn't have known it from listening to all the belly laughs during her description of a grueling 500-mile hike from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. McGuinness, director of community relations at SmithLife Homecare and a self-described "Ritz-Carlton kind of girl," hatched the idea for this spiritual solo journey after attending a gals' 60th-birthday getaway at a ranch in Montana in 2012. While practicing for an amateur rodeo and cattle roundup the following day, Kathleen and her horse, Bob, who has the same name as her ex-husband, didn't agree on the direction they planned to travel. She landed on the ground and fractured her back in four places. After eight days in the hospital, several months in a body brace, and six months of rehab, McGuinness, inspired by the movie, The Way, decided to make the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage herself in May of 2013. 
 
Her adult children, Ryan and Morgan, expressed concerns about her ability to carry a heavy backpack so soon after the accident, but their worries didn't convince McGuinness to abandon her quest. Ryan joined his mom for the first 100 miles, and Morgan met her for the last 80 miles. For the 300 miles in between, she was on her own -- except for the camaraderie and support of fellow travelers.
 
McGuinness figured out some survival strategies early on. "I followed the Germans in the morning," she said. They always know where they're going, and they're always organized and on time. The Canadians always knew the cheapest places to stay." She also realized that by ditching her make-up and sending it home with her son, she was able to shed some weight from her backpack! Despite efforts to lessen her load, McGuinness still suffered from shin splints and enormous blisters, and she lost five toenails. She has few regrets, though, and recommends inviting your kids on such journeys. "There's not much to do but walk and talk for days," she shared. "I learned all the bad things they did at Pyle and Whitman. You really want the skinny on your kids? Take them on a long hike." She believes the bonding on this trip changed her relationship with them forever. Her son was so impressed with her stamina that he uses the story about their trip to motivate his staff. "My mom's old, and she walked 500 miles," he boasts to colleagues, "so get your butt in gear." 
 
Recap by
Lauren Kafka
She also overcame her initial fears about being a woman walking alone, not speaking the language, and getting lost. What would she do differently if she had the chance to do this 33-day hike again? She'd buy better boots. "If your feet are miserable, you're miserable," she said. McGuinness, who also tried sky diving to overcome her fear of heights and climbed almost to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2008 during her first-ever camping trip, doesn't believe in taking baby steps to get over things that make you anxious. "Go big, or go home!" she said.

Invited by Kirstie Saltsman
Through Fresh Eyes
Lily Qi--May 29, 2019

Lily Qi
Photo from L. Qi
Lily Qi, a newly minted state delegate for Maryland's 15th District, presented a fascinating picture of the journey from her birth in Shanghai, China, to her election as the first Chinese immigrant ever to serve in the Maryland legislature. She focused on three topics: her personal story, her recent campaign, and what the future looks like for Montgomery County.
 
In 1989, after the protests at Tiananmen Square, Qi's parents used their life savings to send her to the United States on a scholarship to a small college in Indiana. They were intent on getting her out of China because of the terrible conditions they had endured under Mao. In addition to the beatings, killings, and suicides of those who were persecuted, there were the daily tribulations of getting the most basic of staples, like rice, under the rationing system. A young person had to be willing to join the Red Guard or have no future. In the aftermath of Mao's death, power was taken from his widow and the Gang of Four, and some new opportunities for travel and education opened up. Her parents leapt at the chance for her to get abroad for more education with the hope that she might someday return to a more open China. 
 
Qi had married early and left her husband, an opera singer, in China. Using a one-way ticket, she arrived in the United States with $300 in her pocket and a knowledge of English inadequate for coping with daily life. Through hard work and perseverance, she made her way through the program and survived the culture shocks of her new life in a very small town. Her husband later joined her at Ohio State, where they both completed graduate degrees.  
 
Life was very difficult, and odd jobs like cooking (matzoh balls at a deli!) and working as janitors helped to make ends meet. Moving from Ohio to take a job as the Director of Multicultural Affairs at American University, Qi became interested in civil rights and also took advantage of free tuition to complete an MBA. She later worked for the Washington, DC Economic Partnership and served as spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking. It was a natural transition to begin working in her home base of Montgomery County, when then-County Executive Isaiah Leggett reached out to her to oversee economic development. 
 
Eventually, thinking that she could do a better job than many of those serving in the state legislature, she decided to run, hoping to finish in the top three candidates in the Democratic primary so she could be on the ballot in the general election. She ran a focused campaign out of her home and reached out through social media to galvanize the Chinese immigrant community. In essence, she ran two separate campaigns, one targeted at English speakers and the other at those who spoke Asian languages. In many cases, she worked to persuade voters to change their party affiliation from unaffiliated or Republican to Democrat and emphasized always that democracy favors those who participate. Her appearances on NPR actually made the news in China! Her campaign can take credit for tripling the number of Chinese Americans voting in the primary. Ultimately, she finished second in that primary and won a seat along with other Democrats in the general election. Her victory was significant in the Asian American community because it exceeded what first generation immigrants thought achievable; Lily Qi was not willing to wait a generation. She believes that she supplies a voice in the Maryland House that no one knew was missing until she ran and won.  
 
In projecting what lies ahead for Montgomery County, Qi focused on both the "suburbanization of poverty" and the growing immigrant population in the suburbs.  She is very concerned about the "missing middle class," as the fastest growing jobs in the county are those which are low paying. This shrinks the tax base, which is needed to maintain high standards of public education and to care for an aging population. Qi would like to see more targeted work on growing the
Recap by Ann Swett
county's economy, particularly because the Montgomery County government is so dependent on federal government agencies and local consumer spending. She emphasized the key role that attracting corporate headquarters can play in encouraging growth, as well as the need to connect local entrepreneurs with potential sources of funding through the local and federal governments. Qi concluded by urging us to help in the effort to bring our county's diverse communities together. She also stressed her abiding love for America and her gratitude for having the chance to do all that she has accomplished.  

Invited by Francesca Kim
Time to De-stigmatize Mental Illness
 
John Shuchart--June 5, 2019

John Shuchart
Photo from J. Shuchart
WMG welcomed Mr. John Shuchart, author of You Are Not the Brightest of My Four Sons to speak about his struggles with mental illness and how he uses humor to re-frame traumatic childhood events. By sharing his story, he wanted the WMG to understand how harmful the stigma of mental illness can be, the prevalence of mental illness, the frightening rise in teen suicide, and the benefits of using humor to re-frame traumatic events. 

One of his main goals with his book and his lecture is to end the stigma related to mental illness. He pointed out that most people are not ashamed to say they are a cancer survivor, but people are ashamed to admit to having a mental illness. Mr. Shuchart is passionate that ending the stigma of mental illness can occur if more people living with mental illness (like himself) spoke up and showed others that mental illnesses can be successfully managed. People also need to be willing to be educated about what it means to be diagnosed with a mental illness.  
Shuchart's book on using humor to to fight the stigma associated with mental illness.

Mr. Shuchart also wanted the group to understand how prevalent mental illness is and the recent increase in teen suicide rates. One in four people globally have a mental illness, and it costs the U.S. economy $193 billion dollars in lost earnings. Sixty percent of those with a mental illness will never receive care for their illness. Teens afflicted with mental illness face barriers as well, including stigma and not wanting to worry their parents. Mr. Shuchart emphasized that for many, the decision to take one's own life is almost always spur of the moment -- not planned ahead. Astoundingly, among survivors of suicide, 25% made the decision to take their life within five minutes and 71% within one hour.  

Perhaps Mr. Shuchart's most important message was that it can get better -- mental illness can be managed and people living with such diseases can go on to live happy, successful, and productive lives. Some coping strategies he suggested were going out with friends, listening to upbeat music, talking with family, and helping someone else. He also spoke about trauma, which isn't necessarily the event itself, but how one perceives or experiences the event. Traumatic events can get "stuck" in the brain and be relived over and over. Mr. Shuchart promoted the idea of re-framing a traumatic event to help "release" that event from the brain. Re-framing is
Recap by  Sandra Matus
changing how one looks at the picture, but not changing the actual events. Sharing traumatic events with a trusted friend can help re-frame, and humor helps as well. Mr. Shuchart's life, books, and lecture are all testimony to the fact that humor can help get us through life's most difficult challenges, including living with mental illness.

Mr. Shuchart also asked WMG's help with his mission to end the stigma associated with mental illness. If there are other organizations (churches/synagogues, clubs, schools, etc.) that members are a part of that would like to have him come speak, please contact him at john@theshuchartgroup.com
 

Invited by Julie Goodman
Voices Unbarred
Lori Pitts--June 12, 2019

Lori Pitts
Photo by Kirstie Saltsman 
WMG ended its 2018-19 program year with another inspiring performance of a decidedly different nature than the previous few years. Lori Pitts introduced us, with the help of "returned citizens" David and Maurice, to the theater program she founded, Voices Unbarred. Inspired by the work of Augusto Boal and his Theatre of the Oppressed, Lori founded Voices Unbarred to "amplify the voices of those who are incarcerated, through playwriting and performance." 
 
Boal was a Brazilian theater artist who was influenced by Paulo Freire and his Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire believed that educators and students should create education together. Boal applied this to theater, positing that all people are both spectators and actors in real life -  "spect-actors."
 
Lori considers herself to be an "applied theater artist," using theater in non-traditional ways to affect social justice. She was always interested in social justice, so using her theater skills in this way is a natural fit. Lori aims to "push [the] boundaries on who can create theater and who can effect change," and feels that the "power of theater should be in the hands of every single person, without qualification." 
 
Voices Unbarred provides a way for incarcerated people to have their voices heard.
The goal of the program is not only to provide an outlet for those so often silenced, but also to teach skills necessary for re-entry into the community: communication, conflict resolution, listening, confidence, and accountability. She uses theater games to develop a comfort with engagement and also to address perception on issues.
 
She and her colleagues David and Maurice demonstrated this for -- and with -- WMG in a scene where David assumed the role of a boss tasking Maurice with asking someone who "didn't look like us" to leave their store. They then enlisted the help of two WMG members to respond to the same request, revealing in the process three very different ways of dealing with such a scenario. The scene, however, was not just a random situation. It was based on personal experience for Maurice and David: how a (usually) black individual is frequently profiled racially. The goal of the piece for them was to explore how to manage something that goes against their values and impulses, and that takes them - and us - out of our comfort zone. 
 
Maurice and David of Voices Unbarred explore a scenario with WMG member, Linda Adelson
Another game, called "vital object," involved four chairs and a water bottle. Several WMG members took turns arranging these items in different configurations, revealing changing power dynamics. We then had the opportunity to hear each gentleman read a moving personal piece reflecting on their circumstances and experiences.

Voices Unbarred offers public performances, and the actors are paid for their work. Providing money and other support is vital to returning citizens. Both David and Maurice are involved in entrepreneurial activities of their own. David is focused on mental and health wellness of returning citizens, as well as working on early intervention to stop young people from ever entering the prison system. His group just completed a successful pilot program with students 11-14 at Alice Deal Middle School in the District. 

Maurice, who has been working as a caterer, is following a  different route, opening his own home-style restaurant called Aunt Betty's in the 6100 block of Georgia Avenue, near Ft. Stevens. It's named after the woman who 
Adrienne Athanas
Recap by Adrienne Athanas
owned the land, which was confiscated by Lincoln during the Civil War, but returned  to her afterwards. Maurice envisions eventually having a culinary school for low-income and otherwise disadvantaged folks, which would be "absolutely free."

Lori Pitts and Voices Unbarred -- founded from twin passions
for theater and social justice -- provided ample proof of the transformative power of theater. It was an entertaining and thought-provoking way to end the program year.

To learn more about Voice Unbarred, visit its website, Facebook page @VoicesUnbarred or Instagram feed @voices_unbarred.  
 
**********Editor's Note********** 
 
Lori provided an update of their coming events: 
  • We will have a full performance of our most recent script at the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival over Labor Day weekend! Specifics to come.
    • Stay tuned for an outdoor movie supporting those in the DC Jail.
    • Come celebrate several organizations who provide arts in prisons on Friday, September 6th. In partnership with Petworth Arts Collaborative, The Justice Arts Coalition, Rhizome DC, and Ten Tigers Parlour, we will be showcasing our wonderful artists and their work ~ visual, performance, film, poetry, and more! The event will be at Ten Tigers Parlour (3813 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20011) from 6-9pm. 
Wikipedia is a good place to start if you'd like to learn more about the work of Augusto Boal or Paulo Freire
 
Invited by Julie Goodman
Bella Cucina Italiana!
June 9, 2019


On June 9, 2019, WMG members and their guests celebrated the end of the year with a festive Italian-style dinner, Bella Cucina Italiana, held in Memorial Hall at the Bethesda Jewish Congregation/Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church. Many thanks to Joan Wolf, Harri Kramer, Katee Neal, Naira Darius and to the many volunteers who helped to make this memorable event possible! 
THANK YOU to our Wonderful 2018-2019 Team of Recappers!!

Roses are red
Violets are blue
There's no way we could do it
Without all of you!!


The WMG meets most Wednesdays, September to June, at the
Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church,  9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda, MD

CHAIR: 
Laura Forman

JOURNAL MANAGING EDITOR:
Adrienne Athanas

JOURNAL LAYOUT:
Kirstie Saltsman
EDITORIAL STAFF:
Adrienne Athanas
Pat Cascio
Karen Deasy
Harri j. Kramer
Cathryn Meurer
Melinda Robbins
Kirstie Saltsman

MEMBER PHOTOS: 
Lisa Forte