(Photo above: Ruth Williamson interviews Ily Logeais | all photography by Thomas & Velo Photography)
As a verb, to muse is to consider something thoughtfully. As a noun, it means a person — especially a woman — who is a source of artistic inspiration. You’ll meet many of these women (and men) at the Muse Women’s Conference right here in Bend.
Five years ago, Amanda Stuermer created Muse Women’s Conference, an annual event that celebrates women and girls who are working to create positive change in their lives, communities and in the world. Thanks to Amanda’s tenaciousness and foresight into the challenges facing not just our local community but worldwide Muse has become a successful vehicle to hear the voices, stories and conversations of people who are creating inspirational change.
The 5th annual Muse Conference, slated for March 2-5 in downtown Bend, features workshops, salons, film series, art show and speakers. From global activists Rainn Wilson and Holiday Reinhorn who lead girls’ empowerment work in Haiti to a couple of “radical feminist nuns,” this year’s conference brings together a wide variety of artists, authors, actors, athletes, entrepreneurs, activists and social change leaders to celebrate International Women’s Day and kick off Women’s History Month.
The four-day conference schedule includes a Film Series on Thursday, Salon Series and First Friday Art Show on Friday, the Conference, Muse reception and dinner on Saturday and a special workshop and Community Yoga Class on Sunday. Events take place at The Tower Theatre and Muse Hub (Liberty Theater) in downtown Bend.
The speakers slated for the conference will surely inspire you.
One standout speaker will be Wade Davis — the former National Football League (NFL) player turned educator, writer, LGBT activist and hero—he’s executive director of the You Can Play Project, a nonprofit that tackles homophobia and discrimination in all sports.
Julie Lewis — 30-year HIV survivor and mother to Grammy award winning producer, Ryan Lewis, who believes in the power of educating, encouraging action, volunteerism and compassion to further the quality of life and health options for all individuals. Today we celebrate her life as a survivor with an initiative, the 30/30 Project, to bring healthcare to the areas of the world that need it most.
Sister Simone Campbell has served as executive director of NETWORK since 2004. In Washington, she lobbies on issues that help “mend the gaps” in income and wealth in the U.S., focused specifically on how they disproportionately affect people of color and women. She has led four cross-country “Nuns on the Bus” trips. Sister Campbell said on a caravan that pulled up to the Democratic National Convention last year, “We’re on the road to discover the real reasons why there’s such income and wealth disparity in our nation. We are heartbroken at the fact that people can work full-time for minimum wage and not be able to support their families. And what we know is that policies made this problem. So policies can change it.”
Shireen Ahmed is a sports activist, a freelance writer and a public speaker who focuses on Muslim women and the intersections of racism and misogyny in sports. During an interview with altmuslimah.com Shireen offered, “I want them (my children) to understand what they can do to fight injustice; how a lack of understanding breeds contempt, bigotry, misogyny and many other forms of discriminations. Reading, engaging and listening are important skills.”
Muse is hosted by World Muse, which offers year-round programming including in-school, after-school and summer camp opportunities for women. The Conference will help connect you to your own personal source of inspiration and help.
I hope to see you there!
“Over the past few years, our programs have doubled in size. We reach thousands locally and globally through our programming, events, travel, and grants. We believe this work is more important than ever, and we believe this year’s Muse Conference is more necessary than ever. We will be featuring more male voices on the stage to emphasize the need for all of us to work together for positive social change.” ~ Amanda Stuermer, World Muse founder