Friday, September 28, 2007

Susan G. Komen's 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer

Keep this in mind while reading:: Every 3 minutes a woman is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, every 13 minutes a woman will die from Breast Cancer. In 2007, 200,000 women as well as men were diagnosed and 40,000 lost the battle.

This summer, I had the opportunity to witness one of the most powerful events I have ever attended, the 3-day walk for Breast Cancer in the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, I did not participate in the walk, but my idol and role model did, my mother. After being cancer-free for 13 years, she decided this was her chance to give back to her community of supporters. The event takes place in 12 cities across the country (today, September 28th, marks the beginning for the walkers in Michigan) and touches peoples lives along the way. Over a 3-day period, at 20 miles a day, 60 miles are mapped out and ready to be walked . This commitment includes training and raising money. In order to participate in the walk, you must agree to raise at least $2,200. This may seem like a lot but there is still a lot that needs to be done in the fight against breast cancer. According to the 3-Day website, in the 2006 walk, $86 million were raised through donations, sponsorship and contributions. Not only is this event physically challenging in every way, but the emotional challenge is just as difficult. The walk includes those who are currently battling cancer, those who won their battle, and those who want to support the fighters. Although women were the majority, there were also men walking in support of those battling this disease! The walkers are encouraged to form teams as a way to support one another. This is extremely inspirational, not only are they helping a good cause but they are forming bonds with people that they will never forget. There are also what is called "Cheer stations". These are designated areas where the walkers families and friends can gather to cheer them on while they continue their triumphant walks. It's incredible to see their faces, all with smiles, because they know what their doing is bring inspiration to everyone around them.
The walk gives support to those with cancer, hope for the cancer survivors and inspiration for the supporters.

I think this opportunity is something everyone should strive to accomplish at some point in their lives. Next summer I hope to walk, if not for me, then for my mother.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tales of a Female Nomad

If you are anything like me, you have an intense passion for traveling and, if it were at all possible, would do so for the rest of your life. Rita Golden Gelman is doing just that. In her memoir, "Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World", Rita journals her fantastic journey across the world. From Mexico to New Zealand, she conquers the world...all by herself!
After a divorce, Rita finally sees an opportunity to do what she's always wanted to do, travel the world. Shying away from the tourist spots Rita makes it a point to live and experience the day-to-day lives of the natives, a wise choice that only made her journey more valuable. She states in an interview, “I like to stay in one place long enough to become a part of a community.” This is an important piece of advice for all travelers. Rita believes there is strong distinction between being a tourist and being a traveler...Rita, of course, being the latter of the two.
While reading this fantastic story the idea that women should avoid traveling alone began to diminish. If Rita can do it, why can’t we all?! Of course, being safe and listening to your conscience are the most important things to keep in mind when traveling. I have had the opportunity to travel a great deal, primarily in groups, but I have found that the most unforgettable experiences were being able to go off and explore on my own. The ability to choose my own path and see what I want to see is one of the most empowering feelings. Rita’s strength to grab life by the horns is extremely inspirational. In an interview, she claims she has no idea where she’ll be in a year from now, there are not many people who can say that.
At 64, Rita has no intention of ending her travels anytime soon. From her years of roaming the earth Rita has learned that “There is joy in opening up to the world and in reaffirming the oneness of humanity. And age frees us from many daily responsibilities; we have no excuses to put off pursuing our dreams.”

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Update: Hardees Gets the Message, Loud and Clear

After Lacey's post on Thursday (see below), plenty of New Moon readers chimed in about the offensive ad for patty melt burgers from from Hardees & Carl's Jr.

You weren't alone! Around the world, hundreds (maybe even thousands) of you protested the degrading, misogynistic ad to CKE Restaurants Inc., the chain that owns the restaurants--and they've decided to edit the ad.

It's disgusting that a huge marketing and business firm felt that Americans would actually put up with that kind of advertising in the first place, but I'm happy that they are, at the very least, listening. I know that many consumers decided to boycott the restaurants, and I'm sure financial reasons were part of the decision. But at least we know that when all of us rise up to make our voices heard, we can make a difference.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that CKE (and many businesses, for that matter) get it: "The ad was intended to be humorous and irreverent," Brad Haley, CKE's executive vice president of marketing, said Wednesday. "Since it seemed to be missing the mark with too many people, it justified making a change."

Ha. "Missing the mark" is a code word for saying that way too many people were repulsed by the ad for it to bring in more profits. And I'm outraged that a marketing VP could find that kind of objectification funny. I have to say that I doubt he would have found the same situation funny, if the gender of all the actors in the ad had been reversed.

Unfortunately, lots of people still don't think that these ads are that degrading (or inappropriate) anyways. When AOL polled over 65,000 people about the ad, a full 44% gave it a thumbs up. Makes me feel nauseous, to say the very least.

Why is it that we still live in a culture where women's bodies, presented not really as human bodies, but as sexual objects, are still seen as the best way to make dough? And why is it that so many consumers think that it's okay?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Women and . . . Patty Melts?

I don't watch TV much -- And since I don't watch much TV, I didn't know about Hardees & Carl's Jr.'s new ad until someone forwarded me a link to it yesterday. Thanks to that link, I won't be eating at Hardees again.

If you haven't seen the new Hardees ad for their patty melt burger, count yourself lucky. (If you've never eaten at Hardees, count yourself even luckier). If you have seen it, you probably know what I'm talking about. The ad shows a teacher dancing provacatively at the front of her class while her male students rap about her "flat buns." What does this have to do with patty melts? One of the signatures of patty melt sandwiches is that they come served on "flat buns." (Interestingly, when I did a search for patty melt images, I found images of the woman from the commercial but not of the sandwich itself . . .).

So, why do I take offense at this ad? First of all, it refuses to take the teacher seriously as a woman professional. Second, it gives the idea that every woman is fair game when it comes to men's fantasies. Third, it perpetuates an incredibly unhealthy teacher-student relationship. Fourth, it encourages us to look at women as ojbects -- in this case, food. And fifth, it shows teenage boys as being interested in just two things: sex and food.

The Tennessee Teachers Union is protesting the ad, along with other organizations. The Executive Vice President of Marketing for Hardees says that the ad isn't offensive because it's "meant to be funny." Here's the letter I sent:

Due to your "flat buns" commercial with its entirely offensive, inappropriate, and damaging portrayal of women and student-teacher interactions, you have lost me as a customer. Moreover, I am encouraging others to stop buying from your restaurants. I make long drives through my home state about once a month, and there are half a dozen Hardees on my route. I will never stop at one of them again.

If you'd like to write your own letter, you can click on the "contact us" button at this site. Or add your voice to the discussion by commenting here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Back to School

Hello, Readers! Our September/October 2007 issue of New Moon, "The Great Debate" should have hit most of our subscribers' mailboxes and the news-stands by now, and I'm thrilled. This is one of my favorite issues that I've ever worked on -- I love to see girls take a stand, and I love to look at things from many different angles.

Although we talked about many debateable topics, we could only fit a handful in the magazine. One of the debates we didn't put in the magazine was a school debate. Almost all kids in the U.S. go to some type of school, but what kind of school is best . . . well, that's debateable! We asked girls to share their thoughts on school, and here's what some of you said about . . .


I'm homeschooled , and have been for 3 years. Each homeschooler has a different way of doing their school. I do a mixture of being taught by my parents, doing online courses and finding tutors and classes in my community. Here is a typical school day for me:

7 am- Wake up; have breakfast; prepare for the day; do any recordkeeping/planning that
needs to be done.

8 am- Start school.
In the morning, one of my parents usually teaches me a 'core subject'- math, language arts, science or social studies.

11 am- I then usually either do a different subject or have a class with a tutor or at the
local homeschool co-op. A co-op is where parents teach a class of homeschooled kids. These are useful because sometimes my parents don't know enough about a specialized subject to teach me, but another parent does. It's also a good way to meet other kids.

12 pm- Lunch time! Hooray!

1 pm- After lunch, I usually have another class with one of my parents.

3 pm- I do my homework for the day and prepare for any classes I might have the next

4 pm- In the late afternoon/early evening, I usually have music class, choir practice or a
gym class.

7 pm- After dinner, I write down all the things that I have done that day. In the state which
I live in, you are required to do a certain amount of hours per quarter for each subject. So I keep a record of everything I do. This also helps me to see how far I've come and what I need to do more of. And with that, school ends for the day!

I really like homeschooling because it lets me study things that interest me in more detail than I could in a traditional school. Because I take outside classes as well as learning by myself, I don't get lonely and my family doesn't get too tired of me. I enjoy learning by myself and from my parents. Homeschooling isn't for everyone, but it's the best way of doing school for me!
Lexi, 13

I have a great school experience. We home school, and my mom has been teaching me since fourth grade. I am really lucky to be able to home school. Home schooling allows us to go places, explore, and do fun things like making maple syrup. We live on an old farm in New England, so it is great for making syrup, doing backyard archeology, cross-country skiing and ice skating, swimming and learning about wildlife.

Home schooling also allows us to have a very flexible schedule. We can go to the library any time we want, I don’t have to get on a school bus at 7 o’clock in the morning, and I can go to a New England contra dance at night and I don’t have to worry about getting up really early the next morning.

I take fiddle lessons on Tuesdays. Home schooling also allows me to spend a lot of time with my fiddle, which is great.

Sometimes, we even take school on the road! Last April, we went to Washington, D.C. as part of our study of U.S. government, and the Antietam National Battlefield as part of our study of the U.S. Civil War. This summer, we went to Nova Scotia, where I attended a week-long camp to study Cape Breton fiddle and step dance.

But just like any other school, we have math, recess (thank goodness for that!), language arts, social studies and science. We are also learning to speak Spanish.

I love home schooling, and I think we are so lucky to be able to do this!
Gemini, 11

Private School

I go to a Jewish school, and have since I was five years old. I love my school, friends and teachers, but sometimes I feel like I've had enough of all this Jewish stuff! I'm really advanced in Hebrew, and my teachers don't teach things at my level. Some of the stuff teachers teach us I learned three years ago! In Jewish studies we have a fabulous teacher who is funny, nice and really makes us learn! I feel like she is one of the best teachers I have ever had. I really like our Jewish studies program this year.

Just like any other school, we also have math, science, social studies, history, geography, literature, writing and so on. Every grade after third goes on an overnight trip. In third you go to a working farm for a week where you get to hang out and do jobs around the farm. In fourth grade, you have a simulation of the gold rush where you pan for gold and try to live gold rush style! In fifth grade we go to the Marin Headlands. In sixth grade we go to Monterey and visit the aquarium and other cool places there. In seventh grade we go to Ashland,Oregon and see Shakespeare plays and meet the cast! In eighth grade we go to Washington, D.C! We are trying to have a trip to Israel but haven't gotten to that yet!

At my school, an average size class is about sixteen kids. We have two classes per grade, so there are about thirty-two kids in each grade. It's a Kindergarten-Eighth school, and I hang out with some kids who are way older then me. My brother is in eighth grade at the same school, and he only had twenty-four kids in his grade! My friends are great, and we hang out together during breaks and lunch-time. This year some of my friends are in the other class. It's not as fun without them, but we still have fun when we're together. Since we've all been with each other basically our whole lives, we're all friends with almost all the girls in the grade! At recess we all form a big group and just hang out together! We laugh so much sometimes teachers tell us to move away from the middle school area. All in all, I have to admit that I really like my school and wouldn't want to go to school anywhere else!

Shira, 10

I'm going into 5th grade at a Waldorf School. In public schools, everything went wrong for me. I was bullied all the time and everybody was noisy in the cafeteria. I was creative and they were strict, strict, strict. They didn't even let medaydream in class! At Waldorf I was welcome, and nobody has ever bullied me in my class. And in Waldorf there is art, handwork, woodworking, music, ...we even make our own books! Each day we spend over an hour outside- rain or shine. I love being with nature. There is a theme for each grade level. Last year the theme was Norse Myths andthis year it will be Ancient Egypt and Greece. Another cool thing aboutWaldorf? Your teacher stays with you from 1-8th grade! I am more like myself at Waldorf than I was in public school and we get to play games like "Elves and Pixies" and put on plays each year. School is exciting and I never get bored. Waldorf is the best educationI would recommend for a daydreaming, artistic girl.

Nani, 10

I'm in the seventh grade and I love my school!!! I love it mainly because of the fact that it is a private Montessori school. It goes from Pre-K to Eighth grade. The sixth, seventh and eighth grade classroom is called Questa. In the mornings we have personal work time (PW). During PW we can work on anything we want besides group work (GW). We have our own vocabulary books and we do one lesson (five activities) a week. We also have to write sentences that include at least one of our vocab. words each. We get tested regularly on our definitions both orally and written. You can also work on speech. This year in speech we are making a radio show that we will present at the end of the year. You can work on Personal World which is kind of helping you learn more about yourself. Finally, you can work on writing. The teacher gives you an assignment and you have to get it gone by Friday.

In GW, we get to work in groups. Everyone in the group gets to be leader of the group for one week. Eighth graders get priority, then seventh graders, and finally the sixth graders. My group has chosen me as the last leader so that if we are off target, I can get us back on target.

On Fridays we have check-off. This is where all of our assigned work for that week is checked. If it's not all completed you are considered off target. If you are off target you have to do your work during P.E. while everybody else gets to go outside and play. Also on Fridays is barn duty. If you are barn that week then on Friday you get to scoop the pigs' and goats' poop. We have two pigs and two goats. My friend and I are in charge of barn. This means we oversee how well barn duty is done. If it is done well, we sign their job cards, if it's not we make them go back and do it again.


Public School

I go to public school and I'm in seventh grade. School's ok--my favorite subjects are science and language.I like science because I love animals and science involves animals. I like language because I like to write stories and poems. Sometimes I wish I was homeschooled because sometimes I getpicked on by the other kids. But I keep reminding myself that the only reason they pick on me is because they wish they were unique. In school I have 2 friends and we make school fun.Well that's prettymuch all!!!


I'm a sixth grader in my town's public middle school. I've come up with 3 good reasons why I like public school.

1 Diversity- At public schools you will find all different types of people: boys, girls, Jews, Christians, and many other types of people. Some private schools for instance are only boys, or only girls, or only Jews, or only Christians. And if you're home schooled, you don't meet as many people.
2 Choices- Along with the required academics-Math, ELA, science, and social studies-we get so many other choices. We get choose a language-Spanish, French, or Chinese- whether we want to be in band, chorus, or general music, a club, and other things like sports, the school musical, Jazz band, an so many more. I think having choices lets you meet many people.
3 Lunch- This might sound weird, and not many kids would say it, but the food at my school is pretty good. I have a friend who used to go to private school and he said he had to bring his lunch everyday. Not only do we get to buy our lunch, we have so many choices of what we can buy. Some of the choices are pizza, pasta, the main meal, salad, and so many more.

As you can see I love going to pulic school

Samantha, 11

My school is a mix between public and private, because I go to a magnet school. Most people either haven't heard of one before or are not sure what it is. A magnet school is a public school that isfor gifted and talented kids. This means that my school isfree, but you have to take tests and be interviewed to get in. One of the reasons my school is great is because it has the positives of both public and private schools. At public schools, there is diversity because it is free. My grade has poor kids, rich kids, and middle-class kids. There are Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Atheists. Everyone comes from a different background and has different customs. But at most public schools, anyone can come, so not everyone is on the same level, which makes it harder for the teacher.

I'm not saying that everyone is a math whiz and a novelist at my school, though. Everyone learns at their own pace, but usually it's almost the same. We do math for kids a year ahead (for instance, 1st graders do 2nd grade math) and do lots of enrichment. (Like long-termprojects on whatever we want). One of the beautiful things about my school is that being smart is the norm. Unlike stupid stereo-types of "smart" kids on TV, we aren't nerds. We're artists, tennis players, actors, yoga-doers, soccerplayers, writers, singers, new moon readers, and much more.

Being smart also doesn't mean being preppy. We don't like homework,tests, or studying. What we do like is politics, law, Shakespeare, architecture, and debate. But we also like American Idol and Flag Football.

Being a magnet school means that we (the students) have to take state tests that are pretty easy for us and having to follow the curriculum (what the state mandates teachers teach). We also have large classes and never enough money. But it also means that we get high test scores and think outside of the box for ways to learn. (For instance, if a teacher has to teach Ancient Egypt, instead of textbooks she'll have the class mummify a chicken!)

Our school raises money for two or three teachers per classroom and gets grants from special programs. With the money, we have gotten laptops for the classrooms, a keyboard lab, and other things we otherwise couldn't afford. We are able to partner with organizations because we are a public school. We've had dance, drama, Shakespeare, and much more! I love my school because it is a happy balance between public and private. I'm very happy being able to go to a school with lots of different types of extremely smart kids. It's a nice environment and a great place for me!

Marisa, 11

I have been to a Montessori school, a private school, and a public school. In Montessori, I had a great teacher and many chances to go outside, which I loved. In private school, I had P.E., language {Chinese}, music, and art almost every day. Public school, my favorite, is really nice. It is more diverse, with a lot more girls in my class. I think going to three different schools was a good experience because I saw different teaching methods.
Kate, 10

What about YOU? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ever Been the NuGrl?

If there's one thing I love, it's blogs. I love how they give you peeks into people's lives and personalities. I love that you can use them to chronicle the year you got your first horse or all the books you've read about broccoli. I love that they can be a locked, private haven, or a place where the world listens as your ideas take center stage. And I love the New Moon blog because it gives us lots to talk about between issues of the magazine.

Our friend, Cheryl Dellasega, creator of Club and Camp Ophelia, has created the bloggrls series -- novels about girls told in a blog format. One of the coolest things about the first bloggrl books is that a teen girl created all the illustrations. And guess what? Cheryl's publisher is looking for another teen to illustrate upcoming books. Read on to hear it straight from Cheryl.

"If you've ever been new to school, known someone who was new, or face being new in the future, check out the story of Sadie, aka nugrl90, whose life gets turned upside down when her parents split and her mom moves her to a different school district. In ninth grade, the school nurse gave Sadie a diary and suggested she write about her feelings (as if!); instead, she decides to create a blog that chronicles her year as a new girl.

Tenth grade turns out to be a year full of challenges. Sadie has to make a tough decision about the boy she loves and learns her best friend has betrayed her. Meanwhile, at home, her WS (wicked sister) finds endless ways to torment her, but at least her beloved dog, Homer, can always be counted on to provide comfort.

In addition to a "Clicktionary" of blogspeak (send me your favorite saying and I'll send you a t-shirt and cyberframe), the book has illustrations by Karina Lapierre, a teen girl who read the story and got a contract with Marshall Cavendish to provide drawings. Want to be the next girl artist who gets paid to illustrate the next book and has her name on the cover? Go to and find out how. Or, if you're a writer and would like a chance to win an iPod, enter the Bloggrl Writing Contest--more info is also available at"

I know there are some talented artists and writers out there -- I hope you will try your hand at some of the contests! I'd also be happy just to hear your thoughts -- do you keep a blog? Do you think blogs can work the same way as a diary? Have you ever written something in your blog and wished you hadn't? Have you ever found unexpected friends through blogging? Tell us all about it!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

For the Love of the Sport?

This morning, I elbowed my way through throngs of spectators, huddled in the early-morning hours to observe one of the zaniest, most phenomenal events my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin ever witnesses: the annual IRONMAN triathlon.

For the uninitiated, the triathlon is the glory of all endurance athletics. It is a competition in which mostly-buff athletes swim their guts out, run out of the water, strip out of their wetsuits and throw bike gear on their still-wet bodies, jump on a bike, attack miles of hills and other geographic formations that discourage biking, and finally abandon their bikes for the final leg of the triathlon: the run.

Full disclosure: I am a triathlete myself, and it is one of the loves of my life. I don't know if there is any sport more thrilling, exuberant, or mind-boggling. Racing is an incredible adrenaline rush.

But I am not an Ironman. Or an Ironwoman. I race at the sprint- and Olympic-distance lengths, which usually include something like a 1/2 mile swim, 13 mile bike, and 3 mile run (sprint distance) or 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 6 mile run (Olympic).

The Ironman, on the other hand, is a race of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a full marathon-length run (over 26 miles). It's a killer.

I loved watching the Ironman athletes as they raced out of the water, stripping out of wetsuits as they padded past the cheering throngs. I felt sorry for the athletes more than anything else: here they had just finished a grueling 2.4 miles of swimming through waters so crowded they resemble a literal sharkfest, and yet they were just beginning the day. (The fastest finishers complete the race in about 8 hours; many barely make the midnight cutoff.)

For all the enthusiasm in the crowd, the competitors didn't look particularly happy. As a triathlete, that really bothered me--when I race, I don't think I ever stop smiling. I guess the adrenaline had already worn off their faces (or maybe it was the embarrassment of waddling past thousands of people half-naked).

But why, I wondered, do people practically kill themselves to finish an almost-impossible race? Why do they devote a year's worth of training for a single day, which will not be experienced with utter joy but mainly fatigue and discomfort?

I know that many elite sports are hard to understand until you've experienced them, and I admire the Ironmen (and Ironwomen) who come from all parts of the world to brave the unknown, to challenge inner resolves they barely knew existed. But why?

What do you think...

When it comes to sports, how much is too much? Would you sacrifice hundreds of hours of your life to achieve something as superhuman as an Ironman finish? If people devote themselves to athletics because that's one of their passions, is their life fulfilling, or crazily unbalanced?

Would you be up to the Ironman challenge?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Burma, Laura Bush, and Why It Doesn't Hurt to Be a Dreamer

Laura Bush: First Lady. Librarian. Education advocate. And now...radical activist?

I was shocked last week to read that the First Lady, in a highly unusual move, decided to use her voice to intervene on behalf of a populist freedom movement in Burma.

Some background: Burma, also known as Myanmar, is a Southeast Asian nation controlled by the iron rule of one of the fiercest military dictatorships in the world. The country been struggling for fifteen years to free its people from the junta. Aung San Suu Kyi (photo below), now held under house arrest in Burma's capital city, has led the fight for freedom. She's a terrifically courageous woman--probably the bravest woman I've ever heard of--and received the Nobel Peace Prize for her incredible strength.

This August saw the biggest peaceful pro-democracy protests in Burma in ten years. Around the world, activists have been joining the Burmese people in solidarity. Groups like the US Campaign for Burma have brought together everyone from Hollywood actors to U.S. Representatives in calling for freedom in Burma. Even President Bush issued a statement condemning the Burmese government for arresting protesters.

And last week, the First Lady made an extraordinary move: she telephoned the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, and called on him to denounce the Burmese government.

This is the first time the First Lady has taken a stand on international issues--until now, she's concentrated her efforts on national issues that avoid controversy, like literacy, education, and healthcare.

But this May, she joined the 16 women in the Senate to appeal publicly for Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi’s release. In June, she met in the White House with refugees and exiles from Burma and wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on behalf of Mrs. Aun San Suu Kyi. And now she's called for the United Nations to draft a resolution on the human rights abuses in Burma.

She told TIME, "Like many people, especially women, I got interested because of Aung San Suu Kyi, and I learned about Burma and how she represents the hopes of the people of Burma, and how those hopes were being dashed by her house arrest and the fact that her party won the elections and never had the opportunity to have power at all...One of the things that's really important for the world to know is that the people of Burma do listen to radio, and when they hear that people around the world are speaking out for their rights, I think it gives them hope."

Mrs. Bush, 60, also responded to comments that her new role is a little unusual, saying: “I think this is sort of one of those myths: that I was baking cookies and then they fell off the cookie sheet and I called Ban Ki-moon."

I know that many of us don't count ourselves as supporters of the Bush administration. But I'm thrilled to see a woman who is willing to speak out for justice, to bring light to a cause that our country has all but forgotten. It's true that the First Lady is a politician, and her motives aren't necessarily genuine idealism. But her actions are a great reminder of the power of idealism.

Maybe her words won't make a difference. But she argues otherwise: “So ‘why bother,’ I guess, is the question people ask. But I think the answer is, ‘Why not?’ I mean, why not continue to put pressure on the regime in any way we can?”

The First Lady is a great reminder that it never hurts to try. We have nothing to lose from taking a stand for what we believe in, even if our goals might seem impossible. In fact, idealism is the only way that we've ever made progress. After all, weren't most great leaders once dismissed as dreamers? As the feminist Emma Goldman once declared, "Idealists...foolish enough to throw caution to the winds...have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.”

Today, I was lucky enough to attend Fighting Bob Fest, the biggest political event in the Midwest. Thousands of activists converge to talk politics, meet some big-time leaders, share ideas, and just have fun. One of the speakers I heard was peace activist Cindy Sheehan, who is as much a hero of idealism than anyone else. Her words stuck with me. She said:

People don't want change. They want the status quo. Why do we want the status quo? The status quo tolerates racism and sexism and homophobia...Our job is to tear down, not protect, the status quo.

No matter who we are--First Lady or first grade student--it doesn't hurt to be a dreamer. Think big. To quote Gandhi (sorry, getting a little quote-heavy now): "We must become the change we want to see in the world."

And to all those who complain that I am prone to blog posts decrying terrible things in the world, yet never leaving suggestions of ways to take action against these injustices, I leave you with a website: Do Something is a one-stop-shopping resource for girls out there looking for ways to make a difference. They'll hook you up with volunteer opportunities, activism groups, mentors, girls working on the same issues you are, and lots more resources... Best of all, they have a handy section called "Do Something Today," where they feature one little thing you can do to make the world a better place. Because little things make a difference.

And that's your daily dose of idealism, folks. Peace.

A disclaimer: Certain bloggers (ahem, Natalia) are prone to writing about politics and activism. Because that is what they feel passionate about. And we at New Moon like to share our passions. But the views of any New Moon blogger--whether New Moon staffer, guest blogger, or girl writer--do not necessarily reflect any views of New Moon Publishing. And, for the record, New Moon never endorses political candidates. We just endorse the power of girls' voices. So tell us what you think...and we'll do our best to help make your voice heard! Love, LunaOnline (that's Luna's twin sister, who spends more time wired than she should...)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Are You Totally Wired?

Hey, all. If you're reading this, chances are you like to spend time online. And it's probably no surprise to you that teens and tweens your age are the most tech-savvy generation ever, or that girls spend more time on social networking sites, like MySpace and Livejournal, than boys. Our good friend Anastasia Goodstein is an expert on teens and the internet. She's recently published a book, Totally Wired, that tracks what tweens and teens are doing online. Although the book is geared toward helping parents understand the online world of their children, it still contains a lot of neat information and websites for girls. AND now Anastasia is touring to talk about teens and technology. Check out her tour dates below -- or see if you're interested in bringing her to YOUR area.

Here's a rough schedule of Anastasia's tour:

October 3-12 New England

October 15-19 Tennessee

October 22-26 DC/Virginia/Maryland

October 29 - November 10 California

Between November 12-16, Anastasia can speak in any part of the country. For more information about Anastasia and her Fall tour, click here.

But now, let's talk about you. Are you "totally wired"? How much time do you spend online? How do you feel about girls your age spending more time online than any other age group? What are the benefits and pitfalls of being "Totally Wired"? When you go online, what do you do? Do you think tweens and teens spend too much time online? Please comment and share all your internetty thoughts!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Why Aren't More Women Blogging? (Actually, You Might be Surprised by How Many Are)

Last month, Jennifer Pozner wrote a great article about women and blogging--I've been meaning to share it for a long time!

Jennifer is the Founder & Executive Director of WIMN, or Women in Media and News. WIMN is an incredible, dynamic organization working to change the face of women in the media--how women are represented and portrayed--and the face of media for women--the role the media plays in womens' lives. More importantly, WIMN works to make the voices of often unheard women heard, including women of color, low-income women, lesbians, youth and older women.

And WIMN has an awesome blog, called WIMN's Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND… (you fill in the blank--women bloggers discuss everything from hip hop to human rights, to science and sports). Over 50 women contribute to the blog, creating one of the most diverse and wide-reaching blogs online (they range in ange from 19 to 64, they are everything from Quaker to Muslim, they include GLBT women and their straight allies, and about 45% are women of color).

So, I highly encourage you to read their blog. But back to Jennifer's article:
Half of all bloggers are women. Bet you didn't know that. Maybe that's why, as Jennifer points out, many journalists choose to keep asking the same old question, "Where are the women bloggers?" -- rather than actually seek them out. And there are many of them! Take BlogHer, for example: it's an online community of more than 13,000 blogging women. But when BlogHer held an annual convention in July, attended by some 800 bloggers ranging from artists to activists, grandmothers to geeks, the amazing event didn't receive a single bit of national press coverage.

As Jennifer writes, "If many believe that blogging is a primarily male sport, it is partially because old-school gender disparities in resource allocation, power and popularity long entrenched in traditional news media are replicating themselves online. In the blogosphere, young men - mostly white and mostly economically comfortable - link to, write about, promote and fund their buddies' blogs; and corporate media play star-makers, quoting, profiling and featuring the punditry of this New Boys Network. As is hardly surprising to those of us who monitor media representations of women, women who blog (especially those who write about feminist issues) are off the radar."

In other words, blogging--an amazing way for thousands to self-publish and freely distribute their thoughts through the information highway--remains an old boys' club. Women's blogs are less likely to be read. Period.

So, readers, keep reading and supporting your favorite girl- and women-written blogs! (Shameless self-promotion, I know.) But it's up to us to keep looking for ways that women and girls can use blogging to make our voices heard. The tools are there. We've gotta use 'em.
Leave us a comment and join the discussion: Do you blog? Read blogs often? Which are your favorite (or least favorite) blogs? Which issues do you think blogs cover too much, and which do you wish were covered more?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Because It's What Every Girl Needs

Earlier today, Feminsting and Jezebel reported on the newest, the latest, the greatest in high-tech fashion...scented panties. What every girl needs, right?

Why does the fashion industry keep bombarding us with messages that we're just not 'good enough'? Whether they're telling us that we're not thin enough to fit a fashion model's size, or that our normal body parts' normal smells are so gross they need to be smothered by strange chemicals, we get the message: we can't be proud of who we (and our bodies) are.

Apparently, these new panties create their scent by utilizing a technology that weaves what is basically a drier sheet into the underwear's own fabric. Which sounds awfully unhealthy--like wearing a sheet of chemicals next to your skin--if not just plain gross. As Jezebel wrote, "Three little letters come to mind: UTI [Urinary Tract Infection]."

Aren't there better things that the technology world could be doing to further our fashion choices? Perhaps designers could find a way to weave little speakers into our clothing that project little messages to us throughout our day. Like "you're beautiful the way you are."

But given what we know about the fashion industry, that's unlikely. After all, why would these panties sell (and by the way, they're already sold out) if the fashion industry and the rest of society weren't already telling us that there's something wrong with just being...ourselves?

I'll leave you with the comment of one woman, who read Feministing's post: "As society has it, most women are already shy about their vagina as is. Do we really want to go forward with making a vagina into something it's not really supposed to be? Part of consciousness-raising is making women realize that the vagina isn't something to be ashamed of. This product is just doing the exact opposite."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Make Some Noise!

Hey, girls! Here's a way cool opportunity for older teens (high school-aged) from YouthNoise, an organization affiliated with UNICEF.

YouthNoise is hosting a series of youth summits across the country this year that will provide teen leaders an opportunity to create change in their local and global communities.

What is a YouthNoise Summit? A YN Summit is a conference and cultural event for students. These FREE two-day events are about creating grassroots change in local neighborhoods. What would you change about your world? Come to a YouthNoise Summit to give your two cents, find out what others are doing, and get involved.

Who's invited? High school and college students who are passionate about finding REAL solutions to local problems.

When and where are the YN Summits?

San Francisco, CA- September 1-2, 2007

San Jose, CA-September 22-23, 2007

Minneapolis, MN-October 13-14, 2007

Orlando, FL-November 17-18, 2007

Oakland, CA-January 12-13, 2008

Tucson, AZ-January 26-27, 2008

Los Angeles, CA-February 9-10, 2008

San Diego, CA-February 23-24, 2008

Bakersfield, CA-March 8-9, 2008

Denver, CO-March 29-30, 2008

Providence, RI-April 12-13, 2008

Sacramento, CA-May 3-4, 2008

Seattle, WA-August 30-31, 2008

Why should I go? Create projects to benefit your community and get online and offline support to help you plan, develop, promote, fund, and execute grassroots civic action. As a UNICEF volunteer, you can tell others about UNICEF's work and create projects that will result in helping UNICEF save children's lives.

How do I sign up? Register online at

What's happening at the Cultural Event? Local youth artists and musicians will showcase their talents at an all-ages youth organized cultural event with headliner bands, spoken word, youth art and more.

What is I'm not in high school yet? Check out the Youth Noise website! It's a youth-driven, non-profit website dedicated to providing creative ways for youth to spark movements and magnify their voices. The website is great! It's got resources for taking action on a variety of causes--from poverty to war to education, as well as a database of projects created by youth, discussion forums, info on elections, and much more. They even have communities dedicated to "empowering women," "giving girls a voice," and feminism. It's an entire community dedicated to youth taking action! Kudos to YouthNoise for their awesome work.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day Blogging

Happy Labor Day, readers! Before heading off to obligatory family picnics, take a few minutes to learn about why we have Labor Day--and why it's still so important to keep fighting for workers' rights!

Labor Day began 125 years ago, during a time when workers across America were involved in a surge of protest movements that demanded their rights to fair working conditions and pay. They wanted an end to 12-hour work days, paltry wages, and unsanitary and unhealthy working conditions. They wanted to unionize, or join together in workers' unions that would counteract greedy, powerful big businesses.

Mary Harris Jones, aka Mother Jones (the namesake of the modern magazine), was an important figure in the labor movement. Mother Jones, a self-described "hell-raiser," was once denounced in the U.S. Senate as the "grandmother of all agitators." But she was proud of that title and said she hoped to live to be the "great-grandmother of agitators."

Mother Jones was one of the most important members of the Knights of Labor, a major workers' union that helped establish Labor Day. She was also one of its few women members. But she was a fierce fighter for fair wages and working conditions, and she took on child labor as one of her biggest causes. In many ways, she was the mother of the modern labor movement.

The Knights of Labor created the first Labor Day celebration on September 5, 1882. They wanted to make it a national holiday. President Cleveland wasn't particularly excited to support the day, but he was also opposed to supporting the May 1 holiday that workers in other parts of the world celebrate as Labor Day, because unions had held major riots on May 1 that had brought mayhem to urban America. He didn't want a federal holiday to draw attention to those events! So he agreed to make a September Labor Day a national holiday.
Today, few people think about the history of the labor movement on Labor Day. PBS explains, "Labor Day is [now] seen as the last long weekend of summer rather than a day for political organizing. In 1995, less than 15 percent of American workers belonged to unions, down from a high in the 1950's of nearly 50 percent, though nearly all have benefited from the victories of the Labor movement." But there's still so much work to be done for workers! We still live in a world that prioritizes business profits over workers' rights. And as American businesses keep increasing international trade and exporting labor--that is, taking factory and other jobs overseas for cheaper labor--the labor movement must expand to look at working conditions in other countries. A number of international unions have been formed, but it's still the tip of the iceberg. Which bring me to my next Labor Day tidbit...on child labor.

As students head back to school this week, it's easy to forget that millions of kids around the world won't be going to school--but to work. According to UNICEF, an estimated 246 million children must go to work each day around the world. In fact, in places like West and Central Africa, 41% of boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 14 are child laborers.

What gives? Well, in many parts of the world, dirt-poor families have no choice but to use their children's labor to make ends meet. Even when governments offer families free education for their children, global poverty is so bad that many families have to choose between having their kids in school and having bread on the table. According to UNICEF, 1 billion children worldwide suffer from extreme poverty, which leaves them "vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, violence, discrimination and stigmatization.” Poor children are especially likely to be exploited by employers who force them to work long days under treacherous conditions, often with dangerous materials.

Take this child's story:
Each day, Alone Banda wakes before the crack of dawn. With only a weak cup of tea to carry him through his fourteen-hour day, he walks to a quarry south of his Zambian hometown. Like other boys in his town, Alone, eight, works as a stone-crusher. He spends the day heating rocks with flaming rubber scraps, so that the stones will fracture more easily with a steel bolt. New York Times reporter Michael Wines writes, “At dusk, when three or four blazes spew choking black clouds across the huge pit, the quarry [where Alone works] looks like a woodcut out of Dante.”

Alone is not alone. Millions of other children toil under similar working conditions--even in the U.S. Most people think that child labor has ended in America. But almost 60,000 children under 14 are illegally employed in this country, including many immigrant children who work with families in agricultural work. Amazingly enough, some children 13,100 work in sweatshops within the U.S. And as recently as 2005, Wal-Mart paid $135,000 to settle federal charges that it violated child labor laws in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Arkansas.
No, child labor--and other forms of exploitative labor--is far from over. So where are the solutions?

Child labor is a huge and complex problem. Says Birgitte Poulsen of the International Labor Organization, ''[finding a solution to child labor] is like trying to empty a bathtub with a teaspoon while the tap is running."
Child labor may be an enormous problem, but there are few problems more important. And (to not finish on a too pessimistic note) there are so many solutions. A sampling:

*providing free education for all children
*strengthening and enforcing laws that protect children from child labor
*increasing international attention on child labor, including "invisible" child labor like on family farms or in private homes
*providing stronger support for children and family through crises, such as disease, war, or natural disasters
*working to eradicate global poverty in general
Hey, readers! What's your opinion on child labor, both globally and closer to home? Do you think that poor families should be allowed to send their kids to work, if it means that the family might have a chance at escaping poverty? Do you think teens in countries like the U.S. should be allowed to work even as they continue their studies? Should kids working in artistic industries, like music and film, be allowed to work? (In the filming of Kid Nation, which premiers later this month, child actors worked 14-hour days, which some say isn't unusual in the media industry.) Do YOU have a job? Leave us a note!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Summer Cookin' | Part 1

Ahhh, summer. Now that the last sweet days of summer are before us, we can forget the dreaded heat and humidity that we complained about during the dog days of August, and reminisce on the glory of summer.

My favorite part of the season is that time in late summer when farmer’s markets burst with berries so perfect they look like they came from the cover of Bon Appetit, zucchinis so big they look like eggplants, tomatoes so ripe they explode in your mouth.

So, join in and make a last toast to the lovely days of summer. Try out these great recipes for summer foods—they’re a fun alternative to the traditional American summer fare. And if you’ve got any recipes to share, bring ‘em on! Send them to, and we’ll share then on the blog.

Cool-as-a-Cucumber Soup
Also known as “Gazpacho Blanco.” A white version of my favorite chilled Spanish soup (if you’re curious about traditional gazpacho, check out the recipe in the Sept/Oct issue of New Moon).

2 large cucumbers
2 cloves garlic
2 cups chicken broth (use a substitute if you’re vegetarian)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup dry white wine
2 pieces of stale white bread
1/2 cup blanched almonds
pinch of salt

Peel and chop cucumbers. Mince garlic. Puree all the ingredients in a blender or food processor (because of the volume, you may need to do this in a few batches). Chill for several hours. Serves 6. If you’d like to, serve garnished with grape halves and slivered almonds.

Pastel de Choclo
This Chilean recipe is one of my favorites. “Pastel” in Spanish means 'cake,' but “Pastel de Choclo” is really much more like a casserole or a savory pie. Kind of like a summer casserole.

Corn mixture:
kernels grated from 3 large ears of fresh corn
4 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour

Meat mixture:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
1/2 pound ground beef (to make recipe vegetarian, substitute 3 Gardenburger flame-grilled burgers chopped into small pieces, or another meat substitute)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 cup raisins, soaked in 2 tablespoons warm water
several sprigs fresh marjoram
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

For corn mixture: Heat the grated corn, basil and butter in a large pot. Add the milk little by little, then the flour, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the meat filling.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium flame. Add onions and sauté until transparent. Add green peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and ground meat (or meat substitute). Cook, stirring often, until meat it browned. Season with salt, pepper and ground cumin.

To prepare the pastel de choclo: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Use a large oven-proof dish that can be taken to the table, or six small oven-proof dishes. Spread the meat mixture over the bottom of the dish(es). Add raisins and marjoram. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the corn mixture into the egg whites gently. Cover the filling with the corn mixture. Sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake until the crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve at once. If desired, sprinkle more vanilla sugar on the pastel de choclo as it is eaten. Serves 6.

Greek Zucchini Pancakes
I could eat a dozen of these things. Filled with morsels of zucchini and feta, these light pancakes just melt in your mouth.

2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
4 small zucchini, grated
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup flour
Pepper to taste

Whisk eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, oil, feta, and mint together in a bowl. Stir in the zucchini, baking soda, and baking flour. Add flour and stir lightly just before cooking.

Heat a griddle over medium heat. Butter skillet. Cook zucchini pancakes until golden.

Serves 4 generously. And you want to be generous with these pancakes, because they’re soooo good. If you’d like, you can also serve them with tzatziki, a light yogurt dipping sauce from Greece.

Mango Lassi
Here in North America, mangos go in and out of season without notice. Right now might not be mango season, but summer is one of my favorite times to enjoy this chilled drink. Mango Lassi is a North Indian beverage akin to a smoothie. But better.

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 mango, peeled, stone removed, and chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Put mango, yogurt, milk, sugar and cardamom into a blender and blend until smooth. Sprinkle with cardamom, pour, and serve. This recipe serves 2.

Stay tuned for Summer Cookin' Part 2! Coming to a blog near you in the not-so-distant future...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sweet Sixteen and Already the Polls

Hi! It's Natalia here, New Moon's former editorial intern and blogger. After my internship ended, I took a 6-week hiatus from blogging to travel, write, and work on coordinating a program in my community called Madison SOS (Speak Out, Sister!) - The Young Women's Leadership Forum. Now I'm back to blogging! Stay tuned...

Earlier this week, the New York Times wrote about the current national trend towards lowering the voting age to sixteen. Was the Times a little behind the times? Well, yes--New Moon featured the topic last September in Voice Box! But we're happy to see that the conversation has continued. And this time, the whole country's talking.

I enjoyed reading the thoughtful Times article, and I would encourage you to read it, too. But I was frustrated by the way the writer stereotyped teens a few times too many. Take her opening paragraphs:

"It is a nippy November Tuesday and your 16-year-old has her day all planned out. After school, she’ll have a rehearsal of her high school musical, “High School Musical.” She’ll instant-message her friends about that ridiculous question on the trig test, and she’ll drive to the mall for a burger with her boyfriend.

Then she’ll head to the polls, where she’ll cast a vote on a bond issue for a new prison, a referendum on property taxes, and the races for governor, senator and president of the United States.

If that sounds farfetched, it’s because in this country, at least, not a lot of people spend time debating the age at which a citizen can begin to vote, let alone whether a baby-faced 16-year-old should."

It's the media's same old trap: telling us that all teens (specifically, teen girls) are about is clothes, boys, make-up, shopping... In other words, that teens can't see beyond their own noses. I would challenge that. Teens care about more than that! The mainstream media might not want to admit the power of teens' voices, but there are plenty of teens who care about issues like poverty, the environment, peace, and civil rights...we know, just from the letters we receive from New Moon readers!

Is lowering the voting age the best way for teens to get involved in the political process, to make sure that decision-makers hear their voices? That's up to you. But I'm happy to see that the US is joining the bandwagon of efforts around the world to put power in the hands of teens, and to finally give issues facing young people the attention they deserve. (For the record, countries with 16-year-old-voting include Austria, Brazil, Cuba, and Nicaragua.) After all, the article points out: if teens were casting ballots, perhaps certain all-powerful politicians might start looking more at the issues we face and care about, like the environment and education.

Above: a poster from a British campaign

But it shouldn't have to take lowering the voting age for elected officials (and other adults whose decisions dictate our lives) to start listening to us!

Join the conversation! Leave us a comment and tell us if YOU would vote at 16 (or younger!). Do you support lowering the voting age?