Friday, November 30, 2007

What Moves You?

As I was typing earlier today with piano music playing in the background, I found myself looking down at my fingers on the keyboard, feeling like I was playing along with the music. It made me think about how writers are musicians in a way--I guess you could say they play the computer, but that's not exactly what I'm going for. They're musicians in their own right (so to speak). Sometimes when you're in that beautiful place of expressing yourself, you just feel the motivation, the spirit, moving through you, and it does feel just like you could be playing a piece of music.

What moves you? I want to know. I think that all creative pursuits are the same in a surprising way. That was the real realization here. That everyone--whether they express themselves through dancing, or through writing, playing an instrument, or even building a house--is, in a way, playing the same tune.

All hooking onto the same moonbeam shining down that lights something up inside and makes it want to come out and play. So let me know what makes you shine inside, all lit up and ready to pass along to the world that wonderful essence of you.

Wishing you delight in the creative expression of yourself, Elizabeth

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Got Health Questions?

Hey, girls! As we prepare to launch New Moon's Online Experience this spring, we're gathering girls' questions for a health column. Questions can range from silly ("Why are boogers green?") to serious ("What's the difference between sadness and depression?") You can submit questions about . . . .
-physical health
-mental health
-spiritual health or
-sexual health

Send your questions to so that I can pass them on to our advice columnists. If we decide to post your question on the site once it launches, we can post it anonymously if you prefer. Also, if our columnists answer your question, we'll send YOU a response as soon as it's ready so that you don't have to wait until the launch. Hope to hear from you soon!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Help New Moon Bring Girls' Voices to the World!

Help us reach thousands girls this holiday season! Help bring their voices to the world!

Take advantage of our Holiday Gift Offer. When you purchase one full price subscription at $34.95, you may add up to five additional subscriptions at a special discount rate of $29.95 each, a savings of $5.00 on each 6-issue gift subscription.

Consider giving a gift to your friends, family, local library, school, YWCA or YMCA, hospital, girl group, women's shelter, or Salvation Army--The list goes on and on!

Subscriptions will start with the January/February 2008 issue. Order online or call toll free at 800-381-4743 and ask for our Holiday Gift Offer. MasterCard and VISA accepted

Hurry! This offer ends December 31!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Tributed Tributes!

Have you ever noticed how thankfulness isn't just a two-way road, it's an entire highway and road system?! There are so many people to thank! It's the same way with teachers--handed down and around and all over, learning is a special process with many sources and routes. Here's a special message from that writing teacher I wrote about in the post An Inspiring Teacher to explain a little more about what I mean:

I am the writing teacher about whom Bissy wrote. I was flattered and pleased that my message was clear: YOU ARE WONDERFUL AND CAN DO GREAT THINGS.

I want to give a brief tribute to my own favorite English teacher, Geraldine Fehder. She was my junior year honors English teacher. She had a unique way of dressing (very colorful and eclectic) and this was the way of her personality as well. She treated our ideas with enthusiasm and respect. She encouraged us to get to know ourselves. That is a lifelong process, but she was the one who pointed out that it could be done. To be encouraged to be the best ME I could be, and to share it with others, is what she did. Thank you, Ms. Fehder, wherever you are!
Liesl, 37

Here's something to ponder: you could be a teacher, too, and not know it! You don't have to the title or a degree to be one. We're all teachers. And you could be just one of the many that someone would like to shower with gratitude. I think we should all live as though we're the secret teachers we have to thank! Just like Liesl says, "YOU ARE WONDERFUL AND CAN DO GREAT THINGS."

Sending smiles, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Call for Interview Subjects! (And Happy Thanksgiving!)

*Do you consider yourself a leader? Why?
*What's your definition of leadership? How do you "become" a leader?

*What are important qualities for a leader to have?

*Do you feel pressure to take on leadership roles in your community (especially to 'get into a good college')?

*Do you prefer to learn in single-sex or coed environments? Where do you feel safest? most challenged? most engaged?

*Do you feel like you have a way to make your voice heard in your community and/or school?

Do you feel like you have something to say in response to those questions? The Girl Scout Research Institute recently released the report Exploring Girls' Leadership, which hopes to broaden the available research, through offering literature review and girls' voices, about girls' initiative and to redirect people's notions of what it means to be a girl leader. (Read the report here.) Girls deserve to be better understood and more supported in their leadership roles! (This report was recently featured in the free e-mail newsletter New Moon's Friends News--to subscribe, click here!)

Natalia Thompson, super-cool former blog coordinator, is writing an article on girls' leadership "as a response of sorts" to this report. She's looking for girl (especially teen) interview subjects, and she would love to talk to you soon!
So while your mind is still whirring with all the things you have to say about girl leadership, send her an e-mail at

This Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to ponder your responses! Happy Thanksgiving, by the way! Did you know that turkeys are historically tied with respect for the Earth Mother? There's just always a way to celebrate the female, isn't there?

Hope your weekend is brimming with smiles, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Project Native: Growing from the Heart

Project Native is a native plant nursery and more in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Native plants, as their website explains, are "species that grew in this region prior to European settlement." The operation sits on a 54-acre farm in the town of Housatonic, and its all-female crew of eight runs a host of programs, like educational outreach and a seed bank (you can read more below!). Its mission? All about inspiring "the stewardship of natural communities" and "connecting people to nature and through that empowering [them]," says Raina Weber, the twenty-seven-year-old founder and executive director of Project Native. Recently, this dynamic woman took a break from her work to share her story and advice for girls with us. I have to put her advice for girls who want to start a project young (she began it at 19) right here, right up front, because it gives goosebumps it's so good:

We all have this gut instinct of knowing something what will work, and as long as it’s coming from a good place, a good solid place, a place from love and kindness, it will work. Just keep that motivation and keep hold of that passion, and you’ll persevere. You’ll have support. You’ll find support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s what adults are for, and a lot of them are really willing to give that energy. I see a lot of young people tend to be like, “I can do it. I don’t need your help.” Quite the contrary--we can learn from people who have lived longer and have had more experiences. As long as we hold onto our gut instinct, and make sure that it becomes our project and we don’t do whatever people tell us to, we can really utilize that advice. Also, there will be rocks in the road. That’s normal, that’s life. Just keep persevering.

Wow. Thanks, Raina! Read on for the rest of the inspiring interview! And by the way, if you're a girl (or anyone) who lives in the area and would like to help out, they offer flexible internships and volunteer positions--whatever you can make work. Their contact information is at the end of the post.

(For photo credits, see end.)

About Raina's Job

New Moon: You’re executive director of Project Native. Does that mean that you get to
spend a lot of time outdoors?

Raina Weber: Unfortunately, no. I’m also the founder of Project Native, so when I started the project, I spent a good amount of time outdoors, because the initial start-up involved building a greenhouse and collecting about twenty species of native perennials from wild locations throughout Berkshire County, and then propagating them on-site at our greenhouse. That was the majority of my job, but it’s also always been about fundraising and community support—raising community awareness—and then the educational program development component. As it’s progressed, I find myself indoors almost entirely.

What’s a day in your life like?

A day in my life…generally has a lot to do with grant-writing, fundraising, possibly meeting face-to-face with donors, or preparing persuasive grant proposals. I also deal with the daily operations. We now have a staff of eight here, in different programs. Our programs range from a greenhouse, which is more of our business and has earned revenue for the non-profit, to our seed banks, in which we preserve all of the 150 species that we’ve collected and propagated now. We have a landscaping component through which we do public and private restoration, as long as it’s eighty-percent native plants or more. We have educational programs, which are both on- and off-site. We also do community gardens, integrating natives and vegetables at different sites throughout the Berkshires, primarily more “at-risk” populations out in Pittsfield—homes for young women and their children, Section 8 housing. We also have a small garden shop where we retail and wholesale our plants, other products we create here, and our seeds.

Wow, so you’re pretty busy.

Yes. Extremely. We also own fifty-four acres. We have a beautiful farm that we bought at a very low rate. We spent a lot of time in our first three years here with a lot of sweat equity and a lot of fundraising and a lot of volunteer help to make this place look like what it looks like today, which is quite beautiful…We just took down three-quarters of an old dairy barn that was falling apart, salvaged the timbers, and fourth that we kept will become our first indoor classroom, an educational center, and a seed cleaning facility. So that’s exciting. It also makes the property look a lot better!

On Project Native's Growth

What was it like to watch [Project Native] grow and gain support from just starting a greenhouse?

It’s been absolutely amazing, because when I developed the concept for the project and started, I really had no idea how it would go. My background is not in botany or in horticulture. In fact I did drop out of high school and moved to Hawaii when I was sixteen-turning-seventeen and got very much into permaculture there. Not as an official career path, but just in hanging out at various farms, learning, then eventually starting my own farm there. When I moved back three years later at nineteen, I just wanted to continue to grow. I quickly found out through some of my own landscaping projects that there was a need for native plants to be used in landscaping, particularly at that time at private homes. I was trying to recreate what I found the most beautiful landscaping, which was nature’s landscaping, and finding lack of those materials.

I was fortunate enough to have a connection with a nonprofit called the Railroad Street Youth Project, and that’s still in existence today and has done very well. It was only a month old at this time, and it was started by a peer of mine from high school who had also dropped out of high school. The nonprofit recognized the need for a youth empowerment center that went beyond the normal youth centers, if you will. One that actually asked the kids, “What do you want to do? What inspires you? What kind of projects would you like to see happen in the Berkshires?” They raised the money to send me to an 8-week business course, where I built the plan for Project Native, and gave me access to mentors, who helped me learn how to grant-write and begin Project Native.

So watching it grow has been mind-blowing, really, to say the least, because we never could have imagined that we’d own fifty-four acres and have a crew of eight and have this much community support and be growing over a hundred and fifty different species. And really, we’re just growing. We have not reached a stagnant point at all in our organization. Quite the contrary, we’re getting bigger and stronger every day.

I’m so personally inspired by this story…

I was nineteen when I started Project Native, and it was challenging, because at that age, and even at my age now, there’s not a whole lot of life experience to go on. And I have to say that’s part of why this project’s been so successful, though…My friends who I was hiring and I were not bred from a place that was thinking inside any sort of box. We had no idea what other nursery industries were doing, what worked, what didn’t. So we went on our gut feelings and instincts and a lot of motivation and passion, and that’s what has really made it work to date now…

What empowered you to make this bold step in your life at such a young age?

There’s a combination of events…High school always really frustrated me. I did well. It wasn’t that I wasn’t capable of learning in the way the system is structured. It was quite the contrary; I did quite well. But I was really bored—really, really bored—to the extent that it kind of drove me up the wall, which is why I made that kind of crazy and nonconformist decision to drop out of high school and then left my parents’ home six months later and flew to Hawaii with no plan whatsoever. So I guess I always had that in my blood, so to speak, that yearning for adventure and something different. But when I came back to the Berkshires, primarily for financial reasons, I very much wanted to in many ways prove that I wasn’t this at-risk youth that had no potential because I’d left school and the traditional system, that there wasn’t any possibility for me. So part of it was this strive to sort of prove something…to myself, my family, the community that I’d grown up in.

Another part of it was just I’ve always enjoyed innovative and new projects. I’ve always been that way. I never really got a job working for someone else. From the time I was young, I did things like make lemonade and bake sales, and that’s how I always made my allowance…so I guess I’ve always been entrepreneurial. And it just didn’t seem that risky. I wasn’t that attached to money, I had cheap rent, no belongings, no debt. So it was like, “Why not? Why not try to make something like this work, put my energy there and see what comes from it?” So that’s the key to doing something young, before you have kids, before get married, before you’re worried about buying a home or any of those things…to start something innovative and dangerous and many ways. You have the option to do that when you’re young, and I recognize that.

On Nature and Project Native's Mission

Your Motto is “Growing Nature’s Garden”… How has nature shaped you? What do you want [Project Native] to offer others by helping others connect to it?

[It was] one of the ways that I really became grounded in myself in growing up as a female, not really following your general path of either being a career woman or having kids and starting a family. Neither of [those paths] really fit me, and nature has always been a mentor for me. It’s always just been a place where I felt at peace, where I felt the strongest, where I felt the most inspired. When I started learning about invasive species, which are plants that originated somewhere else, have moved into your area, it doesn’t matter where, and have not evolved with the rest of your species. A lot of times, and with invasive species in particular…because they haven’t evolved, haven’t formed those niches, they can tend to take over. They don’t have checks and balances in place. So where maybe fifty, sixty species grew together in harmony, all of the sudden you have one that wipes out the entire population. When I started recognizing that most of that was direct impact from humans—we brought them here for gardens or for fencing for cattle on top of the fact that we were the number one destroyer of natural habitat just with homes and roads and cities. I just felt it was my responsibility to start giving back, to take care of the earth, and in doing so [I knew] we’d only feel more empowered and inspired.

Thanks again, Raina!

To contact Project Native:

Project Native, Inc.
342 North Plain Road (Route 41)
Housatonic, MA 01236
Phone (413) 274-3433
Fax (413) 274-3464

Here are some more links you might be interested in:
Yankee Magazine's article about Project Native:
Native Plant Network:
Plant Native:

Wishing you your own fantastic feelings of growth, Elizabeth

**Photo credits: Photo of Raina Weber: unknown, Photo of crew and photo of Black-eyed Susan: Rachel Kramer

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Girl Entrepreneurs

Do you or someone you know have a girl-started project or business? I love stories about girl entrepreneurs and how they balance it with the rest of their lives!

Back when I was eleven and twelve (I've gotta say, a lot happened those two years!), I had a cool business with my mom making eye pillows for a local massage therapist and yoga teacher. It taught me all about math and business--I learned how to make invoices and keep track of expenses, figure in my hourly work rate, and I learned specific sewing techniques to make them. The great thing about doing it young was that helped me sort out my passions early. I learned that sewing-wise, I loved turning my attention to clothing! Perhaps most of all, I gained a remarkable sense of respect for those who work professionally in sewing, from factory assembly of clothing to alterations in dress shops.

Speaking of girl-begun companies, have you heard of Sticker Sisters? Visiting the Feminist Expo 2000 with New Moon years ago, I ran into their cool offerings and friendly founder Ariel Fox (along with Gloria Steinem and Dolores Huerta!). Begun as her project to help other girls after a frustrating year in middle school, Ariel's offering of stickers with messages like "Girls can do anything" slowly grew to a larger operation, with an increased selection of stickers, shoelaces, and more. Ariel is still running Sticker Sisters, and it's going strong--Ms. Magazine called her a "Woman to Watch" in 1999. What an inspiring story--a girl's project leading her into womanhood!

Stay tuned, because soon we'll be sharing an interview with a woman who started a native plant nursery at 19 that's booming eight years later. She has some special advice for girls who are passionate about starting something young.

Sending you showers of sunshine, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Good Wife's Guide

This article appeared in Housekeeping Monthly in May of 1955. Or did it? There's a controversy out on the Internet where this article is fast circulating about its validity. Was it possibly written in more current times, to poke fun at the 1950s mentality? Or was it really written at the time?

Either way, people love talking about it! How could it not raise questions like, well, first: What?!

And then, since these media messages were out there at the time in some form: Did people really take these suggestions seriously? What were the relationships like day-to-day? What's the "role of a wife" considered to be today, or is there one?

One online response that I appreciated was one woman's Good Husband's Guide. What a way to get a point across while having fun!

Most of all, I think the article is also a good opportunity to ask, Who are women--and girls--to themselves first? After all, self-hood is the foundation of any relationship.

Well, readers, what do you think about this article?

Evidence of modern-day empowered women in relationships could be a great prompt for a submission to Howling at the Moon (Email them to

Here's are a link about the controversy:

May your day bring joy, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Inspiring Teacher

In honor of the halfway mark of NaNoWriMo, the challenge to write an entire novel in the month of November (see earlier post), I'd like to give a tribute to a wonderful writing teacher I once had. I would love to hear about your experiences with inspiring teachers, too, so please do comment.

This is my story. When I was eleven, I was homeschooled for a year. A family friend, Liesl, was an elementary school teacher nearby. I had a passion for writing. So did she. She became my friend, coach, and mentor that year, the same year I joined the New Moon Book Girls Editorial Board. (See my first post ever for more an explanation of what that was). Every week, I would meet her at her home, and she would come up with creative projects for me as well as keeping two running journals together, each with a different focus.

Liesl taught me about a lot more than writing, though. She taught me about friendship. She taught me about creativity by taking me to the art museum to write about what we saw. She taught me about fun by inviting me to her school's celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday. She also taught me about optimism. She has Multiple Sclerosis, diagnosed fourteen years ago, and gets around in a wheelchair. But that's beside the point of who she is. Except for the strength it has given her in other ways. When I talked to her recently, she said, "I feel good about myself, and I want to have other people feel good about themselves." And isn't a teacher who gets all those life lessons across really the best kind of writing teacher? Because when it comes down to it, isn't writing all about life?

About writing, Liesl says that she writes in her journal every day and that people often tell her she should write a book. If she does write a book, she says, she doesn't want it to be about MS. Retiring this year to take care of her health, she hopes to become "more arty"--you can see her photos on this post!

I asked her if she had anything to say to girls. She did:

"We each make a difference. I do feel that I am a 'light in the world.' [I had called her that in the conversation.] I do think everybody has that, but I don't think everyone pays attention to that."

"We need to feel good about ourselves and to feel like we can do that, and I think boys are probably told that more often."

Liesl added, "For girls, anybody, it's important to know inside you is someone wonderful." I leave you with that.

Happy creativity, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Opportunity for Girls

Are you passionate about gender equity in the classroom? So is the Myra Sadker Foundation, named after a late pioneer in educational research. The foundation continues her work, and one way they do that is by sponsoring those who are promoting gender equity in schools. They have an award just for students with an idea for change and how to make it. Here's the description:

Designed to encourage student ideas, activities and projects (K-12) that promote respect for group differences, fairness, and in other ways build upon the values and contributions of Myra Sadker's work. Awards range from $100 to $1,000.

You can find the application at What a cool opportunity to make a difference for girls--including yourself! If you have any questions, email And if you receive an award, let us know--we'd love to profile you and your project!

Sending visions of new doors opening for girls, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Getting Those Creative Juices A-Flowin'

New Moon usually likes to focus on topics apart from fashion, because everywhere else, girls get so inundated with the stuff. So I want to remind you in this post--we still think it's what's inside every strong girl out there that's most important!

In September, a new magazine debuted called Kiki. Begun by Jamie Bryant, a mother who wanted better quality publications out there for her daughters, the magazine focuses on fashion and design for girls 9-14. Without the usual fluff, though (New Moon readers know what I mean--gossip, boyfriends, etc.). That's what caught my attention.

Instead, according to Bryant, Kiki takes the college fashion curriculum and tailors it to younger readers, using the fashion and design industry to explore a variety of topics, including business, geography, fine art, craft, history, world culture, and even math and science. "Kiki is proof that having fun with style and artistry is completely compatible with intelligence and creativity." Each issue of Kiki combines articles with creative pages for readers' designs and art. It also seeks to help readers gain the confidence that comes from being comfortable in their own skin, whatever their style.

Passionate sewer and designer that I am, I would love to see a copy. When I started making clothing, I actually started caring less about what I was wearing--I got so caught up in the creativity of what I was actually making. It just felt like I was a painter who wouldn't mind wearing paint-covered jeans in pursuit of her art!

Well, readers, what do you think? Have you heard of Kiki or read it? Does it do what it aims? And what do you think about fashion and design? Do you think there are enough clothing designs out there girls would actually want to wear, or do you have a hard time finding clothes that suit your age? Do fashion companies sell clothes that feel too old?

Your trusty guide, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Howl at the moments of power and sing about the good things in your life!

Have you seen anything lately that made you proud to be a girl or is there anything that you’ve seen that has made life better for girls? Maybe it’s a commercial that broke the stereotypes of what it means to be a woman. Maybe it’s a female construction worker. New Moon would love to hear these stories! Write to us and tell us what you saw to

Howl at the moments of power and sing about the good things in your life!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Writers' Guild Strike

Have you heard about the Writers' Guild strike? Maddi, 14, has something to say about this hot topic in the news. She explains the situation so well that I thought I would just pass it along in her words:

As most girls probably know, the Writers' Guild has gone on strike for better pay. The Guild is a labor union for the people who write the scripts for almost every TV show on the air. These writers are paid very little. There are a lot of misconceptions about unions and strikes. Certain corporate leaders will tell you that unions are Communist and anti-American, or that workers who join them or go on strike (going on strike means refusing to work until your demands are met) are lazy and greedy. As the daughter of two union supporters, I can tell you this is not true. Unions are sometimes rooted in socialism, but they are not communist. Unions are just groups of workers who band together to keep bosses from treating any member unfairly. And workers usually go on strike because they aren't paid enough or are made to work in unsafe conditions. With all this in mind, I make this plea to all New Moon readers: Try to either cut back on the time you spend watching TV, or better yet stop watching TV completely while the strike is going on. Kids and teens watch a lot of TV in general, and if we were to all cut back the TV corporations would lose a lot of money, and would negotiate more quickly with the Guild. You can still watch shows online and movies are fine, too. But as fellow writers, I ask you to show your solidarity and TURN IT OFF!

Thanks for sharing, Maddi!

Readers, what do you think? Have you been following the strike? Do you have something to say?

Your trusty guide, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Hugging ban enforced

By now, most of you have probably heard of the 12 and 13-year-old girls who got detention for hugging their friends. The hugs apparently broke a rule against "public displays of affection" that the school had.

Here at New Moon, we've been talking about this piece of news a lot. Julia Barenboim, New Moon's Assistant Online Editor, says, "We already live in such a cold, material-based society, and now we are discouraging positive relationships in children even more. And we wonder why teens [can be] so harsh and emotionally unresponsive? Adults frequently blame this on technology, but it sure seems the picture is a lot more 3-D than that. I also thought it was interesting that they made a huge point to say they weren't 'full frontal' hugs - um, there's really nothing wrong with that either . . . can't school officials tell the difference between something sexually inappropriate and two friends connecting?"

I wondered the same thing. While I understand the school's need -- and responsibility -- to watch out for sexual harrassment, banning hugs seems like a lazy way of ignoring the real problem, which is consent or lack of it. It's pretty easy to tell by looking whether a hug is welcome or not -- when you see by someone's body language that she's clearly not welcoming the hug, that's the time to step in.

These schools say they're trying to prevent sexual harrassment or distracting romantic scenes in the school hallways. But both girls who got detention insist that they didn't do anything wrong. Although I understand where the school's policy is coming from, I have to say I agree with the girls on this one.

But I'm interested in hearing what you have to say. Have you heard about the punished huggers? Does your school have "no hugging" rules? Do you hug your friends? Do you think the rules are fair, or over the top? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Generation Nature

For me, the call came from within. It said (in the voice of my neck, which is quite insistent and reasonable), "I need some time off here." I was standing in the hallway of my college apartment. I knew the call meant what it said. My mother's kindness and eye for the truth echoed it. She repeatedly insisted, "Are you sure you don't need time off from school?" I had had a neck injury in ninth grade, you see, that was still hurting, in fact worsening, even as I pared down my life, everything revolving around being in as little pain as possible, which was still a lot. So I plunged into college leave, my absolute commitment becoming my health and well-being. It was very hard to step away from the main track--very, very hard. What followed in my life, though, was a miracle of self-discovery and insight into the world. And that is how I would like to introduce the recent media exchange between Thomas Friedman and Courtney Martin.

On October 10, The New York Times published an Op-Ed by Thomas L. Friedman in which he describes his impression of today's generation of twenty-somethings, commonly called "Generation Y," of which I am a part. "Generation Q" he calls us, for quiet: "quietly pursuing their idealism, at home and abroad. But Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country's own good." He seeks a generation to light a fire under the country with action the way the youth of his day did.

Courtney E. Martin, a member of the addressed generation, had something to say to this
. In her October 22 article "Generation Overwhelmed" in The American Prospect online, she describes our generation of twenty-somethings as lost for which cause and what method by with which to change the world when such a magnitude of options surround us. "We are not apathetic. What we are, and perhaps this is what Friedman was picking up on, is totally and completely overwhelmed," she asserts. She explains that with increasing causes to defend and the diminishing effectiveness of potential remedies for each cause, we sit wondering what to do.

My answer for the overwhelm? Nature. It became and is still my answer for each dilemma, for inspiration, for joy. I think Martin is right on the money when she assesses our generation's feeling of being out of control. Nature is what my generation needs, what every g
eneration needs, as it teaches how we are part of a balanced whole, and we have the right to control our own lives. Changing the world means, first and foremost, changing ourselves. I wanted to reform American education, and I wanted to do it right away, fast, at nineteen. Then this pain in my neck, literally, told me to slow on down. I had to reform my American education first. It is the eternal lesson: you have to help yourself before you can help others.

I know "nature" is not an adjective, so my term "Generation Nature" is a squeeze, but I think that, especially for females, nature is the answer to empowerment.

I will continue my story to further explain. "This year is going to be about letting go," I told myself, "about realizing that I have to banish dread from my life, and that I have to quiet down inside with all that fear and just embrace the safety of being a powerful woman here who is in charge of her own life."
Suddenly, when I took that bold step away from the mainstream expectations and listened to my heart and body and said that I needed time off, something I had envisioned as impossible, all the impossibilities melted away. My mother and I went away while we were unable to live in our house being renovated, found a magical place in nature, and the whole time did not know that it was the plan. Everything just kept falling into place, whereas before that I had felt like I was lifting great weights to make things work. There were sad parts, like not being able to see my dear younger cousins when I wanted them to know how much I still cared even though I was far way. I knew that if I did not start taking care of myself then, though, I would not be able to be there for them at all in the future. And taking care of my neck, giving it healing time, was a full-time job, though well worth it for the lessons it wrote in my heart. More than my neck needed healing. My sense of direction needed healing, as I felt the pressure to keep up that Martin's article describes.

Nature is often a place pointed to as fearful, wild, unknown. Or as boring. But to girls and women especially, I feel, it is vital, our life source.

I took myself to nature school, walking on sunlit (and sometimes cloudy) trails, sitting in a brook, gazing at the trees outside my window, and once having a bird land on my head when I was in a state of reverie. I took joy like a pill every time I stepped out my door and breathed the air. I studied birds and habitats, taught myself to identify their calls, and once stumbled upon a lake full of geese so large in number, I gasped at the enormity of their collective honks. I am committed to more women experiencing what my mother and I experienced. She transformed as well, both of us paring down more to our essences, and she recovered from chronic illness when she was close to losing the battle. Nature, so often, is portrayed as something to fear. If we are going to save this planet, though, we must push that fear away and say, "Beautiful Mother Earth! What do you have to teach me about how to go out into that world and bring peace?" And then we have to sit awhile and listen.

These are responses I have found. She shows us having limits and reaching for the sky at once with the oak tree's pause in growth in winter yet ultimate achievement of grand stature. The fruit on the tree teaches that abundance and nourishment are meant to be birthrights. The moon teaches patience with its slow cycle and persistence with its glow through the clouds. The eagle teaches soaring and landing. The duck teaches humor with its quack or whistle and solidity with its sheltering of its young. And the black-throated blue warbler? It teaches taking a vacation with flair--the males and females winter separately in the
In her book Wild Health: How Animals Keep Themselves Well and What We Can Learn from Them, Cindy Engel says, "One way animals reduce their anxiety levels is through grooming, hugging, and stroking themselves." We are allowed, blessed, meant to give ourselves comfort through these simple yet profound ways.

Nature, taking time for joy in it, restored my soul. I think my generation, especially the female twenty-somethings, is in danger of being lost in pursuit of something they cannot see without sweet nature's guidance. Passion, passion, passion. Balance, balance, balance. Joy, joy, joy. Before I had let myself off the hook for awhile and just said, "Ok, heal, have fun, have a blast, in fact," I never in a million years could have approached change in the world with the same appreciation for what it can be that I can now. Having a blast for me was not getting high, going dance parties or anything of the like. It was sitting on my bed passionately rereading a sewing pattern until I understood the directions enough to make the desired item of clothing. It was absorbing a book on birds to get the answers to my questions. It was silent observation of two swans taking flight from a lake. It was intense, inspired passion about the good that exists in the world. That time off was essential for me, like Shadia Wood of Power Shift described in my interview with her.

Reflection is a necessity for vision of change. Joy, as Courtney Martin said in her New Moon blog interview this summer about her book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, is where the heart is in change for girls. I think this applies to everyone.

First we find joy. Then we find a solution.
When we all turn to nature together for the lessons, joy, and inspiration that it can ignite within, we can then unite toward a common goal and heal this planet's ills. See the good, focus on it, and it will expand as more people learn about it and want it to multiply. Share with others how beautiful this place is, and together, we can bring back all that it can be.

Well, I could write a book on this, as you can see. Maybe I will. For now, let me add just a few more words:

I still have to listen to those voices in my body, that one voice of my true self, that gives me cues about my limits, but now I treasure those voices instead of fearing them. They teach me. Like that call from within.

I was quiet during my time away. Not the quiet that Friedman describes, though. The kind of quiet that fills a theater right before the curtain lifts.

Well, readers, I think you are going to have something to say back to this post, and I cannot wait to hear what it is. What is it like for your generation? Do you think the descriptions of Generation Y describe what you go and your peers go through, or is it different? What do you have to say? I want to know. Girls, you are precious, precious visionaries and gifts to the world. Let me know, and I will listen, no matter how different your thinking may be from mine. Just like the birds have so many different tunes but form a symphony together, our voices can join together and find a solution!

Wishing you a breath of fresh air, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Are You a Girl Filmmaker?

Does New Moon's latest "The Big Screen--Get Plugged In" issue have you itching to make your mark on the cinematic scene? You're in luck! Sony is holding a contest for kids to make their own Public Service Announcements about cyberbullying to spread the message about making the Internet a safe place for everyone. This might be just what you were looking for, girl filmmakers! Lights, camera, action!

Here's the call for entries from Sony:

Cyberbullying is a growing problem among children and teenagers on the Internet. The anonymity and ease of communication the Internet provides can create a vehicle for bullying, harassment and defamation, making the Internet a hostile and dangerous place. Cyberbullying is a problem that you, as a filmmaker, can help address and solve.

Help end cyberbullying by creating a Public Service Announcement on the issue. Sony Creative Software, the National Crime Prevention Council and the Ad Council are seeking entries from independent producers and academic institutions (K - 12). The top submissions may be eligible for national broadcast, and their producer or sponsoring academic institution will receive a complete multimedia editing suite for their facility or school valued at over $18,000. Prize sponsors include Sony Creative Software, Sony Electronics, and Sony VAIO.

Judges to include: Barry Sonnenfeld, director/producer (Men in Black, Addams Family, and others); Steve Oedekerk, producer/writer (Bruce Almighty, Barnyard, and others); Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D., noted authority on social networking and cyberbullying; and members of the Ad Council's Campaign Review Committee.

The call for entries period opened September 11, 2007, and closes January 11, 2008. All entries must be received by January 11, 2008 to be eligible.

Click here for more information, prizes, rules and submission guidelines

And...cut. Good luck!

You'll be hearing from me, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Moon® Wins Two Minnesota Publishing Awards!

New Moon was honored at the Minnesota Magazine and Publications Association Excellence Awards ceremony held November 1, 2007 in Minneapolis, MN! Emma, from the Girls Editorial Board, was at the event to represent New Moon.

Our January/February 2007 “Letter to Congress” issue won a Silver Award for “Best Single Topic Issue,” and the “Go Girl” department won a Bronze Award for “Best Regular Column.”

In the “Letter to Congress” issue, girls from around the nation spoke up about the political issues that affect their lives, addressing everything from animal rights to the war in Iraq.

You can still speak up about political issues that matter to you by visiting the "Letter to Congress" webpage! You can look up your Congress people online, get letter-writing tips, and download special postcards. Then, send your congress people a letter to tell them what's on your mind! The webpage also features interviews with 14 women currently serving in Congress, bonus articles not published in the magazine, results from New Moon’s online political survey of over 1,000 girls and much more!

Also, check out our past "Letter to Congress" posts! There's lots of pictures of our trip to Washington, D.C. and much more!

"Go, Girl!" features a girl activist or adventurer who's on the go for a cause, or just for the fun of it! The article is girl written and features adventures like volunteering in Vietnam, living in China and attending a boarding school, and being the only girl on a football team. If you have an adventure that you want to write about, check out the writers' guidelines and send your story in!

Thank you to readers, staff, the GEB, CAB and girls everywhere for making New Moon such a success!

Turn That Frown Upside Down

Have you ever really wanted to like a song, but there was just a line or two that rubbed you the wrong way? So you sat there frustrated? Or maybe you love the tune of one song out there, but you just don't agree with the lyrics?

This used to happen to me. It used to be that I would listen to some song that really got me going, happy, up, soothed my soul. Then when the lyric part that bugged me or just did not quite sit right with me came along, I would sit in silent protest, growing frustrated and more frustrated each time until I just decided I would give up listening to the song altogether. Here's how I got over my frustration.

I remembered listening to Rogers and Hammerstein when I was eleven, absolutely loving to sing along to "I've Got Rhythm." My friend and I would dance along as we sang it out on the deck, and one day my mom was our audience. As we sang the line, "I've got my man, who could ask for anything more?" my mom's face clouded over. She said, "Do you think there's another way to phrase that? So it's not like a man's completing your life?" And it dawned on me! "Friends--I've got my friends, who could ask for anything more?" I said. And it became our anthem. You could even make it, "I've got myself, who could ask for anything more?" or "I've got my dog, who could ask for anything more!" The options are endless!

So when I was going through my recent song frustration, I flashed on that change in mindset that the change in lyrics had allowed. I was allowed to shift and let myself like a song! Happiness could replace frustration, and all I had to do was shift my thinking and get to be creative in the process. One that I tried and really loved was for "The Water Is Wide." My mom and I had decided to learn some sing-aloud songs together, and this one was on a favorite folk album. "The Water Is Wide" goes, "When love grows old, still it carries on, then sometimes fades, like the morning dew." Well, I just was not keen on this, so I shifted to what I did want out of the feeling of that line. I experimented, and one I liked was, "...still it carries on, and grows stronger with each passing day." Come to think of it, I think I just created that one. I had always found the syllables a challenge there--proof that sometimes you just have to keep working at it until you find the right one for you!

So, enough of my changes, I want to know about your creative solutions for frustration in the musical realm! With so many songs out there, and so much brimming energy from your brilliant minds, I know you have some truly innovative ways to turn around the messages we hear on a daily basis (if you listen to music on a daily basis or just hear it in public). Maybe you go to the grocery store and seem to always hear the same song with a woman pining about a relationship she has lost. Can you turn around the lyrics in your head to make it a song about a woman discovering how strong she is on her own? What about a male singing about his lost female love? Does hearing that song just tick you off? Next time you hear it, what if you experimented, gave a chuckle, and turned that song around into an impassioned ballad about his process of discovery of a the innate power, independence, and capability of all girls and women? How he is thankful that his girlfriend established her boundaries by breaking up because it truly showed him what his relationship patterns had been, and he learned a thing or two about control?

What are your lyrics for change? I want to know, from a single word reversal that makes all the difference to a whole song rewritten to your specifications. Send one, send all (or leave one as a comment), and I will share selections on the blog. Maybe it's not even for a lyric of a song, but a poem or a common nursery rhyme. What's your vision?

When I started to shift our focus from frustration to creativity and excitement about what I wanted to hear, it made a world of difference! Your creativity can change the world, and I mean that. All it takes is a change of tune...or lyrics!

Oodles of creative passion, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Monday, November 05, 2007

NaNoWriMo has arrived!

November 1st kicked off National Novel Writing Month and with it the beginnings of many, many novels. That's right NaNoWriMo, as it is called for short, is the opportunity to pen 50,000 words in one month. With great gusto, writers everywhere are embarking on the challenge for as many words out as they can, leaving behind the inner editor and saying, "I can do it, I don't care what voice is trying to hold me back!" The goal is to just get writing, no matter what, and then thinking about any possible changes later. The Young Writers Program is just for kids with the goal of finishing a novel, so girls can join in, too!

I know, I know, it sounds out of reach. 50,000 words? New Moon said it on the blog last year and I will say it again: it can be done! It is a wonderful chance to just totally let go of all inhibitions and write! In fact, I am doing it this year, though unofficially, because I started on October 31st. This is a little late notice, but you can still join in, or just learn from the website. It is a fun one to browse, with lots of inspiration and support. Their message is all about having fun and just letting yourself go (and write write write).

So come ahead and join me and the other writers if you would like. If you begin tomorrow, you can still make it with 2000 words per day. And guess what? There are NaNoWriMo participants who have actually had their novels published (with some polishing, I think, though...).

Sound fun? Then by all means, join in.

Happy writing (or whatever activity brings you great pleasure), Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Power Shift, Part Two

Power Shift, the four-day national youth summit for climate change in Washington, D.C., began yesterday. (Read more about the event itself in the earlier post, "Power Shift, Part One.") Shadia Wood, whom New Moon recently interviewed, is one of the event planners and spokespeople. Her list of accomplishments at age twenty is hefty, but perhaps most admirable has been the combination of passion, time for reflection, and commitment to joy in her life that got her there. That combination has surely made a difference in the world, too, and she has gotten noticed for it.

Beginning at seven, she was involved in an eight-year lobby campaign to halt the increase of toxic waste sites in her community that would further the resulting illness and deaths that were already present from nearby sites. For this campaign, the Hitachi Foundation awarded her the Yoshiyama Award, and the Earth Island Institute gave her the Brower Youth Award. At fifteen, she attended the Youth Summit on Sustainable Development, helping with the Official Global Youth Energy Policy Statement, and the Second National People of Color summit, where she was involved in the Environmental Justice Youth Platform's creation. She became the youngest of the Campus Climate Challenge Coordinator during her time off between high school and college (always a worthy pursuit), and has just shifted her focus to the implementation of Power Shift itself. Of her experience being biracial, she has said that she is familiar with halves and feeling in-between. Activism, she has described, has been "the whole in my life." Next spring will bring her to the American University of Beirut to study Arabic and photography. In the interim between Power Shift's end and college's beginning, she will take time with her family to rest after two years of work to make Power Shift a reality, and to determine what she wants out of her education and her "big move to the Middle East." Of activism, she says, she knows it will always be a part of her life, "but we'll see what form that takes."

Read on for the completion of our interview.

New Moon: You began very early on your path of activism--I read that your first press conference was at age two. What was it that motivated you to become involved in activism so early?

Shadia Wood: The story behind the first press conference is kind of where it all began. Obviously I really wasn’t cognizant for that press conference. My community, which is a very small, rural community in upstate New York, was sited for a landfill and an incinerator. We already have Superfund sites surrounding my community. There’s one that’s a mile away from my house. So we already had cancer clusters, so a lot of children and old people were dying because of the pollution. Clearly I don’t remember this at the time, but the community rallied and was able to not allow [the proposed landfill and incinerator] to happen.

My mom was a big proponent of that. She was a community leader at the time; she rose to that position even though she had six kids. Since I was the youngest and wasn’t in school, as all of my other siblings [were,] she took me with her to wherever [she was going.] So that’s where that came from. She put a paper bag, cut some armholes and headholes, and [it] said, “Don’t dump on me.” That kind of creativity that I grew up around--we were really poor, but we made things work. I grew up around that framework of thinking; you use the resources you have.

When I was seven, the Superfund program in my state, the money for the toxic waste sites, was going bankrupt. It hadn’t gone bankrupt yet, but there was this huge push in the activist community, to educate each other and especially the young people. I attended this kids’ conference that explained in very simple terms what PCBs were and why Onondaga Lake was the first place to ever be declared a Superfund site, which is where my grandparents live. So I was digesting a lot of this information as a seven-year-old and making the connections to why people in the community I lived in were dying or why so-and-so had to miss school all the time for check-ups, and it just really made me angry. That’s where I got involved. We did an action, and it was a lot of people from seven to about fifteen. It was right around Halloween, so we dressed up as mutant toxic monsters, and we picked a chemical to associate with that we had learned about, and went down to Onondaga Lake and did a photo op. I remember being at the table at the reception dinner afterwards, and I was standing on the chair, and so angry Those were the emotions I was going through that sparked me into funneling that energy into that organization Kids Against Pollution that was big in my community at the time. That’s the story of initial involvement of why I started so young.

Did you have any female role models? It sounds like your mom was one. Did you have any outside influences that encouraged you in your activism?

My mom is a powerful woman, and she raised six kids on no budget whatsoever. I have an older sister, Ilina, who is eight years older than I am, and was also a large influence on my life and is why I am the way I am. When she was in high school, she started getting into Ani DiFranco. At the time I was [about] six, when Ani DiFranco first came out. So Ilina got the album, and we would listen to it on the car rides, and it would [mainly] be my sister and my mom and I when we were going places. That’s what I remember, is, as a little girl, listening to this powerful woman speaking through the [car] speaker and really empowering [the listener]. She was definitely a huge influence on my life. I knew a lot of her lyrics and didn’t really know what they meant, but I kind of felt it.

Another big influence on my life has been—I really like history—the activist Alice Paul, who was a suffragist. She’s kind of written out of history. When I started getting more involved in researching activism and organizing different movements and figuring out what worked and what didn’t, I came across Alice Paul and was like, “Wow! Here’s a powerful young woman who created this movement and did direct action, and nonviolent direct action at that in a time that it was not the climate for women to be doing that.” I was very inspired by her and looked to her for leadership.

What has been like for you to be the youngest involved in many things, or one of the younger ones? What advice do you have for girls who [encounter] age bias or bias [against girls]?

I was fortunate to have a really good support system of women in my life, and I realize that not all young women have that. Especially around the ages of eleven to thirteen and fourteen, you’re figuring all of these really important things out, and it’s just this really intense process. It’s really hard to understand what your emotions are and who you are. I guess a lot of that for me was taking time to reflect on the situations I was put in. What has helped me the most was figuring out why things happened and processing them, whether it was a situation that I was in that wasn’t positive or someone was treating me like I was thirteen when I actually had a stake at the table. I [had] a voice and [had] just as good and just as valid opinions as anybody else when I was being treated like I was five or like I was thirteen. It was very important for me to reflect on that and then figure out what the best way to move from that was. It’s staying strong and what you believe in and having a really clear concept of what that is. It’s figuring out where you best fit in in a movement.

What message do you most want to communicate to girls about Power Shift? …about activism in general, too?

Young women and girls need to really be at the forefront of this. We see all the time, women are the grassroots activists, but they’re rarely in these bigger positions of power. Women are on the ground making it work, but they’re discredited or it’s just seen differently. I think it’s so important for our young women and young girls to really be taking part in whatever they can on issues like this and find what speaks to them. Some people, the 1Sky and some people it’s the polar bears are dying and some people it’s the power plant in their backyard. What is it that speaks to you? Find that, and run with it, and push people’s way of thinking. Really be OK to be out there.

I think that’s what Power Shift is for me, it’s this convergence where young people, and especially young women, young women of color, young people of color, can come together in larger numbers and stand in solidarity with one another and really figure out what does speak to them, and push for those things.

Thanks again, Shadia, and good luck with Power Shift!

Here's a link to a story featuring Shadia:

By the way, you can read dispatches from the summit on their website and on It's Getting Hot in Here: Dispatches from the Youth Climate Movement.

Wishing you a weekend of joy, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Weekend Reads: Rules

This Friday's weekend reading comes from Marissa, 11, in New York. The book is Rules by Cynthia Lord. Enjoy your weekend and give yourself some time off, maybe by diving into a soul-satisfying book!

"Normal. Average. Regular. Twelve-year-old Catherine doesn't think least she doesn't think her family's normal. David, Catherine's younger brother, is autistic. David doesn't learn from watching others, so Catherine and her parents have to teach him everything.

Catherine is determined to create the illusion that her brother is like everybody else. So she creates rules to teach him. But he's not always is able to follow them. Every time Catherine encounters a new situation she creates a rule for David. 'Don't take your pants off in public,' or 'Sometimes people laugh when they like you. But sometimes they laugh to hurt you.'

But it's the summer where Catherine meets two new friends: One Kristi, her new next door neighbor, who could be everything she hoped for, and Jason, who can't talk, where Catherine's perspective is changed. She starts to think about what she has that Jason doesn't, and the way Kristi treats her and her brother. Catherine begins to wonder if there is only one normal or if there is an average after all.

This fantastic novel will make you think about reaction, perspective, and normalcy. I finished it in a day, the writing is great and the plot is intriguing."