In addition to the Sexual Assault Prevention Program’s usual programming, Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! has made a lot of moves over the past six months, holding several community events, collecting over 30 stories of street harassment and bystander intervention through their on-line collective storytelling blog, building new relationships with both Trimble High School and the new student group, F#*CKRAPECULTURE, and launching a Safer Spaces Campaign to certify area bartenders and other service providers in bystander intervention and responding to reports of harassment. In April of last year, the mural painted on the graffiti wall got international attention after Hollaback!, Inc. in NYC sent photos out over social media. Photos of the graffiti wall as well as photos of chalking done in Uptown Athens during International Anti-Street Harassment week were also included in this year’s International Stop Street Harassment State of the Streets Report.
In June, co-site leader Devin Aeh attended the annual conference of the National Women’s Marital Arts Federation in Chicago and made a lot of new contacts in the Women’s Self Defense world. “It was great to see so many different perspectives and teaching styles. I plan to incorporate a lot of what I learned into the classes I teach here in the Athens area,” says Aeh. “The best part is that I came home feeling really supported and empowered.”
In July, co-site leader and Program Coordinator for the Sexual Assault Prevention Program, Sarah Fick, attended the first Hollaback! Site Leaders’ Retreat in NY, NY. “There were a lot of great workshops, ranging from how to respond when someone is in active crisis, to time management, to campaign strategy, but the biggest thing I got out of the retreat was finally getting to meet some of the folks I had been interacting with over the internet. I feel much more connected to the movement now. This is the first time I’ve been a part of something so big and on an international scale. It’s very exciting. It feels like we actually do have the power to change the world,” said Fick.
Also in July, Aeh and Fick presented several workshops on street harassment, bystander intervention, and self defense to 25 girls ages 12-18 at the third annual Athens Rock Camp for Girls. “It seemed that the girls really enjoyed the workshops. A couple of them even submitted stories to the blog in the days following the camp, and several of the girls approached us asking for us to make our way into Athens High School,” said Fick. At the beginning of the school year, Hollaback! sent informational packets to all of the area high schools describing a 5 lesson curriculum toward the prevention of power based personal violence as well as the potential for creating after school peer education clubs. On follow up phone calls, a handful of school sounded interested, but so far, Trimble High School is the only school to schedule workshops. “The plan is to go into the Health classroom,” says Fick, “As of March 2010, the Ohio Department of Education has mandated that programming toward the prevention of bullying and teen dating violence be included in every health class. Our programming would work toward that goal.”
In October, the student group F*#CKRAPECULTURE formed after a small group of friends became frustrated and angered by the culture at OU. The initial catalyst was victim blaming language used in the OUPD crime report emails, and the group quickly began organizing brash consciousness raising events such as the un-permitted march up Court Street as well as formal negotiations with OU officials. Organizers approached Melisa Wales, Director of United Campus Ministry, for support, and Melisa invited Hollaback! into the conversation. Since then, Hollaback! has been supporting the work of F#*CKRAPECULTURE however they can, collaborating on events and hosting workshops. “Hollaback! Is great! It’s really awesome to have other folks to work with who are so passionate about the same issues that we are working to change. We hope to continue working with Hollaback! as much as possible in the future,” says Claire Chadwick, F*#CKRAPECULTURE organizer.
Also in October, Hollaback! made a presence at the Halloween Block Party with their “My Costume is Not Consent!” photo booth, getting coverage in the Athens Messenger article on the block party. Photos from the photo booth can be seen on the Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! Facebook page. And in late October, Fick and Aeh both attended a training on Green Dot, a comprehensive bystander intervention campaign to be run on high school or college campuses. The two are now certified Green Dot facilitators and are looking forward to conversations with F*#CKRAPECULTURE on pushing for OU to become a Green Dot campus. To learn more about Green Dot, check out www.livethegreendot.org. And as of Nov 2nd, Donkey Coffee is now the first Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! Safer Space. Their staff has been trained in bystander intervention, and they have signed a pledge to take complaints of harassment seriously and remove harassing individuals as need. For more information on the Safer Spaces campaign, check out appalachianohio.ihollaback.org/saferspaces. And as always, share your stories of street harassment or bystander intervention with us on the blog as well. No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something. You have the power to end street harassment!