Ch16 “Yes We Dare!” — Women’s Summer Conf., June 2031 — Days one and two
2,500 women attending live. 7,000 attending online worldwide
“Where there is no vision, of a healthy, sustainable future for the majority — the people perish.”
The opening presentation of Women’s Summer Conference 2031 was historic. The female Speaker of the House spoke, first. This was to be the big update on how Women In Congress were processing the colleges collapse, since the end of Conference 2030. Many recalled at the end of Conference 2030, the question, “As elected officials, what if anything, should we do about collapsing liberal arts colleges?” was left up in the air, un-answered, hanging in the air.
The opening Key Note speech was given on a June Thursday evening. At about the ten minute mark, she said, “Women In Congress have decided to accept the challenge of creating a new kind of liberal arts college experience; we will look into this.” The audience broke out in a cheer lasting ten minutes.
The Speaker went on to the metaphor of a baton-passing relay race. The men had fallen down. The women were now picking up the baton to run the race of creating new, healthy culture:
Long ago, in the 1940s or 1950s, a male trope existed, “Do the right thing.” At the time, this was mostly said to boys who recklessly got girls pregnant. Boys were encouraged to “Do the right thing” marry the girl, support the mother and child, be a father.
In the 1989 Spike Lee movie, “Do the right thing,” the phrase was used more broadly to apply to the wide range of problems in black~white race relations. In 2031, it seems to me “Do the right thing” is passing out of male hands altogether; and, into female hands. The collapse of colleges is asking us, “Will we, Women In Congress, have the intestinal fortitude — the balls — to “Do the right thing” for the next seven generations of young adults?
I know male leadership prior to 2024 was a basket case, with virtually no good role models for women in charge now. More than any other issue to date, the college crisis challenges us if we know what the right thing to do is; and, whether we will do it — or not. Responding to this challenge will test our creativity, our endurance and our talents. Whether we succeed or not, it will exercise our will to do good and exercise our healthy autonomy. In this sense we cannot lose by stepping forward. We only lose if we do nothing.
The cheers and hugging started again. For the first time in the college crisis, mothers felt morally and emotionally supported. This was the climax of a mass, national, out-pouring of public-voter support, similar to the grassroots surge of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in the early 1980s (https://www.madd.org/history); and, Rainbow Coalition for Gun Control in the early 2020s. Both actions did not stop until legislation to their liking was made law in all 52 states.
Later historians note the college crisis marked the point where, as the challenges became bigger, Women took up more sophisticated strategy and tactics.
They were still picking up the broken pieces, left behind in the cultural-economic ransacking of Earth by Homo-self-destructivus. However with colleges, Women as a gender, women’s self-concept was graduating from seeing themselves as supporters and comforters, as “pink-collar workers,” nurturing elementary school teachers, nurses and dental assistants — to capable, competent, self-propelled executives — with — a collective vision of benefits, for the 99%, reaching forward seven generations.
Women were waking up, healing, realizing they were still depressed, still living in the male gaze. Taking on the challenge of rectifying liberal arts colleges, was NOT pink collar work. The college crisis was forcing women in a new direction elected male officials had not ventured into since Lincoln and JFK. College collapse was forcing them to think like visionaries. Re-making colleges was not menial work; could not be accomplished by only supporting people. Events were pushing Women to conceive of a better future for the 99%, form a physical body for this vision; and nurture it until it could take its place as a completely new kind of liberal arts education. This was work more resonant with Gal Godot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman.
This was, “stepping into larger shoes.” Women encouraged each other NOT TO GIVE UP, to step forward and into this huge task.
The rest of the four days of the 2031 Conference was planned to move out of the abstract and into the concrete. The next three days of interactive exercises were designed to crowdsource new thinking on how to proceed; and, how to set up governance. A giant Post-It note on the Conference organizers office wall asked, “How much feedback and good ideas can we crowdsource today?”
From abstract to practical
The Speaker of the House continued. “Women In Congress has convened and mandated a New Colleges Project Committee. Their mandate is to respond creatively to college collapse. I want to tell you about what our mandate does and does not say. Our mandate is to re-write the values and to re-vision a more workable purpose for liberal arts colleges.
“Our mandate is NOT to over-turn, revolutionize or take all core courses online. This means our mandate has both similarities and differences with the US Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and similar documents. These similarities and differences are yet to be clarified. That’s our job, to clarify them more. Our mandate ends there.
“Our mandate is NOT to re-imagine, revise, re-write core curriculum. This will be the mandate of a later group, to be determined.
“How can you support us? Send us your ideas. We are initially hiring five interns from Paid Year of National Service to review, sort and organize ideas we have collected and those sent in to us. We’d love to have your ideas and input.
“I’d tell you more, but our mandate is only 120 days. I need to go back to work on this. Pray for us we have something awesome to show you all in 120 days.”
Yes We Dare! T-Shirts
At the end of the Speaker’s remarks, after the standing ovation. Conference assistants walked up and down aisles, with boxes, passing out a free T-shirt to all attendees who wanted one, any one of four versions.
After this opening talk, after excitement subsided, you never saw so many shocked, deer-in-the headlights faces. One attendee interviewed said, “Truth to tell, many of us felt paralyzed. We were challenging each other to take on the biggest social-cultural project attempted since the Berlin Airlift. 1945–1952. Reviving colleges was even more complex than moving food and supplies from one place to another. We were agreeing to attempt “the impossible. None of us could imagine or conceive what the outcome might be.”
An unexpected side-effect of this speech was it started women thinking about how myths operate in mainstream and popular culture. In its proportions, the challenge was mythic. How each woman willing to offer the contributions they could make, this was resonant with the start of the Heroes Journey.
The intention to replace quaint, old-white-male, shoot-em-up, pop culture myths, the old-white-male goal of merely fitting in as a cog in consumer culture — with something inspiring to young adults age 18–25 — was timely mythic work. Women were excited to conceive of new, POSITIVE cultural myths needed to replace old, exhausted, empty male myths; and then, embody them in college curriculum.
Cultural Creative women interested in working On New Colleges started meeting each other, talking, brainstorming, documenting their conversations. Many of these were submitted as memos and suggestions to the New Colleges Project Committee.
Next baby steps
Fortunately, elected officials tasked with setting the agenda for this Conference had worked out the next baby steps appropriate to take at this very early stage.
The big vision was: five new pilot campuses:
- each sixty miles, or more, from each other,
- each with the same new curriculum,
- each with the same new teaching methods and teacher texts,
- each with the same new faculty-led union, and
- each with the same new political structure between faculty, students and administration.
Each of these schools was to be faculty-led; yet, only as much, as healthy for all stakeholders involved.
This was the practical endgame: five separate campuses supporting each other to make everything work, learning from each other’s successes and failures.
Next ~ Day Two of Conference 2031 was lecturette’s and exercise sequences around, “What is Cultural Work?”