Feminists and Fractals is an event series that is happening this summer that you won’t want to miss. It’s put on by Broad Conversations, who have facilitated two other events (one in February and one in May) that took place at 541 Eatery and Exchange. The meetings engaged women and their gender fluid counterparts to have conversations about the issues, struggles, and celebrations around what it is to be a woman.
We caught up with founder and organizer Erin Laura O’Neil to find out more about what Broad Conversations is all about and what to expect for their awesome event Feminist and Fractals that will be taking place August 14 – 20.
Q: Where did the idea of starting Broad Conversations come from?
Broad Conversations is something that had been percolating in my head for a while… I had been craving a space for talking about big ideas with other feminists. Then, when Trump was elected I fell (like many, many of us) into deep doldrums of depression […] I realized that one thing I have within my power to do is gather people who think of the world in similar enough terms that they can converse. For me, that meant feminists with open minds and a thoughtful concern for the world. If it’s so difficult to change minds, then it’s incumbent upon us to strengthen ourselves, build community, and practice difficult conversations in safe spaces. I also loved the pun “Broad Conversations”, and honestly that’s what finally made me do it.
Q: What does Broad Conversations look like -the big picture?
So, I envision Broad Conversations as a safe space for women and gender fluid folks to converse about big ideas – what it means to be a woman and a human in this topsy-turvy world. I want to create a place for conversations that are healing, challenging, educational, comforting… but always based in respect, openness, and honesty.
Q: You’ve had two Broad Conversation gatherings this past winter and spring, what’s the typical format of a BC gathering?
For the regular BC gatherings, which we’ve held at 541 Eatery & Exchange, the format is to have three speakers (called “conversation starters”) address a central theme from their perspective. We have one academic, one practitioner, and one activist. Then, there are some guided conversation activities, included with the goal of facilitating the participation of everyone present, not just the extroverts. The gatherings conclude with open conversation and mingling. Broad Conversations 1 in February was on the theme of “conversation” because we felt like it was the natural place to start. Broad Conversations 2 in May built on some conversations with the first speakers, about what happens after conversation, and we chose the theme “participation” and also partnered with SACHA to launch their collaborative zine created at the Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair in November. These focused gatherings will restart in the fall.
Q: Can you tell us what inspired you to create the upcoming event in August, Feminist and Fractals?
For the summer, I wanted to create a fun experience that follows the same principles: a safe space to converse and meet other feminists in the community. I was inspired by the Wait But Hi events that the Wait But Why blog ran last summer. I was also inspired by a piece of research that a friend recently shared with me, that shows humans respond positively to time in nature because they connect with fractal patterns that naturally occur on earth.
Q: What do you need to do to register for the event series Feminist and Fractals?
You register by completing a survey (it’s fun, I promise) that asks about who you are, what your interests are, availability, and other questions that will help me match folks up. It needs to be completed by July 20. Each person who registers will get an email by August 1 announcing their activity during the week. Everyone who registers will get matched up, using the survey, for a small group activity related to nature, run by a volunteer. It could be a painting class, a hike, a tour, a lesson or talk, a yoga class, whatever arises organically from the survey results and from volunteer offerings, but you’ll only find out about your activity, not others’. We’ve already had a smattering of volunteers raise their hands to host an activity, including the very awesome Erika McMeekin from The Academy of All Things Awesome. Then, on Sunday, August 20, we’ll host a Broad Conversations picnic in the park (TBD) and your activity during the week can serve as a conversation starter with other folks there. My hope is that the week will conclude with the formation of many new friendships and learnings.
We love the great initiatives and events that Erin is helping to create to engage the Hamilton Feminist community. Looking forward to participating in Feminist and Fractals! *deadline to register is extended to July 20th!
*feature Image, Feminist and Fractals poster, by Hamilton artist Amy Egerdeen