Changing the universe

Norma Smith Olson and Kathy Magnuson

“A Woman’s Place Is in the News” was the tagline on the cover of the first edition of the Minnesota Women’s Press. It was April 1985, and after a year of intense planning, the biweekly women’s newspaper was launched.

Some years later, the tagline changed to “Independent News for Independent Women.” And, for the last decade our tagline has been “Changing the Universe through Women’s Stories.” It felt audacious when the Women’s Press started using these words, but we quickly came to embody this tagline. We know that listening to women’s stories and voices does make change everywhere.

Starting in January, the Minnesota Women’s Press will have a new tagline: “Powerful. Everyday. Women.” The same long-time mission of sharing women’s stories, voices and opinions will continue with the new leadership of Mikki Morrissette, joined by Shelly Damm and Sarah Whiting. It seems appropriate that we reflect on this transition in our annual Changemakers issue, where we honor individuals and organizations whose efforts in the past year have promoted greater self-determination, equality and justice for women and girls.

This year’s Changemakers recognitions honor women in Minnesota politics including Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Melissa Hortman and the First Nations Women’s Caucus, as well as the Governor’s Office and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota joining forces to create the Young Women’s Initiative.

Can-do women in Brainerd formed the organization WeARE and opened a health care clinic this fall. The USA Women’s Hockey players (many from Minnesota) risked their chance to be world and Olympic champions and demanded equity in pay and support for women and girls – and won.

Nearly 2,000 girls participated in Girls in Aviation Day. Sarah Rasmussen, artistic director at the Jungle Theater, filled the 2017 season with women. Hannah and Dave Edwards took a stand for their transgender child and affected positive change in school policies.

And you! We honor the Women’s March-ers as Changemakers. If you marched or if you gave your support to those who marched, you amplified women’s voices and stories in ways that made change in big ways this past year.

It has been a privilege for us (Kathy and Norma) to publish thousands of profiles, features and essays by and about women, sharing their stories, voices and opinions. We are grateful to have been a part of such meaningful work for nearly 35 years.

In that first year of publishing, the stories included ones on rape on college campuses, women’s gains and losses at the Legislature, the need for more women’s leadership in sports, and funding for birth control.

Much has changed in 35 years and much has not. In the last months of 2017, women’s voices are raised in a collective, “Me too.” There is more work for all of us to do.

The Minnesota Women’s Press has a history of successful leadership transition, from founding publishers, Mollie Hoben and Glenda Martin, to us. And now, we look forward to the next wave of leadership ready to move the conversation forward with current and future feminist thinking.

We’re excited that the Minnesota Women’s Press will continue with Morrissette’s strong voice, bringing forward the new leadership’s own perspectives and styles, building on the legacy of everyday women and their powerful stories.