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Highlights of Minnesota Women’s Press 39th Year Celebration and 1st Annual Badass Minnesotans Awards

 

Thanks to Minneapolis Foundation for enabling us to continue deeper content and discussions about gender-based violence in 2024. Our gender-based violence stories and conversations won a 2023 community service leadership award from the Minnesota Newspaper Association. 

Some of the powerhouse attendees at the event flanked Minnesota Women’s Press publisher Mikki Morrissette (in teal blue jacket): Arianna Genis, Jettie Ann Hill, Junauda Petrus, Nevada Littlewolf, Marnita Schroedl, ThaoMee Xiong, Patricia Torres Ray, Rosario de la Torre


The Minnesota Women’s Press April 13 event “39 Years of Voice and Vision” was a jam-packed Saturday afternoon event to celebrate Badass Minnesotans — and our survival as the longest continuously run feminist publication in the U.S.

If you would like to be part of the 40th anniversary celebration in 2025, become a member of the Badass community (womenspress.com/be-a-badass). If you cannot offer membership support at this time, contact editor@womenspress.com for options.

If you would like to be part of the next steps involved in discussing “Reducing Gender-based Violence,” improving “Diversity in Politics” in Greater Minnesota, or enhancing “Collective Health” content development about housing, mental health, youth well-being, and co-op culture, please reach out to editor@womenspress.com.


Opening Remarks


First Annual Badass Minnesotans Awards

Badass members voted for the first annual Badass Minnesotans Awards, whose recipients were recognized at the event. The five individual and three organizational winners were selected from a collection of 2023-24 stories published on womenspress.com. Find that story here.

Co-editor Lydia Moran will be stepping away from Minnesota Women’s Press after five years and was recognized with an honorary Badass Minnesotan award (photo by Sarah Whiting)



(l-r) PaHoua Vang and Becca Gilbuena, MNCASA; Guadalupe Lopez and Nikki Engel, Violence Free Minnesota; and Rosario de la Torre, Esperanza United, helped us prepare a public safety discussion guide focused on gender-based violence that was launched at the April 13 event. Photo Sarah Whiting

Conversation #1: Public Safety

The “Re-Imagining Public Safety” discussion guide focused on encouraging informed discussions and reflections about gender-based violence.

Changemakers Alliance — the action-oriented content development network of Minnesota Women’s Press — worked with Violence Free Minnesota, Global Rights for Women, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Esperanza United, and a member of the Ramsey County attorney’s office to create the first in a series of discussion guides for statewide conversations about public safety. The first guide is about gender-based violence, lifting up details from stories we have written over the past year so that they can lead to discussions in community centers, homes, and coffeeshops. (Future guides are intended to be, if financial support is available, about mental health and substance use — the other most prevalent public safety concerns that tend to be punished with jail time more so than treatment.)

At the event we invited people to help us test and refine the first guide before we make it available to the public. Three anticipated discussion locations will be in Burnsville, Marshall, and Brainerd.

In 2023, Violence Free Minnesota reports, there were more homicides resulting from domestic violence in Minnesota than any other year since they began tracking in 1989. The second-highest caseloads with the Hennepin County attorney’s office since 2019 are domestic assaults, behind only drug cases.

Gender-based violence should not be considered “normal.”

At Minnesota Women’s Press, we believe the role of media is to help elevate conversations that can lead to policy changes and provide resources to grassroots organizations that are working on solutions before an emergency response is required. We believe that by talking with — not simply to — community, a shift in culture mindsets can finally become more effective at dealing with everyday traumas that people face: financially, emotionally, logistically. The commitment to coverage about this topic led to the award-winning Reducing Gender-Based Violence series.

Thanks to new underwriting from Minneapolis Foundation, and ongoing support from the Valvoline franchise in northern Minnesota owned by Tanya Korpi, we are able to begin deeper work on how media and community can talk more comprehensively about the realities of and solutions to gender-based violence.

Insights from the four nonprofit organizations, shared at the event, will be made available here soon.


Conversation #2: Diversity in Politics

Vote Run Lead and Women Winning shared thoughts about how people can support 2024 candidates and campaigns in Greater Minnesota, where women, young adults, and residents from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities have difficulty getting seats at decision-making tables. Both organizations underwrite the Diversity in Politics series.

Insights from Nevada Littlewolf of Women Winning and Beth Peterson of Vote Run lead, shared at the event, will be made available here soon.

 

Beth Peterson of Vote Run Lead and Nevada Littlewolf of Women Winning spoke about the priorities in Minnesota for 2024 (photo by Sarah Whiting)

 


Conversation #3: Collective Health

In May, we launch an ongoing Changemakers Alliance online series called Collective Health. It will focus on all the interlocking puzzle pieces involved in a healthy Minnesota ecosystem: housing, mental health, Greater Minnesota needs, youth well-being, co-op culture, and  addressing health disparities.

A panel discussion at the April event included Dr. Catherine Squires of African American Leadership Forum; Shea Holt of Alternatives to Violence Project; and Joyce Tofte, of Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. Tofte works as an advocate for gender-based violence survivors and co-leads anti-racism work that centers BIPOC residents in southern Minnesota.

 

 

Coming up: Insights from Joyce Tofte of Marshall, Minnesota

 

Joyce Tofte of Marshall MN, Shea Holt of Alternatives to Violence Project, and Catherine Squires of African American Leadership Forum talked about concepts related to the upcoming Collective Health series (photo by Sarah Whiting)

Three Performances

Junauda Petrus did a reading from her Minnesota Book Award–nominated storybook, Can We Please Give the Police Department to the Grandmothers?, as well as a poem. Find video of the storybook reading here. (Video of poem to come in future.)

 


Deneal Trueblood-Lynch and cast performed an excerpt from her play Secrets. The play is about trauma that impacts many women at the Shakopee Women’s Prison, who are imprisoned instead of healed. Find full video here.

“What was taken into effect [in sentencing] was police reports from people who knew nothing about me, who knew that their choice of words would give me even more prison time,” Trueblood-Lynch says. “My perpetrator was not sentenced. The guy I assaulted was not sentenced for the sexual trauma [he inflicted on] my daughter. Secrets tells our pasts. It tells our present. I believe it will tell our future. Because these types of secrets are woven into communities, [I am trying to get] people in the right places to see and hear Secrets, to change something and be able to look at the traumas that haunt our youth.”

Learn more about the Survivors Justice Act that has not passed in Minnesota for sexual assault victims.

 

 

Some of the cast members of the one-act play “Secrets,” written by Deneal Trueblood-Lynch (left), did an excerpt of the play about the impact of traumas that don’t get told (photo by Amber Lynum)

 

Spoken word artist Muna Abdulahi offered thoughts inspired by language. Click here for video.

Muna Abdulahi delivered a spoken word performance at the “39 Years of Voice & Vision” celebration (photo by Sarah Whiting)


Next Event: June 2

After Dr. Catherine Squires published a column with us about her experience as a Black woman in academia, it resonated with readers around the country. With support from the African American Leadership Forum and University of Minnesota Press, we will host a June 2 discussion with Dr. Squires; Dr. Rachel Hardeman, who leads the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota; and Dr. Taiyon J. Coleman, author of the forthcoming Traveling Without Moving: Essays From a Black Woman Trying to Survive in America.

Patricia Cumbie (Global Rights for Women) and Ellie Krug (Human Inspiration Works), photo by Amber Lynum