On February 14th, the Omega Women's Leadership Center (OWLC) participated in Hudson Valley Rising's 2nd Annual One Billion Rising event at State Universtity of New York (SUNY) New Paltz. The event was held in conjunction with V-Day's worldwide One Billion Rising, calling for the end of violence against women and girls, and provided an opportunity for local students to come together with residents of all ages in the community to stand up for a common cause.
Co-organizer Mary Goggin was inspired to found Hudson Valley Rising when she heard Eve Ensler's public announcement of One Billion Rising at Omega's Women & Power Conference in 2012, where Goggin was a partipant. Co-organizer Johanna Longbotham noted that the event took root in the community this year. "There were boys and men here. I feel the impact deepening."
More than 250 men, women, and children of all ages were in attendance. Families, coworkers, and community activists milled and danced before Goggin enthusiastically welcomed attendees. Assistant District Attorney of Ulster County Elizabeth Culmone spoke about the predicament of women and children facing domestic violence, a One Billion Rising video was played depicting global women rising in collective survival and triumph, and a flashmob of the anthem "Break the Chain" was led by SUNY Residence Life Director Corinna Caracci. Finally, Drew's Energy Dance Company from Kingston offered dance lessons and Hudson River Playback Theatre reflected on attendees' experiences of the event through improvisational theater and music.
OWLC manager Sarah Urech said that in spite of "enormous piles of snow everywhere," the event was a success. She continued, "I feel so moved to be part of it, as an OWLC representative, a dancer, a supporter, and a performer with Hudson River Playback Theatre. RISING feels different than fighting, or protesting. All of these actions are important, but there is something about framing this as RISING that makes my heart sing, lifting me out of the sorrow and rage, and letting my spirit soar."