Sarah McGowan Dear

What Makes Our Finalists Tick?

In Clients on April 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm

In the final week of voting for the Make Your Mark brand giveaway, we asked our finalists to answer the following three questions:

  1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?
  2. What’s the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?
  3. If your organization was an animal, what would it be and why?

We hoped this would give the voters a little more insight into what inspires and motivates them and allow us to explore some of the creative forces at play in each one of these great organizations.

Here are our finalists:
Altadena Urban Farmers’Market
Survivors’ Truths
Viver Brasil
Westside Domestic Violence Network

The last day to cast your vote is April 9th. Be sure to visit our Make Your Mark Facebook page and vote for the organization of your choice on our official voting collage HERE. You can read more about each organization HERE.


Altadena Urban Farmers’ Market

1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?

Everybody at the market is so encouraging, gracious, and warm. We identify with each other, meet each other’s needs, and discover community. We share that state of understanding that you get when you realize that what you’re doing is a true way to make this a better world to live in.

2. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

The outpouring of support and love from the community since the last market in May has been so overwhelming that it kept the heart of the market beating even as people worried that the market was down for the count. This was evident at our interim market last winter. The community’s support for the enterprises that grow in their own (literal and figurative) back yards allowed our veteran vendors to showcase their unmistakable uniqueness. And it gave our newest vendors the encouragement they needed to realize that they could really do this too. The Time Bank also became a newly integral part of the market experience. People who never heard of a time dollar before traded their first ones that day. Patrons were so receptive to and engaged in this new feature of the market. It was less like a neutral space where complete strangers make transactions–and more like a gathering of familiar souls there together to support each other. It made people happy.

3. If your organization was an animal, what would it be and why?

The chicken: it’s a versatile creature that thrives in both urban and rural settings, provides needed sustenance for the community, and makes people happy. Or it could be the biggest and friendliest golden retriever or chocolate lab because at the market it’s friendly, everyone makes you feel welcome, and even if you don’t do anything, there are hugs (tail wags, and doggie kisses), smiles, encouragements and love for everyone! That’s got to be our personality right there. The chicken is what we do. The Golden Retriever is who we are. There’s got to be some kind of hybrid of that animal. The Golden Chicken? The Chicken Retriever? Better yet, the Chocolate Chicken!

Back to list of finalists


Survivors’ Truths

1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?

I know that how we go about helping people – especially the part of their story we choose to focus on – really, really matters. I see the impact of media and sharing media through social platforms. I believe that bringing together the best of strength-centered social service with social media can lead to significant social change.

2. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

It was amazing to meet and talk with Leymah Gbowee four days before she was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. However, what stands out for me is a conversation we had with transgender young people about how we could use media to challenge stigma and discrimination they face. One young woman’s face lit up, “I know what we should call this! ‘It’s time for a change!'” It’s time for a change, indeed.

3. If your organization was an animal, what would it be and why?

A chameleon, because we have a solid core – a clear mission and way of working – but how it looks changes. We adapt each project to reflect and work in line with the community with whom we are working – whether that’s in Liberia, West Africa with peace and reconciliation workers or here in Hollywood with transgender teens.

Back to list of finalists


Viver Brasil

1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?

The ability to transform and translate ancient tales into contemporary dance theater, that the culture we represent is so full of meaning, magic and so many stories that our artistic possibilities are limitless, that we are finding our potential in the new millennium and encouraging new voices and new artists. That we can make this happen in Los Angeles and take it to the world.

2. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

The elder exchanges between Dona Cici and Mainha da Bahia including on stage, during our process, study moments and social moments; receiving a standing ovation from our San Francisco audience before the show was even over; teaching the women at the Downtown Women’s Center – that our movement and classes allowed the women to have moments of transformation and allowed them to forget that their lives were difficult for that hour; that our newest apprentice, Jahanna Blunt is so excited to work with us – that a new generation is coming forth; and our two national tours with a national booking agent.

3. If your organization was an animal, what would it be and why?

Leopards, and shorebirds in flight. The leopard refers to energy and intensity of the movement vocabulary and how the choreographers and dancers attack the movement. The shorebirds in flight refers to the effect this attack has on the viewer, the simultaneity of the fluidity of flight and the sharp and sudden directional changes of a group in unison.

Back to list of finalists


Westside Domestic Violence Network

1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?

Domestic Violence can be seen as a woman’s issue, but I view it as a community issue and a responsibility. Relationships start in the home but then emanate into the public world. The health of the home dictates the health of society. We can see by the horrifying incident in Seal Beach, where Michelle Marie Fournier and 6 others were murdered by her ex-husband, that this issue cannot be relegated as an issue within the confines of the home. It is a matter of community safety. Also, Domestic Violence is an issue that plays out in personal interactions, but whose roots lie systemically in a larger social context. Systemic challenges create an extending “crazy making” process that impede the well being of survivors and their children. This is why the Westside Domestic Violence Network, born from a community movement to improve the local safety net, was created. It seeks to create a higher standard of service by increasing collaboration, networking and overall care.

2. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

The WDVN has been the catalyst for innovative change in our Family Court Advocacy Project and in the Male Violence Prevention Program. The Family Court Advocacy program seeks to gather data in family court to understand DV survivor’s experiences. Knowing that after separation is the most dangerous time for survivors and their children, this seeks to increase safety and the well being of children and their protective parents. The Seal Beach murders are prime example of the risk as the couple were engaged in a custody battle over their son. The Male Violence Prevention Program seeks to reframe how boys are gendered toward aggression and violence and offers to promote male leadership in creating examples of positive maleness. The statistics show that men are, by far, the highest number of perpetrators towards women, AND men. The program’s innovative approach is inspired by the work of Jackson Katz, and seeks to end violence by redefining what it means to be a man.

3. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

An octopus seems appropriate in our multi pronged approach. Is there an animal that is a cross between an octopus and a cuddly bunny?

Back to list of finalists

Cast your vote by April 9th HERE!

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