Miranda Aisling (Miranda’s Hearth), Jacqui Richard (Next Gen Network, Riveting Broads), and Molly Merluzzi (MM Consulting, Riveting Broads).
UPDATE – The Riveting Broads Summit has been postponed!
by Joey Phoenix
The event will feature diverse women-led panels and workshops by female-identifying women from all over the world with the goal to explore womanhood through an equitable, inclusive, intersectional lens.
Click here to view the schedule.
“We’re taking the question of ‘What does a room full of self-identifying women get together to talk about?,’ and blowing it wide open,” said Miranda Aisling, interdisciplinary artist and founder of Beverly-based nonprofit Miranda’s Hearth.
Some of the workshop topics include politics, water justice, collaboration, and motherhood for a start. In between these workshops will be artistic performances, and food and drink provided by Breaking Grounds Café in Peabody, Tartine in Beverly, and Bent Water Brewing Co., Lucille’s Wine, and Uncommon Feasts, each from Lynn.
Summit organizers are also offering scholarships to anyone who wants to attend but may not have it in the budget for a full-price ticket.
“I think I’m excited that this platform has an opportunity to ask some of the hard questions and bring some things to the surface,” said Molly Merluzzi, owner of MM Consulting co-founder of Riveting Broads alongside Jacqui Richard of the Next Gen Network.
Creating space for women to share their stories in their own words
Jacqui Richard and Molly Merluzzi of Riveting Broads met after a networking event in 2019, and the two clicked so immediately that when, not long after, Molly asked Jacqui if she would consider working on a podcast together, Jacqui said yes.
Then, in October of last year, Jacqui and Molly had Miranda Aisling of Miranda’s Hearth on as a guest on the Riveting Broads Podcast.
After the show, three women started to imagine ways in which they could bring their respective audiences together for community building on the North Shore in a way that was inclusive and intersectional as well as informative.
Thus the Summit was born.
The Arts and Culture Advocacy Series features voices in the community who are actively working to promote arts and culture as an essential and valuable part of business, community, and daily life.
“We know our blind spots as upper middle class white women, and we know that we need to prioritize intersectionality and representation if we are going to make this event a success,” Molly described.
In their process for planning the summit, they made it a priority to not only find speakers and workshop leaders who have diverse experiences, but also to choose topics that wouldn’t be solely women’s topics, but would include the bigger picture.
“One of our keynotes, Malia Lazu of Berkshire Bank, is on closing the wealth gap for women and minorities, said Miranda. “[In our culture] there seems to be a notion that equality has been reached because women ‘get to go to work,’ and ‘women get to run for office,’ but we still have so far to go,”
Their women-led platform is a designated space for women from all over the world to come together and have their voices be heard, which is something that just isn’t frequently done. And when it is done, it tends to be disruptive.
“That’s awesome, I really want to support you guys, are men welcome?”
This is a question that Molly has been asked many times since announcing the Summit, and the short answer is, yes, as long as these men are willing to listen.
“I have long yearned for a day where it wasn’t disruptive to have this type of a forum and I love to disrupt, I welcome disruption, but sometimes I get exhausted by this constant positioning,” Molly said.
In 2020, the United States still hasn’t achieved gender equality. Miranda pointed out that even as recently as 1976, women weren’t even able to sign for their own credit cards. Their husbands or fathers would have to do it for them as if these women were incapable of managing their own financial interests. In the last 45 years, there have been some improvements, but American culture just isn’t there yet.
“I think that for me it’s about recognizing that this is still a struggle, it’s still a fight, and when we don’t create spaces to help each other in that fight and support each other in that fight, we’re missing a real opportunity,” Miranda explained. “It can be really lonely to show up and do this work every day.”
Molly, Miranda, and Jacqui all agree that while men and other people on the gender spectrum can absolutely come to these events, it’s important to be intentional about lifting and celebrating women’s (womxn’s) voices.
“We want to make sure that we’re creating space for people no matter what they identify to attend, recognizing that there is a historical bias against self-identifying and self-presenting women and trying to rectify that,” Miranda added.
“I’m excited about the day where it’s not news that we’re having this forum,” said Molly, ‘But that it’s news that what we’re talking about are things that are going to change everyone else’s lives.”
Join Riveting Broads and Miranda’s Hearth this Friday, March 13 in downtown Lynn for the first annual Riveting Broads Summit. Click here to get your tickets.
Joey Phoenix is a non-binary performance artist, the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore, and the Digital Content Manager for North Shore Pride. For story ideas, comments, or pictures of deep-sea creatures – send them a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
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