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Courtney Martin is a feminist. She is also the author of “Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists”, which profiles eight young people doing social justice work. Her talk encourages the next generation of young activists and feminists to get involved in the world and make a difference. She is also an author on Feministing.com writing about social justice and feminist topic.

I utilized her “Ted Talks” video in my classes yesterday as we discussed the loaded and often confusing topic of feminism.  She presents how the issues of feminism has changed, and uses examples from her life. For example, Martin notes that she and her generation are indebted to her mom and her generation for the progress made within this movement.

Martin and her peers often use the concept of “intersectionality” including things like race, class, ethnicity, gender, ability all go into what it means to be a women. They also go into what it means to be a human. She is clear to say that being a feminist does not mean wearing Birkenstocks and hating men, and thanks the prior generations, including those of her mom and her grandmother, for making such large changes in the name of equality for women.

Both of my classes engaged in the topic of feminism as if they had not heard the term before. Many did not know that yes, men can be feminists. Others thought that embracing feminism meant rejecting what it is to be female. These are the energizing,inspiring and engaging moments that make teaching so rewarding.

So…what does this have to do with my play journey?

I left the university yesterday feeling as if I had left a really great party.  Do you know what I mean?  One where you were surrounded by those you enjoy completely, and new folks that were just a gift to get to know.  A party with lots of laughs, and discussions that made you think.

Social justice geeks me out. Really.  Martin describes the humanizing force of change that each individual can do to make one person’s day more kind, more just, and to let them know that they matter. Yes big change matters and we should dream the big dream of making change in big ways.  But being there, for one person, or one group of people, can make all the difference. This is what social work is for me. Just typing this has me ready to do the wave, or the dance of hope.

For some, leaving the job at home is hard, and there are definiately days like that for me.  But often, I find my work very intellectually stimulating.  It really makes me think.  And on days like yesterday, when students have “ah ha” moments, when they are excited to learn and I am honored to be teaching but….I feel like I am playing. I leave filled with joy, and nourished by discussion.

What am I on to here?  I don’t know. I like big ideas, and I like to read, think, dream, and even act on some of them.

How can I bring this idea to the playground to play? I am not sure and would welcome your thoughts. Some might accuse me of bringing homework out during playtime, when I’m supposed to focus on fun.

Maybe my goal is to be the humanizing force in the grown up world that says you don’t have to trade in all the innocence of childhood play when you grow up.  Your play is your play.  Mine is mine.

“Aiming to succeed wildly and being satisfied with failing really well.”

Wow. Let’s do it!  Won’t it be fun?

To see Courtney Martin’s Ted Talk, go to http://www.ted.com 

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