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  • Local Lessons from the PA Conference for Women Pa-conf-for-women-2014 Full view

    Local Lessons from the PA Conference for Women

    PA Conference for Women
    (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women)

    “Women are damn resilient.”

    One of the first speakers for the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, Jill Abramson, was referring to her recent firing as The New York Times’ executive editor in May 2014. But like Jill, the resiliency and power of women continued as a theme throughout the day.

    Although women were the focus of the conference, men and women can both discover lessons about how to make a difference in our community, become involved, and help others.

    Candy Chang, speaks at 2014 Pennsylvania Conference For Women  (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women)
    Candy Chang, speaks at 2014 Pennsylvania Conference For Women (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women)

    Pennsylvania Conference for Women 2014 Recap

    Over 100 (mostly women) speakers discussed leadership, challenges, community and career skills throughout over 30 sessions.

    We had our eye on a few speakers and weren’t disappointed! In true GPB style, let’s review the day (and tweets):

    Highlights from Speakers

    Candy Chang, an Artist from New Orleans, began to contemplate what people wanted from their neighborhoods.

    Inspired by vacant spaces, she placed stickers with “I Wish This Was” along with an empty space around the city. People gave ideas from better roads, a bike rack, affordable farmers markets, to a building covered in Bacon.

    Whether the ideas were far fetched or a close possibility (community garden, anyone?), they generated another great question:

    The ‘I Wish This Was” project transformed into Neighborland, a website using crowdsourcing in order to shape communities, like plotting bike lanes in New Orleans.

    Another fascinating project reflected on a piece of life that we rarely like to consider: death. However, it can be introspective to contemplate death and help us consider what we do want out of life. Many of the ideas portrayed are positive, from equality,  find love and even change the world.

    Before I Die Project
    Another one of Candy Chang’s Projects: Before I Die. Instagram: Green Philly Blog

    After hearing Candy Chang’s transformation of New Orleans, the focus turned hyperlocal to one of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Linda Cliatt-Wayman, Principal of Strawberry Mansion High School, took the job at one of the nation’s (formerly) most dangerous high schools when no one else wanted to. She mentioned that even if the school children weren’t receiving the proper care at home, she wanted to remind them that someone did care.

    Her mantra to students daily over the intercom:

    “Remember, if nobody told you they loved you today, you remember I do.”

    Lindsey Pollak
    Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty Images

    After contemplating how to make a change in your community, how can you transform that into your career? In between session, I chatted with Lindsey Pollack, who created her own title of “Millenial Expert.” After she worked with college students, she discovered that companies had a need to understand young professionals and she could fill it. Want to become your own expert of your own field, whether millenials, communities or bikes? Lindsey’s advice:

    “Become an expert of that field. Live it, breathe it, be genuinely passionate about it and let people know. That genuine passionate and desire to understand a field is very appealing to people. We want to work with people who’s passionate about what they do.”

    So how would Lindsey suggest that someone gets involved in their own community?

    “Just start. I know that sounds so simple, but just start. Go clean up a park, go to a meeting of a (local) city council. So many people just never do it, and they talk and think about it. There’s so many websites now where people can volunteer for an hour or attend virtually. Every organization in the world is looking for leaders. But you gotta get started.”

    Speaking of getting involved in your community, another panel focused on the topic with three women from the nonprofits Congreso De Latinos Unidos, Women Thrive Worldwide and Girl Rising. Yvette Nunez, Ritu Sharma and Samantha Wright discussed How to Become the Social Entrepeneur of your Life about how to get involved in nonprofits and the community? One idea: research the idea your passionate about, because a nonprofit is likely already focusing on it. And want to make a real change? Start locally. Global organizations need volunteers, but you may end up assisting with a bake sale versus making a real change you can see in your community.

    But even as we consider how to make a difference in our communities, we can start simply, today. 

    So we want to know: Did you attend the Pennsylvania Conference for Women? What did you discover about the experience?  Tell us in the comments or on our Facebook page.




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    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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