Executive Summary
—excerpts from the Director’s letter

Our themes this year are Climate, Health and Justice.


As those who attended the Women’s Congress in 2012 and 2014 know, the weekend will be rich in ritual, beauty, music and art.

Whether you are protesting pipelines and mining; working on immigration reform, women and gender rights, Black Lives Matter; protecting the water through prayer and walking, economic or environmental justice—this is for you.

The Women’s Congress is that place where we can all gather to reimagine a future that includes everyone.

Congress Agenda Register now!

Three reasons for you to be there:

  • Climate
  • Health
  • Justice

From the Director

prtrait of Ann ManningHurricanes and Butterflies

Ann Manning, Director, Women’s Congress

Note: This letter was written before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. If anyone needs an example of environmental racism and injustice, watching the ineffective response by the US Government to the devastation, Puerto Rico is it. Significant numbers of people still lack access to clean water, to adequate food and to shelter—80% still without electricity—a month after the hurricane hit.

We encourage you to send donations to Puerto Rico. Many groups are on the ground in Puerto Rico doing great work. We suggest doing your homework to find the right organization for you.

A couple have been recommended to us—but, please, do your own research.


On a weekend in August, I joined Sharon Day, Sara Thomsen and others on the Missouri River NibiWalk. The core walkers began at the Headwaters in Montana on August 1st and will finish this week at the confluence of the Missouri with the Mississippi in St. Louis. It is a profound and challenging experience to carry a copper kettle of water from the headwaters to the confluence. I participated for only 2.5 days and found it both very hard work and totally absorbing. I felt a glimpse of what it means to be totally dedicated, through a deep love of life, to protecting the sacred.

As we begin to absorb all that is happening in the world—Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, earthquakes in Mexico, typhoons and massive flooding in Southeast Asia and in Africa, floods, drought and starvation, along with the political upheavals and challenges here and around the world—it is easy to sink into despair.

Because I lead a women’s environmental group, I am often asked how I stay out of despair. There is no doubt that somedays, some moments do sink me into despair—certainly this last election did. What always turns me around though, is this work. As our beloved Joanna Macy would say: Yes. It’s bleak. So what? We are lucky to be alive at a time of great awakening of the human soul. Doing everything we can to awaken ourselves and each other is what keeps me—and many of you—engaged and working to create the Beloved Community as Dr. King taught and to do whatever is within our power to protect future generations and our precious Mother Earth.

Those who attended the Women’s Congress in 2012 and 2014 know that the 2017 Congress will be rich in ritual, beauty, music and art. We will again be held in a powerful, loving container that many have told me, feels like ‘coming home.’ A place where Beloved Community really exists. This year, the main room will contain large artworks by Hazel Belvo, a nationally known artist from the Twin Cities. These paintings are a celebration of the resilience and survival of the feminine spirit and they are a metaphor for the survival of our Mother Earth. They are stunning and powerful.

Our themes this year are Climate, Health and Justice. This year’s Women’s Congress will be a gathering of the many parts of the movement together in one place to hear from amazing women who are leading the nation in building a new narrative, especially around environmental and economic justice. Our speakers come from a rich and diverse tapestry of this nation’s history.

Naomi Klein says, “We don’t have enough spaces where we can get together.” Whether you are protesting pipelines and mining, working on immigration reform, women and gender rights, Black Lives Matter, protecting the water through prayer and walking, economic or environmental justice—this is for you. The Women’s Congress is that place where we can gather to reimagine a future that includes everyone.

Speakers include Vien Truong, Chief Executive Officer at Dream Corps , who will share her passion for creating a just transition—moving to a green economy that supports marginalized communities in achieving both economic and environmental sustainability. Dr. Dorceta Taylor, University of Michigan , a legendary scholar and activist on environmental justice. Carolyn Raffensperger, our own Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network and co-founder of the Women’s Congress, will share her vision of how we can all become Guardians of Future Generations, acknowledging that the Tree of Life holds the scales of Justice.

One of the most significant signs of people awakening to a deeper consciousness of the interconnectedness of all things, is that many of us are experiencing a deep reverence for the wisdom found in native American teachings. We will be joined by four powerful native women Sharon Day, Faith Spotted Eagle, Rowen White and Joye Braun.

  • Rowen will share a powerful new narrative on the ‘seed economy,’ so vital to our health and life.
  • Faith will talk with us about women’s leadership and the power we have when we join together.
  • Joye was one of the first women at the Sacred Stone Camp at Standing Rock and will talk about the power and purpose of non-violent direct action.
  • Sharon will close our Friday evening events with a full Moon Ceremony.

There is so much more to tell you—about the Women’s Congress Council of Elders and Youth—and everyone in-between—about the richness of the workshops being planned—about the incredible music we’ll hear and participate in, especially Saturday night when we host Celebrate: A Time for Justice—and more in future blogs and on the website.

Traveling at the Speed of Butterflies. Sara Thomsen, who will be singing with us on Saturday night, has walked the entire Missouri River with Sharon Day and others. She is a wonderful songwriter and poet from Duluth. As she walked, these words came to her:

Picture of a butterfly

Traveling at the speed of butterflies
You notice things.
Silence surrounds
Loud with sounds
Cacophony of crickets
Hawk on the wing
The river sings.
Traveling at the speed of butterflies 
You notice things. 
A human heart
A small kindness
A bee
A butterfly.
—Sara Thomsen. Written along the Missouri River Water Walk, www.nibiwalk.org

As I walk through my days right now, when I feel the stress of the work to be done to invite all of you to attend the Women’s Congress, I hear those words running through my mind. They remind me why I do this work. They remind me to slow down and notice all the good things, the beautiful things happening in this world, each and every moment. I hope they remind you of why you do this work, too. Thank you, Sara!

See you November 3rd!
Ann