Tag: oakland

The Radical ______’s Aim to Empower Oakland Girls, One Badge at a Time

imgres-1My sister was a Brownie in the mid 1970s, a Girl Scout Brownie that is. She loved it. She loved her uniform and her troop leader and the activities they did. I don’t think they focused on nature, and I know they never went camping. Still, she wore her brown uniform all the time, even on days when her troop didn’t meet. Brownies wasn’t school and it didn’t involve her little sister at home. It was her own thing: it was social, the people were kind, and she got to do lots of arts and crafts.

While I confess my favorite kind of brownie is “a small square or rectangle of rich, usually chocolate, cake, often containing nuts,” I did covet my sister’s experience. I was a Campfire Girl Bluebird for a brief time. While I loved the red and blue dress, and the wind chime I painted, I only attended for a few months, never really felt a part of something, a movement.

In folklore, brownies are helpful elves, whether indoors or outdoors, who don’t generally interact with humans, but aid them in various tasks.

Adopting the Brownie name for a Girl Scouts age group seems fitting, in terms of the Girl Scout dedication to, “build[ing] girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” It’s commitment to diversity is in marked contrast to that of the Boy Scouts of America.

Another group of Brownies has sprung up in Oakland, California, the Radical Brownies. Not affiliated with the Girls Scouts, and soon to change their name to The Radical _____, this sisterhood also fosters unity. Started in December 2014 by Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest, a community organizer and an educator, respectively, the two leaders aim to foster social change in their group of 12 girl-identifying troupe members. The girls can earn merit badges in such areas as Black Lives Matter, Radical Beauty, Food Justice, Social Justice, and Environmental Justice.

Ms. Martinez explains the group’s beginnings on its Facebook page: “Last year, my 4th grade daughter desperately wanted to join a young girl’s troop. …I saw the need for a group that would empower and encourage her to form bonds of sisterhood with other girls in her community. I began to imagine what a radical young girl’s social justice troop looked like; a group that centered and affirmed her experiences as a beautiful and brilliant brown girl against so many societal pressures to conform to mainstream ideals of girlhood.”

The troupe has its detractors—some decrying single-gender clubs, some suggesting the leaders are indoctrinating the girls, and some accusing them of child abuse and racism through politicization, and allowing only girls-of-color. Martinez and Hollinquest insist the girls have minds of their own, and don’t all agree on every issue. Martinez also says the members of the small group right now simply reflect their own community and that, as they expand, any girl who loves The Radical ______’s mission will be able to join, “These girls are active and want to be out there, having their voices heard. We are just getting started.”







Update from Go Girls! Camp for February 27

Exciting things happening here at Go Girls! Camp…

Early Bird Deadline for Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Mill Valley, and Palo Alto ENDS TOMORROW!

That’s right.  If you want to take advantage of the $40 off early discount, you will have to register by tomorrow, Saturday Feb 28.  Register now>>>

go girls singing

SOLD OUT sessions in Oakland and Berkeley and the rest are selling fast!

Some of our Oakland and Berkeley sessions started selling out out so quickly that we had to add extra spots to keep up with all of the demand.  Currently, the July 20-31 Oakland session is sold out as is the June 15-26 in Berkeley.  The rest of our Oakland sessions only have a few spaces left as does the July 20-31 San Francisco session.

The first ever Go Girls! Camp in Sonoma is now open and taking registrations!

We know that Sonoma is known for some of the best vineyards on earth.  But, from now on, it will also be known for the best summer camp on earth.  So, whether you live in the Sonoma area, are planning a summer vacation there, or have friends in the area, now, you know how to get your Go Girls! on.  Register now for Go Girls! Camp Sonoma>>>

go girls dancing

Registration for Go Girls! Camp Alameda opens Sunday March 1 at 9:30am!

So many of you have been waiting and the time is finally (almost) here.  Our partners, the Alameda Education Foundation, will open its registration of Go Girls! Camp this weekend.  Click here if you want to be notified via email as soon as that opens.

Go Girls! Camp is now on Facebook

Just a couple days ago we started a Facebook page dedicated to exclusively to Go Girls! Camp and we are already over 100 “Likes.”  Now, it’s time to add your name to the group to receive regular updates from camp as well as tons of useful and inspirational bits that we think every Go Girl! (and her parents) need to know.  “Like” us now>>>

GG FB Screen Shot

Introducing the “Raising a Go Girl!” Blog

Go Girls! Camp co-founders Lynn Johnson and Allison Kenny just recently started a new blog about their adventures raising their very own Go Girl! through the foster/adoption process.   With just a few posts under its belt, the site is averaging hundreds of views a week and folks across the country are praising it, saying how thankful they are for the honesty, humor, and inspiration the writing provides.  Check it out>>>

RAGG Screen Shot

Francesca & Matthew

I am a Go Girl because I am a leader, friend, and someone who helps other people to be their best.”

– Francesca, age 13, a member of the Go Girls! Leadership Team &  Go Girl! since 2008

Francesca and Matthew

“Go Girls! helps to make real some of my loftiest goals as a Papa:  to set the stage for my daughter fully to become herself, with a love of life, a sense of adventure, a willingness to do the work of loving and caring for others, and loving and caring for herself.”

– Matthew Levett, an Oakland dad and attorney


Come See a Go Girls! Camp Show this Summer

Go Girls! create and perform their very own peaceful and powerful plays that we believe will change the world.

On June 27, 64 Go Girls! performed for packed houses of family and friends in Oakland and Berkeley.  Maybe you were there to experience the magic.  If you weren’t no problem.  You have plenty of chances before the summer is over.

2014 Show dates image



OAKLAND: College Avenue Presbyterian Church, 5951 College Avenue, Oakland, CA 94618 (in the Sanctuary)

BERKELEY: JCC of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley, CA, 94709 (in the Theater)

SAN FRANCISCO: Children’s Creativity Museum, 221 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 (in the Theater)

ALAMEDA: Lincoln Middle School, 1250 Fernside Blvd, Alameda CA, 94501 (in the Auditorium)

HOOPA*: Hoopa Valley High School, 5 Loop Road Hoopa, CA 95546 (in the Auditorium)

*Go Girls! Camp Hoopa was funded by the generous donations of folks just like you as part of our successful “Start Some Good” Campaign in 2013.

The Top 5 reasons you want to work at Go Girls! Camp this summer

Go Girls! Camp is growing and hiring all positions for our 2014 Summer season.  And today is the deadline for getting us your resume.  Just in case you aren’t sure if you should apply or not, here is some motivation.

Here are the top 5 reasons you want to work at Go Girls! Camp this summer:

  1. You are ready to join the Compassion Revolution – You see it too, right?  Disengagement, distrust, disconnection in our schools, workplaces, communities.  Like us, you believe that we humans have the power and the desire to come together, to care about each other, to work through our conflicts in peaceful and powerful ways.  This actually happens at Go Girls! Camp.  No exaggeration.  Here’s how we do it.
  2. You want to spend more time with creative, empowered, and positive women and girls – We require that our community of teaching artists possess “Positive Energy,” “A curious and reflective mind,” “Impeccable social/emotional skills,” and “Chutzpah.”  And, of course!  These are the qualities we are modeling for our girls.  You know you want to hang out with people like this.  We all do.
  3. You want to learn more about how to support the social/emotional health of girls (and boys too) through the arts – Go Girls! Camp co-founders, Allison Kenny and Lynn Johnson, have created the Go Girls! methodology based on their 2 decades of experience as theater teaching artists dedicated to personal transformation and community change.  They know their stuff and you want to learn it.
  4. You want to hang out in some of the funnest parts of the Bay Area – San Francisco’s SOMA district. Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto.” Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood.  The heart of downtown Santa Cruz.  C’mon…these are fun places to work, right?
  5.  You want to be a Go Girl! yourself – Everybody who works for or has worked for Go Girls! Camp (both women AND men) can talk on and on about how much the skills and messages have affected our lives personally.  We have worked on our own courage and confidence in the face of new opportunities.  We have battled our own inner perfectionist critics.  We have developed stronger boundaries as we navigate the world.  We have become Go Girls! ourselves…which is the absolute best part.

Work at Camp FB Call Out

Gratitudes and Resolutions from Go Girls! Camp

These campers from our first ever Glitter & Razz camp are now juniors in high school!
These campers from our first ever Glitter & Razz camp are now juniors in high school!

In the summer of 2003, Glitter & Razz began our life as a special program of the Marsh Youth Theater in San Francisco.  The MYT director, Emily Klion, had already made a reputation of incredibly innovative programming for older youth.  She approached Allison and me because she was interested in serving younger kids and wanted to partner with folks to create a summer camp for that age group.  It was auspicious timing for us.  Allison and I met while teaching at a summer camp just the year prior.  We had already been envisioning and making plans for the summer program we wanted to create one day.  Emily’s call brought that day closer than we could have imagined.  We premiered our camp that summer doing what we do best – working with young kids to create and perform their own peaceful and powerful plays.  We ran the Glitter & Razz camp at the MYT for 6 summers before moving to the East Bay and setting out on our own.  To this day, we are so grateful to Emily and the Marsh for giving us our first home.

That was 10 years ago.  We have actually lasted for 10 years.  Can you believe it?  And we haven’t simply “lasted.”  We have transformed and evolved and failed a little and succeeded a lot.  2013 marks our most successful year ever by any measure.  So, it would be utterly sinful to let this year pass us by without stopping to reflect.  As is a Glitter & Razz tradition, we must celebrate the past year in order to make some goals and set our intentions for the year ahead.

We celebrate:

Our newest, youngest Go Girl!, Ruby Noelle Weglarz, is not afraid to be her true self all over the Go Girls! t-shirt.
Our newest, youngest Go Girl!, Ruby Noelle Weglarz, is not afraid to be her true self all over the Go Girls! t-shirt.

All 215 Go Girls! and their families who were a part of this Compassion Revolution this past summer | The more than 100 Go Girls! who have already registered for summer 2014 before the New Year holiday | Our amazing partnerships with the JCC, CCM, the Santa Cruz MAH, CAPC, and our new partnership with AEF | Michelle Regenbogen | Mike Johnson | Irene zan der Zande and all of her folks at Kidpower | Vicki Dello Joio | Chrissy Mulvihill | Our families and friends  (especially our parents!) | Stacey Daraio | All of the 100+ people who helped us raise over $25K to start some good | Natalie Walchuk, Kathleen Hogan, Chelsea Toller and the faculty, staff, parents, and students of Glenview Elementary School | Mike Topf | Bryan Holdman | Thorina Rose | The birth of Starring Celia out into the world | Phil & Kate Weglarz and the arrival of Ruby, our newest, youngest Go Girl! | the city of Oakland and all its amazing citizens | the GGLT | Kiona, Caroline, Julie, Mariah, Kelly, Cassie, Alaysia, Celia, Jazzy and the rest of the Go Girls! Camp staff | Leila and the whole Merzenich family | The years of hard work, focus, imagination, trial & error, attention to detail, passion, faith, and love that have brought us to this place | Every girl and boy who has ever set foot in a Glitter & Razz camp, class, workshop, party, or event over the past 10 years | All the Girl Advocates out there who believe in and support the magic and power that girls have in this world to make a difference

In 2014, we resolve to:

Focus on deepening and not just growth | Take up more space in the world on behalf of the Go Girls! we represent | Become  stronger, more vibrant and more radiant as individuals and as an organization | Teach more people what we know | Publish the sequel to Starring Celia | Serve over 300 girls | Continue to practice compassion with even more intention

What are your Go Girls! gratitudes and resolutions for the year ahead?  We’d love to hear them.

Support Your School to Support Your Daughter

Let’s be honest.  We can’t move the dial on bullying unless families and schools work together.  And I mean, really work together.  Not blame each other.  Not politely tolerate each other.  But find ways to be in honest communication, build systems and structures, and hold each other accountable for creating a community of respect at the school.

Allison, co-founder of Go Girls!, practices mindfulness with kindergarteners at Glenview.

Go Girls! is in the 3rd year of our partnership with Glenview Elementary School in Oakland, CA where we have just embarked on a school-wide effort called “Go Glenview! A Journey of Social Emotional Learning and Leading through Visual Arts, Theater, and Music.”  The project is a partnership of the school staff and administration, the PTA and the rest of the parent community, along with us and another incredible teaching artist organization Microphone Mechanics.  And, of course…the students.  The school has already been working to integrate the tools of Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) and Restorative Justice and these tools are central to guiding us on our journey.  The overall goal: To help Glenview students become leaders in their lives and their communities through:

  • Building resiliency, cultural appreciation and mutual respect
  • Strengthening communication skills
  • Navigating the school and the world
  • Developing strategies to resolve conflicts
Teaching Artist, Jahi, of Microphone Mechanics works with Glenview students.
Teaching Artist, Jahi, of Microphone Mechanics works with Glenview students.

This is an awesome project to be a part of.  And the parents are really showing up.  Not just physically, but emotionally.  A group of parents have formed an Equity Committee help the school do the hard work of creating the norms and structures that will allow all students and families to feel safe, valued and respected as part of the school community.  And yes, this is hard work.  No doubt about it.

As part of this, there are some things I am learning about how all of us who love our girls can show up and support the schools that support them:

  1. Assume the best intentions of the school – Your daughter may go to a school where it feels unsafe.  The best place to start is to assume that the school does care about its students, including your daughter, and that it is doing the best it can with the resources and information it has.  Classroom teachers and administrators have the hardest jobs in the world.  But they do this work because they want to make some kind of difference.  They do care about learning and growth.  You may disagree with how they are going about it all the time but it is crucial that you show up to the conversation with an open mind and an open heart.
  2. Fall 2013 Issue of "Teaching Tolerance" Magazine features a great article called "There Are No Bullies."
    Fall 2013 Issue of “Teaching Tolerance” Magazine features a great article called “There Are No Bullies.”

    Educate Yourself – There is A LOT of great information out there about what is working in schools to help create a culture of safety and respect.  I highly recommend Teaching Tolerance and Edutopia as the places to start.

  3. Be willing to own your part – The other day, I asked a 3rd grade class at Glenview what they think needs to happen to make their school a more respectful community.  One boy answered, “Our parents can be role models for us.”  Wow, huh? Just spend a little bit of time reflecting on how you show respect to yourself and others while you are on campus.  What is your relationship to other parents, teachers, and students at her school?  What are the ways you are modeling respect and where are the areas you want to work on?
  4. Give your money.  I know.  Everyone wants your money and this is just one more thing.  But money is a very important part of this process.  The article about bullying in this Fall’s issue of Teaching Tolerance states “The most effective bullying interventions don’t focus on only one category of kids, but rather acknowledge that all students benefit when schools empower youth and teach them about healthy relationships. Adopting comprehensive programming designed to promote social emotional competencies is a great way to support students…”  These kinds of comprehensive programs cost money.  Simple as that.

This post is #16 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.

Spark! Study shows how media impacts girls’ body image

test-go-girl-background-1.png*SPARKsummit has the results of a fascinating study about how images of female athletes impact girls own feelings about their bodies:

“It seems like looking at images of women playing sports made girls more aware of what their own bodies could do rather than simply how they looked – which is super awesome!  On the other hand, girls who looked at the sexualized images (either of athletes or models) were more likely to describe themselves in terms of their beauty or appearance and these descriptions were often negative (e.g., “I am ugly”).

Read more here!

*We are following the protests here in Oakland since George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin — and thinking of our neighbors at Youth Radio, whose windows were smashed.

We were glad to read in The Huffington Post that Youth Radio’s Executive Director  Richard Raya “is planning a series of public forums in which community members are encouraged to discuss Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and wider social justice issues.” Count us in!

*Getting over a math phobia can be tough — for our kids and for us. That’s why we signed up for an awesome free online class for parents and educators from Stanford. The class is “a short intervention designed to change students’ relationships with math… it caused students to re-engage successfully with math, taking a new approach to the subject and their learning.” Sign up for How to Learn Math now!

*We’ve written before about ideas for beating summer boredom, but here’s another great reminder from the awesome Annie Fox:

“If we teach kids that it’s our job to do for everything for them, why should they bother learning to be creative? Why should they even bother thinking about what they might enjoy doing? Summer can feel especially long when every moment of every day is unstructured. But a long summer can be such a gift to the imagination and the spirit.”

Read her helpful advice for staying strong through the summer on her blog.

*ONE LAST THING: Feeling grumpy? Unusual schedules, the costs of camps and vacations and your kids constant craving for junk food  can overwhelm even the most mellow parents. That’s why we’re laughing about Playground Dad’s awesome 3 Ways to Get Your Summer Mojo Back As a Parent, which includes this great gem: “…if you’re like me, you’re tired of constantly saying no to everything your kids ask. Recently, after saying no for weeks on end, I agreed to a water balloon fight with the boy. I got my ass kicked. In the end I was soaked and freezing, and it was pretty excellent. So next time you’re about to say no, think:  could it be yes?”

Go Girls! Camp Season Show Calendar 2013

The time we have all been waiting for is here…Go Girls! Camp season starts Monday!  Over 200 girls are getting ready to take their rightful place center stage.  Can’t you just feel the creativity, courage, and compassion in the air?

We invite you to join us this summer at one of our 9 (FREE) Bay Area performances.  You will be part of a radically loving audience of families, friends, and girl advocates.  You will learn more about what girls, ages 5-13, think and feel about themselves, each other and their world.  You will be stunningly entertained by their original plays, songs, dances, and art pieces.  You will leave feeling inspired to make art, make connections, and make change.

Summer 2013 Show Calendar