Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When the Circle Becomes a Movement

Today marks one month since we hosted our first national conference "Welcome to the Circle." We were joined by 250 passionate attendees (social workers, therapists, nonprofits, students, doctors, nurses and more) from 31 states who came together to share dreams, questions and best practices in a collective effort to help women, and the communities in which they live, heal and recover. 

We shopped 'til we dropped at the Shared Trade Marketplace, which featured vendors from a new alliance of social enterprises committed to helping close the economic gap between producers and consumers. To read an article by the Nashville Scene about the new Shared Trade Alliance, click here. It felt great knowing that every dollar we spent went directly back to supporting the women who made the products. 

We heard from extraordinary speakers like Nicholas Hitimana and Martina Vandenberg and exceptional workshop leaders from partner organizations like Eden HouseMagdalene St. Louis, the Sexual Assault Center, the Hannah Project and more. And Music City did not disappoint! We were brought to our feet (even in the wee hours of the morning) by the talents of Radney FosterAshley Cleveland and Marcus Hummon. We literally laughed, cried, and sang together. We were inspired and forever changed.

You may have noticed that we talk a lot about circles at Thistle Farms. Most of the time, we’re talking about widening the circle in a continuing effort to spread hope and healing. Since the conference, we’ve also been thinking about the circle as a loop. After all, a “movement” has to be in motion, right? Becca and the Magdalene residents and graduates continuously travel across the country sharing the message that love heals. Each time they do, people in turn decide to visit us. Over the past two years, more than 1250 of you have come for our Education Workshops from across the country and beyond. Each and every time, while spending the day with you sharing best practices that we've adopted during this 16 year journey, we learn something new. 

Our hope is that those of you who joined us for the conference in person or in spirit were inspired to go back out into the world to say, “Welcome to the Circle,” confident that your voice is a key part of this living, breathing and growing community. Love really is the most powerful force for change in the world. 

The conference was a true collaborative effort. We are thankful to the many people who contributed generously of their time and talents.

To see a slideshow of pictures, go to Flickr or visit our Facebook album. Thanks to Erin Lee and Peggy Napier who captured the weekend so beautifully.

Plans are already underway for our 2014 conference. Most likely, the date will fall again in mid-October. Stay tuned for the date and registration information. In the meantime, please join us for one of our upcoming Education Workshops scheduled for January 13, 2014 and February 24, 2013. For more information contact Deb Markland.

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