What's Coming in 2018

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The Holy Women Icons Project is excited to announce three projects that we will be focusing on in 2018. If the work we are doing inspires you, please follow the links to become a one-time donor or a monthly sustainer. Join us in the work of creating a more just and beautiful world!

1. Revolutionary Girls

Revolutionary Girls seeks to empower marginalized adolescent girls by telling the stories of revolutionary women through art, writing, and discussion. Partnering with local schools and non-profit organizations in the Puna District of Hawai’i County, we are creating a curriculum that features twelve historical women and twelve mythological women whose lives, legends, and legacies embody empowerment, resilience, and emotional intelligence that can embolden adolescent girls to become socially aware revolutionary leaders.

Research shows that girls' self-esteem plummets in early adolescence, due in part to unrealistic body images in media and casual (or even overt) sexism from parents, teachers, and peers. Our "Revolutionary Girls" project aims to counter these negative influences by offering girls aged 11-14 a space of empowerment.

Prior to adolescence, many girls believe they are as smart, strong, and capable of leadership as boys. At the onset of puberty, girls are often taught that their only value is in their outer appearance, and that they are not as capable or valuable as men and boys.

Simultaneously, girls are exposed primarily to the histories and myths of men in power while in the classroom, the revolutionary lives, legends, and legacies of countless revolutionary women altogether absent from their textbooks and lessons.

The problems of self-confidence and representation are multiplied in our geographic area because many girls are also poor and/or racial minorities.

Revolutionary Girls seeks to counter these problems by exposing adolescent girls and boys to some of the women from history and myth who have shaped our world without receiving the credit, proving that they, too, can become revolutionary leaders.

The initial project will be 12 months, and we aim to serve 75 girls in that time. We will be partnering with several local organizations to reach this goal, and we will offer the program in schools as well as on our own campus.

Specifically, we are partnering with organizations in the Puna district, the poorest district in the poorest county in the state. Over half of the residents here receive SNAP funding, and nearly a quarter receive TANF. Many families here have little or no disposable income to spend on extracurricular activities for their children.

As such, we are seeking to raise enough funds to make our "Revolutionary Girls" program absolutely free to at least 75 adolescent girls.

Your donation of $150 provides a scholarship for one adolescent girl to participate in this empowering program.

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2. Holy Women Icons of Grief: Intercessors and Interlocutors

This project is aimed at facilitating conversations about more expansive understandings of grief beyond conventional American practices, offering a corrective to the ways in which, in the West, grief has transformed into a capital enterprise that stifles holistic grieving practices and creates financial stress for the bereaved. We do this by telling the stories of grief goddesses and saints from 14 different cultural and religious traditions.

Since the Holy Women Icons Project endeavors to ask, “Where are all the women?” whenever confronted with practical and philosophical dilemmas, we cannot help but notice the correlation between the industrialization of Western deathcare and the erasure of women’s leadership roles in the grieving process. Holy Women Icons of Grief: Intercessors and Interlocutors uncovers and interprets overlooked women, goddesses, and saints associated with grief across wisdom and cultural traditions. Uncovering the histories, legends, and myths linked to these grief goddesses just may be what the West needs to heal, to feel, and to grieve again.

Holy Women Icons of Grief: Intercessors and Interlocutors will be on display in three formats.

First, it will be a traveling exhibition that will be installed in 3-4 galleries on the US mainland over the course of two years. This exhibition will include artistic renderings of and written information about each grief goddess, as well as photographs of rituals or sacred places related to each grief goddess. The exhibit will include background information about historical and contemporary funeral and grief practices, as well as prompts for further reflection about how American grief practices can be improved.

Second, much of the material from the exhibition will be included in an online grief retreat, along with guided meditations and ritual exercises. This will make the material more widely accessible, and it will be beneficial for those grieving the loss of a loved one, as well as for doctors, hospice workers, psychologists, and others who work closely with the dying and the grieving.

Third, Holy Women Icons of Grief will find its permanent home in our “Grief Lab,” an experimental space designed to foster artistic and embodied expressions of grief. The Grief Lab will be a physical space located on Hawai’i Island.

By displaying Holy Women Icons of Grief: Intercessors and Interlocutors in galleries across the United States, online, and at our center on Hawai’i Island, we aim to reach a large number of people in multiple formats that engage both the intellect and the spirit. Further, we hope to spark personal reflection as well as to join social movements that encourage more creative and intimate experiences of death and grief.

Your monthly contribution of $5, $10, or $25 (or more!) ensures that we can complete the thorough research and forge the partnerships necessary for the implementation of this program.

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3. Queer Spirituality Resources

Although there have been undeniable legal and social gains for queer Americans in recent decades, true equity remains elusive. Queer people are still more subject to family rejection, violence, and workplace discrimination than the general population. For queer people of faith, finding a spiritual home can be a time-consuming, draining, and even traumatizing task. Across most religious traditions, including progressive ones, queer people face outright discrimination from hostile individuals and/or microaggressions from well-meaning ones. Further, just as women’s roles in the development of spiritual traditions have often been overlooked, the stories of queer people’s contributions to faith communities remain largely untold. We’d like to tell these stories, and we’d like to help create truly affirming and inclusive communities of faith.

Our organization is run by two queer women with PhDs in Religion, one of whom is also an ordained Christian minister. We are not a church, but we offer non-sectarian spiritual resources. Thus, we are uniquely positioned to offer a truly inclusive and safe space for queer people of faith (and of no faith) to learn and reflect. Our Queer Spirituality Resources project has three parts: 

First, we will create and launch three new online retreats and workshops: Queer Spirituality Retreat; Queer Families Retreat; Queering Liturgy Workshop for Pastors. We currently offer four online retreats/workshops. These all have queer elements, but we want more offerings where queer women are the explicit focus and audience.

The Queer Spirituality Retreat will be a 10-day online retreat focusing on queer women, both historical and mythical, who have contributed to global spiritual traditions. The Queer Family Retreat will offer fun resources and activities for queer families to learn together. The Queering Liturgy Workshop for Pastors will offer a more academic approach for pastors who want to make their liturgies truly inclusive and affirming. We will roll these out in late summer/early fall 2018.

Second, we will create a worship series to be marketed to Open and Affirming churches. We already offer a progressive Advent worship series that has been well-received. With over fourteen years designing worship as a pastor, five years of teaching Introduction to Worship as a professor, publishing numerous books on worship and ritual, and a lifetime as an artist, our Executive Director is well-positioned to offer a meaningful, thoroughly-researched, and inspiring ready-made worship series. The non-sectarian worship series package will include an Order of Worship, scripts for each speaker, original hymn lyrics, music suggestions, prayers, and an image of original artwork. Congregations can implement the liturgy as is or adapt it to more fully meet the needs of their participants. This will be made available in January 2019.

Third, we are building a gathering space and guest house so that we can offer in-person retreats. Our offerings will include: training retreats for pastors of Open and Affirming churches; queer family retreats; queer spirituality retreats; and self-guided retreats for queer pastors. Our first event will be an experimental one-day retreat for local residents fusing queer and Hawaiian spirituality.

We envision this project offering respite, affirmation, and representation for all queer people, but especially queer women, as well as thought-provoking reflections and calls to action for all queer people and their allies.

Your donation of $35, $50, or $150 (or more!) affirms the basic goodness of queer people and contributes to the work of creating spiritual spaces of true welcome.