Monday, November 23, 2009

Open! When we got to enjoy Mia's work.

Those of you who happened by the Women's Center on Thursday night might have noticed the music was blaring, a few chairs were outside and inside you got a nice view of Mia BloomBecker's photos. Mia works both in black and white, and in color.

Come by if you missed the opening night. Mia's work will be up for 2 weeks. But too sad for you, there will not be any cookies or M&M cocktail-like cups.

By: Daphne Strassmann

This coming Spring: Attend a T.O.P. lecture. You're welcome!

The Theological Opportunities Program (T.O.P.) is an amazing 35 year-old organization, which offers weekly seasonal half-day lectures on Thursday mornings. T.O.P. is a Learning Community of feminist women and men seeking clarity around issues encountered in their daily lives.

Centered around topics which affect all of us, the lectures deliver on some hefty and useful themes. The theme for the Fall 09 session was: Reassessing & Responding in Difficult Times

The Spring session looks to be equally promising and important: The Illusion and Reality of Control

I am planning to attend as many of these as I possibly can. You should too.

The organization's predictable schedule, as well as the convenient location to Lesley, (Cambridge,MA), make the lectures accessible to all.

Keep up with T.O.P by reading their awesome blog

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Between comfort and dynamism

Click to enter the Women's Center

Our prolific and talented committee member, Karen Frostig made an important observation during our last meeting. She said that the Women's Center space, made her both feel comfortable) relaxing-almost restfully sleeping) and energized. It was her idea to share visuals of the space to the rest of the community. So here are these images so you can see what she was talking about. If you are the skeptical-type, then come see for yourself. However, be warned. Bring both a nice cup of tea and that project you have been putting off.

Drop in Hours

Monday: 11 to 6pm

Tuesday: 4:15 to 6:15pm

Wednesday: 11 to 2:00

Thursday: 11 to 12:30 4 to 7pm

Friday we're closed.

Photography. Mia BloomBecker's lens

The Women's Center is happy to present Mia BloomBecker's photographs. Mia is the work-study student at the center this year. Please come by to our Open house to enjoy Mia's work and learn more about the Lesley Women's Center.

Here is Mia's description of the show:

I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. I'm inspired by traveling, and this photo exhibit showcases a variety of locations. There are photos from my hometown, as well as Cambridge, New York, Scotland and Germany. They show some of my favorite subjects: nature, architecture and decay. I find the effect of time on buildings fascinating, and it is present in many of the photographs. I'm excited for the opportunity to share my photos with the Lesley community.

You can see more of Mia's work at:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Girlhood, Identity, and Girl Culture: A new Lesley course and community project.

By: Marie LaFlamme

I was chosen as the Graduate Assistant to a project headed by Amy Rutstein-Riley, Assistant Professor of Sociology, and Alice Diamond, Associate Dean for Career and Community Service. The idea has grown out of a component of Amy Rutstein-Riley’s Women’s Studies class, where the undergraduate students designed and facilitated a girls group for middle school girls in Cambridge. The groups involve discussion-based activities around the issues of body image, media literacy, self-esteem and identity. There is an important cultural component integrated into the discussions to address inevitable stereotypes that exist between people of different backgrounds.

Over the last three years, the program grew from three weeks, to five, and will run for seven weeks this year. The value of the experience was evident from the college students as well as the middle-school girls. Dr. Rutstein-Riley decided to create a new Girls Studies course, titled Girlhood, Identity, and Girl Culture, which will be taught in the Spring of 2010 as a service-learning course. There has been an enthusiastic reaction to the course and it has already been filled.

The middle school girls who were involved in the program have been from grades six through eight. They attend the Fletcher Maynard Academy, which serves Area 4 of Cambridge. The girls come from a variety of cultural backgrounds and each bring their unique perspectives to the group. Many of the girls are involved in tutoring and mentoring relationships facilitated by Tutoring Plus, a non-profit organization, which is led by Ellen McLaughlin.

I was privileged to have been invited to the 6th Annual Celebration of Tutoring Plus, where Lesley University was honored for our dedication and contribution to supporting the community. President Joseph Moore attended this event and spoke about the importance of service learning to the mission of our university. The girls groups were mentioned and we were thrilled to see the enthusiasm around the project.

For the past few months, Dr. Rutstein-Riley and I have been collaborating to apply for permission from the Lesley Institutional Review Board to conduct research on this project. We hope to gain insight on the value of this project for the middle school girls and the college students. We will be using photography and videography to capture the sessions, as well as conducting individual interviews and focus groups with the girls. Eventually, we would like to write and present on this topic and discuss the experience and its implications.

This project has potential to blossom and grow into a much larger initiative. The positive reaction from Lesley has fueled our dedication to its success. Several other women have been eager to contribute to this exciting service-learning initiative, including Arielle Jennings, from the Community Service Office, Daphne Strassmann, from the Lesley Women’s Center, and Lesley College Bonnie Bryant, who is the Teaching Assistant for the course. I feel so privileged to be working on such an important project with a team of strong women. To be continued!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In honor of Love Your Body Month

Here is a Marie Claire article a student brought to Dr. Amy Rutstein-Riley. It seems in this part of the world, waifs should not apply.

It sounded like summer camp. "You're going on vacation to the desert to meet other girls and eat sweet food," Tijanniya Mint Tijani's mother told her. Tijanniya was excited. "She said that by the time I returned home, I'd be a beautiful woman."

Read the the rest Here:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stepmother: A feminist issue?

If you ask Wednesday Martin Ph. D., who authored Stepmonster Reaching to the core of the stepmother experience, she will say yes. What makes it so? Power.

Read the article about the stereotypical image of stepmothers, their unrepresented numbers in studies, and their complex place within the blended family.

image from

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tutoring Plus honors Lesley with Children's Champion Award

Dr. Amy Rutstein-Riley's project, in partnering with Tutoring plus, continues to gather steam.

Tutoring Plus, founded in 1964, provides tutoring and other services to children in Cambridge’s most needy neighborhoods. As a non-profit with a child-focused mission, their success relies heavily on a spirit of volunteerism and forging strong relationships with local university’s and corporations.

At their annual celebration, they presented Lesley University with the Children’s Champion Award, recognizing the work of Lesley student volunteers, years of collaborative efforts and financial support. In presenting the award, Executive Director Ellen McLaughlin noted that large organizations often approach Tutoring Plus with their own notions of what the mission should be, “but Lesley University instead asks ‘how can we help you?’ And they are there to work with us to explore the ways we can grow.”

“Their work in the community, not just with Tutoring Plus, but throughout Cambridge and Area 4, demonstrates their commitment to education, their commitment to making lives better for children and families in the community,” McLaughlin said.

Lesley University President Joseph B. Moore accepted the award on behalf of the University, especially the students and staff whose work was being recognized, but stressed relationships between the University and non-profits is not a one way benefit.

“These relationships make it more likely that we are in the community, that the dynamics in the community make our academic work more connected,” said Moore. “As scholars, we don’t abandon theory and research, but compliment it with our feet, our head and hearts in the community beyond our campus.”

Moore went on to compliment the practical vision of Tutoring Plus’ mission, saying, “You have cut through the education debates, politics, policies and funding issues to focus on real outcomes. By engaging young people in focused learning by providing them with sustaining, predictable and mature young adults and adults who are smart and who care. What a mission!”

Lesley University’s collaboration with Tutoring Plus takes several forms. Each year, Tutoring Plus is a host site for Lesley’s “Day of Service” during new student orientation and during the Summer Corps of Service, a nine week summer program funded by Federal Work Study. Organized by Dan Flynn, Lesley’s Director of Community Service, this past year’s efforts included painting the offices and student work spaces at Tutoring Plus’ Windsor Street headquarters.

Tutoring Plus and Lesley are currently partnered in a project led by Lesley faculty member Dr. Amy Rutsein-Riley called “Girlhood, Identity and Girl Culture.” Through the project, Lesley students in a Women’s Studies course lead a series of media awareness and body image workshops for teenage girls in Cambridge. The program includes a visit to the Lesley campus, which McLaughlin cited as many of the girls’ first visit to a college campus and fostering their goal for higher education.

“We design every session, but I think we learn more than they learn,” said Lesley student Bonnie Bryant, a participant in Girlhood, Identity and Girl Culture. “The program focuses on the impact of the media on girls’ body image and self-image. Eleven year old girls know more than you think they do; it’s amazing.”

Much of the relationship between Lesley and Tutoring Plus in recent years has been fostered through a collaborative working relationship between McLaughlin and Alice Diamond, Associate Dean for Career and Community Service at Lesley. Through their cooperation, they’ve been able to coordinate towards the sharing of a Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, and coordination of Lesley student volunteers as tutors.

For more information on Tutoring Plus, visit