Sunday night I heard Gloria Steinem in conversation with Cheryl Strayed at a sold-out Benaroya Hall benefit for Hedgebrook, a women's writing retreat center on Whidby Island (the only place of its kind in the world and where I dream of someday having a residency in one of their cozy cottages). Gloria is on tour for her new book My Life on the Road, part of which she wrote at Hedgebrook. My friend Julie accompanied me, along with her daughter Fern still in utero. Tiny baby Fern surely felt the high energy, intensity and camaraderie in the beautiful symphony hall. Her mom and I were riveted and emotional throughout the evening.

A few of Gloria's great quotes from the evening:

Travel is the reason I have hope.

Telling our story is the most revolutionary act.

Your story is your credibility.

All social change comes from talking circles.

Change grows up like a tree, not from the top down.

Don't listen to me, listen to yourselves. 

Women grow more radical with age whereas men tend to grow more conservative with age.

Just as women deserve to be whole people, so do men. 

The biggest obstacle to Equal Rights Amendment is that people think we already have it.

I was shocked and deeply mortified to realize I was one of these people who assumed the Equal Rights Amendment had long ago been ratified - but no. It needs to be ratified state-by-state and 15 states have yet to do so. It is beyond appalling that this legislation from 1923 has not been passed, despite being introduced in every Congress since 1982.

There is so much work yet to be done, and all of us in the crowd were electrified and inspired. Gloria sent us all off into the night, telling us to greet a few people in the crowd we didn't know, as we might find a new friend, a new job, a new lover, a new community. Indeed, this is community building from the ground up. Thank you, Gloria for leading the charge.

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