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Celebrating Women Week leads off at the Marsh Community Centre


Dot Crotchet & The Raging Harmonies
Dot Crotchet & The Raging Harmonies
Chris Satori

On Saturday the Marsh Community Centre held a wonderful day celebrating the wonderful women of Lancashire, marking 100 years of (some) women getting the vote in the UK. It started off wonderfully with three different outstanding dishes from the Lancaster People's Cafe, followed by blueberry muffins that tasted so healthy I had absolutely no compunction in smuggling one out to one of the little boys who had his nose pressed wistfully against the window but didn't quite dare to come in, although all were welcome.  

I got there just in time for an inspiring speech by the indomitable anti-fracking activist Tina Louise Rothery, who spoke movingly about her experience of connecting with mothers in the US and Australia whose foetuses had been damaged and children made sick by pollution from nearby fracking wells. In this celebration of voting rights it was sad to see how local democracy - everone's voting rights - are so literally undermined. She invited everyone to the 'Jig at the Rig' dance-off at Preston New Road on 16 March. A coach (£5) will going from Lancaster and you can find out about that here. There are some sponsored seats for low-waged / unwaged / child participants. There will also be a 100 Women event there on April 3. 

There were cakes on sale that looked wickedly rich but were so freefrom it would've been a crime against nature not to eat one. There were some quite tasty looking ethical beauty products which were tempting too except for me it would just be like guilding a lily:) There was prosecco that tasted more ethical with every sip. There were also very comfy sofas, which is perhaps as well. 

As well as food and live music there were workshops and talks - Jane Binnion who does terrific work supporting women starting up in business; Sarah Ludford, who shared her understanding of communicating with compassion - not only with others but with oneself as well; poet Manuela Zanisi empowering women to write their own perspective; and healing with Elham Kashefi of the Tara Centre, who also offers free complementary health sessions to people on low incomes on Monday evenings at her TLC Clinic. There was a witty reading by Elart Productions of 'The Assemblywomen' by Aristophanes after which the fake beards were scrubbed off and the Sewing Cafe did a Mother's Day special. 

There were talks on Women & Power, from Labour city councillor and local social media star Margaret Pattison, Dr Sarah Ilott, Rev Rebecca Aechtner and teacher Geraldine Onek and a panel on how feminism can positively intersect with those other great social dividers - race, class, faith and sexual orientation.

Raging Waters

My favourite part of the day was when I heard the women's a capella choir Dot Crotchet & The Raging Harmonies sing Mni Wičoni - Water is Life, a song from Standing Rock. The joy and the beauty of it - and them - were overwhelming and brought tears to my eyes. You can see them sing it on Tina's video here at 9mins 50. It was also something just before that to see this group of nice, mostly white women singing a clearly heartfelt hymn of praise to Rosa Parks, who made a difference. 

It was great to be there, and a very fitting way to mark International Women's Day week, as a community. The whole event was compered by Green city councillor Rebecca Novell and she and her team of volunteers did an outstanding job and deserve all our thanks.