“We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been — a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.”
The quote above has been close to my heart for years, I grew up reading Starhawk (thanks mama!) and am drawn to building, participating in and finding amazing communities more then anything else. It is what I am most passionate about! I love how the internet has allowed us the ability to create truly welcoming communities with people all over the globe, bridging online and offline, bringing people together so that we can do the work that needs to be done. From the minute I mentally stepped into Roots of She I felt a sense of safety and sisterhood-such a powerful and beautiful feeling! I am inspired by the honesty and rawness of the stories shared and the bright lights of the women who contribute. I think women’s stories are at the root of our handmade heritage so for our theme this month I wanted to interview Jenn Gibson, the creative heart behind Roots of She, and invite her to share her thoughts.
I am oh so glad I did! Her answers are insightful and wise-just like Roots of She.
Hi Jenn, I am so thankful you are joining us to share the story of your beautiful online community, Roots of She. Please tell us a bit about your story and what you hope to bring to the world with Roots of She.
Hi there, Jessika, thank you so much for sharing this space with me, I’m so happy to be here. I come to the table with feminist beliefs and a deep-seated need to translate those beliefs into something empowering and welcoming. One of the ways I’m doing this is through Roots of She, which launched last December.
My intention for the site is for it to act as a gathering place for women, a place where we can share our stories, no matter what flavor or bent they take. Think of a country porch on a cool summer evening, sitting around in rocking chairs or swings with mugs of tea in your hand – that feeling of home, safety, connection, solidarity. That’s how I want you to feel when you visit Roots of She.
Our theme for the month of August is Handmade Heritage-from lace-making and basket weaving to card writing and keeping family records, handmaking is traditionally the work of women. These traditional arts were seen by women for decades as demeaning and are just now being taken seriously as a contribution to the artistic community. Why do you feel it is important that women reclaim and adapt traditional skills and tell the stories of our ancestors with our hands?
Reclaiming the traditional is powerful, I think. It’s taking back something that was seen as less than or scoffed at, when in reality all of those small, overlooked things, are the ones that allowed the house and those living inside the house to thrive. Canning, knitting sweaters, sewing clothes, embroidering pillows, cooking food, making toy animals – these are all things that turn a house into a home, that create memories that are passed on for years.
When I was little my mom made me a toy octopus out of yarn, buttons and a tennis ball – it was the coolest thing, and when I asked her if she could make a friend for my octopus, she made a second one. I had those toys for years, they were so neat.
The handmade community is mostly women and a large amount of mamas. I know when I think about our handmade heritage I imagine a long line of women stretching far into the past, creating things of beauty and value with their hands. Why do you feel women especially, are compelled to create and make things beautiful?
Women by our essence birth things – whether it’s a child, project or idea, we by our nature are creators. Extending that into the handmade world seems organic, to me.
I think that the need to make a house a home strongly plays into things. I moved into my house last month and I’ve got to tell you, I’m getting all of the crazy urges – the runner on my dining room table has to be just so, candles have to be scattered throughout the house, this one chair has to be at just the right angle. Things I’d never thought of or noticed before, but are now so important to me. And it makes me so happy to do this, I can’t stop smiling and laughing when I make some minute tweak in a room, to make it more warm and inviting. I love that.
You share the stories of many incredible and diverse women on Roots of She, and the one common thread is “you are not alone”-I find such strength in that and it is what amazes me constantly about the handmade community. How we all work from home, seemingly in isolation, while at the same time surrounded by a community of women that support each other whether times are good or tough as hell. Why do you think women require that sense of kinship and sisterhood and are called to create it with each other?
When’s a time where our creativity and imagination not only flourished, but was encouraged? When we were little, growing up, kids getting crazy with crayons, painting or playing pretend.
Who did we do that with?
Our sisters, girlfriends, cousins, moms, grandmothers.
I think that connecting with our tribe is the first step to reconnecting with an open and playful kind of creativity, it brings back that sense of fun, support and encouragement.
A part of my tribe, we are regularly brainstorming and bouncing ideas off of each other – we get so worked up and loud and excited about things. That sort of energy is a catalyst for ideas to keep flowing.
Thinking about our handmade heritage always leads my mind to thinking of the future of handmade and how coming generations will look at the work we do now. Dream along with me, what do you think that future could look like?
I think that the future’s a shining, bright thing.
As we go deeper into reclaiming the traditional, it’s becoming more mainstream and accessible. Knitting, crocheting, all types of delicate handcrafted work of that nature are getting more attention.
One night on the way home from work I sat next to a women who was knitting a small sweater for her grandson – we sat and talked the whole ride about it, she explained the pattern, her tools, why she chose the type of yarn she was using. It was so fun and something I’d never had a chance to talk about before. The next time I went to the craft store I checked out the yarn aisle and knitting needles, just to see what they had.
What about your own future? What are your hopes or plans for Roots of She and your own creative dreams?
My plans for Roots of She are evolving – right now I’m almost ready to launch my first e-course and e-book, those will roll out Aug. 22. I’m also prepping for the autumn tribe, they’ll be coming on board Sept. 23. My biggest creative dream right now? I want to be a life coach, I want to be able to give to more people. Now it’s just making it happen… and I like to make things happen.
Jenn Gibson believes in dreaming big: she’s the creator of Roots of She. She loves yoga and the beach, is a photographer & writer, and isn’t above stealing snuggles from Bean the Boy Kitten. She’s deep in creating her first e-course Self-love Warriors: A four-week revolution in fierce self-love and care, which launches Aug. 22. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.