*For Liz's book on sustainable agriculture, see further below.
Liz’s book (in progress)
Liz is currently working on a book about what the late Pope John Paul II called “the new feminism.” This is, in essence, a “third way feminism.”
That is, it combines some aspects of modern feminism with aspects of a more traditional feminism, if you will, to create a feminism that is a synergy of both.
Before the 4th Annual World Conference on Women, the pope released a “pastoral letter” outlining all this.
As a preface, he called on all countries to better the conditions of work and life for women worldwide. And that “women’s equality” should be standard everywhere.
That is, equal pay for equal work; protection for working mothers; a fair system for advancement of women…
In addition, the pope raised concerns about a prevailing sentiment in many countries to “denigrate motherhood” and, for instance, penalize women who seek to have children.
The pope also referred to the true “feminine genius” as a counteraction to the “culture of death” inherent in a society’s penchant for abortion, euthanasia and war.
Again, the paradigm around the “new feminism” contains a multitude of diverse dynamics.
And so it has been with Liz’s research…
The issues are many
In our extensive travels, Liz has interviewed a variety of women who are living out various aspects of this “feminine genius” in quite dynamic ways. In addition, the pope notes that while there are many worldwide historical figures who are women who have made their mark in dynamic ways, there are also way more women who are quietly living out the ethos of all this in just as dynamic ways day-to-day.
Liz has interviewed some of these women as well.
Her research, for instance, took her to inner city Cleveland and Atlanta where some of these “ordinary women” were struggling heroically in gang war zones to make ends meet and to raise children successfully in the midst of rampant drug use and violence.
Liz also did an indepth interview with a woman who helped establish one of the most dynamic homeless shelters in Atlanta. And she is a woman who has fought tirelessly for all kinds of women’s rights over the past five decades.
This woman, Murphy Davis, is a graduate of the Columbia Theological Seminary.
“I never had an interest in the middle class Women’s Movement as an end in itself -- if it did not address class, poverty and race,” she told Liz. “I wanted to focus on the women at the bottom of everyone’s barrel.”
Some of these women would be,say, Hispanic immigrants to this country.
On several border tours, Liz came across women here legally, and illegally, who were faced with daunting odds. Including a young mother she met at a clandestine transition shelter in El Paso, Texas. (The woman had just crossed the desert with her four-year-old daughter.)
And as Hispanic immigrant women are in peril because of mounting poverty and violence south of the border, so are women in peril in the Middle East. In our travels, Liz met a woman who was able to escape the political oppression of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.
Her story was wrenching.
In South Bend, Indiana, Liz attended a seminar by investigative journalist Nicholas Kristof. He talked at length about women, and girls, sold into human trafficking.
Another excerpt from Liz’s book:
“At the age of eight-years-old, my daughter’s current greatest difficulty in life is trying to learn new basketball plays with her team. Meanwhile, Meena, an Indian Muslim girl about our Sarah’s age, was being kidnapped and trafficked as a sex slave.”
(Meena is one of an estimated three million sex slaves currently in India.)
One of Liz’s focuses with the book, like that of Murphy Davis (and the pope), is to look at the plight of oppressed women/girls worldwide and highlight individuals and organizations doing things to help.
The same thing Liz will be doing as First Lady.
Liz’s other book (in progress)
The ‘New American Green Acres’
Our platform calls for an incremental shift to a small farm, agrarian-based society, like it was in the old days. This was once the backbone of America, and it should be again.
[For all the reasons why, see our position paper on agriculture.]
Liz grew up working on farms in New Zealand, has an Agricultural Science Degree from Lincoln College (also in New Zealand) and has taken a lot of notes as we’ve researched almost every angle of farming in America.
And this included some long, hands-on farming experiences in rural, Ohio. In addition, in a hardscrabble area of Cleveland, Liz volunteered at an urban farm and also turned our patch of fallow, weed infested backyard into a thriving permaculture.
She has a “green thumb” that just won’t quit.
And she has a pen that just won’t quit either.
And with that pen she took a lot of notes at “farm stops” all over the country.
We, for instance, spent a good deal of time in Amish communities looking at their farming practices, and why they place a premium on being the best “environmental stewards” they can.
We worked for extended periods on organic farms in the rural Ohio towns of Yorkshire, West Union and Jelloway. Liz milked cows, tended to big gardens and greenhouses on the farms, worked in the fields…
Through this process, in addition to a good number of late night discussions with many other farmers -- and others involved with agriculture -- Liz came to some conclusions.
She writes: “Americans facing the uncertainty in the current economy are questioning whether an economy primarily based on industrial production, significant bottom line profits to a few, and a ‘bigger is better’ approach -- has become an American dinosaur.
“Many Americans are seeking fresh answers.
“And part of that answer may well be a return a small farm, land-based living that adopts sustainable practices.”
Liz goes on to write that she knows many “average Americans” are perplexed as to how to even start down this path.
Using interviews from the road, in tandem with her own personal forays into all aspects of farming (rural, urban, and so on), Liz looks to inspire these average Americans to take a step, and another, then another…
As Michelle Obama has inspired some Americans to start backyard gardens because of her “kitchen garden” at the White House (which has been great), Liz will help people move even further beyond this toward a “farming ethos,” if you will.
And ultimately… “The New Green Acres will not only influence the broad cultural understanding of sustainable farming, but it will also, and more importantly, inspire a movement of average Americans to participate in sustainable living practices at every level,” Liz adds.