Hey everyone, remember us? Since our big bike trip, Sustainable Cycles has been more on the back burner, but there is still some great news to report. We have been awarding prizes for the handsome young man contest, following up with giftees from our bike trip, presenting at conferences, and more.
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All along, the Handsome Young Man Project, (“The Handsome Young Man Project: Sarah and Toni bicycle down the West Coast, live on $4 a day, and Talk to Handsome Young Men About Sustainable Approaches to Menstruation”), has been one of the more absurd and fun parts of Sustainable Cycles. We found that many men were curious about menstrual cups, and wanted to help with our efforts. We decided to create a contest:
The handsome young man who convinces the most women to switch to a menstrual cup wins. Brilliant – any man wants to fall into the category of handsome and young, and men love contests. The promised prize? An enormous menstrual cup shaped beer goblet!
See the original post here for details. (Warning: this project should not be taken seriously).
After getting home from the trip, I set about finding the right potter for the job – classy, manly pottery for a good price. Luckily, we are family friends with Mark Hewitt - fabulous potter with a good sense of humor. He agreed to have his apprentice, Seth Guzovsky make us two goblets for $50.
Big pots like this are Mark’s signature– due to budget restrictions, we commissioned something more modest, but no less impressive…
Mark’s wood-fired kiln.
One of the goblets by Mark’s apprentice, Seth.
It was impossible to pick just one winner! Each of our two winners got one of these goblets:
The text says: “This certifies that [name] has been deemed an exceptional advocate of sustainable menstrual products, and therefore of women’s health, a fair economy, and a healthy earth by Sustainable Cycles. In recognition for his sensitivity, boldness, good looks, youth, and virility, he is awarded this giant menstrual cup shaped beer goblet.
Ben hosted us at his house in Olympia. In high school (!!!) at an age when most boys blush at the mere mention of periods, Benjamin bought menstrual cups for two female friends. Ben with his cup:
Ben with his cup.
Cole is an irrepressible menstrual cup enthusiast. He convinced many women in his large community to make the switch, and is a true pioneer in his openness to talk about these issues. He also got an article about sustainable menstrual products published in Street Roots, a newspaper focused on empowering Portland’s homeless community.
Cole with his cup.
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Now onto less ridiculous matters…
After getting back from our trip, we sent out a survey to all 200 giftees asking for feedback about the cups, and finding out about their “spokeswomen” activities. Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, I can always go look at their responses:
Stats from our survey:
*90% told a friend
*46% are interested in going on a SC bike trip
* 5 people (6% of respondents) have already given a small, informal workshop on cups! 60% may do so in the future
“Through my work as a social worker I have given out 3 of the 4 cups you gave to me. I am also talking about the cup with friends, peers and clients promoting both the environmental and cost benefits. Thank you for your hard work on this! It is a great project and your dedication rocks!”
“I’m basically enamored. So much easier, so much cleaner than using anything else – I want to personally hug whoever invented these things. My housemate is making all the girls in our house personalized menstrual cup bags. We’re obsessed. I do a lot of talking about it with people whom I think might be interested in switching over – told a few people where to get them and about the learning curve. I’m thinking of getting my sister one for Christmas, but she’d probably think it was weird. Anyway thanks so much for filling us in about this. I couldn’t be happier.”
“I was really NOT interested in using Cups when I first heard about them. I was fine with using tampons and the whole process sounded gross to me. Then, I went with some of my JV housemates to the talk at In Other Words and I felt a little bit persuaded. When Toni gave the non-Cup using girls in our house cups, I felt like I should at least give it three cycles, which is was recommended by a housemate, and I was fully prepared to hate it and be done by December…I LOVE IT!! I can’t get over how much easier it is. It is so much cleaner, I feel better about not having those disgusting cotton toxic tampons in my body, and not creating all that paper waste. I talk about them to everyone who will listen and I am committed to getting my sister and best friend to start using Cups by the end of this year!”
“The women who came to my co-op house were incredibly enthusiastic and helpful. My friends and I learned a lot from them, and continue to benefit from their communication and support. The Sustainable Cycles workshop generated a meaningful and lasting conversation in our community about the issues of womens’ bodies and health.”
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I had the great opportunity to attend two day-long conferences put on by Law Students for Reproductive Justice. The first was the southern regional meeting at UNC Chapel Hill, which I attended as a guest, and the second was the mid-Atlantic conference at American University in Washington DC, where I spoke on a panel about reproduction and sexuality education.
Reproductive justice is huge in the news right now (Susan G. Komen/ Planned Parenthood, Catholics and birth control, the Right to Know Act, etc). I never would have even heard about the conference if the organizer, Nikola, had not posted a comment on our blog and asked to get in touch. Then– and it almost feels like a joke– she asked me to be on a panel! It was wonderful to hear such accomplished professionals talk about their work in Reproductive Justice, and it was a great honor to be alongside two advocates for comprehensive sex ed in DC.
Watching Sarah Audelo of Advocates for Youth give her presentation.
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I have been working with a girls empowerment organization, Full Circles Foundation, which works to build strong girls, a fair economy, and a healthy earth. Sounds a lot like the mission of Sustainable Cycles…
FCF’s main program is a summer camp called “Strong Camp” for low-income girls ages 7-15. I did a workshop for the girls 12 and up– the youngest group I have ever given a Sustainable Cycles presentation to. More so than older women, younger girls tend to be “grossed out” by this topic, and less inclined to “poke around” and get to know themselves in the way they would need to to use a menstrual cup. I was able to give away 5 cups to some wonderful girls. Several felt that they were not “ready” now, but may be in the future, and a few others wanted to try out cloth pads.
What struck me most was how important frank, accurate conversations about the body are to teens. So much is learned through whispers and euphamisms, oversexed by the media, or silenced by shame. Everyone was paying very close attention!
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We have updated the other pages of the blog – check it out, and forward this along to friends who might be interested. Please be in touch with questions, and comments.
More news coming soon…