Women fashion a win for Obama

Cleveland Heights residents Joan Dowling, Joanne Lewis and Phyllis Brody model Obama jewelry. Photo by Gerda Freedheim.
In the heat of the presidential campaign, Obama jewelry has emerged as the height of fashion. Bottle cap dangle Obama earrings and rhinestone-studded Obama brooches are the creation of two local artists -- Phyllis Brody and Bonnie Dolin. They are members of WomenConnect for Obama, a network of over 500 women in Northeast Ohio.

According to long-time Cleveland Heights resident Phyllis Brody, WomenConnect for Obama arises out of a tradition of Heights social activism beginning in the 1960’s when a group of citizens successfully stopped the Clark Freeway from cutting a swath through the Heights, thus saving the Shaker Lakes. In the ensuing years, fair housing, peace and green movements found great support in the Heights. The same energy and fight for social justice has brought many of the old timers together with newer, young residents in the campaign to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.

On Sept. 17, WomenConnect for Obama sponsored a program in Cleveland Heights called “YES WE CAN Convince the Undecided.” The purpose was to empower people to respond to myths, to get the facts and become effective persuaders on behalf of Barack Obama. Email notices went out, but no one knew how many would come.

Preparations were underway when the power suddenly shut off. The group was told to evacuate the public building where they had chosen to meet just as more and more women were arriving. Cars clogged the parking lot. Someone finally made an emergency call to a neighboring church. A cheer went up from the crowd at 7:10 p.m. as a new location was announced.

A procession of cars rolled into the lot of Grace Lutheran Church on Cedar Road. The group overflowed the assigned space in Fellowship Hall, so the custodian unlocked the storage room and people grabbed chairs. The crowd, which had the feel of a Katrina relocation scene, moved into the Community Hall.

By 7:30 p.m. more than 150 people (including men and babies) were seated. The program began with a dramatization of a conversation between two women -one supporting Obama, the other opposed. The Obama supporter modeled a non-confrontational approach by asking “Which issues are important to you?” and “How did you come to your position?” along with thoughtful, fact-based responses.

In the next part of the program, attendees worked in groups and came up with comments and selected responses. The room reverberated with energy, goodwill and a shared determination to find ways to win Ohio for Barack Obama.

A second YES WE CAN meeting is scheduled for Oct. 22 at 7:00 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 13001 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Heights. For more information contact WomenConnectforObama@gmail.com.

Jessica Schreiber is a community volunteer. 

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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 2:15 PM, 09.26.2008