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Birmingham

Her Story project seeks to empower women of Birmingham and beyond

Emily Smith and Mary Beth Gore

We women are our own worst critics—if you’re a woman, you’ve probably heard this before. And maybe this statement made you angry because you disagree. Or maybe it filled you with sorrow because you can say from first-hand experience that it’s true. When Mary Beth Gore heard this statement while watching the documentary Miss Representation, she decided to do something about it. She decided to start Her Story, a series of profiles on women with a connection to the Birmingham area.

“I want all women to know their story matters,” says Gore, a 24-year-old social worker. “It is a very empowering experience for a woman to share her story and know that it’s meaningful.”

Instead of criticizing other women Gore wants to uplift women by helping their voice be heard. She teamed up with Emily Smith to help her with Her Story, which they launched in January. Over the year Gore and Smith have shared stories of women of different age groups and different walks of life—from stories of women who have survived gunshot wounds and battled eating disorders to stories of college students and stay-at-home moms.

For my latest column for B-Metro I had a chat with Gore and Smith about the Her Story project. You can read it here.

Also on December 1 at 6 p.m. at the Christ City Center in Bessemer, Gore and Smith will host Her Story Celebration, an evening celebrating one year of stories. The evening will include dinner, time to explore vendor booths featuring women-owned businesses, and a panel discussion with some of the women featured in the Her Story project this year. Tickets are $10 in advance via EventBrite.com and $15 at the door. All proceeds will benefit Grace House Ministries. You can order your tickets here.

What the Vulcan Run 10K Taught Me About Writing & Blogging

This weekend, for the first time ever, I participated in the Vulcan Run, a 10K race held annually in Birmingham that attracts about 1,000 runners each year.

I have never been more nervous for a race. I couldn’t really figure out why. I’ve run a half-marathon — twice — which is more than twice the number of miles of a 10K. I also trained for this race for a month. Yet, the morning of the Vulcan Run I was so nervous my stomach started to hurt.

I was convinced I’d be too slow to finish the race in the two-hour time limit or that my legs would just stop working around mile five.

Nevertheless, I laced up my Nikes and set off to pound the pavement. This race, like so many others, would not only teach me plenty about running but impart lessons about writing, too.

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What Empowerment Means to Me

 

What does empowerment mean to you?

That’s the question that Kristen Greenwood of GirlSpring asked me when she interviewed me for GirlSpring’s Sheroctober, a series of videos featuring Birmingham area women considered “sheroes” of the city. Girlspring is a nonprofit organization and online publication based in Birmingham, Alabama, that focuses on the issues, activities, and concerns of girls and young women. The “sheroes” interviewed for this series included artists, educators, entrepreneurs, and other professionals in practically every field. And so many of these women are true trailblazers. It is an honor to be included. You can see my video here (and be sure to give me a thumbs up while you’re watching. The shero with the most thumbs up will win tickets to see Janet Jackson live in concert!)

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Magic City Fashion Week Emerging Designer Shannon Warren

Shannon Warren

Years ago I figured out that to be a successful blogger I must not only be a writer but also an entrepreneur and thus I need to learn not only from other writers but from any creative person seeking to use her talents to make money and make a difference. This is one reason I love immersing myself in Birmingham’s fashion community. And if you think Birmingham doesn’t have a fashion community you obviously haven’t been following all of the events being hosted by the organizers of Magic City Fashion Week. (You can learn more here.)

One event of the week you definitely don’t want to miss is Friday’s Emerging Designer Competition. Hosted by Ty Hunter and Raquel Smith of Beyonce’s style team, the show will feature the works of five emerging designers competing for a prize package valued at $5,000. The show will also include looks from Macy’s and luxury streetwear by Splashed by DKG. This event is set for 6 to 11 p.m. and will be held at the Goldstein & Cohen building in Ensley.

I had the chance to interview one of the emerging designers who will be featured in Friday’s show — Shannon Warren of the Shan Latris Collection.

Warren’s advice for other emerging designers could so easily be applied to writing and blogging and there are so many takeaways from her journey that we can learn from, too.

Do what you can with what you have. Warren couldn’t sew when she was a kid so she used a hot glue gun to alter clothes!

Read, read, read. Before Warren could afford to go to design school she went to the library and read every book she could find about fashion design. And Warren continues to learn more about and work on her craft. We writers and bloggers must remember to do the same.

And whether she knows it or not, when Warren designs her clothes she actually uses Edgar Allan Poe’s single effect theory! She seeks to evoke a single emotion from her customer with each piece she designs just as Poe sought to evoke a single emotion from his readers with each short story and poem he wrote.

Take a look at my chat with Warren.

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