From building homes to building robots, whether onstage or in the mountains—these women-led initiatives, groups and organizations are leaving an indelible mark on the culture of Northwest Arkansas.
Through the power of theatre and community, the Artist’s Laboratory Theatre is working to bolster the financial and creative strength of womxn.
On Giving Tuesday, the all women-led, site specific theatre company based in Fayetteville, launched the #BoldWomxnWin campaign to focus on lifting up womxn’s voices, to raise support for upcoming womxn-centered theatre programs, and to support equity and empowerment of womxn across Northwest Arkansas.
As part of the campaign, they’ve asked women what it means to be bold — and featured several leaders from throughout the region who also answered what it will take for #BoldWomxn to win in our region. Read one of the features, below.
Raven Cook is an educator, activist, and founder of Foundations: Black History Educational Programming. She has dedicated her life to ensuring that all people learn and grow from the discipline of African American History. Using educational lessons, visual arts, music, and number of other resources, she has sought not only to educate but to empower all people to recognize their power and their potential to create change.
“Bold womxn are unapologetic in their service to all people. They defy convention and challenge the systems that exist to oppress them fearlessly.
In order for bold womxn to win, it takes society acknowledging the bold womxn that have been — and then supporting, be it economically, etc. — the bold womxn who will be and who currently carry the mantle.”
The theatre industry is one of many spaces where womxn’s various roles and needs demand respect but frequently do not receive it. At Artist’s Laboratory Theatre, they’re looking to shift the status quo! Whether you support the cost of fuel for their upcoming touring show ‘No Somos Máquinas’ that centers the lives of womxn poultry workers, or the cost of pens and notebooks for the young womxn in their theatre apprenticeship program at the cusps of their careers, your involvement in this campaign can help co-create a Northwest Arkansas where womxn are not silenced, but centered, empowered, and emboldened.
You can read more #BoldWomxnWin features on their Facebook page HERE.
You can donate to the #BoldWomxWin campaign HERE.
For more on women-led theatre in Northwest Arkansas, check out Putting The Spotlight on The Women-Led Theater Companies of NWA by Arkansas Life.
Bolstered by the efforts of many including Kyla Templeton, founder of Girls Bike Bentonville and Tandie Bailey, co-founder of Northwest Arkansas Dirt Divas—mountain biking has become popular among women throughout Northwest Arkansas.
Coincidence: Tandie Bailey mountain biking Oz Trails in Northwest Arkansasyoutu.be
With so many women in the region adopting MTB as a lifestyle, the announcement of women shred: a women-focused MTB event scheduled to happen during the Bentonville Film Festival (May 8-11, 2019) couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Organized by PEDAL To The Medal team manager, Fien Lammertyn, the free event will feature an expo village, demo bikes, trial bike shows by PEDAL To The MEDAL, rides with pros on the Oz Trails, workshops: bike handling skills, nutrition, bike maintenance, movie screenings, and trial bike shows.
Professional riders who have already confirmed that they will be attending the event include, mountain bike guide and founder of Endless Trails MTB, Julia Hobson and the professional trail bike rider from Belgian, Perrine Devahive.
Check out the Facebook announcement, which includes mention of several local group rides for women, HERE.
Follow event announcements HERE.
Related reading: In Northwest Arkansas, An Active Effort to Promote Mountain Biking Among Women and Competition, Camaraderie Fuel Growth of Mountain Bike Racing Among High School Girls by Walton Family Foundation
Did you know Habitat for Humanity Washington County has built more than 50 homes in 25 years or that 90% of Habitat homes are awarded to single mothers? The organization is currently fundraising for their next build, which will take place in March 2019.
The home will be built by the organization’s Women Build program. Women Build is a home construction project led entirely by women. Between 2008-2017, the program has engaged over 100,000 women volunteers who have helped construct or renovate 3,800+ homes.
The girls not only learn technical skills that they can immediately apply but are enveloped in an environment that fosters relationships and builds a supportive community of other females interested in coding. AR Girls Code is the Northwest Arkansa Chapter of 100 Girls of Code.
A few miles south in Springdale, “5 girls trying to have some fun and learn some stuff” wanted to show the world that girls could be in stem activities and succeed. They created Diva Force, an all-girls robotics team, now in their 5th year and competing annually in the FIRST Tech Challenge international robotics competition. In addition to competing against teams from all over the county and world, the team conducts outreach to reduce barriers to STEM for underserved populations throughout the region.
These young women have plenty of leaders in field to look up to. Two conferences held annually, with a focus on women in tech, now attract nearly 1,000 attendees combined. Up first, the University of Arkansas will host the next Women In Technology Conference on April 9-10, 2019. Its theme for 2018 was “Sustaining Growth for Women in the Field”, with sessions covering a range of topics from Blockchain to Innovations in Predictive Data Modeling. Almost all of the speakers were female leaders in technology.
And while the exact dates haven’t been announced, Bentonville’s Women In Tech conference held in conjunction with the Northwest Arkansas Tech Summit in late-October, brings together women in the field to discuss thought leadership, innovation, opportunities and challenges surrounding women in today’s technology workforce.
From theatre to mountain biking to coding, these women-led groups and initiatives are actively breaking down barriers across the region.
If you are looking to connect with a local group of female creatives, makers, influencers and entrepreneurs that celebrates diversity here in Northwest Arkansas, consider joining the NWA Girl Gang. You can follow them on Facebook HERE or Instagram HERE.