Tag Archive | "women"

i-Tri Girls Find Self-Empowerment Through Triathlons

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Guadalupe Rojas mentally prepares for the race in i-tri. Photo courtesy Theresa Roden.

Guadalupe Rojas mentally prepares for the race in i-tri. Photo courtesy Theresa Roden.

By Tessa Raebeck 

Theresa Roden’s motivation to run a triathlon came from a somewhat surprising source of inspiration: sitting on the beach. While visiting Block Island, Ms. Roden, who lives in Springs, saw a group of jubilant runners dart by, turned to her family and said, quite simply, “I’m going to do this next year.”

“They all looked at me like I had 25 heads,” said Ms. Roden, who not only ran, swam and biked across Block Island the following year, but also encouraged a group of some 20 East Enders to do the same. In 2010, she founded i-tri, a six-month program that uses training for a triathlon to teach local girls about health and nutrition, self-empowerment, and camaraderie.

“For me, it was the first time in my entire life that I cut myself some slack,” Ms. Roden said of her training. “I changed that inner dialogue. We all have that negative self-talk that we do to ourselves and I, for the first time, discovered I didn’t have to be so critical and if I was just a little kinder to myself, things were a lot easier. I just totally changed the way that I felt about myself and I talked about myself and to myself—and everything started to change.”

(L to R) Marissa Harry, Kaya Mulligan, Alicia Benis  finish the i-tri race. Photo courtesy Theresa Roden.

(L to R) Marissa Harry, Kaya Mulligan, Alicia Benis finish the i-tri race. Photo courtesy Theresa Roden.

Lamenting that she hadn’t changed her self-talk 20 years earlier, when her daughter Abby entered the sixth grade, Ms. Roden created i-tri for Abby and seven other girls in her class at Springs School. I-tri expanded to the Montauk School in 2012 and to Southampton last year, and on Monday, January 26, the Sag Harbor Board of Education will vote on whether to adopt the program at Pierson Middle School.

Offered free of charge to every participant, i-tri consists of triathlon-specific training of swimming, biking or running on Saturdays, weekly group lessons focused on self-esteem building and leadership skills, after-school fitness classes such as yoga and spinning, and hands-on nutrition classes, which families are welcome to attend.

The school district is asked to provide a space for i-tri to hold the in-school sessions and possibly the nighttime nutrition sessions, for support from relevant personnel such as guidance counselors, and possibly also for transportation to certain meetings. Training and classes start in March, culminating with the race in mid-July.

While training is limited to sixth, seventh and eighth grade girls, i-tri graduates often remain involved through mentorship. The eight girls who took part the first year are now juniors at East Hampton High School, and several of them started an i-tri-inspired empowerment club that meets periodically and invites successful, local women to come speak to students.

Although crossing the finish line is the most tangible reward, i-tri is at its core about empowering the girls in all aspects of their lives.

“It’s not all about training for the race,” said Maria Chavez, a freshman at East Hampton High School who started the program as a sixth grader in Springs and plans to race again this year, adding that i-tri encouraged the girls and “made us feel confident about ourselves…and we weren’t afraid to tell each other anything; we had so much support.”

“It’s all about feeling good,” said Ms. Roden. “There’s nothing more important than that I feel good, because when I feel good I have more to give the world and when I give to the world, I get back.”

League of Women Voters to Host Discussion on Voting Issues

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By Tessa Raebeck

The League of Women Voters will sponsor  program on voting regulations in New York State and debate their merits on Monday, July 14.

The discussion, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the Hampton Library, located at 2478 Main Street in Bridgehampton, will focus on two issues: term limits and ballot access.

Anne Marshall and Carol Meller, co-chairs of the Suffolk County League of Women Voters’ voter services committee, will lead the discussion. League of Women Voters chapters across the state are studying these issues and the league plans to come to a statewide consensus on whether they are beneficial or harmful to New York voters by the end of the fall.

The discussion on ballot access will explore the practice of “fusion voting” and the New York State statute “Wilson-Pakula.”

“Fusion voting,” or electoral fusion, is an arrangement where two or more political parties list the same candidate on a ballot, resulting in a cross-party endorsement and pooled votes for that candidate. The practice enables minor parties to influence election results and policy by offering to endorse the candidate of a major party.

The “Wilson-Pakula” statute allows candidates to appear on the ballot of a different party than their own with the permission of party officials.

The discussion on ballot access will also consider the rules by which New Yorkers are permitted to vote in state primaries and compare that eligibility to different procedures used in other states.

The second discussion on term limits will focus on the question of whether there should be a cap on the number of years elected officials and state legislators in New York State can serve.

For more information on the voting issues presentation, visit lwvhamptons.org or call (631) 324-4637.

“Transcendental Feminine Fantasy” Explores Womanhood at Sag Harbor’s RJD Gallery

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Teresa Elliot, "Agua Fria", 24 x 30", Oil on aluminum panel, will be on display at the RJD Gallery's "Transcendental Feminine Fantasy" exhibit.

Teresa Elliot, “Agua Fria”, 24 x 30″, Oil on aluminum panel, will be on display at the RJD Gallery’s “Transcendental Feminine Fantasy” exhibit opening Saturday, May 31 in Sag Harbor. Image courtesy RJD Gallery.

By Tessa Raebeck

The woman is staring at the camera with a strong gaze and powerful posture, paying no mind to the snake wrapped around her neck staring at her.

“She’s so in control,” said Eve Gianni Corio, director of the RJD Gallery in Sag Harbor, which is showing the piece, Katie O’Hagan’s “Constriction” as part of its latest exhibition, “Transcendental Feminine Fantasy,” opening Saturday, May 31.

A look at femininity and the mysticism surrounding it, the show consists of images of women by upcoming and mid-career artists. It includes work by artists of both genders, including Teresa Elliot, Pam Hawkes, Haley Hasler, Kadir Nelson, Margo Selski, and Pamela Wilson.

The idea to present an exhibition dedicated to women came about after the success of the gallery’s “Women Painting Women” show last September. The RJD Gallery hosted the show along with eight other galleries across the world.

From Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” to the pages of Maxim, the female form is arguably the most depicted figure of all time and was an easy image to find in the repertoire of many artists.

“When we were going through our roster and imagery, there just seems to be—even if it’s a male artist, he’s promoting these very powerful female visions,” said Ms. Gianni Corio.

“So many images capture the very fantastical ideas of women, all these different roles, so it seems well suited,” she added.

Not all the images depict women in all their powerful glory; many show the softer—and often harsher—side to being a woman.

In “Agua-Fria” by Teresa Elliot, a woman, the bottom half of her face and top of her head covered in mud, stares sideways off camera with a look of sadness, her hand clutching her chest.

In “Bend,” also by Ms. Elliot, a beautiful female figure is facing away, the back of her naked body facing the camera. Although her figure is mesmerizing, her pose is far from powerful, her shoulders bent over and her hands up, in an almost nervous way.

Teresa Elliot, "Bend", 48 x 40", Oil on Linen. Image courtesy RJD Gallery.

Teresa Elliot, “Bend”, 48 x 40″, Oil on Linen. Image courtesy RJD Gallery.

Kadir Nelson’s piece, “Red Bone,” has a woman “looking like she’s from another time,” said Ms. Gianni Corio.

Her eyes are raised up, focusing on the horizon in a dream-like stare.

“That’s an empowering piece,” she added.

A frequent presence on the gallery’s walls, Margo Selski shows the gray in everything, focusing on the balance both in the world’s ways but also in the balancing act required of the modern woman.

A mother of three, Ms. Selski often paints her children in her paintings.

The portraits are reminiscent of those hanging on the walls at Versailles and other palaces, but instead of a scepter, the woman could be holding a giant fork and wearing a globe.

“She found that to be empowering for her children, to dress up in these scenes where they’re in control of situations,” Ms. Gianni Corio said. “She really likes the idea of timeless space, where things are kind of morphing.”

“There’s no right and wrong, there’s no real, there’s no surreal, and she constantly bounces from current day to a timeless space in the Victorian Era that she paints. She’s a nice bit of realistic, very old Renaissance world technique paired with magic,” she added.

Ms. Selski, Ms. Gianni Corio said, focuses on the idea of women in today’s society trying to balance being a mother, a painter and a business owner and all the other hats they wear.

"Feral Unlucky" by Pamela Wilson. Image courtesy RJD Gallery.

“Feral Unlucky” by Pamela Wilson. Image courtesy RJD Gallery.

Featured artist Pam Hawkes also showcases the balancing act required of women, but with a focus on the reverse effects and relationship of physical beauty on the outside and the metaphysical inside.

“Her works are really about what these women are thinking, who’s behind the façade of pure beauty or looked at beauty and how that feels,” Ms. Gianni Corio said.

“Golden Years” features a woman who is radiant and golden, yet wilts forlornly with downcast eyes. The artist’s newest piece, a large work called “Faded,” features a girl with pearls draped around her, dripping across her dress, and flying, unsettled hair.

“From her façade of beauty, her person is almost fading into the background,” said Ms. Gianni Corio, adding, “She has a very interesting message in her works, which are so beautiful that you’re stricken at first, then all of a sudden you start to feel what’s really the depth of the person and what’s really there.”

With various takes on the feminist mystique, be it downtrodden or radiant, covered in mud or glowing in gold, butt naked or wearing a globe, all the works depict the undeniable spirit that accompanies femininity.

“Transcendental Feminine Fantasy” opens Saturday, May 31, with a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the RJD Gallery, 90 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call (631) 725-1161 or visit the website, RJDgallery.com.


The Feminine Mystique: The role of women in Sag Harbor’s storied past

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For quite some time now, Noyac’s Tony Garro, a dedicated member of the Southampton Trails Preservation Society, has led hikes along the many woodland paths that make up the extensive trail system on the East End.

In recent years though, Garro has developed something of a reputation as a historian as well thanks to his walking tours of Sag Harbor which explore the village’s colorful and storied past. Audiences, it seems, are always eager to hear about the often bawdy past of this quaint little village by the sea.

“I used to do just a generic hike of Sag Harbor,” explains Garro. “But after doing more and more research I found so much out about Sag Harbor, I started looking for different themes.”

Maritime history was a natural for a walking tour of the village. Then Garro branched out and also developed walks based on Sag Harbor’s houses of worship as well as it’s esteemed literary past based on the many authors who have lived here.

“Then an idea popped into my head that with HarborFest coming up, I should do something different.”

This Sunday, as part of HarborFest weekend, Garro will offer one of the newest hikes in his repertoire — one about the women of Sag Harbor. This is actually the second time the hike has been offered (it premiered last year at HarborFest). But with women (or at least one of them) being such a focal point in this presidential campaign, it seems a most appropriate time to visit just how far the gender has come since the founding of the country. 

Garro explains that the inspiration for his women’s tour stemmed from the fact that for years Betty Freidan, that first lady of feminism, had a home on Glover Street in Sag Harbor and plenty of people didn’t even know it.

“I began wondering about how other women were involved in different activities here,” adds Garro. “Not only with whaling, but literary women as well and thought if I did research I could come up with a dozen or so interesting women who lived and interacted with Sag Harbor.”

Garro was not disappointed by what he found. The women who are the focus of the tour run the gamut and span history —  from a whaling captain’s wife who spent years at sea traveling with her husband to Linda Gronlund, Sag Harbor’s native daughter, who lost her life in Shanksville, Penn. on September 11, 2001 aboard United Flight 93 while traveling with her boyfriend to San Francisco to celebrate her birthday. Each of their stories is unique and each tells a small bit about some of the trials and triumphs that have been stitched into the fabric of women’s lives through the centuries.

“It’s a great good cross section,” says Garro. “It’s not only the Betty Friedans of the world — the women who had earth shattering effects — but other women who lived quiet lives and got through it with dignity despite tremendous obstacles.”

“One of my favorites is Anna Westfall, who lived on Howard Street,” continues Garro. “Her husband died at 47. She was 33 and had a son to support, so she taught needle work in her house.”

While there is no known surviving example of the needle work of Anna Westfall, who lived from 1800 to 1888, Garro notes that Westfall’s influence does survive in the work of her students.

“She was such an excellent teacher and her students were so influenced by her, in their works, many of them which are in museums, they would sew her initials — AEW — as a sign of respect for her,” notes Garro. “She had a tough personal life. Her son was a whaling captain who died at sea in 1856. His wife had already died, she then had three grandchildren to raise. Her grandson, a sailor, died at 21 and a granddaughter also died. In her later years her only surviving granddaughter took care of her. She lived her whole life in Sag Harbor.”

“She’s not a Betty Freidan,” says Garro, “but a woman who lived a life with dignity.”

Also on the tour will be a diverse collection of women who lived in Sag Harbor in more recent times — artist Annie Cooper Boyd, Sag Harbor’s great benefactress Mrs. Russell Sage, Rev. Christine Grimbol (the beloved late pastor of the Old Whalers’ Church) and Lady Caroline Blackwood, a Guinness heiress who bought a home on Union Street in the mid-1980s. Though she had some success as a novelist, Blackwood is best known as a “dangerous muse” for the three men she married — artist Lucian Freud (grandson of Sigmund), pianist Israel Citkowitz and the manic-depressive poet, Robert Lowell.

Though there is much information to be found about these women, Garro has found that following the trail of women who lived a century or more ago — can be a real challenge. While men have always left their marks on official documents in the form of recorded deeds, business transactions and logs, historically, women’s lives were rarely documented. Other than the recording of births, marriages and deaths, a woman’s life was not her own — particularly after the wedding when she became the virtual property of her husband.

“It was such a male dominated society, you lost all the property rights, your name and the kids really belonged to your husband, not you,” says Garro.

And when husbands were unable or unavailable to support their wives and children, women had to take matters into their own hands.

“There were many B&Bs — bars and brothels — in Sag Harbor,” says Garro, who points out that given the fact that men could be gone for years (or even killed) while whaling, many of the women back home had to support themselves by turning to a slightly older profession.

“There really was no economic option other than the husband and what he could provide,” explains Garro. “Is it any wonder poor women would drift into prostitution? For a women to live her life without a man was a difficult thing — not only economically but emotionally.”

“I think for the captains, ship owners and mates wives, their husbands earned enough money while they were at sea to live. But I think the wives of the crewmen, if the need arose, would turn a trick to earn a few bucks,” he adds. “What else could they do? Unless they were educated and could teach, there was really no other occupation.”

And because Sag Harbor was such a bustling port in the 1800s, there certainly was no shortage of eager customers.

Down on Bay Street, near the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard, there is house that, according to the 1850 census (one of the most detailed ever), was owned by Mary A. Watkins, 33, mother of six who was listed as head of household. Also noted on the census was the fact that there were 13 other people living in the home.

“They were all are unrelated women between the ages of 18 and 35,” says Garro with a raised eyebrow. “They were not local, all but two came from outside the state. No occupations were listed for any of them — the census listed occupations for men only. Could it be that they were practicing the oldest profession?”

It would probably be a good guess. Garro notes that he has found evidence that, directly across the street from Watkins’ home (of ill repute?) there sat a cooper shop which outfitted whaling ships.

“Sailors would hang out there between jobs,” says Garro. “There was always a group of men hanging out around the cooper shop.”

But by the late 19th century, whaling (and many of the men) were gone and Sag Harbor was on the skids. It was a tough time to make a living, but Garro notes that one Sag Harbor woman — Fanny Tunnison (1870-1944) who lived in a tiny house on Hampton Street —  managed to support herself in those tough times through her talents as a seamstress. Particularly amazing, given the fact that she had been paralyzed from the neck down since birth.

“Luckily, her father was a carpenter and was able to make specialized implements so she could work,” explains Garro. “She had a special chair and table. She did everything with her mouth. She was able to paint, embroider and sew using her mouth and tongue.”

Tunnison eventually became the main supporter of her family. She exhibited and sold her work at fairs and became something of a vaudeville attraction for her talents, which included fortune telling and card reading.

In fact, the New York Times of 1909 includes a listing of vaudevillian acts in the city for the week. Included is a listing for Tunnison, who appeared at    .

“She was a well adjusted person,” says Garro. “She was well read and a great conversationalist. People forgot she had a disability.”

The women’s tour of Sag Harbor begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday, September 14, 2008 and will leave from the windmill on Long Wharf. It is free of charge. Garro will also lead a hike on Saturday, September 13 on the village’s maritime history. It too, meets at 11 a.m. at the windmill. For more information, call 725-5861.

Top photo: Tony Garro in front of the former home of Fanny Tunnison

Above: Fanny Tunnison sewing at her special table