Monday, June 4, 2007

The "Real" DAM Women


The first DAM Women were the Denver Area Mormon Women (no relation to the DAMU), who 15 years ago started a Retreat in the mountains of Colorado. This year about 40 women gathered to congregate, share their stories, and learn about Mormon women bloggers. FMH Lisa gave a fabulous presentation on blogging and women's issues, and graciously showed everyone around the Bloggernacle. Several women bloggers attended the Retreat, including one of the DAM founders, Paula of the Cultural Hall and several email groups; myself (Bored in Vernal); IdahoSpud; Amelia, Caroline, and Brooke of Exponent Blog; and Lisa and Emily of Feminist Mormon Housewives.

Male Bloggers whose names were used in vain at the Retreat were John Dehlin (we're waiting on your pink Stories!) John Remy (collective sighs all around, and inspection and approval of your pic!) DMI Dave (tour of your blog) and The Snarker (sorry, no sighs, pics, or tour of your blog.)

Also featured on the Retreat Program were a panel of women with "Unequally Yoked" stories based on last year's Sunstone Panel "For Better, For Worse," and two presenters speaking to a "married Church" culture on integrating Singles.

I have several blog posts worth of material from my weekend away, but I need to recover a little first. I hate to miss anything, so I'm always the last to go to bed and the first to rise. For some reason I felt compelled to prove that a woman of a certain age could still do the splits. I was nervous at meeting so many new people, so I was way too animated, shrill, and consumed too much chocolate and Diet Dr. Pepper. Thus the five hour drive home was rough, and I'm going to go crash now. Here are some pictures to pique your interest. Check back for more fascinating updates!

28 comments:

Idahospud said...

Great pictures! Thanks for posting them. I already miss the company of those incredible, beautiful women. And it was beyond wonderful to meet you, ya rockstar!

Kristine N said...

Was DAM held at the YMCA in Estes Park? I have a couple of friends who held their wedding up there, and I swear your pictures look like they were taken in exactly the same building. That's an awesome spot if it's the same one I visited. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Paula said...

This was the YMCA near Granby, Snow Mountain Ranch. It's run by the same folks. It's even cooler than than the Estes Park facility, which we also checked out years ago when we started this. Sadly there's a major bark beetle infestation there, so many of the trees are dying, hence the piles of trees cut down in some of the photos. I've been going there for about fifteen years now, and it made me very sad to see the trees. But the retreat was great, and it has never seemed to go by so quickly for me before. BIV, I can't believe that you have the photos up and posted so fast. I'm still staggering around half-dazed and I wasn't up nearly as late as you. And great photos too. It was a nice mix of meeting people I know only from online communities, and of seeing old friends. Some of these women I see once a year, only from the retreat, and yet I count them among my greatest friends.

I will be sure that next year's retreat is announced on blogs. Our capacity is around 50ish, but we usually have about 45. This year we had an unusual number of folks with last minute problems, like death in the family or something, and so I think we had about 45 registered, but only about 40 or so there. We also had a higher than usual number of regulars who couldn't come due to badly timed new grandbabies or a few sadder reasons, so we regulars missed them. It will be our fifteenth retreat next year, so we're thinking something historical-ish for a speaker.

And the retreat is always the first weekend after Memorial Day. We book the cabins three years in advance.

I'm glad that you had a good trip, except for that little bout where Satan tried to stop you in Georgetown, BIV :)

ZD Eve said...

Great photos, BinV! Really makes me wish I had been there. One of these years...

fMhLisa said...

I had a blast, and BiV was perfect. I had more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.

amelia said...

now where is the photo of you doing the splits?! thta should most definitely be immortalized. i haven't been able to do the splits since i was 12...

so fun to meet you and everyone else.

Snarkimus Prime said...

I cannot tell you how crushed I am that there were no collective sighs and blog touring of the SnarerNacle. Oh, if only I could be loved by such as you, then I know I would be doing right. Maybe, I could just suck up to you all like John R does.

Bored in Vernal said...

Ha! No photos of me doing the splits or in my bathing suit. But I sure had a good time.

Eve, I just know it will happen soon. Why don't you come to Sunstone this summer?

Snarky! It's your first comment on my blog. That sound I just made was almost a sigh... Keep trying.

sarah k. said...

I actually started crying, reading this and seeing the pictures. I wish I had known about it, I wish I knew any of you. I didn't see any babies in the pictures, though, so maybe it wouldn't have been feasible anyway.

Who organizes the retreat?

Bored in Vernal said...

Sarah, there weren't any babies this year, but I know there have been some in the past. I think the policy is "non-mobile?"

It's only been the last few years that I have started going to retreats, symposia, and now even a "snacker" where I don't know anyone. For me, it was really scary. But now I'm starting to know a few people.

This event is organized by a group of women who live in the Denver area. Some of them have moved away but remain part of the organizing group. I believe that there is also a contingent from New Mexico. They felt that they were too far away from Utah retreats and from the East Coast Exponent Retreat so they decided to organize one near Denver. The first year they had a connection and brought Barbara B. Smith in as a speaker. However, the retreat is not connected with the Church in any way, and is not under the direction of the priesthood. In the past there has been a wide variety of speakers, some from BYU and some more radical feminists. Many of the women who attend have somewhat of a liberal leaning.

Paula, if you come back on here, could you tell us a little more about yourselves?

Paula said...

Sarah K., Babies are indeed very welcome, as long as they're still fairly small. If they're crawling a lot or walking, it's just too much noise. The retreat is run by a group of women in the Denver area. I used to live there, but live in Southern California, so I just boss them around from afar :) about what I think we should do.

Here's a longer description of how we started, and kind of what our philosophy is. http://theculturalhall.com/?p=66#more-66

A shorter description of the philosophy is:
Sing
Eat
Talk ( a lot)

Paula said...

One more thought. You'll notice the different group photos there. One is the photo of almost everyone who was at the retreat. The smaller photos are by geographic area. There's also one blogger photo, with some from feministmormonhousewives, exponentII and BIV. But the other smaller groups are by state-- so if you're wishing you could come, we might be able to arrange rides for those of you who are in the closer states. We always have groups from New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah who drive in. Large contigent from around Colorado. This year there were actually four Californians. I'm usually the lone person in the California photo. (But I'd never consider driving from CA.)

Blue said...

Did Cathy Stokes attend as mentioned she would? I didn't see her in the photo. Just curious.

Paula said...

Cathy was one of our last minute no-shows. The husband of one of the Cathy's friends is very ill, and Cathy flew back east to help out.

JohnR said...

So many of my favorite people in one place! The entire production looks like it was very well organized. L. is very professional in the glow of the projector. I'm glad that Amy, Brooke, and Caroline from the Irvine X2 contingent could make it (and I'm sad that Jana couldn't). I was half hoping they could reality check you out of any undeserved sighs, since they've had to endure my rants in person for the past few years. I'm not sure how we managed to find such a concentration of strong Mormon feminists on one university campus. After Jana and my daughter, Caroline is perhaps the most powerful personal influence on my own feminism.

Tsk, tsk, Snark. You have to graduate beyond ad hominem attacks if you want to be a respected Snarker. Satire without a measure of wit is really just whining. Plus, the 'suck up' (or the related 'get into their pants') criticism of pro-feminist men is a tired one. A few men really do want equality for women, and prefer the company of intelligent, outspoken, headstrong women to yappy men who pine for an obsolete, male-dominated past and who prefer painfully narrow prescriptions for masculine expression.

ZD Eve said...

BinV, I'd love to go to Sunstone and meet some Bloggernacle people, but unfortunately there's just no way I can afford to fly out then. But we'll be in Utah at Christmastime for sure (along with all of my sibs, except for my one sister who's going on a mission)--and I'd really like to meet some people then. Hopefully we can work out some kind of rendezvous.

Bored in Vernal said...

What do you know, everyone! We get to see JohnR's alpha male tendencies coming out! You saw it first on my blog!

Eve, Great! I'll be looking forward to the holidays. Winter is such a bleak time in Vernal. I will definitely be interested in a meet.

Snarkimus Prime said...

John R, quite entertaining that you criticize others for ad hominems when all you do is heap up ad hominems. As for being an elightened pro-feminist male, give it a rest, John. If you want to be seen as anything but a yappy lap dog, you need to realize that the last pair of chromosomes in every cell of your body is an XY and not an XX and pretending otherwise to fit into a self-promoting clique by obsequious ingratiating will not make you a real man, it only undermines any attempt on your part to speak as anything but a groomed poodle.

JohnR said...

Snark, beyond testicles and genes, what is a "real man"? And what is it about seeing the world as a male-dominated place and women as generally discriminated against that is unmanly?

JohnR said...

One more thing: by "suck up" (your main ad hominem attack), you're trying to dismiss my pro-feminism by implying that it's insincere. I realize that I'm a less than perfect feminist, but I'm curious to know what evidence do you have that leads you to conclude that I'm not sincere?

Paula said...

I came home from the retreat all warm and fuzzy-- waking up with hymns running through my mind.... 'Shall we gather at the river...." etc, and had made up my mind that it was time to start attending more of my meetings, rather than slipping out early. Thanks Snarker for reminding me of the lurking nastiness of some folks-- it's that kind of meanness on the part of some that keeps me from coming back much. I'm glad to see that you're loving JohnR right back into the church.

Brooke said...

BiV, it was most fun to meet you in person. Thanks for sharing the photos! I can't believe what wonderful, intelligent, talented, instant friends I had once I'd arrived--a first-timer. Just amazing.

Paula said...

Brooke, I'm really glad that you felt that way. (I also sent the link to the photos on to my friend Joyce, so she could see you no.) We really try to make sure we make everyone feel welcome-- but when we many of us have known each other for so long, sometimes I worry if we get too busy catching up with each other, and not enough time meeting new people.

amelia said...

don't let a male pissing match keep you from the beauty of our recent fellowship, paula. or from the beauty of future fellowship at church. certainly there are mean people at church, just as there are elsewhere. but mostly they deserve to be ignored while you see and dwell in the love and kindness that can also be found there.

it really was such a pleasure sharing last weekend with you and all of the other fantastic women who were there.

JohnR said...

Amy and others, I apologize for spoiling your experience of fellowship with my contention. I mainly wanted to get Snark to move from name calling to rational argument. But I appreciate Paula's sympathy. I know my choices have attracted ridicule and harsh critique, but I still feel pain, regardless or the source and the intent. Ah well.

amelia said...

no need to apologize to me, john. i generally don't let these things bother me--especially when i engage in them myself (of course, a woman in a pissing matching is kind of a funny mental image; totally wrong plumbing for that figure of speech). :)

i just know that sometimes they do bother other people; and my advice to those people is always to ignore them. cause they're usually not worth the disturbance of mind felt by those they bother.

and, for what it's worth, i completely agree with your implied assessment of the way feminist (or pro-feminist, if you'd rather) men are contained by either 1. implying they're only interested in sex or other forms of gratification from women; or 2. they're wussy men who can't take being a "real man." ridiculous.

EmilyS said...

I know, I know...I'm late to the party...what else is new....

Just wanted to say Thanks, BiV (and the ExII ladies, and Paula, and..and...most everyone!), for the photos, and for being so easy to talk to. I was really worried about going, even with Lisa and Spud to protect me, because I feel like such a social idiot, but I really loved it, and I hope we all get the opportunity to get to know each other even better.

Brooke, my sister says "hi" :)

Paula said...

No need to apologize to me John either. It's just that I am tired of going to church and hearing ad hominem attacks, and judgment of others, when folks ought to be focusing on their own behavior and spirituality. And, I just don't get the people who feel they are somehow defending the church by going after the one who is "lost" and shooting him, rather than trying to bring him back to the fold. The retreat leaves me wanting to be back further in the fold.

Further complicating this decision is the news that our ward is to be split this weekend. There are a few people I'm bonded to in the ward, and I'm hoping we live close enough to be together. Because I'm not really up for making friends in an entirely new ward right now. Paula