On October 6th 2017, I had the honor and privilege to help raise money for Community Beyond Violence (formerly DVSAC) by performing in the Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler.  The play, more than 20 years old, is still relevant and as poignant as ever.  Sadly, statistics on sexual violence haven’t changed much in 20 years. Eve Ensler managed to take a difficult topic and treat it with power as well as humor.

After the show, I was touched by the brave women who shared their stories of domestic violence and abuse, high-lighting the important work being done in Nevada County by organizations like Community Beyond Violence.

As the #MeToo movement exploded on social media this week, many of us have been reminded of the unfortunate, almost-universal experience of harassment that women face.

I have had my news feed covered in #MeToo for the last few days. A friend posted that she has seen a “Not me” post and felt herself questioning the validity of this.

I remember being 23 years old and talking to a friend about the night my date had sex with me when I “wasn’t really into it.” I told her how I had said no but that he went ahead anyway. I said more which I won’t say here. My friend listened to the whole story and then put her arms around me. She brushed my hair with her fingers. When she next looked me in the eye, she said, “Do you know that you were raped?” I was shocked.

There are many, many women who don’t realize that coerced, forced, drug-induced, non-consensual sex is assault, is rape. We think that if we say no but don’t fight, we are somehow culpable.

We live with inherent patriarchy, with internalized male superiority. So many women believe it is their duty to find a way to not get raped, to not be assaulted, to protect themselves from assailants.

I hope, I sincerely hope with all I have that there are women who can say with honesty, “Not me.” I hope for my mother, my aunts, my sisters, my nieces, and for every other women on this planet.

In a culture of male dominance and male preference, however, it is hard to know what the standards of perception tell each woman. “Is it rape if he bought me dinner?” “Is it rape if I didn’t lock my door?” “Is it rape if I was wearing a skirt?” “Is it rape if he’s my husband?” There are women who honestly don’t know the right answers to these questions.

And that is the work we must do.

The Economy

The consumer economy is changing.  As millennials grow professionally, we are seeing their spending habits differ greatly from Boomers and Gen Xers.  Some economists are betting that millennials will assume the spending habits of the Baby Boomers once they have the means.  Economic trends disagree.

Online consumer spending is increasing and people are turning to the internet more and more for their shopping needs. Services that deliver food to your doorstep are changing the way families share meals. What does that mean for Nevada County? Our small businesses must adapt in order to attract customers.

If we are going to stay economically competitive in Nevada County, we must move from a consumption economy to an experience economy.  It is not enough to have a restaurant with decent food or a shop with interesting items. Consumers are looking for an experience.

The good news is that Nevada County is already perfectly poised to move into the next era of consumer spending.

Organizations like Grass Valley’s Downtown Association, the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Center for the Arts, and so many more, are providing Nevada County’s residents and visitors with more than just retail and dining.  With events like the Wild and Scenic Film Festival and Music in the Mountains’ annual Brewfest, Nevada County is already on the map.

The hard work of the Nevada County Arts Council partnering with the cities of Nevada City and Grass Valley to have Western Nevada County granted State Cultural District designations is a great example of how governments and community organizations can partner in order to raise our community’s visibility as both a great destination and a great place to live.