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Collective meaning-making
Kathy Magnuson and Norma Smith Olson

"Everyone has a yellow pie plate. It might not be round and yellow. What are items that have meaning for people? [The concept] is how do you think about the 'pie plates' in your life. " -Marlene Stum, to read her story, click here.

by Kathy Magnuson and Norma Smith Olson

Baskets, whales, colored glass? Attitudes, opinions, memories? What do you collect and what does it say about you?

Mary Cowette told us how her colored glass bottle collection represents qualities she values as she works to leave depression. Sherri West's basket collection connects her with women around the world who have made baskets with their hands while they're busy gathering food, cooking and caring for children. Elizabeth Dorsey Hatle wrote about collecting garden books by Gertrude Jekyll with a goal of giving them away.

This collections-themed issue of the Women's Press reminded us how we as a culture can collect intentions, attitudes, trends, prejudices, information and sometimes misinformation. At their worst, our emotional or ideological "collections" can tend to be black or white, right or wrong. They often contain blanket statements or absolutes with words like "all," "never" and "always."

Instead of absolutes, how do we as a culture add to our sometimes small collections of nuance? How do we see the layers and relationships? How do we see the real-life stories behind the policies and issues?

Some hold a stereotype of all men in the military being über macho guys. In this issue Lori Wilfahrt tells the story of her gay son who was accepted by his peers and superiors in the military. He died in service to his country, defending the constitution, but not having the right to marry the person he loved.

Some may think that Minnesota's history is mostly white (i.e., Scandinavian) and recent, but Roxanne Givens is building collections for the new Minnesota African American Museum to broaden cultural awareness that African-American history IS American history.

What are those deeply embedded assumptions in our own families about legacy and meaning? What is equal and what is equitable and what is the difference? What is fair when it comes to touchy family issues about dispersing family collections? Marlene Stum talked with the Women's Press about the helpful resource, "Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate?" and her research on interpersonal justice and family relationships.


When we propose a theme for the month's magazine we're often struck with the depth and breadth of thoughts that our readers send to us. We're excited to share these women's stories about "collections" and hope they spark thinking about your own.

Coming up:
In August it's all about the numbers. When was a time when 1 + 1 = 3 for you? Tell us about it.
Send a paragraph or two to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: July 10, 2012

August Advertising Sections:
• Education Guide
• Grrrls Go Green Guide
• Women Going Places Guide
• GoSeeDo Guide
Deadline: July 10, 2012

What does "women mean business" mean to you? In September we'll be exploring this theme.
Send a paragraph or two to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: August 10, 2012

September Advertising Sections:
• Consignment & Thrift Guide
• Elder Guide
• Spirituality Guide
• GoSeeDo Guide
Deadline: August 10, 2012

Watch for our annual Women's Directory in the September issue! 28 years of helping organizations and businesses connect with the women's audience in the Twin Cities.
Advertising deadline: August 1, 2012

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