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Debra Wallin, President, welcomed everyone and started a 'Membership Engagement' activity.

Describe your worst Thanksgiving in six words.

The entries are as follows:

Dogs snag turkey off cooling rack.   – Susan Hewit (Winner if $10 Starbucks card)

Norman Rockwell? That ain’t us. – Dennis Carrigan (Honorable Mention)

A frozen turkey, a family feud. – Cherie Cox

Oven fire burned custard, angry family. – Sally Griffin

All my family in one place.  – David Poston   {Oh my!}

I threw up turkey all night. – Susan Wilson

The oven broke, food eaten raw. – Carol Bourne

Tree fell on car and house. – Mack Staton

My dad had a heart attack  - Paula Lesso

Son Howie killed four weeks earlier. Howard Ray White

To care for an aging mother. – Angela Haigler

Alone in dorm; everone went home. – Anshur Gupta

I was so very, very sick. – Kris Wampler

1600 miles – 3 days –unhappy wife. – Jonathon Austen

My ill mother-in-law served cold lasagna. – Gene Cronin

Family boycott, enemy teams, fisticuffs, tears. – David Radavich

Kids gone, ex-husband, mow leaves, hungry. – Gina Howard

Both parents remarried, the same week! – David

Baked mac & cheese covered the floor. – Tiffany Grantham

Turkey time terrific talking terribly torturing.  – Tiara Cloud

My sister’s boyfriend proved himself unworthy. – Paul Reali

We killed hogs on Thanksgiving every year! – Aaron McAlexander

Alone in Wichita, Kansas without family. – Adrian Calabrese

I had to work that day. – Lindsey Stephens, Jr.

“Worst Thanksgiving?” Impossible! They’re all beautiful. – Suzanne Adams


Landis Wade, Program Chair, introduced our speaker Patrice Gopo.

Patrice Gopo helped us to understand that our personal stories are contributions to the conversation for social change.  They can change hearts and minds.   She told us to pay attention to what people are saying about what you care about.   Brain storm moments that you connect to what you care about.  Listen to what is happening in society related to what you care about.

Universal connections are what shifts people's thinking.  There are two challenges when writing these types of essays:

1) Writing is the point, not telling the story.  This highlights the exploration to find the deeper meaning through our writing.

2) Don't tell people what to think. Share with them what it was like for you.

Personal essays intersect with cultural and social change conversations.

When using social media (Twitter - Instagram - Facebook, etc) pick the one you like and know your boundaries for what you share. It is tough to do all of them well.

Patrice shared these tips with us:

  1. Know what you care about
  2. Pay attention, pay attention, pay attention
  3. Start small
  4. Be specific with your story
  5. Be specific with the larger story
  6. Consider bringing in some research  (Do your research on the bigger societal issues.)
  7. Remember that what you write is a contribution to a larger conversation.

Patrice shared these resources with us:

Writing Opinion Pieces:
Writing resources I keep on my website:
My podcast interview where I talk more about writing essays

Also, based on the questions from our meeting, she wanted to share a few more links that might be helpful.

One of the best talks I've heard about cultural appropriation
I found this blog post really helpful as I thought about building my social media stuff.

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