Opinion: How Detroit women have inspired hope throughout the pandemic

Detroit has always been an inspiration to me. I grew up coming down to the Gaelic League Irish-American Club as a child, and now I live and work in Corktown.

My grandfather grew up not too far away and was even visited by the well-known Detroit figure the Fr. Solanus Casey. In many ways my life has come full circle. In recent years I’ve found new inspiration in this city that I have always known and loved. 

Two years ago, when I returned to Detroit after years in Dublin and Washington, D.C., I wanted to reconnect with the city. A friend had given me Charlie LeDuff’s book “Detroit: An American Autopsy” and I thought that was a good place to start. I had always had an idea for a social enterprise that would empower women and help highlight their stories. In my experience in public relations and media, I felt that women’s voices and their stories were never represented enough in culture. But, I never really knew what this project would become — and what it is still becoming.

Detroit women, like Najah Bazzy, selflessly gave of themselves and completely dedicated themselves to the health and wellbeing of others, Bryan writes.
Najah Bazzy, founder of Zaman International (Photo: Visual Lion)

As I read LeDuff’s book, I stumbled upon a part where he talked about the Latin phrase on Detroit’s flag, “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.” That was a “suddenly” moment. Detroit has gone through hell and back, but there is always hope. Detroit has always risen from the ashes. In my mind, women stand out as the embodiment of this.

Women are the most resilient, powerful, inspiring beings — many of them have been through hell and back, but they have risen from the ashes — and are stronger than ever. And these women are empowering others and raising up armies around them. That is why the social platform and podcast that I founded, 1 Girl Revolution, was born to highlight the stories of everyday women who are changing the world through their lives. 

Over the past year, we have come through one of the most tumultuous, confusing and difficult years of our lives — through it all, women were on the front lines changing the world through their lives and they were my reason for hope. And Detroit women, in particular, seemed to embody the city’s motto.

While most of us quickly focused on our own lives and well-being when the pandemic hit, some Detroit women selflessly dedicated themselves to the health and well-being of others. Even when we did not know what the future held or how long things would go, these Michigan women and those around them sacrificed their lives, found innovative ways to help others and made history.

In honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to introduce some of the women who have inspired me throughout the past year — and share their stories and their incredible work with you.  

I met Najah Bazzy, founder of Zaman International, just before COVID hit, Bryan writes.
Kate Bryan with Zaman International Founder, Najah Bazzy

I met Najah Bazzy, founder of Zaman International, just before COVID hit. She was one of the last people that I sat with and got to interview in person. Najah, a 2020 Detroit News Michiganian of the Year, and her team have served Detroit’s impoverished communities since 1996, and they now reside in a 40,000-square-foot facility in Inkster that assists thousands of marginalized women and children every single day. During the pandemic, Zaman International offered grocery and household goods pickups, and the group’s case managers continued helping clients access support, housing and any other essentials they needed during this difficult time, as well as delivered emergency food boxes to women and children in need.

I had the fortune to meet Treger Strasberg, left, founder of the Detroit-born organization Humble Design, Bryan writes.
Treger Strasberg, founder of Humble Design with Kate Bryan

Another inspiring woman I had the fortune to meet before COVID is Treger Strasberg, founder of the Detroit-born organization Humble Design. Humble Design helps people transition out of homelessness by designing and furnishing living spaces for them. It is an incredible organization. When COVID hit, they blew me away with how quickly they switched gears to collect and distribute household essentials to those in need during the pandemic including pillows, sheets, blankets, microwaves and coffee makers, dishes, towels, furniture and more.

Michigan-born Mary Alice Stephenson and her organization GLAM4GOOD worked to collect new clothing and personal care essentials and distribute them to those in need, Bryan writes.
GLAM4GOOD (Photo: GLAM4GOOD)

Michigan-born Mary Alice Stephenson and her organization GLAM4GOOD did a similar transition but in a different space, and worked to collect new clothing and personal care essentials and distribute them to those in need. While that was already their mission, they shifted into high gear during the pandemic because there were so many people in need, and they were able to serve more people than ever during this difficult time. I interviewed Mary Alice via Zoom during the pandemic, and was so inspired by her zeal and passion to serve those who were struggling.

Metro Detroit-born Caitlin Cullen, the revolutionary founder of Tandem in Milwaukee inspired me during this time and gave me reasons to hope, Bryan writes.
Kate Bryan and Tandem founder Caitlin Cullen

Another is Metro Detroit-born Caitlin Cullen, the revolutionary founder of Tandem in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When I think about COVID and women that inspired me the most during this time and gave me reasons to hope — Caitlin and her team at Tandem are at the top of that list. I reached out to Caitlin two years ago about a film project that I wanted to do on her story and Tandem, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

I’ve followed Tandem’s work and was absolutely blown away by Caitlin and her team when the pandemic hit. As we all remember, everything shut down for weeks and we all hoped that “by Easter things would be open,” but that never happened. From the very beginning — March 19, 2020, to be exact — Caitlin and her team announced that the restaurant would no longer be accepting orders from paying customers; instead, they would solely be feeding people in need — for free.

The need was so high that they ended up partnering with other local restaurants so they could feed even more people, and they were distributing hundreds of meals a day for months on end. One year later, the restaurant remains closed to customers, but Tandem continues the work of feeding those in need throughout Milwaukee. It now has the support of the city of Milwaukee and many other incredible local restaurants. 

These women are absolute inspirations and they never stopped changing the world through their lives — even amidst one of the most difficult chapters of our lives. These women have not stopped giving, helping and innovating. I hope that we all strive to emulate these women and strive to make a difference through our own lives everyday.

Each of us has the power to change the world: There are little things and big things that we can do every single day to make a difference. And while the pandemic opened our eyes to the many people that are in need in our world, we should each strive to implement a new lifestyle where we look for ways to help others in our daily lives, through our career and through every aspect of our lives. 

While the world continues to look for answers, vaccines and solutions to the many problems we are facing in our world, Michigan women — many from the Metro Detroit area — are changing and healing the world daily.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we should recognize, honor and emulate these women that are making history every single day. These Detroit women are reasons for hope and they should remind us that we too have the power to change the world through our lives. 

Kate Bryan is the founder of 1 Girl Revolution, a social platform and podcast that highlights the stories of everyday women changing the world through their lives, and lives and works in Corktown.

This piece was first published by The Detroit News.

Good Morning America’s GMA3: What You Need to Know Features 1 Girl Revolution

Good Morning America’s GMA3: What You Need to Know featured 1 Girl Revolution in honor of Women’s History Month. 1 Girl Revolution believes that women are making history every single day and their voices and stories deserve to be heard. This project started as a little “heart project” of mine and just continues to grow and evolve. And I can’t wait to see what’s next. There are so many incredible things percolating.

The 1 Girl Revolution podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, YouTube, iHeartRadio, and everywhere you listen to podcasts! SUBSCRIBE TODAY! And please leave us a review and pass this podcast onto others.

Follow 1 Girl Revolution –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1GirlRevo/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/1girlrevo/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/1girlrevo

For more information on 1 Girl Revolution, for more on the world-changing women and their stories, every podcast episode, videos, our short documentary “The Girl Inside”, and so much more, please visit: https://1girlrevolution.com

Thank you to Good Morning America, GMA3, all of the women featured in this segment and every woman who has been interviewed and been a part of 1 Girl Revolution, BEHOLD, and everyone who has supported this project. I am so beyond grateful for each and everyone of you! YOU have made this dream a reality!

xoxo

Kate

Women #ChallengeAccepted: B&W Picture Challenge


#Challengeaccepted
. But, you don’t have to wait for someone to nominate you… let us see your beautiful face! Post a pic of your gorgeous self and encourage other women to do the same. ⁣⁣

Social media can uplift; but it can also cut. As a girl/woman who has experienced being left out, uninvited, excluded, ignored, attacked, bullied, and more throughout my life (I know many of you have too!), I see the value of something like this, but I also see how this could hurt and leave many feeling excluded or uninvited.⁣⁣But, I see you!

You’re loved (I love you!) and you’re enough (way more than enough! You’re incredible!). So, while I accept this challenge… I challenge each and every one of you… post a picture of yourself and show yourself some support (self-love!) and don’t be afraid to give a shoutout to some of your sisters and gal pals!

⁣⁣I am so grateful for each and everyone of the women in my life! You’re all nominated for every prize in the world! I love you. ❤️ Kate

Talkin’ about a 1 Girl Revolution!


1 Girl Revolution founder Kate Bryan does something a little different this week and shares an update about 1 Girl Revolution. She gives a recap of some of the stories that the 1 Girl Revolution  podcast has shared and looks forward towards the many incredible women’s stories to come – both on the podcast and in video format on the 1GR website. To learn more about 1 Girl Revolution and to hear more about the vision of 1GR, check this episode out:

1 Girl Revolution

The 1 Girl Revolution story began a few years ago, on New Year’s Eve, when I was frantically trying to decide on a new year’s resolution – before the clock struck midnight. I had become weary of the typical ones, usually a diet or a sacrifice of some kind or a resolve to wake up earlier – and wanted to do something special that year. I wanted to do something that had meaning and power – and that had the capacity to affect more than just me.

So, I began to look online for stories of inspiring women. I thought that if I could find a couple of inspiring women’s stories, that I might also find a good idea for my own new year’s resolution. But, one story led to another, and before I knew it, I had composed a long list of women who inspired me – for all sorts of reasons. These women were everyday women, just like me, who were changing the world in various ways. They were examples of the power that every woman has to change the world through her life, and these were women that I wanted to emulate in the new year. And that’s when my new year’s resolution became – to be a 1 Girl Revolution.

Over the past few years, my list of 1 Girl Revolution stories – women who inspire me – has continued to grow, and I have continued to strive to emulate them in my own life, looking for opportunities to make a difference in the world in any way I could. The idea for this project continued to grow and evolve, and eventually, I created a mantra for this project, that I hoped would one day come to fruition:

Every woman has a story. Every woman has a voice. And every woman has the power to change the world through her life. Every woman is a 1 Girl Revolution!

I didn’t know what this project would look like or what it would become, but I hoped that one day I would find a place for it in the world. And now is that time.

When I look at the world, I see so much division and darkness. I see a world that constantly politicizes women – treating us as political pawns, instead of as people. I see a world that defines women by something that happened to them instead of who they are, and women are taught to define themselves in this same way. I see a world that underestimates the power that women have, and in turn, we underestimate ourselves. And maybe we don’t even estimate ourselves. And I see a world that is more connected than ever, particularly with social media and smartphones, but we have never been more lonely, disconnected, and divided.

But amidst the darkness, I also see so many beacons of light and reasons for hope. These are the 1 Girl Revolution’s of the world – and these are the stories that we are excited to share with you. There are so many women in our neighborhoods, our communities, our cities, and around the country – who are making a difference in the world. Many of these stories are often overlooked or sidelined, but we want to bring them to the forefront. This platform is about focusing on the good and powerful things that women are doing in the world, and we want to focus on our commonalities and power.

When I was a little girl, I was taught that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up, and that I had the power to change the world through my life. No matter what happened to me or what happened in my life, I was taught to rise above any hardship and struggle – and I was taught to choose joy and be a light in this world. I could do anything, as long as I believed I could do it – and if I had the courage and perseverance to do so. And I believe this is true for every woman.

Women are the strongest, most perseverant, powerful, courageous people in the world. We truly have the power to change the world – but we have to see it, believe it, and choose to be the change we want to see.

I am so excited to share this project with you and I hope that you find courage, strength, passion, perseverance, and inspiration through these women and their stories, just as I have. This project has opened my eyes and my heart in so many ways – and I hope these women and their stories do the same for you. This project has been a journey, but one that I am so excited to continue this year, and hopefully for many years to come.

For more information, check out new the 1 Girl Revolution website!

Introducing the 1 Girl Revolution Podcast

For many years, I’ve had a dream of bringing something called “1 Girl Revolution” to life. The whole idea behind it is that each and every one of us has the power to change the world through our lives. I decided to focus on women because, well, I am one. But also because I’m tired of the near-constant politicization of women and the victimization culture. I’m tired of women being taught, and often encouraged, to define themselves by something that happened to them — instead of who they are as a person. While everything that happens in our lives is a part of our story, and stories matter, these things don’t define us. I want to dig deeper.

With this show, we’ll tell women’s stories. Sometimes things that happened to women and how they rose above. Other times, where women used their gifts and talents to bring light into this often dark world. And we’ll tell stories of women who are changing the world through their lives in big and small ways.

ONE GIRL REVOLUTION

Every woman has a story. Every woman has a voice. 

Every woman has the power to change the world through her life.

Every woman is a 1 Girl Revolution.

This is my story:

https://soundcloud.com/1girlrevo/season1-ep1

You can follow the show on Facebook at: Facebook.com/1GirlRev

And send you comments, thoughts, guest or story ideas, topics you want us to cover to us through our FB page or message me on Twitter @katembryan. Thanks so much for listening!