So, you’ve found Take Root and are curious about how we came to be the conference that we are today? Let us share our story with you!
The seed for Take Root was planted when a group of students from Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma attended the annual Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) conference at Hampshire College in 2010. Energized by the experience, they asked, “Can’t we do something like this in Oklahoma?” It is from this question and the desire for activism rooted in red state experiences that Take Root was born.
From the seed, sprouted the regional workshop “Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Reproductive and Sexual Health” hosted by Oklahoma State University’s Gender and Women’s Studies Department on January 21st, 2011. Workshop topics included:
· Sex Ed Lessons
· Religious Freedom
· Reproductive Health
· Criminalizing Reproductive and Sexual Health
Over one hundred conference participants, activists, and educators discussed issues related to reproductive justice, networked, and re-energized with other activists and advocates. It was a great success!
With such an amazing turnout for the first workshop, a second year of planning began. It migrated west, landing at The University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma where it was hosted by the Women’s and Gender Studies Center for Social Justice. After much talk and planning, the workshop’s focus solidified, and was renamed Take Root: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice. The new name highlights the conference’s regional focus as well as the struggles and the strengths of those working towards reproductive justice in the more conservative parts of the country. The second conference boasted great success, highlighting the strengths and needs of red state organizers working in often less than hospitable environments.
Each year, the conference grows, with stronger roots and a broader array of topics, conversations, and participants. Our most recent conference hosted over 600 participants, almost 140 speakers, and 46 unique panels and workshops. Sessions included topics on:
· Dismantling the Gentrification of Midwifery
· Religion and Spirituality in Reproductive Justice
· Trans* Health
· Indigenous Perspectives on Reproductive Rights
· Environmental Justice & RJ
Participants left Take Root feeling empowered and excited about tackling issues pertinent to reproductive justice in their communities and in their own lives:
“The Take Root conference in Oklahoma was an absolutely incredible masterpiece of intersectional feminism. The event was organized in such a way that it felt like every person there was discovering the hope in the fight for reproductive justice right along with me. What most stood out to me at the event was the collective resilience of the group of activists there who not only cared about the right for every human to have access to a legal and safe abortion, but for the full spectrum of reproductive rights. Never before had I considered reproductive justice from the perspectives of religion, immigration, sex trafficking, indigenous people, queer people, disabled people and people of color all at the same time. The ability to learn about reproductive justice in this beautiful intersectional way was truly life-changing for me, and I hope that it is not merely a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“From this conference, I was able to take away a newfound confidence in my own activism. So often, I am confronted with apathy from my peers who either seem to think that the fight is over or they are too busy to care. Learning and hearing about the ways people at this conference fight for reproductive justice each and every day, in places where obstacles are much bigger and scarier than those on my own small liberal arts focused campus was so empowering. I left feeling as though the fight was real, and that there was a much greater community caring about these issues than I had ever realized before. From this experience, I hope to further involve myself with intersectional reproductive justice activism and even more hopefully, find a career path that will help me secure reproductive rights for all.”
Please join us February 24-25, 2017 at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma for Take Root’s seventh annual conference. We know this year will be bigger and better than ever before. We hope to see you there!
Take Root: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice conference provides a space for engagement on reproductive justice for students, academics, practitioners, advocates, and members of our community. Our region’s unique cultures and concerns shape our focus on and approach toward achieving reproductive justice. This conference offers an opportunity to explore that perspective and engage with new possibilities.Take Root also works toward highlighting the relevance of the red state regional perspective in national reproductive justice discourse to bridge existing gaps.