Tuesday, October 6, 2009

GTM Sisters: A Model in Networking

On September 23rd, we returned to Baltimore and Washington, DC for two events: a reading and signing at the Robbye Apperson Home Gallery and a book signing at the Author’s Pavilion at the Congressional Black Caucus. We first met Robbye via a telephone conversation. She called to say that she loved “Go, Tell Michelle” and to ask if we would consider doing a book signing/reading in Baltimore at her Gallery. Over several months after her initial call, we e-mailed and worked out the details for our visit to Baltimore. Robbye enlisted the help of a friend, Cash Hester, who took over the planning and making the arrangements for this event. When we got to the Apperson Gallery, we could hardly believe the beautiful artwork that is tastefully arranged on the walls and floors of the three story Apperson home. The first two floors are used for the art displays and the third floor is used by the Appersons for their living quarters. Together, Robbye, Cash and Michelle, Cash’s assistant, put together a wonderful reception, attended by about 25 guests. We had a great reading and conversation with the guests; a diverse group of women and men. To say that Robbye is the “hostess with the mostess” is an understatement! The food was great, the ambience was great, and the company was great! We extend our sincere thanks to Robbye, who is another example of the extraordinary women that we have met in our journey with GTM.

As we recount the experiences that we’ve had and are having as a result of the readings/book signings and interviews since Go, Tell Michelle was published nine months ago, it might seem to some that these events are merely nice, social/sociable activities. They are, in fact, much more than social events, much more than promotional events and much more than mere book signings. In our travels from city to city; coast to coast, we are witnessing and participating in the development and expansion of the GTM Sisterhood Network – emphasis on sisterhood and network. The sisters we are meeting are kind, generous, supportive, encouraging and giving. They have extended themselves to help us expand our outreach to others and by extension to expand our network. They have shared their resources, their ideas and their contacts. They have organized programs for GTM readings; spread the word about GTM via e-mail, snail mail, telephone, word-of-mouth and other communication vehicles. They have modeled, in every definition of the expressions, what it means to be sisters and to network with each other.

In short, they believe that what we’ve done and are doing is important and resonates with their values and beliefs; identify common threads that unite us and strengthens us individually as well as collectively; focus their energies to bolster each other; encourage agency; make a significant statement about issues that Black women note as important in the 21st century and offer a leadership model that is unique yet exemplary.

Since the publication of Go, Tell Michelle, we have now personally met nearly 50 of the 100 contributors. With each meeting we are confirmed in our assessment of the network and the women who are contributing to it. In addition, we have met women like Robbye Apperson and Cash Hester in Baltimore, Mary Ann Braithwaite and Sigrid Williams in Berkeley, Sandra Finley in Chicago, Jennifer Parker of Buffalo, for example, who have joined and enriched our network. Thanks to these women the GTM Sisterhood Network stands as a dynamic example of a vibrant network!

(Photos: Barbara at the Gallery; Peggy, Cash and Michelle outside Apperson's; inside the Gallery)

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