Despite the extreme winter weather and enormous piles of snow everywhere, Hudson Valley Rising’s 2nd Annual One Billion Rising event at SUNY New Paltz was a success last Friday, February 14, with over 250 people in attendance – women, men, teenagers, children, SUNY students and staff, community activists, mothers and daughters, families, coworkers, artists, teachers, dancers, healers, visionaries for a new world.

In the large Multipurpose Room at Student Union Building, a DJ played popular tunes as the crowd milled and danced and exchanged smiles and hugs. Co-organizer Mary Goggin, a local W&P participant who was inspired by Eve Ensler’s public announcement of One Bilion Rising at W&P 2012, welcomed the attendees with enthusiasm. Assistant District Attorney of Ulster County XX spoke about the predicament that women and children facing domestic violence are in, and how difficult it is to seek help. The OBR video was then played, depicting women from around the globe suffering and then rising in collective survival and triumph. This was immediately followed by the flashmob of Break the Chain, OBR’s anthem. Students and community members of all ages, led by SUNY Residence Life Director and OBR dance teacher Corinna Caracci, danced side by side in this exhilarating dance sequence, singing along “this is my body, my body’s holy. No more excuses. No more abuses.” I looked around at the faces of my fellow dancers, smiling… moving… breathing in unison – young and old, racially diverse, all different kinds of bodies and skill levels – and inhaled the collective beauty of this movement for change that is vital to our world.
After this joyful sequence, there was more dancing, including Drew’s Energy Dancers from Kingston that taught a few group dances. Toward the very end, Hudson River Playback Theatre offered a brief performance, inviting OBR attendees to express what the experience had meant to them. There were stories of the thrill of the flash mob; the acknowledgment of those suffering from violence; the hope and power of children participating; the relief and joy to rise together in community. Co-organizer Johanna Longbotham noted that this second year, the  event had taken root in the community. “There were boys and men here. I feel the impact deepening, right in our community.” Eve Ensler who launched this worldwide action, would agree that it’s all about the local community events. 
For myself, I feel so moved to be part of it, as an OWLC representative, a dancer, a supporter, a performer with HRPT. RISING feels different than fighting, or protesting. All of these actions are important, but there is something about framing this as RISING that makes my heart sing, lifting me out of the sorrow and rage, and letting my spirit soar.
1920576_10202482040286123_1412384477_n 1904015_10202482046966290_1954970971_n 1656351_10202482219850612_2101997348_n 1621801_10202482046166270_270979061_n 1797425_10202482219690608_1131767867_n 1939706_10202482219530604_1758987631_n 1656349_10202482055606506_206022667_n 1800233_10202482220250622_2131175740_n 1907574_10202482057646557_1007395838_n 1781935_10202482218250572_1254348794_n 1911781_10202482248491328_523893763_n 1653632_10202482172689433_1847388229_n 1902062_10202482041086143_139465523_n 1898169_10202482224130719_302402846_n 1796460_10202482271931914_1719516377_n 1004702_10202482058246572_1602560041_n 1959417_10202482059006591_10865929_n 1920304_10202482056926539_710252506_n 1926922_10202482060326624_2027990714_n 1798197_10202482250491378_1299275703_n 1796605_10202482042126169_1167547332_n 1796462_10202482055206496_101190272_n 1901193_10202482055086493_1796803555_n 1781873_10202482040246122_129590738_n