Utah women: Come share your stories with us

The Salt Lake Tribune and the Community Writing Center invite you to amplify your voices in a timely public writing series

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah women's voices are as varied and valuable as the generations pictured in this June 28, 2021 Pride march in Provo. The Salt Lake Tribune and Community Writing Center are inviting women to share their lived experiences in a unique writing series on Sept. 24 and Oct. 1.

This story is part of The Salt Lake Tribune’s ongoing commitment to identify solutions to Utah’s biggest challenges through the work of the Innovation Lab.

The status of Utah women can seem so dire. And confusing. Consider the data on leading indicators of gender inequality, which is even harsher for women of color and for LGBTQ individuals. Meanwhile, the constant push for self-improvement and perfection lives large on social media.

All of which leads The Salt Lake Tribune to stand back and ask: What are the actual life experiences of Utah women? And how can we amplify our stories?

The voices of Utah women aren’t typically reflected in statistics. Our stories are valid and should be valued, regardless of where that puts us in the rankings.

A new partnership between The Salt Lake Tribune’s Innovation Lab and the Community Writing Center serves as a vehicle to share women’s voices and their lives through creative expression. On Sept. 24, we will co-launch “She Said. Womxn’s Voices in Utah,” a guided community writing project designed to reflect and shine light on the great diversity of women’s lived experiences.

The Community Writing Center is affiliated with Salt Lake Community College. CWC Director Kati Lewis and Associate Director Claire Adams will lead the project.

“To steal a phrase from Marian Wright Edelman, ‘we can’t be what we don’t see,’ " Adams said. “If no one is aware of the magnitude of women’s experience, how can younger girls and women make sense of the world they are inheriting? Storytelling can serve to support, challenge and strengthen our experience and opinions. It can also expose us to experiences we have not ever considered.”

The workshop sessions are free and open to any community members who identify as women, nonbinary people and trans men. Participants must be over 18 years old, and each workshop will be capped at 20 people.

Tribune journalists will assist CWC staff with writing coaching. With participants’ consent, stories may be published in an anthology.

“Every day The Tribune elevates voices that otherwise would not be heard,” said Tribune Editor Lauren Gustus. “We look forward to partnering with the Community Writing Center to support women and others in Utah as they explore their personal stories.”

The series will provide a safe environment for honesty and vulnerability in writing. With relationships and discourse often riven by disagreements over politics, culture and religion, the writing prompts and discussion will encourage participants to share their individual truths through their own unique lens on the state and on the world.

“Making storytelling the main point of these workshops will support the focus on experience and avoid derailing the workshop as an opportunity for a ‘soap box.’ The curriculum will be developed with these outcomes at the forefront,” Adams said.

The first workshop, on Sept. 24, is titled “Body of Work: Storytelling and Reproductive Experience.”

The Oct. 1 workshop is titled “Womxmhood in Utah.”

“It is vital for women in Utah to have an outlet to express how they are feeling,” Adams said. The sponsors expect and will encourage a wide spectrum of views on women’s health, reproductive freedom, parenthood (or not to parent) and gender.

Link to more details and registration for either the Sept. 24 or Oct.1 workshop, and please join us for this important and thought-provoking community conversation.

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