When I first met passionate activist, mother, marketer and social tornado Nikki Striefler, we were sitting in a hot tub at a friend’s bridal shower connecting on our mutual desire to get back into the volunteer world and DO SOMETHING to make a difference. She was well on her way to launching her now successful website Glad.is named after her grandmother who taught her that anything was attainable and that life should be lived with a constant source of joy and gratitude.
Over a follow up coffee later, she told me about the seed of inspiration for her site. For years, she had been working in the non-profit and cause-related world in a marketing vein and saw the coming of a “purple wave” – a population of people who would grow tired of being unconscious and want to connect with and support businesses and people from a like-minded community taking efforts to live consciously. This population, which is growing exponentially today, is made up of people from the corporate boardrooms to the yoga studios who want to make sure that their dollars and their time goes to those who are on the same path.
And what is that path? Nikki describes these “purple wavers” as those who have the drive to be successful and lead fruitful lives but with an open mind towards the consistent mental, physical and spiritual growth that succeeds in making us all feel humane, connected and worthwhile while on this planet. On the site, a person can find a spiritual healer, read about new advances in alternative plant medicines, discover the pleasure of meditation, learn about the solstice and its meanings in various cultures, join a local co-op, support independent businesses working to source only sustainable products, or even find a dog sitter. At Glad.is working professionals are looking for tools to engage their burgeoning consciousness while being a part of a peer community where the bottom line is our inherent connection to each other and this world.
A few months after I met Nikki, she attended Marianne Williamson’s Sister Giant conference in Los Angeles and wrote a poignant essay for Maria Shriver’s blog on Soul Force and the New Feminism, moving from a mere provider of a consciousness networking tool to a powerful new voice in feminist activism – a place that she has remained strong in while living by an active example. Last week, Facebook came alive with her special brand of viral voice activism as she encountered a woman in a Whole Foods parking lot who was about to have her car towed by the police for expired registration. This woman had two children with her, had lost her job, and was living homeless with her family while still making sure her kids got to school daily. In a little over a day, through Nikki’s social media efforts, the she had raised enough money for this woman to temporarily find relief while also penning another essay about what it takes to survive in our world and the frustrations of trying to help someone within our current system.
Today, Nikki is working hard at calling out all women to stand up and claim their power in a male-dominated leadership culture and I spoke to her recently about what she has learned through her Sister Giant experience.
Tell me a little more about what you learned through the Sister Giant conference about the Soul Force – how can individual women start to make a small difference in their lives and to those around them?
I think what hit me at Marianne’s Sister Giant, which had never occurred to me before, is that women need to really own our own feminine power and stop imitating men. Our compassion, our instinct to nurture and love and our creativity provide us a really important power in this world, and it’s been missing from our leadership … and missing from the world.
There has been no balance in any leadership – politics or business because our energy and power is sorely missing. Where we are now as a world in depleting the earth instead of cherishing it, in the gross power of corporations over government (and therefore the people), the greed – it’s all being led by ego and a very masculine energy, and that’s not man – or woman’s true way of being. This has happened because women’s voices are missing, we have not brought the balance. We’re more than 50% of the world. What are we thinking? Where have we been? We need to truly support other women and have their back when they step into ANY position of power. We have thought we need to walk into the boardroom and act like men. We don’t, we need to bring the perspective of the other half of the world to every meeting table.
I’m no stranger to trying to help and create change. I was active in politics and feminism in college, then went on to do communications for the Salvation Army’s homeless and children programs, and then, after several years in advertising, returned to the cause-related world as the marketing director for Al Gore’s & Kevin Wall’s Live Earth. But when I heard Marianne Williamson speak about Sister Giant, it really struck me: the struggle in all of it was that all of those efforts were pretty much band-aids within organizations still being led by men, and even that approach is through the old system, an old guard, an old way of doing things. We can and need to create a new consciousness. In many ancient cultures, and in Native American cultures, women were revered as the moral and spiritual leaders of their tribes/communities. It was so discouraging, even after Live Earth that polls showed that people down the center of the U.S. still weren’t really persuaded that climate change exists or that they should do something. And I can see now that that’s because people don’t have a spiritual connection to mother earth, to the universe. We ought to return to our moral spiritual core, and lead.
Why do you think it’s important for women to also try to influence politics and our administrative climate? What can they uniquely bring?
It’s not “father earth” – it’s “mother earth” – we are all mothers and our nature is to care for the children, to care for the earth. What a huge, powerful spirit we have! Yet, in many ways we still suffer from the collective thought that women are inferior. Some think that we have come a long way, but not really. There are very few women leaders in any organization and in the world. If we had more women leaders, paradigms would shift. Consider: competition vs. cooperation, profits vs. people, war vs. peace. Cooperation, people and peace are at the core of who women are.
What is your advice to women who want to get involved in change but don’t know where to start?
What I learned at Live Earth in trying to convince people that climate change is real (but also not hopeless) is that people need to start making change in small steps, and it grows from there. Just start right now by setting an intention that you will own your power and use your voice. Support other women; celebrate the things about us that we used to believe made us 2nd rate leaders like compassion. Lead with love. Then, stay up on current events and find and hang out with people to talk about them. Join Sister Giant to be inspired and connect with others on the same path. Then you’ll start taking action. Vote for women. Do what’s uncomfortable, because it makes you feel. Open your eyes, open your heart. Connect with people. Recycle, spend time in nature, and volunteer to help people in need.
Article Written by Kimberly Nichols
Newtopia managing editor KIMBERLY NICHOLS is author of the book of literary short fiction Mad Anatomy, a contributing editor to 3AM Magazine and has exhibited as a conceptual artist throughout California for the past decade. Her non-fiction articles have appeared in magazines and media internationally. She was a founding editor of Newtopia in its former incarnation where she was also a member of the NewPoetry Collective. She is currently at work on her novel King Neptune’s Journey and an art work titled The Fool. She has recently embarked on a journey of study in shamanic and medicine lore and wisdom under a series of respected teachers. Follow her daily beat poetry on Twitter @LITGFOA or her arts and literature blog.