MOTHERSHIP began in 2015. I was craving a place to learn, grow and connect with other women that was both smart and celebratory. In Los Angeles, we seemed to be missing that sweet spot of fun and intellectually stimulating (at the time). I attended panels at local universities and created friends and allies online through instagram and discovered that digital activism – is indeed a very real & effective thing! I felt a disconnect between that cutting edge, artsy, radical world online and what was happening IRL. In terms of women’s festivals it was a wasteland and thought, “hey, I can fix this”.

I had experience with various forms of activism and community organizing, having worked for a marriage equality organization around prop 8, served as co-chair for the lesbian and gay advisory board for the city of West Hollywood & did event planning and recruitment over at AIDS/LifeCycle. I started a non-profit for lesbians and even got my friend out of trouble for freeing the nipple – where she very much should have been legally able to do so in the first place.

Having worked to start a nonprofit before, I knew that that is not the right fit for the festival. Not because I wanted to get rich off of the event (spoiler alert, I’m so not) it was because nonprofits are funded primarily by donations and grants – and begging for money to make this happen, not once, but year after year, is time consuming and not where I wanted to invest my energy. Ask my friends, patience is not a virtue I possess. I wanted MOTHERSHIP to exist and I wanted it, yesterday.

In 2014 my father died and left me some money. Much of it was spent sustaining myself in the first year of his passing. I had some pretty amazing women rally around me at that time. With their support and a little time to heal, MOTHERSHIP was born. I felt passionate about something again and I had actually had the means to create it. So I dove in.

The 2015 fest was in a quirky little loft space in Los Angeles and was co-produced by my friend and brilliant writer, Chloe Curran. We created and sold-out our first festival. We had a yoga class with a live 90’s dj, a public speaking workshops and then a night of live music, tarot, photo booths, snacks, booze and more. Notable feminists¬†showed up and people seemed so grateful and excited to have the space. We knew we were on to something.

That event gave me the confidence to create what I really wanted to make all along. A large-scale women’s festival. An all encompassing event with programming that felt diverse and grassroots. A place for all kinds of womxn. So with the help of my dearest friend, Jewlz Shaffer, we took it to the desert in 2016. For 3 days and two nights over 300 women jammed out in Desert Hot Springs. We curated over 20 unique workshops and put 10 all-girl acts on stage over the course of the weekend. We partnered with Happy Period, and organization that provides period products to homeless women in LA. We were volunteer-run, and made a whopping profit of $0. But we had a f*cking amazing time. I was hooked.

2017 was a special year, because we found our footing (sort of). We hosted the event on a really special space in Coachella Valley, CA. 500 women showed up and we had WAY more for those women to do. Multiple events happening all at the same time, lots of speakers, panels, music & art. We got some amazing sponsors on board to help offset the costs and hired a tiny production staff to make it all happen on-site. NYLON magazine graciously hopped on board as a media partner. The Tegan and Sara Foundation served as our non-profit beneficiary and the twins even came to our event and joined us for a hilarious and surprising panel conversation. A documentary team filmed our event. We had late night jam sessions, RV camp disasters, mind-blowing healing moments, breakups, love connections, and so much more. The event has morphed into something indescribable and ever-changing. It’s been a lot of blood sweat and tears to maintain something of this scale, with such a small team; but we as women deserve it. We deserve one space to call our own that doesn’t preach at us, but invites us to share our voice and join the conversation…

With that, I am happy to announce we are bringing the festival back to Los Angeles in conjunction with the first ever, Los Angeles Women’s Week! We’re working with local women-owned businesses, events and restaurants to bring an entire week of women to LA, Sept. 16-22, 2018. Every event will give back to a women-focused charity. Los Angeles Women’s Week (LAWW) will end with MOTHERSHIP Fest in Los Angeles. We still plan to keep MOTHERSHIP weird in our LA location and will even offer discounted stays throughout the city for our out-of-towners. We’re bringing our safe space to the city. We believe that LAWW + MOTHERSHIP ’18 = more women-focused fun. We hope you will join us for this week long city experience¬†along with the 4th annual festival. More information coming soon!

 

 

Radically Yours,
Laura Wise
Founder of MOTHERSHIP Women’s Fest & Los Angeles Women’s Week

(Photo by Samantha Snitzer)