CMwD-Cakes for the Queen of Heaven Train the Trainer (T3) program
Evolution of the Cakes T3
by Pat Goller, CMwD UU Women’s Connection Council
I met Jean Pierce at 2004 WomanSpirit and agreed, with Joanne Fought of Peoria, to co chair the 2005 Central Illinois planning committee for the 2005 WomanSpirit held in Springfield, Illinois. I had been on the board of the CMwD-UUWomen’s Federation and working two years with a task force to re-vision what would become the UU Women’s Connection. It is during that time, that Jean asked, “How can the Central Midwest District Women and Religion Committee work together with the UU Women’s Connection?”
At the Annual Meeting of the UU Women’s Connection in the fall of 2006, Diana DeWeese and I presented the idea of doing a “woman’s spirituality” project with the W&R Committee. The goal of “meeting with and discussing such a project” with the W&R committee chair was set for 2007. Sherry Dearborn (W&R Co Chair) and I soon met in Peoria for lunch and discussed the possibility of a common women’s spirituality project. Sherry was agreeable and was willing to take the idea to the CMwD-W&R committee. At our lunch we discussed the rewrite by Rev Ranck’s Cakes for the Queen of Heaven feminist curriculum and the basic concept of training trainers at key locations within the district for the re-release of the Cakes curriculum due at GA.
In the late winter of 2007 Gretchen Ohmann mentioned the Cakes release and discussion about a common project to me again; a loose committee formed called Cakes Train-the-Trainer or T3 a core-planning group. Connection council chair Jennifer Evans and I took up the project. Members of the W&R committee, Nancy Irons and Sherry Dearborn did, as well. By spring core planners were developing the basic concept: “To provide a one day training in diverse parts of the district for those local women who wished to facilitate the curriculum in their congregations.”
We recruited churches and scheduled dates for the trainings, recruited other key volunteers, developed an approach to the curriculum and training and enlisted congregation liaisons. Janet Nortrom was a facilitator trainer when the original Cakes curriculum was introduced. Nancy attended one of these sessions and kept an outline, which served as the basis for the T3 curriculum.
By spring core planners had an established e-mail list through the national UUW&R website, thanks to Gretchen’s interest and support. She also convinced the national W&R organization to host the website, helped plan and carry out PR and set up website registration program and blog. Most of our early discussions took place on the Cakes T3 e-mail list with occasional conference calls. Questions such as schedules, scholarships, congregational liaisons, childcare, registration, per-event budget, calendar, liaison responsibilities, and much more were settled. Planners met at the first face-to-face meeting with Rev. Ranck at Winter WomanSpirit 2008 at North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois to receive her ideas and blessings.
The UU Women’s Connection Council added a $1000 line item to its 2008 budget for the Cakes project, extended the goal through 2008 when T3s were scheduled, recruited a treasurer, Nicole Lisk, opened a bank account in the Connection name to handle finances for the project, and began the budgeting process. In the spring the W&R committee donated $1000 and dedicated sales of water at retreats to the T3 project. Others at W&R retreats gave direct donations.
In April at the 2008 District Assembly a shortened “taste” of the trainings was presented as a workshop. During 2008 five other trainings took place at Berrien UU Fellowship in St Joseph, Michigan; Unity UU Temple, Oak Park, Illinois; Eliot Chapel St Louis, Missouri; UU Church of Peoria, Illinois, and First UU Society of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nearly 60 women from at least 23 churches participated. A handful of women traveled from neighboring districts to take the training, some from as far away as Arkansas. The final T3 session in Milwaukee drew nearly 30 women!
UU Women’s Connection volunteers were: Jennifer Evans, Pat Goller, Diana DeWeese and Nicole Lisk. Diana, as registrar, and Nicole, as treasurer, both entered the work in 2008. Women and Religion Committee volunteers were: Gretchen Ohmann, Nancy Irons, and Sherry Dearborn. Sherry returned to the W&R committee work after agreeing to host a T3 at her Peoria Congregation. Janet Nortrom, who hosted and facilitated the final T3 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was in the mix from the beginning, planning and preparing the training packets with others assistance. Other volunteers joined later in the calendar for specific programs: Teresa LaPlante, St Joseph, Michigan assisted with the District Assembly workshop and Julie Bock, Milwaukee assisted with the final T3 in Milwaukee. Kelsey Neutsel joined to assist facilitation of a “Cup Cakes” workshop at Lake Geneva Fall Retreat.
As well as the scheduled trainings in the district, W&R’s WomanSpirit 2008 Conference and UU Women’s Connection 2008 Lake Geneva Fall Conference both utilized themes around the Cakes curriculum. Rev. Shirley Ranck and Nancy Vedder-Shults were retreat keynotes, respectively.
This was a powerful project, an excellent feminist statement and pluralist ideal in action. The CMwD women who planned and carried out the Cakes T3 project and Rev Ranck whose help and blessing began long before the curriculum was released are to be commended, all. The UU Women’s Connection Council is proud to have been a part of this outstanding project.