Together We Can Find a Way

The SONG Project recently completed a group at The Women’s Center in Cambridge! The Women’s Center mission is, “To provide women with the resources and support they need to emerge from conditions of domestic violence, sexual abuse, poverty, discrimination, social isolation, and degradation. To challenge and change the attitudes, actions, and institutions that subjugate women.”

One of the gifts of running a group here was the opportunity for women to discuss their journeys about being a woman in this world, with other women they might not normally gather with during their week. I was excited about the unique opportunity to host a group that is open to all of the women from the many diverse communities that utilize the Center!

This group was run with a drop-in format, so some participants were more consistent and some were only able to come by for a group or two. This always calls for some improvisation, as who contributes to what can change weekly! My goal, with the help of the participants who came regularly, was to carry the song to the next week’s group, shining a light on common themes and allowing for other voices to be woven into the song, drawing from each woman’s unique experiences and journey.

Many women came and contributed to the brainstorming of ideas for the song, and we started over a few times as we were getting going, deciding how to best articulate a message that would honor the complexities of being a woman in this world and speaking to all the things we’re told and all the things we feel. We wrote everyone’s ideas on an easel pad and started piecing them together. Some spoke of feeling “consumed with darkness and finding light,” while others talked about how “it’s ok to not always be ok and it’s ok to be happy.” Some participants told stories of how it was for them growing up and reflected on what wisdom they would pass on to others. Many ideas and stories were shared! It’s always fun to see the song evolve and watch participants’ surprise at what can come together.

In one of the early sessions one woman brought her ukulele and sang part of a melody that she thought went with the concept of what we had been trying to express in our previous sessions. We all liked the groove, and that propelled us to dig into what we were saying more as we had a groove to write with and put all our ideas to. We kept those chords and worked with that melody till the end of the group! About halfway through the 12 weeks, another participant came in with a wonderful draft of the song that incorporated the voices from all the women who had come before. As we kept editing, adding and taking away things, working on a melody, even harmonies were nicely added in by a participant one week! The finished lyrics (included in this post!) speak the story for themselves!

Much gratitude and thanks goes to The Blakeley Foundation who funded this group! To support future work at women’s centers, donate to The SONG Project directly here! (The SONG Project is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of The SONG Project must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.)

The following are the lyrics from the song created by the Women’s Center group; click here to listen to a recording!

Together We Can Find a Way

When we were little girls they told us who we ought to be
Our voices should be quiet and our goal humility
We should only do for others and never for ourselves
And put all of our dreams upon the shelves

But now,
Let’s speak out, speak up
Tell others what we need
We have a voice for all to hear
A voice that shall be freed
Let’s listen to each other and
Respect each other’s lives
Together we can find a way

We thought we were the only ones, we thought we were alone
We hid our needs far down inside, and so ourselves disowned
The road ahead looked dim and dark; we didn’t know the way
We could not make our world come out okay

Let’s speak out, speak up
Tell others what we need
We have a voice for all to hear
A voice that shall be freed
Let’s listen to each other and
Respect each other’s lives
Together we can find a way

But then we found that other women shared our pain and doubt
It was so nice to open up and help each other out
So now we know we aren’t alone, our sisters are here too
We are women helping women, through and through

And so,
Let’s speak out, speak up
Tell others what we need
We have a voice for all to hear
A voice that shall be freed
Let’s look out, look around
And sing our Women’s pride!
Together we can find a way

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