After posting about breast cancer organization Komen of Puget Sound's $825,000 fundraiser yesterday, I received this thoughtful, honest response from Sonya Rodgers, an organizer with Women of Occupy Seattle who helped coordinate a protest of Komen on Saturday to encourage funders to give directly to Planned Parenthood instead. After giving the unique Occupy Seattlish warning of, "I'm speaking only for myself, hopefully the group will mostly agree with what I'm saying," she begins:
Despite suffering from University Street Wind Tunnel Syndrome, we had a great time. There were 12-13 protesters total, mostly from Women in OS. There was a paddywagon waiting for us on arrival, and a cop on the sidewalk next to the driveway to "explain things" to us. We were stuck on the sidewalk, off the property, only able to greet incoming cars with signs. Our dear friend Circus offered pink tulips and flyers to women in the passenger seat on their way in, getting down on his knees, flower between teeth if that's what it took. He got 19 women to roll down their windows and accept; I'm guessing there were about 120 cars headed in for the gala.
We did not raise any money outside the gala. Our biggest misstep was assuming that guests were going to be walking in, not driving. Had I realized this in time, I probably would have developed a more aggressive strategy to convince incoming guests that they had time to write a check in the 30-45 seconds that they waited in line for valet parking. In any case, I believe our success was in greeting people with a positive, informative message that will hopefully encourage them to consider other options in the future.
I take a bit of offense that the local Komen spokesperson thinks we're confused. I haven't seen the numbers for the local chapter, but even if the Puget Sound Chapter does better in terms of spending their funds locally, it is still part of the national foundation, and everything that's wrong with it. It's also still a middleman. I'm not confused when I say, "You don't have to support right-wing ideology, corporate pinkwashing, and too much money spent on half-million dollar salaries/too little on research. Please donate directly to Planned Parenthood or a local cancer research organization."