by Christie Reed
Clotheslines, once widely used by housewives to hang out family laundry to dry in the sunshine, now symbolize “the airing of society’s dirty laundry” and violence against women in the National Clothesline Project.
Both women and men who choose to participate pick a T-shirt that is coded for a violation aimed toward women that they wish to denounce, such as rape, domestic violence or gang violence. They then paint the shirt with a logo or picture showing their support for either a personal friend, family member or just an overall cause. The end result is a slew of color-coded, creative t-shirts that are sent to Massachusetts, hand-delivered to Washington and hung on clotheslines in a massive display.
The Project is not a new concept. It was founded many years ago by a group of abused and battered women in Cape Cod, Mass. However, it is a new concept to the small community of La Verne.
The idea was brought to ULV by senior Carmen Parra after she witnessed the project in action last year while at San Francisco State University.
“I was impressed with the willingness of the students on campus to open up and show their support for women survivors of various abuses,” said Parra.
She participated in the project in San Francisco by painting a shirt in remembrance of a close friend that was killed in a gang related drive-by shooting.
Starting Tuesday, April 18, and continuing through Friday, April 21, the community-wide project will include an array of events for men and women alike.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of men participating in the project,“ said Parra. “Men have aunts, mothers and sisters that have either been abused or are subject to abuse.”
Tuesday will begin with a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by Parra speaking on behalf of the project and its purpose. Also invited to speak is Alondra James, the community education coordinator from House of Ruth, a safe haven for survivors of abuse. She will hand out brochures on the services available from House of Ruth and will give statistics on violence in La Verne.
Later the same day, an educational coordinator from Project Sister will talk about sexual and physical abuses against women.
The all-sorority T-shirt-making day is scheduled for Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and this is when the Greek women are encouraged to show their support for the Clothesline Project.
On Thursday, all of ULV and the La Verne community is invited to pick colors and paint pictures on the shirts.
Parra reminds all potential participants that since the National Clothesline Project is a non-profit organization, there is no cost to students or citizens for any of the supplies.
“It is a great way to break the silence and make women aware of the true statistics on violence,” said Parra, eager for a large turn-out.
Thursday night, Officer Chuck Ochoa from the La Verne Police Department will give a demonstration on self-defense, talk about the importance of awareness and give examples of safety devices designed for women.
Friday is the actual clothesline day, when the T-shirts made in La Verne will shown. Hanging in between Miller and Founders Halls, there will be clotheslines running through the trees, displaying the artwork.
“It is a symbolic display,” said Parra. “In the olden days, neighboring women used to chat about their problems while hanging their laundry on the clothesline.”
Parra, a psychology major, is preparing for graduation in May and feels the project is a healing tool for abused women, not just a show of support.
On Monday, she presented her project at the Community Center of La Verne. It was aimed at the city, in hopes of gaining community support. LVTV Channel 3 will cover the event and local newspapers have also inquired.
Parra looks forward to her next meeting on April 17 with Mayor Jon Blickenstaff, with hopes of making the Clothesline project an annual event in La Verne.