In honor of Women’s History Month, the Bellingham-based, female majority-owned video production company, Talking to Crows, will recognize inspiring women in the Whatcom County community through their “Women Among Us” campaign. This will take place each day throughout the month of March. Western Washington University (WWU) Professor of English, Laura Laffrado, and I are among the 30 Whatcom women being celebrated.
Congress first set the wheels in motion in 1981 to establish the month of March as Women’s History Month. “Stacy and I were searching for ways to network within our community so that we wouldn’t have to move away to build a successful video production business,” explains Talking to Crows Co-Founder and Director of Photography, Cassidy Young.
“Since we’ve embarked on this journey as filmmakers we’ve been incredibly overwhelmed by the women we’ve networked with, those who have helped us get to where we are,” adds Talking to Crows Director and actor, Stacy Reynolds. “Appreciating them this way was very exciting to us.”
Talking to Crows will recognize 30 powerful women in the Whatcom County community, one each day throughout the month of March. A photo and a note about why they were chosen will be posted on the Talking to Crows Facebook page, Instagram account and Website each day. On March 31, a complication video of all 30 women will be shared. “There are all these powerful women throughout our history who have had an effect in their moment but then they were forgotten. We want to help change that,” explains Young. “We are trying to give credit where it is due to all the lovely ladies out there in our community working hard and contributing, making Bellingham a great place.”
“‘Women Among Us’ is also about recognizing the incredible women in every local community,” adds Reynolds. “We want others to adopt this campaign in communities around the world because these women are out there, all around us.”
Talking to Crows formed as an LLC in 2013 and includes a team of six multi-media artists. Four of the six are women. Together, the team produces video products from initial concept to final release. “All of our work as filmmakers thus far has been about empowering women and preserving their legacy. We want to give a voice to the women who might have been overlooked or forgotten but who made it possible for us to choose this work and journey,” explains Reynolds.
A diverse cross section of women will be recognized, from varying professions, age groups, backgrounds and mode of impact. Young and Reynolds chose WWU Professor Laura Laffrado as a way to recognize her contributions as a teacher, feminist scholar and supporter of women in American literature. She has been with the WWU Department of English for more than 20 years and specializes in 19th century American literature. “Dr. Laffrado is an excellent example of the many women we’re excited to recognize in March,” adds Reynolds of the “Women Among Us” campaign.
Much of Laffrado’s scholarship is devoted to publishing on a little-known but prolific award-winning Pacific Northwest (PNW) writer, Ella Higginson, for whom WWU’s Higginson Hall is named.
While looking for material for her 2009 book, “Uncommon Women: Gender and Representation in Nineteeth-Century U.S. Women’s Writing” at WWU’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Laffrado discovered 12 linear feet of written work by Higginson. “She was said to have been the leading PNW writer to the turn of the 20th century and to have put the PNW on the literary map,” explains Laffrado. “In the early 20th century, the PNW was remote and not well traveled. What they knew of this area was largely from Ella Higginson’s writing. She published over 800 works of prose and poetry and won major national awards.”
As has happened to many writers of that time, by the end of her life, Higginson had been almost forgotten. “It became my mission to bring her and her writing back to prominence,” adds Laffrado. “Since then I devote most of my scholarship to publishing on Ella Higginson so that others can become aware of and teach her work.”
March’s “Women Among Us” campaign is just the start of Talking to Crow’s plans to honor the women making history in our community. “We’re currently adapting a screenplay by Ella Higginson that Laura Laffrado first brought to our attention,” explains Young. “Almost no one knows who she was but we can help correct that.” Higginson wrote at least three screenplays but none were ever produced, despite shopping at least one to the founder of United Artists who helped to establish the Academy, Mary Pickford, for whom Pickford Film Center is named.
Talking to Crows plans to produce Higginson’s adapted play, “Just Like the Men” in Whatcom County using local actors, crew and locations. The play is about the first woman running for the Washington State Legislature and how ill-prepared society was to deal with it at the time. It considers big issues of the time including women’s suffrage, prohibition, government corruption, the introduction of cars and living in the PNW at that time. “Cassidy and Stacy are determined and have great follow-through on this worthy project,” adds Laffrado. “I honestly think they have a very good chance of succeeding with this film.” Talking to Crows’ grand plan includes a projected release in 2020 in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States.
“When we started brainstorming our list of Whatcom County women for ‘Women Among Us,’ we realized this needed to be an annual event. There are way more than 30,” notes Young. Talking to Crows will use #WomenAmongUs as the campaign tag and encourage others to witness and share about the amazing women in our midst. They welcome nominations from the community for next year’s continued “Women Among Us” campaign in honor of Women’s History Month.
Talking to Crows