Progressive Female Candidates in Columbus Get Boost from Women-Led Media Group
After Megan Park, the founder of Putting Women In Their Place, (PWITP) finished watching the results of the 2016 presidential election, she spent several months feeling aimless.
“I meditated a lot,” Park said. “I walked my dog. I signed lots of petitions, joined lots of grassroots groups, called my representatives. Important as all of that was – and is – it didn’t feel tangible to me. It did not draw on my strengths.”
As a professional filmmaker and self-ascribed “natural networker,” she wanted to use her skill set to do more than just reactionary change. Park saw fellow activists and change-makers focusing on national politics while neglecting the political structures of their own cities – structures that weren’t always equally representative.
“We are hugely underrepresented in government,” Park said. “Seeing a roomful of men deciding whether insurance should cover birth control reaffirms my decision to promote women.”
So, in true ‘women get things done’ fashion, Park decided to do something about it. She decided to use her skills as a producer to bring awareness to strong, progressive female candidates running for positions in local office.
With a crew of women with backgrounds in television production, news journalism, software programming and videography, Megan’s organization is by women, for women. The group creates promotional videos for female candidates running for local office, partnering with videographers across the country and pairing them with candidates that have aligned with PWITP. If a candidate agrees to a set of progressive ideals, they qualify for a video from Megan’s team.
In short, their goal is stated simply in their name – Putting Women In Their Place is working to elect women to seats “from the courthouse to the state house to the White House.”
The organization began their work in Columbus when they reached out to Yes We Can Columbus, an independent Democratic organization that is supporting a slate of five ‘unapologetically progressive’ candidates for City Council and School Board, four of which are women.
After learning more about the women running with Yes We Can, Megan began pulling from her networks of political activists in Columbus to connect the candidates with a local field producer.
“I was very impressed by the candidates’ passion, their clear and thoughtful answers, and their understanding of the issues that are affecting their city,” she said. “They came prepared for the interview and are clearly prepared to take office.”
For the slate of progressive Columbus women running for local office – Abby Vaile, Amy Harkins and Erin Upchurch competing for seats on Columbus School Board and Jasmine Ayres running for Columbus City Council – connecting with PWITP was a game-changer.
“We’re not corporate-funded politicians, so boosts like these are incredibly helpful,” said Amy Harkins. “As women, we don’t need a background in establishment politics to know how to get things done. When women come together to support a progressive agenda on the local level, that’s incredibly powerful.”
Megan set Amy and the rest of the Yes We Can endorsed female candidates up with Beth Menduni, a videographer who works with community organizations and neighborhood businesses to improve their marketing. At the end of the six-hour day, each of the four candidates had enough footage for Megan’s team to put together a short video highlighting each candidate’s voice and showcasing each candidate’s vision for progress.
“The fact that we’re women makes us strong candidates already,” said Jasmine Ayres, who’s running for Columbus City Council. “But the fact that we’re women with full-time jobs, unapologetically progressive agendas and grassroots funding – let’s just say we know how to put up a fight.”
For Megan, supporting grassroots candidates is part of a longer-term mission to promote a progressive agenda on both the local and national level.
“Grassroots candidates know their communities and know their neighbors,” Park said. “They don’t have to study white papers to know where the problems lie and have good ideas for fixing them … Grassroots candidates come to an issue with new perspectives and offer up different problem-solving ideas. Giving voice to grassroots candidates returns government to the people.”
To learn more about the organization go to: puttingwomenintheirplace.com.