In 1975, nearly all of the women in Iceland took one particular day off. Schools, daycare centers, theaters, fish factories and newspapers closed down — most of those institutions were fueled by female employees. Men were forced to take their children to work. The goal was to remind men how indispensable women are for the country’s economy and society. 

I begin with the story of Iceland here 
because I love how its women were able 
to remind everyone, on one pivotal day, 
how we intersect as a society. Without that 
awareness, we are prone to think essential 
elements of our daily lives piece together as 
if by magic.

In reality, for communities to function, 
we rely on an invisible network of moving 
parts. How long would any of us subsist in 
isolation, without the benefit of products 
and services and care that come from 
others? How much do we take for granted 
that each of those moving parts will always 
be there — our cleared roadways and health 
care and food, our homes and modes of 
transportation, our emergency responders, 
our intellectual and emotional resources?

How often do we think about what would 
happen if women, or immigrants, or ‘others,’ 
stopped showing up for work? 

If we all went through a typical day and 
noticed how many women we interact with, 
we would have a sense of the power of the 
ecosystem over the individual.

The Independent “Me”

Years ago I was shaped by a simple 
statement that offered me a new perspective. 
A cancer pathologist, who looked into cells 
at the microscopic level, said that we tend to 
see “self” as an independent entity — one 
consistent structure from day to day — yet 
in reality all of us are transformed all the 
time in the most fundamental ways. 

For example, we share bacteria with 
others, as this season’s nasty bout of flu 
reminds us. From the day we are born until 
the day we die, our essential breath is never 
“ours” alone, but is continuously shared, 
moving in and out of the boundaries of self. 
Nothing about the makeup of our foundation 
is permanently or independently “me.” Even 
our thoughts and actions and reactions are 
impacted continuously by new experiences, 
new conversations, new awareness.

This Issue

Each month we explore in these pages 
how we connect as a society — where that 
web is fragile, where we draw strength. In 
this month’s theme, we are looking at how 
the tapestry of society is made of colorful, 
yet invisible threads that bind me to we, us 
to them. 

In particular, we examine the systemic 
parts that are not working, which affects the 
whole. We hear from women about where 
the snags are in housing and mental health, 
and what threads they suggest we need to 
significantly adjust. 

Stephannie Lewis helps us see how 
implicit bias clouds our vision. Nancy 
Miller shares an experience that helped 
her understand the impact of our web of 
relationships. Jamie Schumacher explains 
why she is a tapestry. Chiaki O’Brien shows 
how she weaves without pattern.

It is in connection and collaboration that we become what we are: 
Powerful. Everyday. Women. 

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