Since its inception, WREN has been a source of economic support and business mentorship for women in the North Country. From our Grant programs to our Local Works Marketplace, WREN provides both community and guidance. Though our programs, gallery, and store have been open to individuals of all gender identities for some time, WREN still focuses on ways to better the lives and livelihoods of women in the North Country.
Women’s Work Initiative
In September 2022, WREN launched Women’s Work, an initiative tasked with identifying systemic barriers to higher earning power for North Country women and families and piloting solutions to those barriers. Born out of a Coos County Directors Network report on the state of childcare in northern New Hampshire, Women’s Work is a WREN initiative that seeks to better understand the systemic influences in rural New Hampshire that perpetuate the gender wage-gap and lower the earning power of women with children in the North Country.
Once these influences were identified and analyzed, our goal now is to develop and pilot solutions that eliminate systemic barriers and build new pathways for higher earning and long-term success for North Country families.
The expected long-range outcomes of this initiative are three-fold:
1) Bring more women with children back into the North Country’s workforce.
2) Increase the median income of women with children in the North Country.
3) Reduce the number of women with children living in poverty in the North Country.
If you would like to support this and other WREN initiatives to further the economic potential of the North Country, donate today.
In our first year, the Women’s Work team identified a need for empowerment and mentorship among North Country families, particularly in confidence-building topics like negotiating salaries or asking for raises. WREN is developing programming around these and related topics.
We are also developing workshops designed to empower adolescents through creative expression, so they can gain the confidence to trust their unique voices and successfully self-advocate throughout their lives.
In the late 1990s WREN began a program which organized workshops and trips for North Country girls intended to build their confidence, provide a safe space for self-expression, and introduce the girls to the world outside the North Country. The program was called WINGS: Women Invested in Nurturing Girls’ Success.
As a result of our Women’s Work initiative findings, and as part of WREN’s commitment to providing programming for the entire community, we are re launching an updated version of the WINGS program that is open to adolescents of all gender identities. Our goal is to empower North Country youth and encourage creative expression, peer respect and community collaboration.
The mission of Wings 2.0 is to amplify marginalized voices and reinforce to local adolescents their inherent value to our community — and the world.
Our pilot Wings 2.0 program was a 3-day zine-making workshop for area middle schoolers over February 2023 school vacation, culminating in the debut of the zines created at the opening reception of Women in Print: Four Printmakers in the Gallery at WREN. “The process of creating zines has tremendous value for their makers, particularly middle school students,” explains workshop coordinator Julia Butterfield. “It’s an empowering creative endeavor that shares the maker’s worldview in a tangible way. We wanted participants to come away from the experience feeling empowered to share their voices, and to make art that has meaning for them. Judging by the work they produced, I think we were successful!”
Future Wings workshops will continue to tie into the work on view in the Gallery at WREN, so that participants may continue to explore different media for self-expression, and in doing so, develop their self-confidence and self-advocacy skills.
To learn more about Wings 2.0 and upcoming workshops, email Julia at firstname.lastname@example.org.