Mapping A Movement: Taylor Went to Nashville to Get Out HER Vote!

By Taylor Kuether
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Taylor just returned from Nashville, Tennessee, where she attended Planned Parenthood Generation Action’s Power Tour! The three-day conference was the second stop on the summer-long Power Tour, which kicked off in Chicago last month. 

This is her trip diary.

Check out the Tripline, which details everywhere we went!

Thursday, July 17: Playing Tourist in Nashville

Hey y’all! Does that sound weird? It feels weird. A born-and-raised Midwesterner, I’m incredibly accustomed to using “you guys” to address a group comprised of any gender(s). But on day one of the Planned Parenthood Generation Action Power Tour in Nashville last weekend, during a quick session on creating a safe and empowering space for everyone involved, I realized I really need to try harder to kick that habit in effort to make spaces and conversations more inclusive. Surrounded by college students – and not being so far removed from college, myself! – the conference helped me to realize that there’s still so much to learn, in feminism, in the reproductive justice movement, and beyond.

I arrived the day before the conference began, so my only real task was to meet up with Kiara, the Planned Parenthood intern I’d be presenting the voter registration workshop with, and go over our presentation. Once that was done, I played tourist! I was thrilled to get to attend in Nashville, a city I’d only been to before very briefly (growing up, I had family in Tennessee so pit stops in Nashville were included on the 12-hour drive from Wisconsin).

I’ve always been really interested in Greek mythology, so I KNEW I wanted to check out the Parthenon. Yeah, Nashville has a Parthenon. If you’re thinking, “What? Why?” you’re not alone. I read many a plaque on the subject while strolling the grounds of Centennial Park (kind of like the Central Park of Nashville), where the full-scale replica of Greece’s Parthenon is housed, and I still do not have a clear answer. Generally, “because art!” is the reasoning I took away.

While looking at this photo of the Nashville Parthenon, listen to the Casiotone For The Painfully Alone song by the same name:

You’re welcome.

Strolling around a massive park really wears one out, so I stopped at a coffee shop that was close to my dorm (yeah! I stayed in a dorm at Vanderbilt! Brought me back to my college dayz). It was – and I mean this with no trace of hyperbole – the most adorable coffee shop I have ever been in. I visited about four more times throughout my trip.

Thursday night, the good folks of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee took all the conference leaders out to dinner at Chuy’s, where I experienced some of the best chips and salsa of my life. It was also a fun opportunity to get to know the people – many of whom were students! – putting on the Power Tour.

After dinner I headed back to my dorm for the night, to lay on my bed surfin’ the web on my Macbook Pro. Like a real college kid.

Friday, July 18: I’ve Got A Lot To Learn

The conference kicked off midday Friday, and with my newly acquired Power Tour swag in hand (see my cool t-shirt below!), I headed off to an afternoon of lectures on organizing.

The conference was intended for college students and thus the presentations reflected such. Many were on student organizing and student groups – which made me nostalgic for when I was starting my own feminist organization in college. It was exciting and energizing to see so many young people do the same.

What I liked most about Friday’s workshops, though, was a presentation by Cherisse Scott of Sister Reach.  She delivered a high-energy presentation on the reproductive justice movement, and I learned a lot! I learned that the RJ movement isn’t just about reproductive rights – it’s very intersectional, aiming to makes things better for women (specifically women of color) in economic and social arenas, too. I left feeling a lot more knowledgeable about the RJ movement, and I’m grateful for that!

That night I met up with a friend in Nashville for dinner at Rebar, where we ambitiously – some might even say foolishly, but I won’t – ordered a Dump Truck of Fries. 

And then I crashed after a full day, resting up for the workshop I’d give the next day!

Saturday, July 19: Getting Others To Get Out The Vote!

I love putting on workshops. I’ve always been a theatre/forensics/public speaking of any kind nerd, and putting on workshops allows me to nerd out, hard. I get really energetic – crazed, one might say – because I’m SO PASSIONATE about what I’m presenting on. And Saturday’s voter registration and voter suppression workshop was no different.

Kiara, the Planned Parenthood intern putting on the workshop with me, presented on voter registration, which I followed up with a quick crash course on voter suppression (it’s gotten baaaad, America – check out this toolkit if you don’t believe me!)

The students were really engaged and asked great questions – we even ran overtime because of all the solid questions we were getting and engaging dialogue we were having! Especially in Tennessee, where the Vote No On 1 campaign is currently getting into full swing, voting in this November’s elections is ESSENTIAL. I’m glad I got to spread that sense of urgency to the students and young people at the conference.

Sunday, July 20: It’s Been Real, Nashville!

On Sunday the conference wound down and I headed back. (Well, more accurately, killed time in my hotel room by watching bad reality TV, as my flight back to DC wasn’t until Monday morning. You better believe I stopped at Atmalogy a few more times).

I loved Nashville – it’s a vibrant city full of young, engaged people. And with election season around the corner, I’m sure (and I sure hope) I’ll be back! In the meantime, I’m gonna work on my southern drawl.

By Taylor Kuether

Taylor is a journalist, feminist, cat enthusiast, and proud Wisconsin native. She works for Feminist Majority Foundation as the Campus Communications Associate. Her two favorite things besides her cat, Emma, are coffee and art museums.

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