Messages from Ann & Liz
Throughout most of my life I have been involved with women, children and families. While raising my own family, I was a Lamaze childbirth educator, a nurse educator in maternal-child health, and taught the clinical piece of a college course on the family. I ran a child abuse prevention program and taught parenting classes to women in prison and parents at-risk for child abuse. All of these activities were my attempt to improve the lives of women and children. But for all those years of working to help women and children, I felt I had accomplished so little.
The years that I have spent growing organically and working on the land have been some of the most rewarding and replenishing. Nurturing the land and plants is not so different from nurturing your own family and loved ones. Both require patience, persistence and lots of love. When Green Heron Tools came into existence, I had a vision of helping women in developing countries by providing tools that would be safe and effective, thereby making their lives easier. Perhaps they could increase their production to not only feed their families but also sell to others to generate income. This could impact more women, children and families than any of the other work I have done. Then, not so long ago I read a wonderful article in The New York Times’ Magazine section, talking about how everyone wins when women are empowered and have the capacity to generate income. According to the article, children are better off and have more opportunities for education, thereby improving their lives. Even fathers in families are impacted, as there is less domestic violence in homes where mothers are able to generate income. Perhaps this endeavor has the capacity to assist women and their families more than any other endeavor, and it came to be in such a serendipitous way.
I am so excited to be doing this work alongside people who care
as much as I do about women and children, including my own daughter.
-- Ann Adams
In some ways it feels like everything in my life has led me to this place I never would have expected to be. I’ve always felt deeply connected to nature, and I’ve always had a passion for trying to make the world a better place – first as a newspaper reporter and editor, then a public health educator, then (with Ann) a consultant helping nonprofit agencies, and for much of the time also as a university instructor. Now I find myself believing that a business can make as much of a positive contribution as all those worthy public service ventures to which I dedicated so many years of my life. Indeed, I’ve come to see that a thoughtfully run, socially and environmentally responsible business IS public service.
And Green Heron Tools, LLC, is in its own way another public health organization, albeit an atypical one. When you hear the stories we’ve heard – some of which we’ll be featuring on this website – you realize quickly that the absence of tools & equipment appropriate for women has directly affected women’s health, sometimes leading to debilitating injuries or disabilities. Through the education we do and the products we sell and/or design and produce, we’ll hopefully be able to prevent injuries and disabilities and generally improve the quality of life for women farmers and others working on the land.
There’s another piece, though, that is also very important to me. Throughout history, women have played a hugely important role in growing food and nurturing plants and families and the Earth. Yet we’ve been essentially ignored when it comes to designing safe and effective tools and equipment – and that is simply, morally, wrong. When I was in my 20s, I was an active part of the movement for women’s equality; when I was in my 30s and 40s I thought equality had been achieved and directed my energy elsewhere. Now that I’m in my 50s, I’m realizing that, to adapt an old saying, “there are at least a few more miles to go before we sleep.” Hopefully the miles of this journey will continue to be as exciting, challenging and fun as the past months have been.
Finally, I am grounded by the realization that my life has in a way come full circle. I started out wanting to effect change on a large scale, then gradually came to feel that small-scale changes and the way I lived my own life were really important too. I’d always gone outdoors to find the peace inside, and growing wonderful healthy organic food and sharing it with others, one on one, became a way to take care of myself and, on a small scale, others and my world. It was this largely solitary pursuit of growing, in partnership with the land and the seasons and the soil, that led to my interest in better tools for women. And that’s led in turn to meeting so many resourceful, interesting, funny and hard-working women – and to the possibility of effecting change on a larger scale, by offering options for small but meaningful changes to women everywhere who work and live and play on the land.
In gratitude & awe at the mysterious way events sometimes unfold . . .
-- Liz Brensinger