Valley Violets: fighting valley violence against women in Eagle County
GYPSUM — We tend to think of ourselves as safe here in Eagle County, so when a violent crime occurs such as a homicide in Edwards or a knife attack in Avon or a brutal beating in Eagle, the community as a whole is shaken.
And shaken people are more likely to become jarred into action.
This is the precise scenario that has given birth to a new group called Valley Violets. Described as “a group aimed at the local women of Eagle County to be equipped with the knowledge and tools on what to do when faced with a threatening situation.”
Organizer Kasha McDade notes that she has never personally been the victim of a violent crime, but that’s not something she takes for granted. McDade was moved to action by the recent extremely violent attacks on women locally. McDade noted there is help available for women in Eagle County and Valley Violets’ mission is to create awareness of both safety precautions and available resources.
“We are a platform to bring everyone together,” McDade said.
Coffee and safety
While Valley Violets’ mission is serious, their methodology isn’t glum. The group’s first event was held last week at DJ’s & Dahlias — the new coffee shop located at The Hangar building near Costco in Gypsum. Title “Get the Conversation Going” the event included deputies from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Kym Rock from Fight Like a Girl. Meagan Wilmers, a representative from the Damsel in Defense company, is one of the organizers for Valley Violets and she displayed an array of self-defense products.
According to McDade, the first meeting addressed a basic question: What can local women do to feel safer?
“I went to high school here and this valley is a bubble,” said Shanna Sweeney, another Valley Violets organizer. But as Sweeney noted, recent events have shown that it isn’t difficult to burst the local safety bubble.
“I have a daughter and want her to be safe,” Sweeney said.
That sentiment was echoed by several of the attendees for Valley Violet’s first session and it fueled the group’s next program. On Thursday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. the group will again assemble at DJ’s & Dahlias for a program dedicated to teen girls safety.
“We are calling it ‘Keep the Conversation Going,’” McDade said. “It will be an evening focused on the younger ladies and their mothers to openly discuss healthy relationships, women’s safety and sexual consent, giving our teens the tools to protect themselves and knowledge on how to reach out for support in any given situation.”
The presentations will start at 6:30 p.m. and guest speakers include Garfield County PREP (a sex education and teen pregnancy prevention program), Meagan’s Damsel in Defense, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and special guests from the local schools.
Along with the evening events, Valley Violets has created a private Facebook page where members can learn about resources and discuss issues in a controlled environment.
McDade stressed the motivation for Valley Violets isn’t fear mongering. Instead, the group wants to spread a positive message about all the options that are available to local women.
“The recent attacks are all good reason to have this program,” McDade said. “But we can all live happily and safely in this valley.”
“Especially if we take some extra precautionary steps,” added Sweeney.
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