Tuesday, December 11

First Anniversary

One year ago today, I posted a video that I had made for a scholarship project online. Today, on the anniversary of It Only Takes a Girl, I would like to reflect on some of what has come of that video, which I never imagined would be seen by more than a few hundred people at most.

One of the women in my video holding a sign
In the fall of 2011, my sister Sierra and I spent hours making signs, and my sister Celeste and I filmed almost fifty girls and women holding the signs. My mom helped me with the website creation and the video editing, and on December 11, 2011, we posted the video online. By the end of night, it had gotten over 300 views on YouTube. Within 36 hours, it had 1500. After a week, that number had climbed to 100,000. Emails started pouring into my inbox, mostly from strangers who were inspired by the video and wanted to know how they could help.

I also got emails from some pretty cool people involved in organizations whose missions lined up with the sentiments I expressed in the video. For example, Tammy Tibbetts, president and founder of She's the First, connected with me via email. She told me that She's the First started as a YouTube video and grew into an organization that sponsors girls' education around the world. (See my contribution to a blog post for She's the First here.)

Kevin Conroy, the Director of User Experience at GlobalGiving, also contacted me by email. GlobalGiving is a sort of umbrella organization that helps direct people to various charities they might be interested in, including the Girl Effect. Mr. Conroy sent me an email saying my movie was “one of the most incredible videos [they've] seen in a long time.” He told me that they forwarded my video to the team at the Nike Foundation that created the amazing Girl Effect video and shared it with their 30,000 Facebook and Twitter followers.

I made the front page of MoveOn.org!
CEO of the Fistula Foundation Kate Grant emailed me to say they were getting increased traffic to their website because of my video. Two women making a sort of feminist documentary on a cross country bike ride said they'd be in my area and would love to interview me. Teen life website PopCosmo interviewed me for their site.

Other websites started posting my video without my knowledge (which was great!), like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website, the US Military Violence Against Women website, Shape Magazine Editor Valerie Latona's own personal website, and MoveOn.org.

In February, GlobalGiving posted on their Facebook page that my video had directed over $30,000 in donations to the Girl Effect. Not long after that, Peter Hall, president of the organization Hope-2o, contacted me about partnering up to sell water bottles to raise money for both of our causes.

Zoë Keating's "Optimist" was the music for the video
Zoë Keating, the amazing cellist whose music I used in my video, wrote a blog post about me, and Paula Grieco emailed me about contributing to the What's Your Brave? project.

I did get the full-ride scholarship to Tulane, and in April, I was nominated to speak at the TEDxTU event in the fall. I gave a speech about my video and what I had learned at the summer program I worked at over the summer, and I started at Tulane in August. Once at Tulane, I was chosen to speak at TEDxTU, and I gave my five minute talk to over 500 people in October.

After nearly a year, my video was still getting hits on YouTube (the viewership is at over 390,000 today) and positive feedback from the activist community. Connecther used my video as an example for their Girls Impact the World Film Festival call for entries (look under the "for filmmakers" tab). The Seed Africa named me as a Girl Champ on their website. A group of women from Principia College recently began selling my Hope-2o bottles at their school to raise money for the Girl Effect. I have continued to contribute to the What's Your Brave? project; most recently, I was featured in the new free e-guide, Getting It Right the First Time.

I reconnected with Katie Meyler, founder of More Than Me, and volunteered as an outreach coordinator to try to help them get votes in the Chase American Giving Awards contest. After the amazing team at More Than Me and their wonderful supporters worked tirelessly publicizing the contest and acquiring votes, More Than Me indeed won $1 million dollars to get girls in Liberia off the streets and into school.

It's been a pretty cool journey so far, but we still have a long way to go. Thank you to everyone who has supported me since the beginning, and to everyone who has joined the cause along the way.

I'll just end this reflective post with a fun quote from Dr. Seuss, which pretty much sums up what I have learned in the last twelve months: 

Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, 
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

Update: My sister has started a parody of It Only Takes a Girl, "It Only Takes a Squirrel." Follow her on Twitter @OnlyTakesASqurl. She's pretty funny.