Below the Radar Transcript

Episode 15: A feminist career — with Madeleine Shaw

Speakers: Melissa Roach, Maria Cecilia Saba, Jamie-Leigh Gonzales, Madeleine Shaw

[theme music]

Melissa Roach  0:06 
You’re listening to Below the Radar, a knowledge mobilization project recorded out of 312 Main. This podcast is produced by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

Maria Cecilia Saba  0:17 
Below the Radar brings forward ideas to encourage meaningful exchanges across communities. 

Jamie-Leigh Gonzales  0:21 
Each episode we interview guests on topics ranging from environmental and social justice, arts, culture, community building, and urban issues. This podcast is recorded on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

[theme music]

Maria Cecilia Saba  0:43 
Hello, this is Maria Cecilia Saba and today’s episode features myself and Melissa Roach in conversation with Madeleine Shaw. Known for her revolutionary way of normalizing menstruation, Madeleine discusses everything from her early days co-founding Lunapads to her newest creative projects, including G-Day and Nestworks, a soon-to-launch, work-friendly family space.

[theme music fades]

Melissa Roach  1:09 
So, thank you for coming! Madeleine, you’re a social entrepreneur and the founder of Lunapads — and I don’t have to tell you this, [laughs] you know — a co-founder of G Day, so I want to ask you about those exciting projects. When you and I met in the hall earlier, we were talking about the kind of moment we’re in, that feels to me like the ‘period revolution.’ A lot of things are happening right now, and it’s really exciting. And I kind of look at Lunapads as like one of the OG players in that. So, I was hoping you could share with us how that started and how you’re feeling about it now.

Madeleine Shaw  1:48 
Totally, thank you. Yeah, actually to clarify one thing, I’m a co-founder of Lunapads along with my business partner Suzanne Siemens, who today is the CEO of Lunapads. For anyone who doesn’t know this, I actually retired from my position at Lunapads as Creative Director at the end of 2017, and I’ve since moved on to a couple of new projects. But I’m still very much in love with that company, and all the people, and everything it is and am involved in some specific ways even now. Just so people know that.

Madeleine Shaw  2:21 
And, thanks for saying the OG thing [laughs] as a compliment. Yeah, I mean, I started making and experimenting with reusable products in the early ‘90s in response to just problems I was having using them, honestly. I was getting rashes and infections and they were just uncomfortable. And I hated how wasteful they were, because my period isn’t really a big deal anyways, and so I was using all of these products that were making me kind of feel gross and throwing them away. And was like, “this is just so absurd,” and I guess by that point I was already pretty woken up as a feminist, but I had never put my feminist lens on the issue of menstrual products — or what were then known as “feminine hygiene” products, which is one of my least favourite choices of names.

Madeleine Shaw  3:07 
A few things actually happened at the same time. I stopped using birth control, hormonal birth control, around the same time. I was in my mid-twenties and the whole connection with my body really shifted. So when I started using reusables, doing this totally taboo thing of actually touching my menses and washing my pads and underwear and whatever. In a real spirit of curiosity, like, “what is this like?” Back then, it was 25 years ago, it wasn’t really all that long ago, I knew what I was doing was kind of revolutionary. It was sort of taboo. It was really kind of like, “you don’t touch your period, are you kidding me?” This is why we use [disposable] products, so you don’t have to do that. And just, really unpacking how the language of the products and what is in the products — and when I say “the products,” I mean mainstream disposables. You know, the Always, the Tampax and so on, of this world. Unpacking how disrespectful they are around the language of something being sanitary or hygienic, of course, implies that what you’re doing or what you’ve got going on in your body is unsanitary and unhygienic. So, kind of insulting, and the volume of the waste problem, and stuff. 

Madeleine Shaw  4:20 
More than anything, what changed for me was that I got that. My left brain got all of the data on that, but when I actually started the practice of washing pads and period underwear — which I was making in 1993, by the way, it’s not a new thing — it just shifted my relationship with my body somehow. I just opened me up. Like, this actually matters. Having your period matters, and being with it in a gentle, kind, respectful way sends a whole other message to your body than using the disposables. And that’s kind of hard to explain to people, but I sort of had almost this spiritual moment of going “Oh my god, this really is connected to the larger natural cycles,” like the lunar cycle and the seasons, and even a day. This natural rhythm of life. If you have a menstrual cycle, you are connected to that in this really really deep, primal, amazing, mysterious, profound way. And I didn’t get that until I stopped using disposables, started using reusables, and it just gave me this really profound shift in consciousness. That was at the point that I decided to commercialize the products, because I want people who menstruate to be able to experience this, if they and if they want to.

Melissa Roach  5:39
Yeah, and as a young woman today, we totally stand on the shoulders of you and the women who have worked to make all those things fairly accessible. Like, now you can go online and buy your reusable pads and your underwear.

Madeleine Shaw  5:51 
Oh, can you ever!

Melissa Roach  5:55 
So, thank you for that. 

Madeleine Shaw  5:56 
Of course, yeah. And in terms of the current climate, I look to people like Jennifer Weiss Wolf, you know, who coined the whole ‘menstrual equity’ terminology down in the States and, you know, getting tampon tax, so called, you know just all of this state taxes that are imposed on menstrual products taken off, state after state after state, and really bringing this issue to the public attention in a really, really wonderful way. And there have been some really great new innovators and marketers, and the product space that have elevated the conversation there, and now of course we’ve got Academy Awards basically being awarded to menstruation in general. As far as I’m concerned, if you looked at my Facebook feed the morning after — oh my god [laughs] — And so yeah, the time has come for this conversation to be had, and I’m really happy just to have been someone who was part of getting it to where it is now, but in terms of my daily practice, it’s like, I will always love that issue and I care about it, but I’ve also kind of moved on in recent years to start thinking about other things and just kind’s kind of hard to explain. For me, it’s like entrepreneurship is an active creativity. So it’s like, if you’re an artist, you'd want to paint more than one painting, right, or if you’re a filmmaker you’d want to make more than one film. So in my case I just kinda kept having these big creative downloads, is what I call them, in terms of creating new enterprises and stuff, and so I’ve moved on to work on that.

Melissa Roach  7:30 
Yeah, G-Day is one example, which is such a huge, big idea that looks like so much fun. I was watching videos of kids dancing around and smiling and laughing and I got some, like, retroactive jealousy. Liike, I wish 10-year-old Melissa could’ve been there.

Madeleine Shaw  7:48 
Oh totally, yeah.

Maria Cecilia Saba  7:51 
And I wanted to ask you, I know you’ve spoken before about, a little bit, like how you were inspired to create G-Day, but I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the story? I believe there’s a red tent involved, as well in the inception?

Madeleine Shaw  8:05 
There is a red tent involved in the story. So G-Day, for listeners who are not familiar with it, is a series of day-long events that, to date, have occurred in 6 cities in Canada 10 times since 2014. And we gather — it’s for tween girls, so female-identified youth between the ages of 10 and 12 and their parents or other adult-caregivers in their lives, and so it doesn’t need to be a biological parent, it could be a step-parent, it could be a grandparent or a foster parent or a social worker, a teacher, anyways — the idea is that we, it’s a right of passage. So in the same way that we have weddings and funerals and baby showers, when we socially take the time as groups to acknowledge moments of social transition that are really significant in people’s lives. So what we’re doing in the case of G-Day is acknowledging the transition between childhood and adolescence, which is why we isolate the sort of aged 10 to 12. So they’re not really children anymore, but they’re not really teenagers yet, either, so they’re in this funny ‘tween world which, actually, is a very, very rich time in life where there’s a ton of transformation happening or about to happen.

Madeleine Shaw  9:17 
And so G-Day is there to provide a community-based container of support for them that is basically you walk into a room with 200, 250 people who are there just to tell you that you matter, and it even still now makes me a bit emotional thinking about it. But it all started for me in 20- — I started thinking about it in 2013 — and I was invited to do a Pecha Kucha night presentation here in Vancouver. But the question they asked me — and normally I talk about, at that point, was all about Lunapads, right — and the question I was asked was “How would I change a city if I could?” And...I just didn’t quite know what to say. But then I thought about it and actually a memory came back to me from being that 10, 11, 12, age. I’d read a book called Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? — the classic book. And, anyways, I just loved that book so much when I was a kid. It meant so much to me. It’s a story about a girl in the eastern United States, sort of midwestern United States, and her experience of — it’s kind of, it’s about her spirituality but it’s also about puberty and her body changing and how she anticipated that…

Melissa Roach  10:25 
And the devices she has to use! [laughs]

Madeleine Shaw  10:29 
Yeah, absolutely! And the little clubs with her friends and there’s so many things about it that were just so special. And I remember at the time feeling very much a sense of empathy with her and her friends because they so anticipated, like, this notion for them, because that was their gender identity, as it was for me, this notion of becoming a woman, was this really amazing thing, and they were so excited about it and so curious about it. And I totally felt that way too, and it was like “How am I gonna — how is this transformation gonna happen to me?” Like I can’t even imagine it. And even though I had all the data from a biological, you know puberty, la la la details, like I knew what was gonna happen, but it was more a feeling of magic and specialness that I was really craving, and I wasn’t part of any cultural tradition. LIke in the Jewish tradition, they have a Bat Mitzvah, and they, you know, there’s various other cultures around the world that celebrate this transition or menarche and in my case there just was nothing. And so, the dream of it — like the craving of it — went away because it didn’t happen. But then I came back — weirdly, when I was asked to speak about this way that I would change a city — and I had this, I read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, Maria that you mentioned, and I was inspired by this idea of there being rites of passage, of there being like these adult women kind of helping, shepherding girls into this phase of life.

Madeleine Shaw  11:51 
And so for my presentation, at the Pecha Kucha night, I basically said that I would have a modern red tent. Like, I would have a place and a time that we could bring our daughters and just have this thing that I wanted when I was a kid, and I talked about Margaret and I talked about powder rooms, actually, which is kind of an interesting use of space, right? They kind of used to be a female coded space back in the day. Anyways, and so I was just musing about like where are the female coded spaces and where are the rituals and why don’t we do that anymore? And anyways, after that night, to me now if anybody out there has any ideas that they’re kinda sitting on and they’re not really sure, like just go and tell someone — like just say it out loud, seriously, because it makes a difference! And one thing led to another, and I met an event planner who was there later and somebody else who offered to fund it, and you know, there’s something about the idea that resonated for people.

Madeleine Shaw  12:48 
And so on April 28, 2014, we had the first one in Vancouver and 250 girls came, and I was like, “Wow, this is very interesting!” Like clearly this has struck a chord emotionally, more for the parents of the girls. Like the girls themselves they just — it is true, that girls just wanna have fun — like they just wanna dance and they wanna play with each other and they wanna do stuff. But really, the day is sorta about that, like it’s about giving them the opportunity to be themselves and they’re not being assessed and they’re not being judged, but we just take them through a whole bunch of experiences and stories — G-Day is very story-based, there’s nothing prescriptive about it in anyway — and it was very successful, actually, and what was interesting to me at the end of it was that so many parents came to us afterwards and said, “Well we want to be part of this too!” And it was like oh, of course they do! Because they never had this, and this is an opportunity to witness their daughters, but also to bond as adult-caregivers who are raising these girls. So we started iterating from there and we had the second G-Day, just even six months later at the Chan Centre at UBC, and we invited parents — we’ve always had parents, we’ve called them champions — at every G-Day since then. And then it just kinda spread. Somebody reached out to me from Toronto, she’s this amazing leader there and she wanted to do it, and I said sure, why not? Why not? Why wouldn’t we? 

Melissa Roach  14:15 
That’s incredible.

Madeleine Shaw  14:16 
Yeah, so it’s kinda gone on and on, and today it’s a registered charity, and we ‘ve got an event. Our next one in Vancouver — well actually, it’s in Burnaby — is on April the 29th, that’s Monday the April 29th, and that’s a Pro-D day in Vancouver, Burnaby, and I believe Surrey School District as well, and we’re gonna be putting tickets on sale hopefully at the end of this week, maybe next week, I don’t know.

Melissa Roach  14:41

Maria Cecilia Saba  14:42 
And I was wondering, what does a regular day at G-Day look like? Like, what do the kids interact with mentors? And I know that it’s very story-based...yeah.

Madeleine Shaw  14:57 
Yeah, that’s a good question. So when we talk about rites of passage — which is to say these kinds of special events where this kind of intentional focus on one group and their transition — historically there are three parts to rites of passage. They don’t all always look like this, but there’s sort of enough of a common pattern of, where the beginning you sort of gather as the larger group, or we think of it like a village, like a proverbial village it takes to raise a child, that’s to say the adults and the girls together, and we are in a crowd of say 200 people, which is typically you get 200-300 people who come to G-day, we gather them in smaller groups, like groups of 10 so you don’t feel like you’re just in a sea of 200 people, like you’re in a smaller community that you have. We have facilitated conversations that occur, so somebody is not just listening to someone at the front of the room, like you’re actually having a conversation with the people you’re sitting with, and the idea is to build trust in an intergenerational kind of sense, so that even if you’re a girl and you don’t know the adult sitting next to you, you’re gonna have a conversation about something meaningful. So often the adults will share things that they wish they had known when they were that age, and the girls talk about something that scares them or a challenge that they’re having, and anyways, there’s just this kind of cool conversation that helps you get to know people that you didn’t maybe know before. Like you might come with your friend or your parent, but it’s —- the idea is that we’re building this sense of a container of trust that is beyond the family unit.

Madeleine Shaw  16:37 
And so we’re together, and maybe there’s some music, maybe there’s some singing, and discussion and just sort of trying to create this sort of connection and occasion, and then after that we separate the two groups. So that’s, again, is a classic thing in rites of passage that there is a sense of either separation or challenge that occurs in the middle, so this is the part where you’re literally becoming or figuratively becoming a different person. So you’re separated from the group, you're not with your parents anymore, and so the girls are together. And the idea with that is to connect the girls to one another and create a sense of sisterhood and bonding amongst them, and that’s why we want their ages to be really similar, too, because they can really feel like this girl’s going through what I’m going through, and we might look different, we might be from different places, but it really is about the age and really trying to isolate that. And so we, at that point we take them through — they really like moving, so we’ve done like martial arts and self defense and yoga and different stuff like that — so they’re just like literally being together in a good way.

Madeleine Shaw  17:42 
We have people come in and tell them stories, typically around resilience and overcoming adversity, because they’re all gonna need to do that. But the point is, it’s not like ‘these are five steps to overcoming adversity’, it’s like, this is the story of one person, and some really amazing — Melanie Mark, Provincial Minister of Education has been to G Day — and basically tells the girls what life was like for her at that age, at their age, as opposed to ‘I’m this really big, important, elected official and this is my job’, it’s like, what happened to her? What was like for her as an Indigenous youth growing up in the Lower Mainland? And I think she went to like six different high schools in five years! And you know, super challenging in her family and all these things, and so sharing it with the girls in a really, deeply personal way. So those are the types of things that we do with the girls.

Madeleine Shaw  18:35 
Sometimes there’s like a creative activity, and then, of course, there’s this coming back together, right? So at the end, there’s this third part — meanwhile the parents have been off, their trajectory is a little more pragmatic. Like we’re teaching them, they usually hear from parenting experts about ways to support girls at this age. So whether that’s around things like media literacy or dealing with social media or communications, relationships, leadership, yeah, just a million things. Like it’s more skill-based, so it’s the kind of things that a parent would want to know to help support their kid, but we also take the parents on kind of regressive meditation where they do an exercise where they go and re-meet their inner girl, which is really emotional and awesome. And then the parents prepare like a ceremony for the girls with supported in doing that by a celebrant, so somebody who’s an expert in rites of passage and just kind of like ‘how do you actually do that part of stuff?’ And we’ve used a lot of different, kind of different formula or expressions for this closing reunion piece, and it usually involves singing and some form of like a physical transition, so you literally are going from one place to another and being watched or kind of welcomed as you do that. So you might have started the day symbolically as a child but you’re finishing as an adolescent taking your first steps towards adulthood and being recognized and singing for doing that and celebrated for doing that. So that happens, and then we have a dance party (laughs) which is really fun, and then we eat — we usually eat some form of sugar — I think Cartems Donuts are sponsoring something this year. We’ve had Earnest Ice Cream and just a number of, just, we have a treat at the end, and that’s basically the day, so it’s fun.

Melissa Roach  20:31 
Yeah, I love how the day is structured so that it mirrors that journey. That’s very cool.

Madeleine Shaw  20:37 
Yeah, well it’s ancient right? Like and there is a real emotional arc that is important and yeah, that expresses this idea of transition that you are literally moving from the person you showed up as in the morning is not the same at the end of the day.

Melissa Roach  20:54 
Yeah, one thing I was interested in when I was reading up was that sense of the community and village. One thing I read was how to lift up your own children but also other children. So — and then you mentioned the more skills-based training that the parents receive — so my questions is about how does, how do the values and principles that both caregivers and parents and girls learn carry forward outside of G Day?

Madeleine Shaw  21:24 
Yeah, that’s a great question. How I think about that is that there’s this idea of an emotional imprint that’s made. So the types of feelings that we’re sort of trying to generate at G Day have to do with trust and a sense of belonging, what our G Day Victoria leaders called it a ‘tangible experience of mattering.’ So you sort of walk out feeling just like more people have your back and see you and care about you, whether you’re related to them or not, whether you actually met them or not, because the experience of sitting down with people who were previously strangers — like, let’s say an adult tells you a story about this challenge that they overcame and what life was like when they were your age — it’s like ‘yeah, I guess everybody was my age once’ and ‘they had challenges to overcome and they had this weird thing that’s happening to me right now, or my life is changing and my body is changing.’ So it just creates empathy, which is super important, and so just a heightened sense of trust and empathy are the really, really big ones, and this sort of sense that you’re not alone, that you’re not the only person this is happening to. And which again speaks to this sort of concentrating at that age, so you really feel like the kid next to you is also having some struggles or also has some questions and whatever, and I would say those two things.

Madeleine Shaw  22:45 
And also just joy, like the girls they honestly just wanna have fun and they wanna dance and they wanna do cartwheels and stuff, and just giving them the space to be themselves and for them to enjoy each other’s company, because it’s sort of like a big sleepover, basically. So just that energy alone is like, that is not just frivolous, that’s not a meaningless waste of time. That actually creates this emotional imprint in their minds of that feeling of safety and connectedness and belonging that then, for the rest of their lives, they will seek. Like, it kinda gives them a barometer, if you will, which helps them understand if they’re in a situation that doesn’t feel like that, or how to find situations that do feel like that, ‘cause they might not have felt seen or heard in a community context like that ever before in their lives if they’re not part of some form of faith tradition or something or cultural tradition that has given them that experience. They’re growing up in an urban environment where they may not even know their neighbours, you know? So their world is actually pretty small, so if they can be in a space where it’s like ‘wow, 250 people came here today just because of me? Because of this?’ like, wow! It’s a unique feeling.

Madeleine Shaw  23:58 
And so, and the way their minds are developing at that particular age, they’re very susceptible to these emotional memories, which then we hope serve as kind of a touchstone for them as they, you know, they’re heading in to their teenage years in this hypersexualized, turbo-technology culture of social comparison and competition. And so what we’re really helping to do is like anchor them in this sense of ‘people have seen my soul and my truest self, and they value me for that reason.’ And so, when other stuff comes down the pipe that is maybe suggesting that they matter for other reasons that aren’t true and aren’t meaningful, they already know the truth of why they matter and they can feel it literally in their bones. 

Melissa Roach  24:39 
Yes, that’s so important to feel set up and feel prepared for those things. One thing that we were talking about before, you mentioned something about work life balance, and I don’t know if you’re feeling like you want to talk about going into adulthood in that way, kind of extending beyond the teenage years and how you carry that with you as a woman in an office or out in the community doing what you do.

Madeleine Shaw  25:10 
Yeah totally. Well, I mean really, so many life experiences change us. But for me, becoming a mother was huge. So I had my daughter when I was 35 — no, 37 — and at that point my business partner Suzanne already had a child who was about 2, and then she would go on to have another one. So this was Lunapads, circa 2005, and maybe half a dozen people working there. And here we are having babies, and at the time there were no maternity leave benefits for business owners and you know, there was then as today, just absurdly limited choices when it comes to childcare and the availability of childcare — which is another topic which I’d be happy to get into. Anyways, so we brought our kids to work with us, we literally brought our babies to work with us. And partly because we didn’t have a choice, but partly because we wanted to and we could, so again it was one of those radical experiences where you’re not really sure what you’re getting into, and then you look around and realize nobody does this, you know, and then you wonder why not? Why — the world is designed to basically separate work and life, and then everybody gets all stressed about work-life balance.

Melissa Roach  26:28
And separate children from adults, too!

Madeleine Shaw  26:31 
Totally! Attachment is such a huge issue, right? And anyways, so what happened for me is that that made a huge imprint on me to show me this was possible. And after that, I’d find myself telling other people about this great business idea that they should do which involved creating a family-friendly workplace. And so I would go, because I was too busy with Lunapads and G-Day and whatever I was doing. But if you wanna start a business, let me tell ya, I got one for ya! (laughs) You gotta pay attention to yourself, who you find yourself telling other people that they should do a certain thing, like a half a dozen times, like really, you need to pull out a mirror and get the picture. And so, it was by the time, it was the end of 2016 when I really gave myself the permission to actually start working on the business plan in my mind for what’s now called Nestworks. So Nestworks is a registered, non-profit society and we’re working towards finding a space to create exactly what I described, so it’s actually not even a family-friendly workplace, we call it a work-friendly family place.

Maria Cecilia Saba  27:37 

Melissa Roach  27:38 
I like that!

Maria Cecilia Saba  27:39
I love it.

Madeleine Shaw  27:40 
Yeah, I like that a lot too. It’s like really root — like, if we’re gonna go there like, let’s really go there. So yeah, I spent the last — so that’s one of the reasons why I retired from Lunapads is because I realized, with Lunapads and G Day, I didn’t have any more time and kind of mental energy if I was seriously going to do this. And I turned 50 at the end of 2017, yeah, so it was kind of like a 50th birthday gift to myself too, to just go “okay, you wanna have another baby? Have another baby!” (laughs) Metaphorically speaking, anyways, and yeah, so I’ve been working on the business plan now for a year and a bit, and have really been enjoying it so much. Just trying to understand what the future of work-life balance can be, and just also understanding how disconnected we are from one another and how hard it is — like, even from a regulatory perspective, what I’m trying to do is so kinda out there — but I’m not letting that stop me! And in the meantime there are tons of family-friendly coworking spaces opening up around the world and even in Canada and in the United States, so I’m just seeing what’s possible here in Vancouver.

Madeleine Shaw  28:56 
I’ve gotta really great team working with me, and just trying to — like, in a way, like, this is my, everything that I’ve sort of learned in the last 25 years as an entrepreneur and the networks that I’ve built up and the social capital that I’ve built up and all those things — this is sort of a legacy project to see if this is possible. And then my vision is that there actually will be several locations so it wouldn’t just be one place that kind of solves all the problems, because we have families everywhere, and we have kids everywhere, and we have people who need to work everywhere, and we really need to activate the economy to be far more inclusive and democratic and not be so rigid in terms of, you know, the way we even think of, you know, women who are mums who work at home. It’s like, that’s so trivialized and so...kind of not respected, and I really am interested in re-inventing the whole conversation around not just work-life balance but how we think about work and how we value it, but also teaching children about work!

Madeleine Shaw  29:58 
‘Cause kids, I think a lot of children believe that work is something that steals their parents from them for 8 or 10 hours a day, and it has this negative grinding, sort of thing like “Oh I had a hard day at work.” And a lot of people do have hard days at work, but how much more joy and attachment and creativity and possibility could there be? Like what if you could have your lunch with your kid every day, and stuff like that? And anyways, that’s sort of — it’s all a bit utopian but there’s a very real business plan that’s coming out of this and I’m hoping to have our first location chosen and under development by the end of 2019 so it’s very exciting.

Maria Cecilia Saba  30:35 
It’s very exciting, I’m seeing a bit of a parallel with that moment when you started Lunapads. Like I feel like the workplace is a bit sterile sometimes, you know? Like you’re not supposed to bring — we only recently started bringing pets to the workplace, right? And it’s kinda weird that we started bringing pets to the workplace before bringing kids to the workplace…

Madeleine Shaw  30:56 
Don’t you think? With all due respect! With all due respect to dogs, like come on, why not? Exactly you raise a fantastic point.

Maria Cecilia Saba  31:06 
So it’s probably a very radical idea  but it’s gonna be just a transition into something a bit more organic, you know? Something that feels a bit more close to our bodies, close to homes, more natural, at the end of the day, right?

Madeleine Shaw  31:19 
I totally agree, yeah. I think so too. And I think, you know for me, I have all these ideas that might seem kinda — actually, all the ideas I ever have are really old, if you think about it. So the idea of washing your own menstrual pads, I mean, for goodness’ sake! I mean, even Lillith sewed their own menstrual pads, you know? Whatever, washed them, sewed them and so on, and so that’s a very old idea. And rights of passage, of course, they’re a super old idea. And this idea, I think of children, like this re-imagining of children in the workplace, like if we think of a pre-industrial revolution society, most businesses were home based. You did have one parent weaving and the other parent making horseshoes or whatever they were doing, and children were just there and a part of it! And it was integrated and children were carried on the backs, carried into the fields or whatever — and it wasn’t a problem! It just was part of life and it was much more natural, as you say. Yeah, so in a way, like what I’m… some people say ‘Oh, you’re ahead of your time” and it’s like “No, no, no, no! That’s not actually true!” I’m kind of looking back and seeing what practices or wisdom there might have been that might today be an antidote to how siloed and separated and polarized we are. And how we can become more integrated as communities and as families and humanize the workplace and make products that are better for our bodies and the environment. It’s not rocket science.

Madeleine Shaw  32:52 
Like, you know, as I mature, it really is for me — and I’m not interested in screens, like I just don’t enjoy them. I don’t enjoy apps and I don’t enjoy anything really online or social media, and to me it’s all about the lived experience and what it feels like to be in community and in relationship with people and the types of things that can really only occur when we’re actually physically together and connected to one another in really deep and honest ways, and then I think some really cool things happen.

Melissa Roach  33:24 
That is such a lovely thought, I think, to end on. If there’s anything else you’d like to share or if you have something going on that you want people to know about?

Madeleine Shaw  33:34 
Yeah, I’d love to, thank you! So the next G-Day, as I mentioned, is on April 29th. It’s taking place at the Nikkei Centre in Burnaby, and tickets will be on sale — you can check is our website, our URL, and we’ll have tickets launching any day now. The other thing that we’re doing which is really exciting is having a fundraiser for G-Day, and that’s gonna be on Saturday, May the 11th. And what we’re doing for that is having an ‘un-gala’ as opposed to a gala. And we’re getting together at my friend Denise’s — she has this wonderful co-working space called The Pace in Railtown — and we’re gonna get together, and actually smash plates against a concrete wall for fun. So the idea is that you can metaphorically ‘what would you like to smash?’ Like would you like to smash say — I don’t know, what would you like to smash?

Melissa Roach  34:25 
Um, child care fees! Smash ‘em!

Madeleine Shaw  34:26 
Child care fees, okay great, great! Maria, what about you? What would you like to smash?

Maria Cecilia Saba  34:31 
I think I would like to smash the fact that we cannot bring families and kids to the workplace.

Madeleine Shaw  34:36 
Excellent, that’s a great idea! And you know, some people might wanna smash the patriarchy —

Maria Cecilia Saba  34:41 
The patriarchy, let’s go with that!

Madeleine Shaw  34:42 
...Or gender stereotypes or their ex or…I don’t know! Anyways you can write it on a plate and it’s all for a good cause, and smash it against a wall. And we’ll provide the safety glasses and you can wear whatever you want, and otherwise it’ll just be kind of a party with a DJ and you know, drinks and things. But I was inspired by an event I heard about in Los Angeles that was like this, and I was like “Oh my god, I want to do that so badly!” as just this creative way of expressing —  like in a healthy way, like it’s therapeutic — the rage and the anger and the frustration that I think we all feel sometimes in a celebratory kinda way and kind of outing it, right, instead of getting really mad in the car when you’re driving or whatever. You’re actually letting it out and people are celebrating it with you. So it’s called “Simply Smashing” and that’s gonna be, tickets, again, are not on sale yet but you can keep checking G-Day’s social or the G-Day website, and that’ll be on Saturday, May 11th, and I think that’ll be a lot of fun. And then we’ll have more G-Days coming later in the year in Victoria and Toronto, and just sign up to our newsletter!

Melissa Roach  35:51 
Thanks Madeleine!

[theme music]

Maria Cecilia Saba  35:56 
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Below the Radar. Thank you Madeleine for coming on our show. Thanks to my fellow producers, Melissa Roach and Jamie-Leigh Gonzales, and thank you Davis Steele for our theme music. Tune in next time. Bye!

[theme music fades]

Transcript auto-generated by and edited by the Below the Radar team.
April 22, 2019

Stay Up to Date

Get the latest on upcoming events by subscribing to our newsletter below.