A Tradition That Has No Name: Nurturing the Development of People, Families, and Communities

By Mary Field Belenky; Lynne A. Bond et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
THE NATIONAL CONGRESS OF NEIGHBORHOOD WOMEN

It's not that neighborhood women don't dream. Their dreams aren't voiced because they don't think anyone is listening.

None of us had any idea what we were doing, we had to figure it out as we went, right?

JAN PETERSON FOUNDER, NATIONAL CONGRESS OF NEIGHBORHOOD WOMEN

The National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NW) grew out of a dream Jan Peterson began cultivating in the 1960s. She would help to create an interracial, intercultural force for community development in a poor and working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.The travels that brought Jan to Brooklyn began in 1968--the year Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. That fall Jan set off from her small Wisconsin hometown for New York City on a Greyhound bus. With college behind her, she wanted to take a "year out" before she married the boy next door to live in a place where ideas flowed more freely.

I figured I'm like the Australian, New Zealander, women. There you are supposed to get a year off before you get married. They go off to Europe for a whole year and they could do whatever they wanted. For a whole year they could do wild things. Then they'd come back and never leave New Zealand or Australia again. That's what I felt I was doing. I was going off for my year. I went by Greyhound bus to New York.

Jan soon found herself a job with the Department of Social Welfare in the South Bronx. This spritely petite blond woman collected her

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