Undaunted By COVID-19, “She Fest” Turns Online To Celebrate The Power And Drive Of Women

By Jeff McDonald The San Diego Union-Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Despite Covid_19, The "She Fest" festival still went on! (online that is.) This year's virtual event included zoom discussions with organizers, women trailblazers in business and politics and workshops on self-care, change and helping others.

San Diego

There were no hugs, no stages, no outdoor booths promoting community organizations focused on women's empowerment.

But the virtual embraces, live music and shared experiences were every bit as robust on Saturday as She Fest kicked off a week of San Diego Pride events that have been forced online by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 7th annual celebration of women of all stripes opened with a passionate rendition of "This Little Light of Mine" performed by the Resistance Revival Chorus.

It segued easily into chants of "Happy Pride!" while hosts greeted participants via Facebook, YouTube and the San Diego Pride website. The event quickly launched into discussions with organizers, women trailblazers in business and politics and workshops on self-care, change and helping others.

"For me, building community among women and queer folks is a key part of my life," said Gini Mann-Deibert, who helped plan the festival's transition to the web. "Creating She Fest is a completely voluntary endeavor. It is people coming together to create a space for folks to connect."

Over five hours, there were relatively few glitches. Some speakers took a moment to unmute, and some were delayed for several seconds as they mastered their at-home computer set ups. She Fest also included musical performances by Celeste Barbier, Boi Band and Unsung Lilly.

"I wish I could see your faces," Barbier said from her home in Oceanside before her three-song set.

There was also a pet show, cooking tips and a panel on youth activism. Later in the afternoon, physical therapist Shannon Linzer led viewers through a "queer stretch break" featuring a variety of yoga movements, and a segment on drag kings explained the hows and whys of that performance art.

Local political leaders like Christine Kehoe, Toni Atkins and Georgette Gomez spoke about the importance of getting involved in one's community and confronting the challenges of winning elections as openly gay candidates.

Women entrepreneurs and business owners talked about managing their companies, especially in the face of a virus.

"I choose my clients more than I choose my events," said Yinka Freeman, who founded Triple Pocket Events last year. "I love being on the same wavelength with my clients. Connection is so important right now."

In addition to the main live-stream, this year's She Fest offered a series of Zoom workshops focused on everything from setting boundaries and coping with stress to live art and meditation.

"Mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness of the present," Thuy Do, a San Diego psychologist who focuses on anxiety, depression and spirituality, said during one of the workshops.

"It's beneficial for stress reduction," she told dozens of participants. "You can think clearly, so you make better decisions."

Most of the workshops drew between 15 and 50 viewers, according to the Zoom participant counts. It's not clear how many people watched the main live-stream event in total, but the YouTube platform had 70 or more viewers through much of the afternoon.

San Diego Pride programs continue online all week, culminating in a virtual 5K run and walk and Pride Live 2020 on Saturday, July 18. Check sdpride.org for details. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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