Savvy island women exchange relevant views at Bainbridge's SWERV gatherings

Seabold Hall buzzes as women converse before the monthly SWERV presentation. - Connie Mears/Staff Photo
Seabold Hall buzzes as women converse before the monthly SWERV presentation.
— image credit: Connie Mears/Staff Photo

Ginger Thrash was intrigued by the interesting topics her husband  Jim brought back from the “Oatmeal Breakfast Club,” a weekly men’s gathering at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church.

In 2008, she approached walking pals Joan Spencer, Patty Bell and Charlotte Johnson about creating a similar speaker’s series for women. The four women, all passionate about life-long learning,  sat down and came up with a list of people who might be willing to share their expertise to a group of open-minded women.

“I think it works because we all bring very different strengths to the table,” Thrash said.

Bell keeps track of attendance and emailing announcements of upcoming presentations, and Spencer acts as emcee, introducing speakers to the welcoming crowd each month. The series is free, but donations cover the cost of room rental. Johnson handles “our very small finances,” Thrash said.

“We don’t pay anybody,” Thrash said. “The presenters have all been gracious and generous.”

Topics covered since the series began in January 2009 have run the gamut from salmon recovery to music’s affect wellbeing to understanding Islam to the history and politics of menopause. Speakers, mostly from Bainbridge and neighboring cities, have included David Harrison, Rep. Christine Rolfes, and Dr. Tera Eerkes. Librarian Martha Bayley presents a list of “too good to miss” books each year. Upcoming speakers include Carolyn Gangmark and Liesl Clark.

“We have a core group of women who come no matter what,” said Bell. “And we get at least 10 new people each month, some because they are specifically interested in the topic.”


Marilyn Price-Mitchell talks about ‘fostering citizenship in youth’

With a doctorate in human potential, Bainbridge resident Marilyn Price-Mitchell has been studying engaged citizenship in youth for decades. She will share the surprising results of her recent study at Tuesday’s SWERV gathering.

“This is not the World War II generation, it’s not the ‘60s when we had a cohesive cause in which to become engaged,” Mitchell-Price said.

In her study, “Civic Learning at the Edge: Transformative Stories of Highly Engaged Youth,” Price-Mitchell identified three qualities that young people, all of whom sustained high levels of civic engagement, shared.

One common aspect was having a tranformative experience during adolescence, Price-Mitchell said, initiated by coming face-to-face with the suffering of others. This activation of empathy became one of the catalysts for their desire to become change agents.

Teachers, parents and mentors had a high degree of influence Price-Mitchell found, and underscored her emphasis on building family, school and community partnerships to support youth.

To learn more about her research, attend the SWERV presentation from 10:30 a.m. to noon April 12 at Seabold Hall, or visit

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