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Kristan Aspen's picture

Kristan Aspen

United StatesPortland, Oregon, United States

Recent Posts

October 10, 2011
October 9, 2011

Kristan Aspen

About Me: 

I grew up in a family that invited foreign students into our home over holidays. I learned to be curious about the world and people from other cultures. I started learning Spanish in 4th grade (elementary school) and LOVED it. I started piano lessons at age 6 and added in flute in 5th grade. I also sang in church choir and played the organ. I was fortunate to attend a private college on scholarship and during my 3rd year I was able to study in Bogotá, Colombia, where I lived with a family and became fluent in Spanish. I studied Sociology as my major and while in Colombia in 1968, created a research project on "The changing role of women in Colombian society."

After graduation I was chosen (probably because I spoke Spanish) to go to Cuba on a Brigada Venceremos trip to assist with the citrus harvest. We had to take a ship from Canada, because it was illegal to go from the United States to Cuba at that time. I was very interested in the Social Change of Cuba since their revolution. I had heard a speaker from a previous brigade tell of his experience cutting sugar cane in Cuba. At this time I was only beginning to be aware of Feminism and to think about my place in the world as a woman. Cuba is where I first was introduced to the concept of universal health care and literacy. And I saw women achieving amazing goals...becoming doctors, community organizers, and leaders in every arena. Women were doing more than making coffee for the men who did the political work.

Cuba was also where I first became aware of myself as a woman attracted to other women more than to men. It was like a lightbulb went on in my head one day, after I listened to a talk by a group of gay people from the USA, who were telling about the political work they were doing. I had not been particularly political in college, apart from studying sociology and social change, so I was interested in everything and curious about it all. I attended a talk about Gay Liberation one evening, like I had been going to other informative talks throughout the weeks were were there, and I was so surprised to have this realization. All my life, my most important relationships have been with girlfriends, but I did not know anything about lesbian relationships. So, after the Venceremos Brigade I began to see my life differently. I gained confidence to be myself, whoever that turned out to be.

I met some women who wanted to start a house for women after they got out of prison, to help them get back on their feet and adjusted to society again. We worked together to establish this house and in the process met a lot of lesbians who were having a hard time finding safe places to live. Eventually the house became a Shelter for Women escaping violence of any kind and by 1975 it became the first Domestic Violence Shelter on the West Coast of the US. It was named Bradley-Angle House after two women who had died from drug overdoses. Their lives had been full of violence.

My life since 1970 has been focused on improving the lives of women in my town, my country and the world. I will share more in my journal, but wanted to introduce myself with this background. I have been in a committed relationship (married if we could be) for 31 years. My partner, Janna, is a classical guitarist, and we have a duo called the Musica Femina Flute Guitar Duo. We toured across the US for 12 years from 1984-96, with an instrumental program of classical women composers and original music that we wrote. We have released two CDs on our own label.

Currently I am unemployed and assisting my elderly parents who live independently nearby.

My Passions: 
Social change, making music, yoga and ballet
My Challenges: 
Trying to do too much, Believing I can learn new skills, learning to play the cello
My Vision for the Future: 
Women lead the world to unity and peace
My Areas of Expertise: 
Event organizing, fundraising, music, connecting people
My Languages: 
English, Spanish

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