This line of questioning brings valuable information out and into the open.
To Whom it may concern;
My name is Rachel Budde, I am the founder and CEO of Fat and the Moon, an herbal body care business in Grass Valley California. My team and I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Christina Griffin and her project ‘Workplace Tours in VR’ to create a virtual reality tour of our company which included interviews with myself and my staff. We were thrilled to be part of ‘Workplace Tours in VR’ to give students the ability to see what a small, women owned and run business in their community looked like. I believe that young people, especially young women, need to see that business can be an empowering, mission driven and creative endeavor. The kind of student accessibility this new technology of virtual reality provides to the on the ground, inner workings of a company is truly amazing.
In the midst of all of this excitement about sharing Fat and the Moon with our community in this cutting edge way, I was shocked by the outmoded response to our business by members of the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools. It seems the word ‘coven’ which my team and I use in a lighthearted way to describe Fat and the Moon, was seen by some at the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools as a word that connotes witches, evil and the devil. I was told that the word had to either be edited out or our tour would not be made available to students. Primarily, it felt important to me to share our business with young people in my community, so I gave the ok to edit ‘coven’ out, but with the caveat that my intention was to write this letter which I will also be sharing with my community at large.
‘Coven’, also related to the word ‘covent ', ‘covenant’ and ‘covenant’ from the Latin root ‘coventus’ ultimately means an assembly, a gathering, often with devoted participants to a specific practice. There is nothing inherently evil about the word ‘coven’. The association of ‘coven’ (and witches, for that matter) with evil, stems from a horrific and violent history predominantly inflicted upon women.
Fat and the Moon, while using ‘coven’ lightheartedly, we also use it subversively to reclaim severed and damaged historical and cultural territory. In our minds, ‘Coven’ defines a gathering in which new, affirming, and healing paradigms can be inspired and fostered. In times when the rights (and lives) of women, girls, non binary, and trans people are being threatened, we need to examine deep beliefs and knee jerk reactions to words and concepts that describe the feminine, especially when they are negative.
The perspective that ‘coven’ is an evil word which should not be shared with young people for fear of some kind of bad influence, is backwards at best. At worst, it illuminates the darkest side of patriarchy that is predicated on the fear, control and hatred of women, their power and the power of nature.
In order to be at the forefront of not only beneficial technology for students, but also the cultural vanguard (the growth edge young people are already evolving) I ask the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools to examine their beliefs about the word ‘coven’ and reconsider the decision to edit ‘coven’ out of the Fat and the Moon Workplace VR Tour. Additionally, I would encourage further training for your leadership and team on cultural inclusion, sensitivity and literacy.
Herbalist & Fat and the Moon Founder/ CEO