Q&A with Becca Stevens
WHY DID YOU BEGIN THISTLE FARMS?
When I first began working with women on the streets of Nashville I had one child and was pregnant with my second. The idea of opening a two year free sanctuary for women survivors had been simmering for years. But with the demands of work and a growing family that idea was just sitting on the back burner. Then late one afternoon in 1994 I was leaving work and putting my four year old son in the car seat when he looked up at me and asked, "momma why is that lady smiling?" The billboard he could see was a huge image of a stripper in a cat suit smiling. The question broke my heart, because I knew one day he wouldn't ask it. The sign would just fade into the landscape where women are bought and sold without notice. On that day I felt a fire burning in my chest and knew I needed to open the first home for women who have survived lives of trafficking addiction and prostitution. The woman in the cat suit was a sign. What I would also learn later is that because I have a history of child sex abuse in my background, is that I had a deep connection to the women I was serving in shelters and in ministry on the streets at that time. My son was a living prayer, and by the grace of God that day I could see the sign and hear the prayer.
WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST IN THIS WORK?
What has surprised me most is the generosity and love of people all over the world. I have learned not to be cynical. I have learned that people want to hope with you. I have learned that women who endure the universal issues of sexual violence on their individual backs have hope coursing through their veins. The hundreds of women who have come through this community who long for forgiveness and healing are great teachers, farmers, and healers. I have also been surprised at how well the social enterprise has done. Who knew we were going to be such successful thistle farmers. We are now the largest social enterprise run by survivors in the United States.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WANTING TO BEGIN SIMILAR WORK?
Try to keep it all really simple. Doing the work of Thistle Farms amidst budget shortcomings, calendars, and personalities can feel very complicated. Keeping it simple is akin to keeping it more peaceful. I try to remember to Grieve fully, feel Gratitude profoundly, and be humble enough do the Grunt work! That is it really. It is that simple and that hard. Sometimes when we try to explain it more, we just dilute the message. And the message is simply Love Heals. Love should be seen as a lavish business ideal, capable of transforming community. Keep engaging your mission and be willing to change.
If you’re interested in starting a nonprofit or have a nudge to do similar work, Thistle Farms invites you to attend one of our Education Workshops.
Learn more here.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THISTLE FARMS PRODUCT?
The Healing Oils, by far. They represent us participating in the healing of a wider community. It's both symbolic and practical because they're a wonderful gift and are also at the intersection where arts and crafts, theology and justice meet. We put our prayers for healing, hope and love into every batch we make, and they're a really beautiful, high quality product.
General Questions for Becca Stevens
CAN I MEET YOU/HAVE TEA/SHARE MY STORY WITH YOU?
While Becca greatly appreciates and tries to hear every request we receive, our office receives numerous requests for speaking engagements, meeting requests and personal inquiries, and Becca's schedule can only accommodate so much. As such, if you have a meeting request, you may email Becca's Assistant, Kristin, at email@example.com. Please be as specific as possible and extend us at least 48 hours to reply. We apologize for any inconvenience.
CAN YOU WRITE AN ARTICLE/REVIEW SOMETHING/MAKE A PRESS STATEMENT?
Please refer all Press Inquiries to our PR Director, Emily, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAN YOU GET ME/SOMEONE I KNOW INTO MAGDALENE?
The Magdalene Program Staff oversees the admission of residents. Please direct that inquiry to email@example.com or call 615-320-5325.
IS THERE A PROGRAM LIKE MAGDALENE NEAR ME?
Our Education and Outreach Department keeps an up to date list of community partners. You can find our more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW CAN MY BUSINESS GET THISTLE FARMS PRODUCTS?
Sales inquiries can be directed to our National Sales Director, Katrina, at email@example.com.
HOW CAN I VISIT/VOLUNTEER AT THISTLE FARMS?
Visit HERE or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'D LIKE TO INVITE BECCA TO SPEAK AT OUR EVENT.
Please visit Becca's speaking page HERE.
PLANNING AN EVENT OR NEED MEDIA RESOURCES?
View Becca and Thistle Farms images, articles and videos HERE.