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Ellen Furstner

Born in Amsterdam, artist and activist Ellen Furstner migrated to the Bay Area with her family at age 13. She cut her teeth on activism in high school, boycotting Safeway with the United Farm Workers, and later got into women's issues as a lay midwife (illegal at the time) in Fremont. "I did a lot of home births," she says. After she and her then-husband moved to the rural Mohawk Valley in 1986, she served as president of the Lane County chapter of NOW in the 90s. The mother of three grown sons, she remains active as a volunteer in Marcola schools. "My focus is at-risk youth," she says. "I ran an after-school program from '97 to '01." Appalled by reports of violence targeting women in Darfur, Furstner joined the Lane County Darfur Coalition (lcdarfurcoalition.org) at its beginnings in 2005. She has made the women of Darfur, with their brightly colored clothing, the focus of art work, including the women-of-Darfur dolls seen in the photo, made of recycled materials, each carrying a bundle of kindling or a water jug. The dolls are sold at events to benefit rape victims in Darfur.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 3 July 2008

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