Fri 2 Apr 2010
Paul Reffell, the longtime POSSLQ of Marshall artist-activist Donna Sheehan, threw a surprise 80th birthday party for her Thursday evening at Toby’s Feed Barn. Scores of her friends and relatives, along with a few politicos, showed up. Everyone told her she looked great.
The oft-repeated comment prompted Donna to tell the crowd, “There are three stages of life: youth, middle age, and ‘you look great,’ which those of us over 70 hear a lot of on main street.” And as a matter of fact, she added, “I’ve never been happier.”
“It’s hell being born on April Fool’s Day,” Donna said, noting that she and Paul “just came from the St. Stupid’s Day parade in San Francisco.”
Donna meanwhile reminded guests that Paul, her paramour, is 20 years her junior.
In short, he’s not old enough yet to have people automatically telling him he looks great.
Margie Boyle (left), an old friend from Lakeville, invited Donna to dance, and before long much of the party was dancing too.
During a chilly rain on Nov. 12, 2002, Donna gained worldwide attention when she assembled 50 “unreasonable women” at Point Reyes Station’s Love Field. Lying naked on the wet grass, the women spelled out PEACE with their bodies while Point Reyes Station photographer Art Rogers recorded the event.
Donna at the time explained she got the idea from a similar protest in Nigeria earlier in the year. Women fighting corporate exploitation stood nude in a vigil that lasted several days outside of Nigeria’s parliament, she noted. “[The Nigerian women] shamed the men and won their cause,” she said.
As can be seen in photos on Donna’s “Baring Witness” website, the Point Reyes Station demonstration almost immediately inspired many similar demonstrations throughout the United States as well as overseas.
I owned The Point Reyes Light at that time and asked my former wife Ana Carolina to cover the Love Field demonstration for the paper. Donna, who must be the Pied Piper of West Marin, convinced Ana Carolina to join in despite my ex-wife’s conservative Guatemalan background. Here’s the story Ana Carolina wrote about the event. As for Art’s photo, as soon as it appeared in The Light, the wire services picked it up and sent it out worldwide.
I was first aware of Donna’s skill at political organizing roughly 30 years ago when she became upset with Caltrans plans to spray weeds along Highway 1 rather than cut them. Forming a group called MOW, Donna organized protests and to my surprise managed to stop the spraying.
(MOW, which is short for Mow Our Weeds, is the only acronym I know where one of the words the initials stand for is the acronym itself.)
More recently, Donna and Paul again garnered widespread attention with a book titled Redefining Seduction, which says women should take the lead in courtship.