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Womynswork.

When girls say Beth Neff knows the best dirt, they're not talking about some insignificant gossip--Neff knows real dirt.

For 25 years Neff worked as an organic vegetable farmer and an environmental activist, managing food cooperatives and farmers markets and teaching about permaculture. She also served as a La Leche League leader for 10 years while raising her children.

Now, at 47, she's cultivating a new venture, returning to what she calls her "true passion," writing. Neff is working to complete a collection of literary essays centered on the varied experiences of lesbians in the workplace. She's assembling the book from responses to her online survey, calling the research the Womynswork Project.

So far she's received dozens of responses from all over the country and Canada, with respondents of all ages and in all professions.

"I've already spoken with an attorney who lost her position working for a federal judge due to her sexual orientation, a therapist who works mostly with lesbian women, a veterinarian who struggles with working in an almost exclusively male occupation and a chef who struggles to be taken seriously by her peers," says Neff.

Whether uplifting or heartbreaking, the experiences appear universal--so much so, that Neff expects the book will be embraced not only by lesbians, but by all women.

"Social impact has always been part of my intention," Neff says. "It's that normalization thing--to show that people are just like you."

The research phase will conclude this fall, but Neff will continue the project by hosting online feedback sessions at her Web site, womynswork.org.

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Title Annotation:OutinFront; Womynswork Project gathering insights and stories about lesbian experiences
Author:Kay, Sheryl
Publication:Curve
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2006
Words:261
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