[Bella’s intro: This is the second and last part of my Q & A with Karen Reed, who in a very short time created a very successful first-ever Singles Day celebration. Part 1 is here. You can find more pictures from the event here.]
Bella: How did the Singles Day kickoff celebration go?
Karen Reed: Come January 11th, we had built what would turn out to be a day to remember. According to managers at the kickoff event venue, we brought in over 100 people to their typically low-key afternoon time slot. According to our informal “sticker count” of Singles Day stickers before and after the event, over 160 were given out to enthusiastic event-goers looking to display them at local businesses for specials and discounts.
The crowd was in a celebratory mood, fueled by a rousing “call to arms” address in which I read from Bella DePaulo’s “16 Reasons” article, citing some of my favorite passages as they might apply to our need for a Singles Day.
“We need it because if single life were taken more seriously, then the relationship life of all people, single and married and everyone in between… would be expanded and enriched.”
“We need it because single people who live solo can show us that living alone is not the same as feeling alone.”
“We need it because the de-stigmatizing of single life does not undermine marriage, it strengthens it. When single people can live their lives with all of the same respect, benefits, protections, and opportunities as people who are married, then those who want to marry are free. They can pursue marriage for the right reasons – not to run away from the stigma of being single, but to embrace the attractions of being married.”
“We need [National Singles Day] to change the default setting for the meaning of the word “single,” so that the next time you type it into your search engine, the first result to appear on your screen is not ‘Top 10 Dating Sites.’”
“We need it because the rise of single people, and of people living alone, is an unprecedented demographic revolution that is changing the way we live, the way we love, the way we vote, the way we do business, the way we age, and the way we think about what constitutes a meaningful life.”
“We need to value single people because that’s what progressive nations do. They look for the people who have been marginalized and diminished, and invite them into the center of society. That way, we can all live happily ever after.”
Thomas Coleman followed suit, fueling the group with the latest statistics – citing that singles in this country are now counted at 112 million and growing, and that singles comprise over 44% of the workforce. As Tom duly noted, single and unmarried people can be found in virtually every kind of household and living situation and yet, “despite that fact, single and unmarried people are discriminated against in the workplace – and that needs to stop.” He wrapped up by reminding the newly minted gathering of singles-supporters that, “Employers will start making changes when we start speaking up collectively.”
Looking to politics and more specifically, the White House, Thomas noted that between 2008-2012 the percentage of single voters in our population went from 34% to 40%, making the critical difference in the election’s outcome. “That surge of single voters between 2008 and 2012 produced 4.4 million votes for Barack Obama. Barack Obama won the election by 3 million votes. So, we can say that if it weren’t for the surge in single and unmarried voters in this country Barack Obama would not be president.”
Lastly, Mr. Coleman took a moment to acknowledge another singles advocate attending the inaugural Singles Day celebration, Mr. Gordon Morris, member of the board of Unmarried Equality (www.unmarried.org), an organization that advocates for equality and fairness for unmarried people. Thomas urged the crowd to take a moment to peruse their site and give them our support.
The remainder of the event gave way to spirited performances by a lineup of professional comedians, free giveaways, fun DJ mixes and dancing. Singles Day giveaways ranged from t-shirts and custom-crafted jewelry to coupons for free pizzas and discounts on vacation packages and airport limousines.
Follow-up conversations with our host venue and participating local businesses told the story of a day well-celebrated and enjoyed throughout the neighborhood. People who attended the Singles Day kickoff event showed up at participating businesses, Singles Day stickers proudly displayed, ready to take advantage of all the Singles Day discounts on food, drink and merchandise. In fact, as we walked the street, a number of other businesses approached us wanting to find out if they could participate next year!
The answer, of course, is a resounding, “YES!” And plans are already in the works for National Singles Day 2015 – and this time it will be a much bigger and broader celebration! We are actively seeking national retail partners as well as potential sponsors and plan to take the Singles Day savings online as well in-store.
Bella: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Karen Reed: An important aspect to share as we go forward is that the Singles Day we’re creating is not exclusive to single people – it’s for everyone – singles, couples, married, undecided, it doesn’t matter. This is a day for all of us to recognize and celebrate our single friends, family members, co-workers and fellow citizens.
For many of us, singlehood is a fluctuating state. We find ourselves single or coupled at different times, often going back and forth between the two over the course of our lives. Whether single, coupled, married or otherwise, we are ultimately part of a living, breathing “relationship ecosystem” in which marital status is not always an absolute.
It’s time for this country to embrace this reality more holistically and for us, as a society, to work toward equally valuing our citizens, be they married or single, together as families or couples, or alone. By recognizing our worth, regardless of relationship status, we strengthen ourselves as a community and build a more harmonious and equitable existence for all.
So, start today – help us make history! If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to like our Facebook page and sign our online petition (it’s easy, fast and anonymous if you choose). And – it’s going to Congress!
Your vote counts! Help make Singles Day an official American holiday.
Thanks, and Happy (Belated) Singles Day, everyone! 🙂
Join the ‘National Singles Day’ Social Network:
– aka http://tinyurl.com/k2o9l8x
About Karen Reed
Karen Reed is a currently single 50-something who grew up and went to college in Ohio, lived in New York City for a few years and finally settled in West Hollywood, CA where she owns and operates IPK LLC, a web and social media design and strategy group. In addition to assisting entertainment industry clients with improving their online endeavors, Karen maintains a career as a musician. A singer-songwriter, guitarist and ukulele player, Karen performs regularly in local Los Angeles acoustic venues, is just beginning to tour outside California, and just released her first album, “True North” last June. She is currently in the studio recording with producer, Janet Robin, and will be releasing a series of new original singles in the coming months.
[Photo credit: Tera Linkugel]
[UPDATE: National Singles Day is now celebrated on the first day of Unmarried and Single Americans Week, which is observed during the third full week of September, starting on a Sunday.]