It had taken me about two days to understand the grid of Manhattan: its Streets, Avenues, Upper, Lower, East and West and how they intersect. I had gotten lost too many times. Finally, I could visualise the Island and navigate my way around it with some success. I began to appreciate why a yellow cab would take so long to get to a destination that really was not far on the grid layout.
Accordingly I walked with determination down Madison Avenue on my way to an early evening meeting. Gwen and Paulette, two professional women from The Girl Friends Inc organisation, were welcoming me to New York. We had been connected by a mutual friend to explore how we could collaborate on bringing the Semple Collection to another network of US women.
We talked for hours and I found out that The Girl Friends Inc is one of the oldest and most highly respected social organisations of African American women in the United States. It was founded in 1927 during the Harlem Renaissance, by a small group of close friends. Today, the organisation remains true to its fundamental tenet to foster friendship and now includes more than 1,700 members and 47 Chapters in cities across the country.
As we exchanged our perspectives of growing up and working in the UK and the US I showed them my profile in this month’s edition of Woman & Home on the theme ‘friendship’. We all agreed that many of us have a handful of friends whom we like to meet and hear from, and if we don’t we feel concerned, somehow off-balance. The Girl Friends Inc is not concerned with generating huge membership numbers, but about lasting friendships that continually develop through generations of women in one Chapter.