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Outreach/ Secret Storm
by the CWLU Herstory Committee

The CWLU believed that longterm patient organizing was the key to success for the women's liberation movement. In 1972, the Outreach workgroup began an ambitious program of organizing in Chicago's white working class neighborhoods. They started first on the Northwest Side and later expanded to the Southwest side. In 1975, they changed their name to Secret Storm, taken from a popular soap opera of the time.

Working closely with Rising Up Angry, a Northside radical group also dedicated to organizing in white working class neighborhoods, Outreach made contacts at high schools and community colleges. They arranged speaking engagements, help set up classes, organized rap groups, and provided support for students trying to set up their own feminist organizations.

In 1974, Outreach began to focus on women's sports. At that time sports were much more male dominated than today. Outreach came to believe that sports could build women's confidence, create a sense of team effort and help women break out of narrow constricting roles. The Chicago Park District discriminated against women's sports teams, so the battle to get a place to play became a political issue. By 1975, Outreach(then called Secret Storm) had 140 women organized into teams. There were angry confrontations with Park District bosses and sexist park users, but slowly women's sports became a fixture in Chicago's parks.

The group used their newspaper ( also called Secret Storm ) to raise issues with the women they met through their neighborhood organizing. In some ways a successor to Womankind, which had ceased publication in 1973, Secret Storm focused heavily on neighborhood and workplace struggles, but also covered a variety of other feminist issues in a straightforward easily understandable way.

Outreach/Secret Storm worked hard to link local neighborhood issues with the global struggle for women's equality, helping women to see beyond the immediate confines of their individual experience.