Less than two weeks ago, a group of women entrepreneurs in Evanston came together to form Evanstonians for Reproductive Rights,
On Sunday, July 31, the group hosted over 300 people at The Custer Oasis, just south of Main Street, for an “Old School Vinyl Dance Party for Reproductive Rights” where attendees enjoyed a raffle of items. like a painting by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, drinks from The Wine Goddess, tacos from La Principal and vintage tunes played by DJ Tim of Squeezebox.
“We all work separately on our little vacuums, but every now and then when we get together it’s kind of insane what we can all do,” said Jaime Leonardi, owner of a Chicago Avenue jewelry and gift shop called Tripping and Savoring.
Diana Hamann, owner of The Wine Goddess on Main Street, had already planned the party when Rachel Hershinow, owner of Stella Boutique on Central Street, gathered other women in local businesses to talk about what they could do after the Supreme Court toppled Roe. v. Wade.
For Leonardi, the new group’s goal is to raise $100,000 for Planned Parenthood of Illinois using GoFundMe. On the page, there is a question that asks, “What the hell is going on?” She responds as follows: “A lot of business owners in Evanston are angry that our reproductive rights are being taken away and more rights are being threatened. So now they are getting busy.”
Sunday’s dance party sold 300 tickets for $20 each, raising $3,000 before the event even took place. In addition, all proceeds from the raffle, which costs $10 per ticket, will go towards fundraising, and Aim and Ailee Hair Boutique, co-owned by Aim Larrabee and Ailie Ayres, also provided hairdressing services at the party for raise more money.
Moving forward, a group of local businesses will donate a portion of the proceeds August 11-14, and the final push for donations will come at the Nasty Women of Evanston Fundraiser, hosted by Evanston Made. From 6pm to 9pm on August 20, at 1100 Florence Ave., people will be able to purchase special pieces donated by local artists for $100 each, and Evanston Made has set a goal of $25,000 just for that night.
“It’s the power of community, and if people work together, everyone stands up,” said Jamie Thome, a local artist and organizer for Nasty Women of Evanston. “This is a testament to that, but it’s also a testament to how Evanston cares about everyone, and how Evanstonians literally come together, not just for a party, because that’s part of what we’re doing, but also to raise money for great people. causes we all believe in.”
The women who create Evanstonians for Reproductive Rights, like Hershinow and Leonardi, all spoke about how sad and angry they felt following the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, and Hamann said she truly believed the decision by the nation’s highest court was delayed nearly 50 years. years, to the pre-Roe world of 1973, in basic human rights.
Still, everyone agreed that they wanted to do something positive after the decision and spoke about the expanded investment in reproductive health that needs to happen now in Illinois to provide services for people seeking abortions from out of state. With so many neighboring states legislating to limit access to abortion, people will need help finding and receiving the care they need, Hamann said.
“When you bring together a group of women whose fundamental rights are threatened, you can get things done very, very quickly,” Larrabee said. “And I think we can do a lot more than we thought we could as a group of women entrepreneurs, and we’re going to make sure we do.”
Channing Akinrinade, a speech therapist at Evanston Township High School, attended the dance party and had her hair done with Ayres. With only a few weeks into the summer before school starts, Sunday’s event was the perfect way to have fun while supporting a cause important to her, she said.
“I’m looking for opportunities to party with a purpose, so I love the idea that we’re supporting reproductive rights,” said Akinrinade. “And I’m loving the idea of being with my community and my peers to do good work.”