We don’t often see legislative agendas announced at the neighborhood bar with a live band. But what would civic engagement look like if, maybe, more were?
The Womxn Project calls their approach “artivism” – a partnering of art and activisim to bring about political or social change. Since the non-profit’s inception in 2017, The Womxn Project (TWP) has organized around the main issue of reproductive rights. Now, TWP is ready to share their future plans as an organization at Persisting the Day Away, a hybrid fundraiser/party/rallying cry at The Parlour on October 19.
Co-directors Jocelyn Foye and Jordan Hevenor say TWP arrived at their latest platform after conducting polling and holding a community conversation. “We’ve been focused on, yes, protecting (reproductive) rights, but Rhode Island still needs to work on access,” says Hevenor. “We need to make that access real.”
The outcomes of those conversations and polls will all be reflected on the legislative agenda that will be shared at The Parlour. And for anyone who wants to see artistic activism in practice, the evening will be rounded out by a performance by The Persisters. Limited edition designed t-shirts by Allison Cole will also be available. (“We’ll also have the Smash the Patriarchy shirt everyone keeps asking for,” Foye says.)
The two-hour long event, which begins at 3:30pm, will be family friendly. “Our children should know that they have a civic part of their lives,” says Hevenor. “Politics shouldn’t just be for adults, it should be for all of us. The government that we have and the society we live in affects all of us and the best way we can change that is by showing up.”
For The Womxn Project, the day represents the organization’s fall kick-off and a means to continue and expand upon their mission from previous years. Like the 20,000 postcards sent to constituents across RI, urging legislative action. Or this past spring, when volunteers appeared at the State House dressed in red cloaks and white bonnets from The Handmaid’s Tale, silently holding signs reading “Pass the Reproductive Health Care Act.”
“An important role of The Womxn Project is connecting people with ways they can take action and empowering them to take part in the change,” Hevenor says. “So many people don’t know what to do at the State House. We offered our supporters an opportunity to be volunteers and that was really insightful.”
“They could be a body and make an impact, but they didn’t have to be fully exposed,” Foye continues. “It’s how we started out – folks aren’t comfortable with traditional methods and these artistic processes bring people out.”
Admission for Persisting the Day Away is a suggested $20 donation. Books will also be collected for a drive for Cunningham Elementary School in Pawtucket. The drive is the sort cross-sectional, community-driven action that seems at the heart of The Womxn Project.
“There’s a traditional way that people have engaged with politics and it hasn’t led to what we really need in this country,” Hevenor says. “We start in our own backyard to be more inclusive and to challenge the status quo. That can be a catalyst to change the structure.”
Persisting the Day Away takes place at The Parlour on Oct 19 at 3:30pm. Learn more about The Womxn Project at thewomxnproject.org