In the wake of the Nov. 8 election, many have taken part in demonstrations of opposition to the policies of President Donald Trump.
In the weeks since the new administration began, groups have marched and organized in cities around the nation and world. The Woman Project in South Kingstown is among them.
A group of five women – Jocelyn Foye, Jordan Hevenor, Sarah Markey, Andrea Peitsch and Mara Trachtenberg, all of South Kingstown – started the group, which supports and celebrates women’s rights.
“All of us feel really invested in the idea that there’s a lot to be done right now,” said Trachtenberg, an artist and adjunct professor. “We don’t want to be sitting around talking about [issues]. We want to be active and actually making change.”
The core of The Woman Project is inter-sectional feminism and how women’s issues relate to human rights, racial justice, the environment and advancing the respect to the quality of life for all people.
Hevenor, a commercial real estate appraiser who worked for the Ohio Democratic Party as part of the coordinated campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the fall, said the activism that runs in her blood sparked back up after coming home and revisiting old friends and acquaintances.
“That’s when I realized there was a great network here,” she said. “There was a point in early January where I did a reflection of what I would feel like a year ago, and the way I feel is a little bit more alive, and maybe we all do. Hopefully that is the hope that comes out of being in this space, that we are all a little more alive and a little more aware and involved to make change.”
Foye, a graphic designer and artist, knew Trachtenberg previously, and the other women knew of each other through friends or from community events. They gathered in Trachtenberg’s kitchen one night, and The Woman Project formed.
For Trachtenberg and Peitsch, owner of South County Art Supply, activism on this level is new, but they feel excited about the way the group has worked together in such a short amount of time.
The five women meet whenever they find time in their schedules, and communicate daily about how to follow through with their plans.
The group plans to address numerous social issues, but focus its resources one at a time. To start, the focus is the proposed Reproductive Health Care Act currently before the General Assembly. The bill would protect Rhode Island women’s right to a safe and legal abortion if the landmark Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The Woman Project has sought angled images from Rhode Island artists to adorn postcards sent to legislators in support of the bill. So far, the group has received eight different images from artists that they have already printed and plan to send to state senators and representatives.
“This campaign is to tell [House Speaker] Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed that we want this to be voted on,” Trachtenberg said.
The group is also planning a Dinner March event Wednesday, International Women’s Day, and is expecting approximately 150 people. The event will kick off at the Hera Gallery’s “The Feminist Opposition” exhibit and continue with a march on High Street before arriving at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County, where the public will be joined by speakers and given dinner catered by Crazy Burger. The group suggests a $5 to $10 donation that will go toward groups working to empower and support women.
“What we are trying to do is create a continuous set of activities that allows people to be engaged as well as look forward to those engagements and not having it be just a meeting where you’re sitting around but rather having it be a spectacle event,” Foye said.
The women believe that when combined, art and activism have the power to elevate their efforts.
“As a feminist and an artist, art has strength and a power,” Trachtenberg said.
The Woman Project founders are attending numerous events around the state to coordinate efforts with others.
“We want to amplify what’s happening here in Rhode Island,” Hevenor said. “We are all so engaged and energized right now, and what we have to do is keep that in a sustainable way so that we remember to show up in 2018 [for the midterm election] and that we are turning people out to vote here in Rhode Island and across the country.”