Women & Children First bookstore, marking its 35th year in businesswith about 25 of those years in Andersonvillewas honored with a street dedication Oct. 11 at Farragut and Clark streets.
The co-founders of the store, Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon, recently sold the business to employees Lynn Mooney and Sarah Hollenbeck. All four were at the dedication, which was led by 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman and attended by about 80 people.
Osterman said that Women & Children First was "more than a bookstore, it's a 'community place.' Linda and Ann have helped lead the renaissance in our community."
He further added that the proprietors have served as role models in running a small business that is actively engaged at the local and industry levels.
"Linda and Ann have run an incredible shop, have supported numerous causes and businesses throughout the neighborhood, and have advocated for independent bookstores and locally owned businesses on a national level. It is fitting to honor their legacy by designating Clark & Farragut honorary 'Women & Children First Way,'" said Osterman.
"We have terrific public servants in this neighborhood," said Bubon, who spoke about the alderman and other neighborhood officials courting her and Christophersen to relocate to Andersonville many years before. "I don't remember the alderman in our former neighborhood doing that," she said. "We could not have landed in a better spot than this corner in Andersonville."
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans both presented proclamations for the occasion, while Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon paid tribute to the store once the celebration moved inside.
"What an important resource for a community," Simon said. "This is a place to gather, a place to get so more than books, because this is a place to meet up with friends."
Shanta Nurullah performed songs and employee Jill Kuanfung presented a drawing of Linda and Ann to honor their years of work for the community. Poet Yvonne Zipter also read a poem she created just for the occasion, "On the Occasion of a Street Being Names for a Bookstore."
Mooney and Hollenbeck displayed plans for a $35,000 renovation scheduled for the store, which will be crowd-funded through an Indiegogo campaign at igg.me/at/womenandchildrenfirst, launching the week of Oct. 12 . They said in the campaign introduction that they hope the fundraising efforts will fortify Women & Children First as the booksellers' landscape faces ever-present challenges in the years ahead.
"Over the years, Women & Children First has hosted readings by Margaret Atwood, Jhumpa Lahiri, Isabelle Allende, Meg Wolizer, Alice Walker, Jane Lynch, Gloria Steinem, Roxane Gay, Julia Serano, Inga Muscio, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and other literary and political giants," said the owners. "Our customers have had the opportunity to shake hands with these luminaries, but also discover little-known writers whose careers are just beginning. Beyond hosting readings, W&CF offers a space for conversation about books and so much moreall through a distinctly feminist lens. With the threat of online retailers and their tactics to undermine the work of authors and indie booksellers, there is a growing need to re-imagine how we use our brick-and-mortar space in order to affirm its importance."
For details on the campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/ .
At the link is On the Occasion of a Street Being Named for a Bookstore a poem by Zipter. www.windycitymediagroup.com/pdf/StreetNamedforBookstore.pdf .
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