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Local society blooms, celebrates first birthday

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The Shrinking Violets. Anti-Lilac Queen group? Botanical phenomenon? Not quite.

It’s an open-minded, non-denominational society designed to target young people and fresh thinkers. Members want to stimulate growth in sustainable living, neighborhood community, political awareness, the arts — and friendship.

“It’s hard to just walk up to someone off the sidewalk and say, ‘Hey, you look interesting. I think we should be friends!’” says club founder Mariah McKay, who became inspired to create the society after living in Portland for a year as an artist.

McKay wanted to motivate young people to take ownership of their city instead of becoming victims of their surroundings. She named her society in homage to the ’70s Spokane chapter of NOW (National Organization of Women), whose members responded to cliché suppositions about their activist group by wearing sardonic T-shirts inscribed with the insignia, “Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society.”

The Shrinking Violets has since blossomed into a social co-op — an intentional community and a civic booster club. It’s an unassuming network for young, independent women looking to cultivate passions, interests, intellect and areas of expertise. It’s oriented toward do-it-yourself culture, living a low-impact lifestyle and coaxing diverse mindsets out of isolation and into communal spotlight.

“If you’re a girl and living in Spokane, you don’t always just want to go out to the bar every weekend,” says member Jamie Hyams. “How can you expand yourself culturally? For a city to grow culturally, you have to pay attention to it. And if you don’t, it dies.”

Contrary to its name, the group is growing like a weed, and they’ll celebrate their first birthday on Saturday. The event will include 32 local vendors —artisans, nonprofits and small businesses — plus poetry, art, dancing to lady DJ Deseure, and cupcakes and champagne from Santé. Entertainment includes Kaylee Cole, Kristen Marlo, a pole aerialist, a hula-hoop troupe and a showing of the 48-Hour FilmFest People’s Choice Award winner.

“This will be more than just a party,” says McKay. “It’s a community-building platform.”

The Shrinking Violets birthday bash, at Silver Auctions Warehouse, 2020 N. Monroe St., is on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 6-9 pm. Tickets: $7. Visit: RSVP at The Shrinking Violets meet at One World Café on the second Saturday of each month from 11:30 am-1 pm.

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