WISE prepares for One Billion Rising on Feb. 14
BIG RAPIDS — Lanterns will rise high above Big Rapids on Valentine’s Day, a symbol of all those who will rise up against violence in 2014.
For the second year, Big Rapids will become one of thousands of communities to celebrate One Billion Rising, a global campaign that calls for justice and gender equality and for an end to violence. The event, created by “The Vagina Monologues” writer Eve Ensler, is held annually on Valentine’s Day. The word “billion” refers the statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, or about one billion globally.
In 2013, One Billion Rising rallies were held in 190 countries. This year, 19 events are planned around Michigan.
One Billion Rising will take place at The Gate Entertainment Center, located on Perry Avenue in Big Rapids. A social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the lantern launch will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot. Presentations will be given throughout the evening, and a three-course buffet will be available in addition to The Gate’s full menu. A DJ will be on site as well.
For more information on the event, visit wiseagainstviolence.org.
One Billion Rising events take different forms across the world, but organizers in Big Rapids will focus again this year on the concept of rising, selling sky lanterns to raise funds for Women’s Information Services, Inc., also known as WISE. The organization serves women and children from Mecosta, Osceola and Newaygo counties who have been affected by domestic or sexual violence. WISE’s women’s shelter is located in Big Rapids.
“We really want to make a big showing of how our community is participating and we’re all standing up for justice,” said WISE Executive Director Kelley Samuels. “The whole theme of One Billion Rising is to rise, and we thought the sky lanterns were still a really good representation of our community so we’re letting them rise. This year’s theme is ‘Rise For Justice,’ which is something we can all get on board with.”
Sky lanterns can be purchased ahead of the event at Patterson’s Flowers, the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce and Fabulous Finds, the WISE-operated resale store located in downtown Big Rapids. There is no fixed price for lanterns, only the request of a donation. Those who purchase lanterns will be given a reservation ticket to bring with them on the night of One Billion Rising, and lanterns will be passed out at the event before the launch.
Although Ferris State University faculty and students have performed “The Vagina Monologues” for the past 10 years on Valentine’s Day, the production will not take place this year. Traditionally, presentations of “The Vagina Monologues” serve as fundraisers for domestic or sexual violence-related charities in the areas where the monologues are presented. In the past, Ferris’ presentation has raised between $2,000 and $5,000 for WISE. Samuels hopes this year’s One Billion Rising event will be able to fill the fundraising gap that will be left without the performance.
“They’ve always done a great job, and it’s a student-run production, but this year they’re not doing it and WISE will take a huge hit,” Samuels said.