Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, the country has erupted into protests calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality. In Cincinnati local businesses have stepped up and become part of the movement by lending a helping hand to the demonstrators.
Indigo Hippo, a nonprofit art supplies thrift store located on Main Street in OTR has created a “Make-a-Sign” station, offering free poster boards, markers, and other sign-making supplies to those who wish to share their messages.
“We are an organization that highly values inclusion and being a space for everyone, and leaning into creativity is a very powerful tool for processing what we’re all going through,” says Emily Farison, interim executive director at Indigo Hippo. The store has also teamed up with Pull Club, a Camp Washington–based printmaking and design studio, to provide free printed Black Lives Matter posters to community members.
Other businesses offering support to protesters include cocktail bar Sundry & Vice, which has opened its doors as a voter registration hub, and other bars-turned-rest-stations such as Lost & Found, the Hub, Wódka Bar, and Longfellow (plus coworked space Union Hall!), which are providing free snacks and sandwiches, water, first aid, and restrooms to demonstrators. For Longfellow Owner Mike Stankovich, opening as a rest station for protestors is a way of giving back to the OTR community.
“We’re in a place to help and we want to do it,” Stankovich says. “If you’re going to claim to be part of a community, you should try to help that community, whether that’s your friends or your neighbors or someone up the street you’ve never met.”
But the support doesn’t end with a poster or a bathroom break. Longfellow’s has received donation offers to support its efforts, but Stankovich instead encourages people to donate to MORTAR, a Cincinnati-based organization that supports historically marginalized entrepreneurs who strive to create businesses in their own communities, as well as the Cincinnati Bail Fund. “I’m a white male, and the last thing people need me to do is get up on a pedestal and talk,” Stankovich says. “I’d rather facilitate people helping and talking.”
Linda Winder, co-owner of Pull Club Studio, which is headed by women, also stresses the importance of continued action: “To be a feminist, you also have to be involved in all these other types of inclusion. It’s really important not only to jump on [the Black Lives Matter movement], but to continue to fight for it. If black lives matter to you, you need to show it. Donate, attend protests, listen to black voices. Unless you’re actually doing something, it kind of falls flat. We believe in this; if you believe in it, you need to be doing something, too.”
Posters and sign-making materials are available in front of Indigo Hippo at 1334 Main St. Check local businesses’ social media pages for updates on rest station openings.