The seed for The Outrage’s “community space” was planted during the inaugural Women’s March in 2016. The resistance apparel shop popped up on 18th Street and drew hours-long waits for t-shirts and posters. On the day of the march, founder and CEO Rebecca Lee Funk says she was shocked to see customers shedding tears, crying as they said goodbye to newfound comrades, and jotting down contact information on slips of paper because their phones had died while waiting.
“There is something about what we’ve done that brings out this shared sense of humanity,” says Funk.
Three years later she’s spun that notion into a shared space, unveiling a members-only gathering place in the back of the new Logan Circle store.
Membership is open to all, though Funk describes the program as “female-forward.”
“I think it’s important to think about how you build environments and I think traditionally in this country that they’re built for men and this is not a space that is specifically built for men.”
Applicants fill out an online form that asks questions like “What do you think is the biggest challenge facing society today?” and “How do you envision using the space?” Monthly membership fees come in three tiers: $30, $50, and $75. The sliding scale allows individuals to subsidize others in an effort for inclusivity. It costs $50 per member to cover operational costs like utilities and employee wages. Any member paying over $50 will contribute to the fees of a member paying less, ensuring the space will be accessible to a range of budgets. There is also an option to write-in a fee and pay more than the offered price point; If a member pays $100, their fee goes towards a full scholarship for another member. The Outrage is currently keeping the membership program small, and plans to grow it in the coming months.
It’s easy to draw parallels to The Wing, the female-oriented co-working space and social club in Georgetown. When it opened last year, critics noted the high membership dues limited accessibility. (Dues have since been slightly lowered from $215 to $185 per month). Funk and Michelle Howell, the Outrage’s Director of Community and Branding, don’t see the Wing as competitors. Instead Howell describes them as partners in “filling a void in a way that we’re all moving towards a more just society.” While the the Wing has focused on expanding to major cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, The Outrage is already eyeing smaller destinations like Minneapolis and Madison where, Funk says, “there are fewer alternatives and they really need a hub for activism.” The Outrage will go after funding for the first time with the intention of going nationwide.
The path from retail shop to the members-only space will be the site of rotating art installations designed to give members time to pause and reflect. For the opening, artist Jacqueline von Edelberg hung 13,000 strips of cloth to honor gun violence victims; Each represents a child who has been killed by gunfire since the Sandy Hook shooting. Another von Edelberg piece titled “Mylar For Disco, Not Deportation,” features reclaimed mylar blankets like those seen in photographs of children separated from their parents at the border. There’s also stationary to write letters. Von Edelberg delivers the notes to “Cards for Kids,” an organization distributing the letters in Texas.
The interior looks like a garden lounge. Hanging plants create a green canopy of green and skylights illuminate walls of female-forward art for sale. An “activist library” is curated by East City Bookshop, an independent, woman-owned bookstore on Capitol Hill.
Howell separates the intention of the space into three camps: creative resistance, education, and self-care. The team has been in conversation with the freshwomen of Congress and actress/activist Sophia Bush, planning panels and events to “inspire, empower, and challenge.” As a mother herself, Funk plans to provide childcare at gatherings. More than just programming, Howell hopes different subsets of the community will use the space, whether at events geared towards minorities or groups like 500 Women Scientists.
The space will host monthly yoga sessions and serves as a living room for members, complete with a bar serving wine and beer from woman-owned, operated, and/or biodynamic producers. The team takes the same approach with sourcing beverages as they do with the apparel, asking to speak with workers, questioning production practices, and seeking partners prioritizing similar values.
The community space is currently open to members. Guest passes and day passes are available to visitors. Non-members are invited to a public launch party on Wednesday, May 1st from 7 PM to 9 PM.
The Outrage. 1722 14th St., NW; 202-885-9848. Community space open Monday to Thursday 9 AM to 8 PM; Friday to Saturday 10 AM to 9 PM; Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM.