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Watching a Movie

Beyond the Reel



Join the Violence Prevention Center for a screening of the film Esther Newton Made Me Gay at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts 5/19 at 3pm. This annual fundraiser is an opportunity to enjoy live music, refreshments, and a screening of a film that aligns with the VPC's mission to foster a community which cultivates healthy relationships, empowers systems to serve individuals with equity and compassion, and does not tolerate violence. This year's film explores the life and times of cultural anthropologist Esther Newton, whose work has inspired generations of LGBTQ and gender studies activists and scholars. The Joan Drury Award, an award recognizing a community member's dedication to cultivating a healthy and supportive community, will also be presented during the event.

May 19 3pm @ Arrowhead Center for the Arts

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Dandelion Meadow

The Joan Drury Award

The Joan Drury Award recognizes one individual and one business or organization that exemplifies their commitment to fostering a community that cultivates healthy relationships and does not tolerate violence. 


This award is named after an extraordinary human and a VPC co-founder, Joan Drury, who dedicated her life to feminism, justice, advocacy, and equity for women, girls, and LGBTQ2IA+ individuals. 


Colorful Flowers

Remembering Joan Drury

“In my 75 years, I have done absolutely

everything I have ever wanted to do.”

“In my 75 years, I have done absolutely everything I have ever wanted to do,” Joan told a dear friend some years ago. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, and they were at her home looking out on the endless blue of Lake Superior. The rainbow of flowers in her garden danced in the wind from off the lake, and Joan went on to tell of these things: being a mother, a grandmother, and a friend. She shared about her life as a lesbian, author,  publicist, bookstore owner, philanthropist, VPC board member,  activist, leader of a women’s writing retreat, and, central to all, a feminist.

As a long-time volunteer at the Violence Prevention Center (VPC) in Grand Marais she had many roles. She actively served on the Board of Directors, attended and volunteered at events, and supported the organization financially. While Joan participated and invested in the organization and used her own resources, she also encouraged others to do the same. She recruited friends and community members  to serve as VPC volunteers and board members. During milestones of Joan’s own life, including birthday parties, she asked her guests to celebrate her by making a contribution to the VPC. 

Joan Drury lived the mission and vision of VPC throughout her entire life.  She learned early on, by working in her family's business, the importance of hard work along with the values of community responsibility and giving back to others. Joan also valued and believed in the power of words and women's stories to change the world. She reveled in the meaning of words. She believed women's experiences and ideas birthed new realities and the possibility to create a more inclusive and just world. 

She understood that our community can only be as strong as our commitment to racial and gender justice.

As an author, activist, and feminist, Joan had a wide variety of interests all connected by her commitment to feminism and advocacy for feminist values. In all these capacities Joan understood the importance of individuals being free from both violence and the fear of violence in order to achieve their full potential. She was a leader who was committed to working toward a just and equitable community. 

 Joan recognized violence against women as a tool to maintain systems of gender subordination. She understood that our community can only be as strong as our commitment to racial and gender justice. Achieving that goal was an animating principle of her life. 

Joan believed that women, girls, and LGBTQ2IA+ individuals deserved equitable opportunities, safety and power over their own bodies and lives. She spent years investing in women and girls' lives, words and realities.  She began by creating her own minor program to be approved by her college so she could pursue Women’s and Gender Studies seriously. Next, forming Harmony Women's Fund which made and oversaw grants to ensure that women and girls had equal opportunities.  She started Spinsters Ink, a publishing house,  to create more opportunities for a wider range of women's works to be published.  She started Norcroft: A Women's Writing Retreat on the shores of Lake Superior.  Hundreds of women from all over the United States applied to spend a period of time having a safe, uninterrupted space to create stories, novels, poems and new realities. Lastly, Joan started Drury Lane Books in Grand Marais, Minnesota. The bookstore continues to be a beacon of women's words and stories and is visited by people from all over the country. Drury Lane Books features works and displays relevant to ending gender-based violence and is always willing to promote the services and events of the VPC. 

Joan believed that women, girls, and LGBTQ2IA+ individuals deserved equitable opportunities, safety and power over their own bodies and lives.

 Joan lived and advocated boldly. She used her voice, resources, and influence to make a better world for women, girls, and LGBTQ2IA+ individuals. Joan knew that not all LGBTQ2IA+ individuals are safe to let their true identities be known. By being visible as a lesbian herself, even stamping her personal and business bills as “lesbian money,” Joan hoped to create and live in a world where people are free and safe to love and be their true selves. All throughout her life, Joan worked to rewrite societal narratives.

If you ever doubt that one person can make a lasting impact on the evil in the world around them, remind yourself of Joan Drury. Joan, who chose not to be defeated by the systemic and cultural biases stacked against her and against all women, has made a resounding change in the narratives of countless individuals, non-profits, and communities. 

This award is in honor of Joan’s unmatched, lifelong commitment to fostering communities and systems which cultivate healthy relationships, serve individuals with equity and compassion, and do not tolerate violence.

Joan was born February 2nd, 1945 and passed away November 9th, 2020, leaving behind an enduring legacy. Joan contributed to the Violence Prevention Center as a volunteer, board member, donor, and active friend.

Criteria for Nomination

To highlight Joan’s outstanding commitment to our mission and ending gender-based violence, the Violence Prevention Center is seeking to annually recognize one individual and one business or organization who exemplify at least one of the following:


Values volunteering as a commitment to engage in the work of individual and community safety within their area of interest and influence. Works within their community to foster peace, justice, and equity for women and girls, and builds the capacity to transform violence.

Community Commitment

Has a willingness to take leadership roles and challenging positions to improve the lives of individuals and families in the community, understanding that change requires tenacity, continuity, and a willingness to challenge what has been done.

Promotes Education, Awareness, and Outreach

Participates in education, awareness and outreach activities that increase the potential for peaceful and just communities.  Supports ideas and potential resources to promote current and expanded programs and service to persons who have been subjected to domestic and sexual violence and/or human trafficking.

Personal Awareness

Continues to seek out lifelong learning opportunities as a way to increase personal and community awareness related to gender, equity, justice and privilege.


Advocates for or supplies financial resources in a way that acknowledges the mission and values of the VPC.

Learn More

We invite you to nominate a Cook County community member or local business/organization who works toward fostering gender equity through one or more of the following: 

Community commitment
Personal awareness
Promotes education, awareness, & outreach

Please contact Jessica at the Violence Prevention Center with any questions: or 218-387-1237.


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