One of my hometown heroes spent her life breaking gender barriers and advocating for an end to war. She's long gone, but her memory and her activism remain an important part of the Missoula community.
Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress (she got the post in 1916 - one year before women even had the right to vote). In 1917 she was one of only a few members to vote against the US entrance into World War I and in 1941 she was the only member of Congress to raise her hand against entry into World War II.
Many years later, Missoula activists established an office and Free Trade shop in her name. The store, now part of the thriving "Hip Strip" on Higgins Avenue, sells baskets, posters, and hand-made items from all over the world. It's also home to a Peace Resource Center where people gather to work on everything from voter education to community organizing. The Center holds thousands of books in its library and volunteers have created curriculum offerings for teachers to use in their classrooms.
What I love about the little Peace Center is its ability to stay true to its roots. While the rest of the city changes from year to year, this little spot consistently offers shoppers a wide range of goods, and supplies citizens with a wealth of information about global issues.
While there you should definitely pick up a book about Ms. Rankin; you can also purchase cleverly worded bumper stickers and made-in Montana T-shirts to remind you of your journey.http://jrpc.org
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