Get your Culture here: Five experiences to have in May 2022: Culture: Smile politely

The school year is winding down, hot days are becoming more frequent, and those in power are systematically chipping away at our rights with each passing day. And with that, here are my deals for digging into CU culture this month.

Find ways to support reproductive justice

It’s really hard for me to think about anything else this week, as the devastating, but not shocking, news regarding the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion expunging Roe v. Wade dominate my brain. It should dominate all of our brains. We are blessed to live in a state that will uphold reproductive justice regardless of Supreme Court rulings (please vote for these people who will continue to do so), but as we have learned, nothing is sacred. Also, while Illinois has few restrictions on abortion, that doesn’t mean it’s readily available statewide. Last year we looked at the kind of access we have in CU, and it’s not great. You can benefit from a medical abortion for up to 11 weeks, but there are no surgical options. The closest place to get a surgical abortion is Springfield. Beyond that, most abortion providers are concentrated in the Chicago area. Not great. Especially when Planned Parenthood of Illinois expects an influx of 20,000 to 30,000 patients per year if Illinois becomes a “safe haven” for abortion care. Planned Parenthood of Illinois is trying to raise more funds so it can add more telehealth medical abortion facilities and options. If you’re inclined to donate or support them through volunteer work or activism, check out their website. Midwest Access Coalition helps people who travel to, from or within the Midwest obtain an abortion.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Raise a toast to Taylor Street

Three of my favorite things to do in the summer are listening to live music outside, drinking and dining outside, and shopping outside. Toast To Taylor Street combines all of these things in an event, and this time it takes place on the first Saturday of every month, from May to October! The new Toast to Taylor Street Downtown Block Party series is an outdoor market and music festival all rolled into one, celebrating all that Downtown Champaign has to offer. The first installment is May 7 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. The weather seems to be perfect, so head downtown, do some shopping, enjoy some food and drink on one of the many terraces in the area, and listen to some great local bands. Can’t come this month? You have five more chances.

Photo from the Facebook event page.

Learn to forage

Did you know that there are all kinds of native plants in these areas that you can safely eat? If you want to learn about forage plants, either out of curiosity or for survival in the woods, Delight Flower Farm can help. Okay, they don’t really claim to be able to help you survive in the Illinois wilderness, but you’ll definitely come away with some interesting information. You will learn what edible weeds and native food plants are, and how to safely incorporate these natural elements into your cooking and diet. After a presentation, you will have a hands-on practice. The workshop is May 14 from 1 to 2:30 p.m., and it’s $25. Register at the Flower Farm of Delights website.

Photo taken from Illinois Athletics website.

watch tennis

The University of Illinois is hosting the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships from May 19-28, which is pretty impressive. The first part of the week, May 19-22, will be the Tag Team Championship, with the rest of the dates dedicated to individual play. Tickets range from a ticket for all sessions at $108, $58 for all teams or all individual sessions, to $17 for a specific group of matches (i.e. men’s quarter-finals , women’s finals, etc.). an opportunity is to see it live and in person. It’s dramatic, fast-paced, and in it you’ll get to see the best of the best college players. Olivier Stuart of Illinois will play in the men’s singles tournament.

Photo by Julie McClure.

Go see the peonies

We wait for the Sakura of Japan House to bloom in April, in May we watch for the peonies of Allerton. Their famous peony garden will soon be in bloom, and it’s a must see. Like the Sakura, peony flowers are ephemeral. Once they start to bloom, you have to go there to see them. Go multiple times, as they bloom in phases. They also have fun names like Cheddar Surprise, Fairy’s Petticoat, Auntie Sherry, and Kansas Spiffy. Allerton is hosting a garden dedication on May 26 at 5:30 p.m. if you want to mingle and enjoy drinks and snacks with the flowers.

Top photo from Wikipedia Commons.

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