After months of weekly “Sunday Brunch” sessions featuring various woman-led jazz ensembles, local jazz club Ornithology has another social justice-themed project up its sleeve: a campaign to end domestic violence.

Rie Yamaguchi-Borden, one of the club’s owners, says she designed the campaign after hearing devastating stories of violence from two of her best friends, the jazz musicians Kyoko Oyobe and Julia Banholzer. They kicked the campaign off on July 2, calling it the “GYS Ladybirds Rising: DV Safe Sanctuary Campaign,” and it will continue through October 1.

Since 2019, the number of reported intimate partner homicides in Brooklyn has increased from four in 2019 to 15 in 2022. The nonprofit arm that runs Ornithology, called the Gotham Yardbird Sanctuary, is running the campaign with a number of groups like Womankind, The Center For Anti-Violence Education, and KODA to raise awareness around domestic violence. 

To kick things off, Yamaguchi-Borden welcomed a small group of Ornithology employees, regulars, and DV advocates to the club on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Gathered around the club’s rug-adorned stage, the small group listened to Oyobe and Banholzer talk about their experiences with domestic violence. After, the pair performed some compositions they wrote after their experiences; Oyobe played piano and Banholzer played a saxophone. 

“This meeting is like the summary of all the destinies that came to me, because of this inspiration,” Yamaguchi-Borden could be heard saying. 

Throughout the next three months, Ornithology aims to raise funds to create more domestic violence awareness throughout Bushwick and beyond. The raised awareness comes in the form of education about abusive behaviors in relationships, available support systems, and the rights  of victims of domestic violence. 

The group also wants to inform business owners about their own responsibility to protect customers against their abusers. In August, the nonprofit will ask local businesses to become something called “DV Safe Sanctuary Circle Ambassadors.” The jazz club will also host some musical trauma-healing workshops for survivors. 

By September, volunteers plan to place QR code stickers with the phrase “Domestic Violence Stops Here” all around the city. 

Images taken by Katey St. John for Bushwick Daily.

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