On the March
From Paris to L.A. to Antarctica - all across the country and the world - women and advocates for human rights stood together this past Saturday to demand continued progress toward human equity, social justice, and reproductive health.
In Oregon, reports of “the largest rally/protest/march ever seen in XX town” reverberated from the coast to the Idaho border. Many of Oregon Wild’s staff and loved ones participated in these gatherings. What they experienced was remarkable and uplifting - not only for the values espoused by March organizers - but for the common cause of protecting our planet as well.
When I made my signs for the March on Friday evening at a friend’s house in Silver Spring, Maryland (after scrounging the paper options at the local craft store, which was completely out of poster board, markers, and most other make-shift sign-making materials!) I knew I was going with one of the themes suggested by Great Old Broads for Wilderness. I went with “Wild Women for Public Lands” and “None of This Matters if We Destroy Our Home,” along with “Empowered Women Empower Women.”
My friend went with “There is NO Planet B!” I wasn’t sure I’d see other environmentally-themed posters. But in the sea of half a million people near the National Mall I knew I was not alone in valuing our planet and nature’s rights alongside women’s, minorities’, LGBTQ, and immigrants’. At one point, a chant even broke out in my area: “Climate Change is Real! Climate Change is Real!” (Especially poignant as the new White House scrubbed its website of any reference to this very real issue that morning.)
Other staff noticed the same themes at marches in Portland, Eugene, Bend, and Joseph. It is heartening to see that Oregonians are elevating the importance of our public lands, our wild spaces, our very planet alongside the critically important human and social justice rights highlighted in the Women’s Marches around the globe. We’ve noticed this since the election - in the number of folks interested in our Wild Ones programs and other events, and in the general increase in advocacy from people who have, by their own admission, been sitting on the sidelines. Our tables at the events that ended the Eugene and Bend marches had overwhelming support and interest in getting more involved in Oregon Wild’s work. We’re excited and exhilarated by this!
While an increase in activism - for so many important issues - is a wonderful outcome of this election season and the Women’s March movement, perhaps the most positive thing to come from these marches is a sense of community. Of people coming together to fight injustice - whether directed towards their neighbors who might be from another country, their sisters, or to the air we all breathe. In Wallowa County in NE Oregon, for example, in a town of about 1,000 people 310 people marched this past Saturday. Rob, our staff resident of this rural community, reported that old-time Wallowa County folks said unequivocally that they'd never seen anything like that before, and he noted that one of the more moving things was seeing a community that has often been bullied and oppressed find each other and find their voice. Let’s all work together to make sure this momentum continues.