Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Women's March: on the Road from Allegany County

WELLSVILLE: Nearly 3 million women, girls, sons, husbands, fathers, uncles, friends and others with concerns for the political situation now clogging the news in the United States headed for a Women’s March in Washington or elsewhere on Saturday, January 21.  It was reported the huge crowd in New York City turned the “march” into a “stand” while the event in Buffalo involved thousands walking on both sides of Delaware Avenue to Niagara Square.  In Philadelphia people strolled with songs, shouts and chants on the Franklin Parkway.
                In all the marches, there was a center point where speakers talked about ways to become and stay involved.
                Some people mocked the marches as useless. What’s the goal? Is this a permanent group? Does it ever matter to speak up? People who talked with me in Philadelphia that day as well as those who recounted the day to me later all found goals and support.
                I marched with 3 young women in Philadelphia. Emma Meetz took a bus from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to march with college friends. Meetz said, “There’s been so much negative conversation in the last year that this seemed like a chance to get together and be with people who would give me ideas about how to carry forth.”
                Meetz works in a Pittsburgh Library that services a large group of Bhutanese Buddhists. She plans to return with energy to advocate for women.  She said, “I will try not to be selfish but to be a better listener and to understand the views of the Trump supporters in my community.”
                Emily Royer hosted Meetz in Philly. Royer has been upset about the changes that the Trump administration presented. She said, “I’d like to see the ACA remain and to keep Roe vs. Wade. I don’t support a Muslim registry and want to protect the rights of LGBT people.”
                Royer said that the emphasis on fossil fuel production stifles renewable energy jobs. “Opportunities for tens of thousands of new jobs in renewable energy are at risk and these would be local jobs that would boost our cities.”
                Lauren Westenheiser marched with them and said that in looking over social media she felt that almost everyone she knew marched from her aunt (Tucson), to colleagues (DC), college friends and cousins around the country. She said she is inspired now and will follow up with regular phone calls to her local and national representatives.
                Rusty Tobin, from Belmont, went to Buffalo. The event there was organized quickly by the Western NY Peace Center under the name: No Hate. No Mandate. Police were friendly even though the march had no permit, the reason why marchers held to the sidewalk until reaching Niagara Square for the speakers.
                Tobin had marched against war in the 60s but not since and said that she was surprised and delighted by the creative signs brought out. She described the group as about 80% women, many over 60, but also including babies, children, and teens.
                Tobin is interested in staying in contact with representatives at the state and national level. She said the event was psychologically empowering and will help her fight the move to privatize Medicare.
                D. Chase Angier left Hornell at 2:30 am to ride a bus to Washington DC. She hoped that the world would see that there are still many Americans who want to stand up for human rights, women’s rights and the security of a healthy planet. She has always advocated for these things as well as for the arts but now has more friends to work with in those areas.
                Because the environment is important to her, when she stayed with a friend recently, instead of giving a bottle of wine, she gave a membership to the Sierra Club. Moving from material gifts to meaningful, active gifts is a change she is seeing more and more people make.
                Rebecca Bennett has family in Wellsville and Andover but works in Binghamton so that’s where she went on Saturday. The organizers expected 200 or so but were shocked with the arrival of over 3,000.  From Martin Luther King Park, they could see streams of people walking to gather so they offered the microphone to anyone wanting to talk as they waited for all to arrive.
                Bennett said that several children spoke. One 10 year old boy said that some of his friends are immigrants and others are people of color and he wants all of them to be safe.  
                Another to talk was a great grandmother who said she had marched both for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. She said, “We’ve come too far to go back.”
                In agreement, Bennett said that she will read to keep informed and write letters and call her representatives to push them forward.
                One of the most significant local sites for a march was in Seneca Falls. Many from Alfred chose to attend events there including JoEllen delCampo. She said the planning for the event was flawless with a great cross-section of speakers including indigenous people and a sound system that allowed everyone to hear.
                Being among the men and women, of all ages, was inspiring. The message for the day, she said, was, “Make this a movement and not a moment. Be a participant with persistence and patience. Call, email, attend town meetings and, if you are of the right temperament, run for office.”

For Alfred and Alfred Station
Senators - Charles Schumer (202) 224-6542 and Kirsten Gillibrand (202) 224-4451
Congressperson Tom Reed (202) 225-3161
State Senator Cathy Young (518) 455-3563
Assemblyperson Joe Giglio (518) 455-5241
For ideas on how to contact an elected official: (focused for march participants) (focused for liberal ideas)

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