Many months ago I was incredibly grateful to make it down to Washington, D.C. for the Women's March on Washington. My major motivation for getting myself there was to march with the 500 Women Scientists group started by some fantastic friends from CU Boulder.
Below is an email I sent to some college girlfriends about the experience and some photos I took with my iPhone that day. More about my photos used in some of the material for 500WS can be found here. The photo above actually made it into Science.
I feel really lucky that DC was an easy option for me. The bus wasn't too expensive and still allowed me to work most of Friday and get into DC before it was too late to navigate the metro. And then, I was able to stay at the home of one of the 500WS organizers who I know from CU Boulder. There were good friends from Boulder and new friends from Wyoming. There must have been 14 women in the 2 bedroom house.
Things started early on Saturday with reporters in and out of the house and all of us trying to figure out what to carry and which phone numbers to sharpie on our arms just in case. I don't think I spoke to a single reporter. Oops, I need to be better about standing up. It did feel good to see my purple flower on everything.
So, we eventually made it to our rally spot pretty early and there I saw some other ladies from my cohort at CU. I hadn't realized just how much I have been missing familiar women friends. It felt so good to be with that group again. I lucked out in grad school with a cohort of women (and one man) who were good scientists and were also wonderful educators and communicators. That group always helped me to feel very grounded in my own passions in grad school. It has been wonderful to see what we have all done with our various skill sets.
We stood like sardines through about 5 hours of rally speeches. We heard Gloria, Ashley Judd, Alicia Keyes, Janelle Monáe (maybe my favorite), and totally missed Madonna. The crowd felt diverse to me. Lots of men, lots of people of color, lots of ages. I felt pretty good about that. There was some complaining about all the standing, then a good friend totally snapped at some folks during the call and response of mothers and the names of their children who have died due to police brutality. It was an important moment.
I felt overcome with emotion and gratitude. I felt hopeful. It was amazing for people to cheer for us and for science. I cringed at Trump Hotel.
We marched until dark, got home to refuel and finally drink water and then had a really long meeting about next steps. Mostly our focus will be education about climate change and the importance of science and research in everyone's life. Flint Michigan should be an example for everyone, Zika, etc. etc. We are also working on a science education outreach to red areas program. We had that meeting at the home of someone whose parents are social scientists and their opinions were golden....if a bit on the academic side. They were trying to help us find ways to communicate on the level of people who don't believe in climate change. It is hard. Really really hard.
Sunday was more of me watching the organizers do press. During the time it took me to get Saturday's dreadlock out of my hair, they did an hour long interview. Goals.
The bus home was full of speeches from local teachers, professors, cosmetologists, mothers of trans children, women from South Africa who have seen this shit before, women who had unsafe abortions, women whose lives were made better because they had access to abortions, teenagers who were scared for immigrant friends, young black women who had just done their first march and mother-daughter teams who marched for each other.
I am glad it was an option for me and relieved that it has proven to be such a helpful group for staying motivated and organized.