On January 21, 2017, I boarded a bus at 3:00am to join hundreds of thousands of others in Washington D.C. because showing up matters - here, there, every day, in many ways. I traveled on one of three ‘Eastside’ buses with about 160 others, including my daughter. It wasn’t my first march for women’s rights, but the last one had been as a graduate student in 1992.
A few months after that '92 march I completed my MA in American Politics and Policy, with a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. That background led me to make a series of career choices that focused on improving the communities where I have lived. Eventually those choices led me back to the Cleveland area, and into Shaker Heights, and into the church parking lot at 3:00am. I over heard an older woman traveling with us say, "Are we really still having this conversation, this same fight- I was doing this in the 70's." Right? I was trying to explain to my daughter why I had marched the last time around, and how strange it felt to be back at it. And, the truth is, I try to act to improve my community in many ways day to day, I'm engaged as a decision-maker locally. So, I had thought, perhaps my marching days were over for a lot of reasons. But then, things started to reach a tipping point for me. I grabbed a clear back pack, my daughter's hand, a home made sign and jumped on the bus.
There’s been a lot of news coverage since the Women's March and we now know that 5 million people marched across the globe that day. According to the planners, it was the 'largest coordinated protest in the history of the United States.' The crowd in D.C. was uplifting and encouraging – we felt enveloped by the humanity. We were amazed at what was happening across the country and around the world, and that we were a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. I’m still thinking about what it all meant to me personally and more broadly for political engagement. But, I know that more women are inspired to action here in Shaker, as seen in part by the array of candidates for local offices this Fall and the women leaders I see taking action on issues they care about most.
There are many ways to act locally to build a stronger community. Start with getting to know the candidates at the League of Women Voters local candidate forum on September 28th from 7pm-9pm at the Shaker Middle School. Men and women who care deeply about our community are putting themselves out there and it isn't easy. Join me in thanking each of them for caring, acting on their values, and taking time away from family to bring important issues into the public sphere.