March On

Like many, I was gobsmacked on November 8th as midnight closed in and the Democrats were closed out. Each morning brought fresh dismay as I read the news. Intellectually I could make sense of why some people voted for Trump, but I couldn’t make sense of a world where the values and progress we believed in were decimated—my fourteen year old daughter had volunteered for Hillary on her school holidays. I work at Blue State Digital where we had helped elect Obama both times and provided tools and services for both Bernie and Hillary. Our entire business is supporting nonprofits and socially-conscious brands to build communities that drive change. I couldn’t just sit back and watch.

Women making signs
Making signs and buttons at BSD New York before the march.

In the days following the election, Facebook became a political bastion as content moved from holiday pics to articles and action. I took small actions myself such as calling senators and signing endless petitions. When I read about the Women’s March on Washington, I decided this would be a chance to stand, participate, and show my daughters that we could—that we must—fight for our rights.

I feel pretty lucky to work at Blue State Digital. A couple years ago, the women at the company banded together to created the BSD Women group, which I was proud to sponsor. Together we made real progress on areas such as pay equality, financial and leadership education, and unconscious bias in the workplace. The march felt like an opportunity for me to support those values and make sure that women at Blue State could participate as well.

BSD Women asked if management would support employees who wanted to attend the march, and the entire company rallied behind the event. We planned for rides to DC, we made buttons and posters, and opened our DC office, which is near the march location, for coffee, snacks, and respite. Our CEO wrote RESIST in giant sheets of copy paper on our DC office windows.

View of the office this morning. #bsdlife

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For our clients at Blue State, mostly non-profits and advocacy organizations, donations and urgency increased as the inauguration approached. We raised 30% more money for our clients this year-end fundraising season than last year. Something was happening out there. Clients like the Sierra Club, US Fund for Unicef, and NAACP saw a reinvigoration of their communities and mission.

And, I started to see RSVPs in my Facebook feed from all across the country. My two college roommates, still friends and both with daughters of their own, were coming to DC from Seattle. This was going to be big.

My 23-year-old niece was housesitting my sister-in-law’s house in DC. She invited my family and friends to stay there for the march. A badass blonde, she was working her first job at Booz Allen in their security division, and her friends were going too. My 20-year-old nephew, a freshman at Georgetown, wanted to join in as well. This was going to be a multigenerational event—a Jane Austen house party for the post-aristocratic world.

The author's family
Fired up and ready to march in DC.

Why are we marching my daughters asked? Are we marching against Trump? Not per se, I answered. We are marching for our rights, as women, and as citizens. We are marching against wrong-headed policies and appointments of people unfit to represent us.

The march got more organized, changed their name, added sponsors and structure. And grew, and grew, and grew. Everyone wanted to claim a bit of our outrage. We started to hear about crowds and regulations about signs and purses. My husband started to get nervous. Can’t we go to the New York march? he asked. I think it’s important to take the girls to DC, I responded. They need to experience a protest in that place, of that scale.

For the weeks leading up to the march, I found preparing for it gave me a place to focus, a way to stave off depression and despair. In the end, for me, the process was as important as the actual event. Women in every aspect of my life were galvanized by the march. We made posters and buttons. A friend planned a knitting event and bought us all needles and yarn and taught us how to knit. My daughter and I knit pink hats, including one for our cat. That slow, methodical process that prevents me from using my phone seemed perfect. Small actions that created something in the end.

Collage of pink pussy hats

Driving down to DC the Friday night before, even the traffic inspired me. Wall to wall traffic at 11 p.m. all headed to Washington. We were in this together. At a rest stop in Maryland, a chant erupted and the whole place cheered. We talked to people in lines, nodded to others in pink hats. We arrived in DC at midnight and the only ones up were my college friend’s 16-year-old daughter and my nephew. They were both knitting frantically. We had people sleeping on every couch and bed.

The day of the march, we took the subway. It was packed with marchers. We delighted in losing ourselves to the crowd, becoming a part of that bigger thing. We couldn’t even get close to the speakers at the rally. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was the process of joining. I hesitate to describe the atmosphere at the march, but suffice to say that the calm and true joy of coming together was contagious.

Today, the ACLU is preparing legal action on Trump’s ethical violations. The Sierra Club is opposing the REINS act. And, the NAACP is calling for a restoration of the Voting Rights Act.

Today at BSD, we are designing postcards for people to mail to their representatives.

Today my daughter wore her pink hat to school.