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Walking in Seattle

January 22, 2017

I’ll just put it right out there: I’m a social liberal, usually vote for Democrats, and I’ve proudly called myself a feminist since I was a teenager. That’s why my friend Anita and I decided to join the Womxn’s March on Seattle on January 21. I’m not normally politically active (other than voting), but the one thing I’ll march for is women’s rights, which, after all, are human rights. The last time I was part of a protest march was in 1972, when I was a college student against the Vietnam war.

Before heading out on an urban trek, one has to prepare. The first thing I did was order a pussyhat from The Seam Designs, the first Esty shop I stumbled upon. In about a week, this fetching crocheted hat arrived from Brooklyn, NY. I love these hats. They make a serious statement with humor, and they provide a great visual when thousands of people are wearing them.

Woman wearng pink pussyhat

$35 well spent

I didn’t know that my friend Sandi was busy knitting hats locally. She sent me a few, gratis, which I gave to my marching buddies.

Walking 3.6 miles on a January day in Seattle is likely to be wet and chilly. I washed and waterproofed my winter coat, and fished its zip-out liner off the floor of the coat closet, where it had fallen and been used for a cat bed. Yep, washed that, too … and then spent 20 minutes trying to coax the damned zipper into place. I assembled my ensemble, including a fleece jacket and wool socks, and sliced openings in the index finger and thumb of my fuchsia fleece gloves so that I could operate my phone. I sprayed waterproofing sealer on my favorite Keen oxfords. I wondered whether handwarmers might be a good idea.

I was up before dawn Saturday morning after a restless night.  TV news predicted 47 degrees by afternoon. The zippered liner came out of my coat a lot quicker than it went in.

Four of us gathered at Anita’s house, then Eric chauffeured us to Seattle. A couple of miles from the park, sign-toting, pussyhatted marchers filled the sidewalks, and cars clogged the streets. Eric dropped us off with the legions at the bottom of a steep, seemingly endless hill. We followed the crowd up to the park, where we met up with a fifth marcher, Jan.

Four women wearing pink pussyhats before protest march.

Ready to march: Anita, Cathy, Connie, and me.

Judkins Park is a large space, and was completely packed with pink-hatted protesters and bobbing protest signs. Even Rosa Parks was there—one of several huge puppets of famous women. The atmosphere was electric with excitement and anticipation. Everyone was smiling and full of energy. I was encouraged to see nearly as many men as women, and I wished Eric had joined us … but then, we wouldn’t have had a ride. The speechifying was nearly finished (we couldn’t hear it well from where we stood on the edge of the park), and we didn’t have long to wait before people seemed to decide en masse that it was time to depart.

Women's MArch protesters gather at Judkins Park in Seattle.

A small corner of the park.

 

A large puppet of Rosa Parks.

Rosa was at least 10 feet tall.

Off we charged! Or rather, shuffled. The small residential streets that border the park were so crowded that we could barely move. We crept our way to Jackson Street, a main road.

The signs were wonderful—funny, touching, unambiguous, and irreverent. I hadn’t seen some of these slogans and logos for decades. One that summed up my feelings was “50 years later and we’re still protesting this shit!” Topics ranged from women’s rights, human rights, immigrant rights, healthcare, the environment, LGBTQ rights, and general dissatisfaction with the Trump agenda.

Women's March protest sign

Women's March protest sign

Women's March protest sign

Women's March protest sign

Women's March protest sign

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” — Gloria Steinem.

This was supposed to be a silent march like the civil rights marches of the 1960s, but every now and then a cheer would erupt and ripple through the crowd like a wave. People shouted and cheered when onlookers waved from their windows. There was little chanting, but lots of buzz.

Man watches Women's March on Seattle from his balcony.

Not everyone was amused.

We thought we were toward the front of the pack, but as we marched downhill through the International District, the road was filled with marchers as far as the eye could see. And when we got to the bottom of that hill, I looked back, and there were marchers as far as I could see behind us, too. News reported that the entire 3.6-mile route was filled with participants for some time. March organizers had anticipated 50,000 participants. The final total was 175,000! Way to go, Seattle!!

Women's March crowd in Seattle

Looking west down Jackson.

 

Women's March crowd in Seattle

Looking east up Jackson [Elaine Thompson, Associated Press]

These incredible dragons guard the streetscape in Japantown.

In some Seattle neighborhoods, freeway support columns are painted with fanciful designs.

Freeway support columns painted with Asian fish designs, Seattle.

Koi swim up the freeway support columns in the International District.

Then we turned onto 4th Avenue and marched (shuffled) north through downtown.

Women's March on Seattle

Beautiful Seattle

Notice the SUNSHINE? What a glorious day! I marched almost the whole way with my winter coat tied around my waist. I’m sure the warmth contributed to the ebullient mood. But mostly, it felt so good to know I wasn’t the only one who is concerned about losing our hard-won human rights and environmental progress (just two of many issues on peoples’ minds).

By the time we reached Westlake Center in the heart of the city, we were less than a mile from our destination of the Seattle Center (the site of the 1962 World’s Fair, now an arts and civic campus). We were headed for a row of Port-a-Potties when a miracle happened: Our co-marcher, Jan, suggested we simply come up to her place. Turns out she lives in a condo overlooking Westlake, just steps from where we were standing. Within a few minutes we were relaxing in her lovely condo, with a view of 4th Avenue and the marchers below. Jan fed us spaghetti and chocolate. We became weary and complacent and, I regret to admit, we decided to walk to Westlake Station and catch the light rail back toward home rather than shuffle to the end of the route.

Women's March on Seattle ended at the Space Needle.

Had we continued, we’d have ended here. [Elaine Thompson, Associated Press]

The strange thing is, I could walk 3.6 miles at a moderate pace and finish in less than an hour and a half. But we discovered that shuffling at such a slow pace is really tiring! We were out there on the route for nearly three hours, and that didn’t include the hella hill that we climbed to get to the park. (Lest you think we are just a bunch of wimpy old ladies, three of my companions are half-marathoners. I’m more accustomed to walking a golf course.)

View of 4th Ave, marchers in Seattle.

A few of our closest friends … they just. kept. coming!

 

Woman overlooking Woman's March on Seattle

Pooped but happy and full of spaghetti.

This march was such an uplifting, joyous experience. Everyone was happy and positive and inclusive. It really helped to banish the depression and malaise I’ve felt for the past two months, and replace it with a sense of hope for our country. There were no incidents of violence and no arrests. The cops were relaxed and smiling and had little to do but direct traffic. I’m still basking in the glow of knowing there are millions of people out there who share my point of view and my concerns. Last I heard, approximately three million women and men marched worldwide on all seven continents. It’s up to us to raise consciousness once again. Fifty years later, we’re back not to square one, but maybe square two. Something I never expected. Yes, we can.

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

 

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13 Comments
  1. It was a day to remember. Douglas and I marched in Washington DC, and I was moved to tears several times. It felt amazing to be part of something so much bigger than myself and so important. It’s been fun looking at pictures of the marches all around the world.

    • I had a feeling you’d be out there. Wow–DC–I bet that was a scene to behold! I’ll remember it forever, and I’m sure it won’t be the last march for me. Keep up the good work!!

  2. I’m so proud to know you as well as another good friend who took the time to march! I was heartened to see news coverage of the numbers! Thank you.
    xo,
    Karen

  3. curt permalink

    You go girl! Being an old white guy and a business owner – I’m supposed to be on the other side of you liberals. I’m still white, but I never could shake the optimistic, progressive feelings I had in my youth. Maybe that’s why I’m not a great businessman. My hope is that one day those with power will realize that people are not objects and profit centers, and it is to their benefit that to treat others with respect and fairness. Perhaps this administration will be the tipping point. A job well done on Saturday!

    • Aww, Curt, you bring a tear to this ol’ hippie chick’s eye! Yes, the inspirations of my youth are not buried very deep. I think we all need to work on creating a new Age of Aquarius. Whatever happened to that, anyway?? Thanks for your kind words!

      • curt permalink

        D’Arcy – I’ve always wondered what happened. When I was in high school at the beginning of the 1970’s. Most of my peers where open and free to new ideas that opposed the war and the oppressive powers around the world. Today I look around and see these same souls hardened and inflexible – angry and hungry to possess more and dominate ideas. What switch was flipped to turn off optimism and compassion? I hope I never find my switch. Proud of all the old hippies that still believe there can be a better world through love, not war.

  4. Donna Ohashi permalink

    Hi D’Arcy:

    Thanks for letting me experience the excitement of the Womens March vicariously through your running comments as you actually did the walk. I loved the photos, too, and it brought back a lot of memories because I grew up in the International District (it was known as “Chinatown” back then) from the early 1950’s to the early 1970’s. BTW – You look adorable in your pink hat!

    I was wondering if you were an English major in college. Your writing is beautiful – so honest, fluid, and full of fun. Makes it a pleasure to read about your experiences and the renovation of your old house, which is progressing very nicely. I am still working on my tiny 1906 bungalow in Seattle, too. It is a lot of work, so I can surely empathize with you!

    Donna

    • Thanks for stopping by, Donna! The march was absolutely awesome! Yes, I minored in English way back when, and I’ve been a technical writer for 30+ years. The blog lets me cut loose a little bit. Glad you enjoy it! 🙂

    • And good luck on your house!

  5. Love it! Wonderful post and pictures. Love the hats. My husband marched in Boston with some friends. I have too much crowd-related anxiety to handle that many people, even the thought of it makes my chest clench up. But I was there in spirit and he texted me so many pictures of people and signs and just the wonderful energy of the day to me. It has been a hard few months, for sure. But knowing there are so many like minded people certainly does help. Looks like your friend has a very cool condo location!

    • That was definitely the biggest crowd I have ever been in! And even though we were packed together and shuffling, everyone was very patient and kind. I understand it wouldn’t be the place for someone with crowd anxiety, though! Kudos to your hubby for marching! Even in my next life I won’t be able to afford a condo in that location!!

  6. In Australia we have compulsory voting. It really means that you have to turn up on election day and get your name marked off, so you may as well vote. So most adult Australians make their views known on election day. Fortunately in Australia as in America most people are reasonable fair minded people. We watched in dismay when Donald Trump was elected. We hope that people like you will keep up the good fight for everyone’s rights and please encourage every body to register to vote so their voices will be heard when it really counts and reason may prevail.

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