Ready for some good news? A friend just sent me this graphic showing which US cities are holding a Women’s March on the weekend of January 20/21, 2018.
I will always regret missing out on the 2017 Women’s March. That day, I had just arrived back in Seville, Spain, where I live for a portion of every year; it’s the home base from which I do my travel writing (now mostly on the back burner so I can work for the Resistance). At the time, our little expat community had no one in place to organize a protest, so I sat at my computer and watched the images roll in from around the world.
For me, it was stunning and profoundly thrilling to realize that there were five million of us — enough to mount a serious Resistance movement. That’s when I knew we wouldn’t have to hunker down for the duration; we have the capacity to stand up and take our shot at changing history. Nobody knows how many will be marching this year, but I can tell you one thing for sure: we have a lot more to be outraged about now.
If you're heading to this year’s Women’s March, you may be protesting for the first time in decades — or the first time ever. So I thought it might be helpful to pass along a few practical tips about street protesting. Some of these were handed down to me from my mother, who spent the sixties standing up for equality, justice, and peace; others I picked up during my long-ago days as a student protester at UC Berkeley and more recently as part of the American Resistance. Guidelines may vary, so be sure to check the website of the march in your city for specifics.
Choose a theme for your protest sign. You can march without one, of course; lots do. But protest signs are cathartic to create and add flair, drama, and fun to the occasion. What are you passionate about? Climate change? Black lives matter? Marriage equality? A woman's right to determine what happens to her own body?
Find some zingy wording. Nowadays I scroll through online photos of protest posters the way I used to flip through racks of greeting cards, just to enjoy the humor and creativity. Some of my faves are shown below. Want more inspiration? Check out my "What's Your Sign?" page here.
Make your poster. Get poster board or cardboard, nothing too dark or heavy; you may want two sheets, so you can do different wording on the front and back. Make the lettering very large, clear, and if possible spelled correctly. Worried about spacing? Use a computer to print out the words on a piece of paper roughly the shape of your board, then use that as a guide. Lightly pencil in guidelines and words, then fill in with markers or paint. You can simply carry the sign, but attaching it to a stick makes it easier to hold up high enough to be seen over people's heads and more comfortable to carry on longer marches. Use duct tape to attach the poster board to some sort of stick, such as a garden stake. If you are using a stick that feels splintery, cover the lower section with tape; make sure the tape is not too slick as you’ll want a firm grip. Guidelines for marches in some cities stipulate that you not use wooden, plastic, or metal sticks and advise making something from cardboard or rolled poster board instead.
Wear a pink pussyhat. Much has been written about this powerful symbol of the Women’s March and the Resistance movement. I’ve had friends and their knitting circles making batches for my Seville Resistance group all year. In the US, the Pussyhat Project has its members knitting like mad and is collecting hats for distribution to those marching. If you're a knitter, you probably already know they provide patterns and instructions so you can make your own. You can also order handmade pussyhats online from sites such as Etsy and Amazon. Not a hat person? Consider bright pink temporary hair dye. As the Pussyhat Project websites says, "The more we are seen, the more we are heard."
Dress for comfort and commentary. Practical shoes are a must, especially if your city has a long march route and/or you’ll have to park far away. There are wonderful Resistance t-shirts available online from sites such as Redbubble and Zazzle. Or you may want to go all out and make an even more visible statement in full costume. And don't pass up the opportunity to dress up your dog, too.
Bring a small bag with comforts and necessities. Depending on the weather and length of the march route, you may be glad of some water, snacks, an extra sweater, a scarf, an umbrella, a rain poncho, a packet of tissues, Handi Wipes, and/or other practical stuff. If your party includes kids or dogs, pack treats for them as well; Fido will appreciate a collapsible water dish, especially in warmer climates. In some cities, march organizers are asking people not to bring backpacks but say clear bags are OK.
Coordinate with others in your party. Marching is more fun with people you know. If you can’t arrive together, be sure to establish a specific rendezvous point. “I’ll meet you there” isn’t too practical if there are 20,000 people milling around over several acres of ground. Plan your parking, get there early, connect at the rendezvous, and agree where you’ll meet up later if you get separated. Make sure you have everyone’s cell phone number. If you’re bringing your dog, check that the tags have accurate contact information in the unlikely event Spot disappears in hot pursuit of a neighborhood cat.
Post photos and videos; livestream if possible. Social media offers countless immediate outlets for those great, funny, emotional moments you capture along the route. And it’s a wonderful way to reach out to those who couldn’t make it to the march and let them feel the excitement of the day.
Celebrate afterwards. Whether you’re marching solo, with a few friends, or as part of a big group, take a moment to appreciate what you’ve just done. Today you stood up for something that matters. And then think about how the commitment you’re feeling right now can carry over into further Resistance actions.
Ready to do more? I’ve compiled a list of high-impact, progressive organizations that are actively seeking volunteers right now. You can find this list in my new book, Women of the American Resistance: You Are the One We Have Been Waiting For. During the run-up to the Women’s March, I am offering the book at a deep discount (just 99 cents on Amazon Kindle) to get it distributed as widely as possible. All sales revenues go to Planned Parenthood in the name of anti-choice White House officials, so each purchase is a small act of Resistance.
Questions or suggestions? Thoughts on the Women’s March? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
Please note that any products or resources mentioned here are not sponsored in any way; they’re included simply to make joining the Women’s March easier and a bit more fun.
After the 2016 election, I realized that the most important collective conversation of our lives is taking place right now, and I want to be part of it. So I am taking a year off (maybe two; OK, possibly four) from my work as a travel writer to do mobilizing and organizing for the American Resistance. I'm a storyteller, so doing my bit involves sharing inspiring accounts of ordinary women meeting the challenges of living in extraordinary times. I have spent the last 12 months interviewing activists and producing articles, videos, and now my book Women of the American Resistance: You Are the One We Have Been Waiting For.