On Saturday, January 21st, Malin, Nova and two other members of our staff joined the millions of women (and male allies) who attended the Women’s March on Washington D.C. The experience of be surrounded by so many people peacefully protesting & demanding equal rights for everyone was overwhelmingly powerful for us all. To be part of a crowd like that, extending as far as the eye could see, was simply breathtaking. Some of our other staff members, who were unable to join us in D.C., participated in local protests (in NYC and elsewhere) and the overall sense of purpose & hope, of support, love & power in numbers was so moving for anyone who was fortunate enough to participate.
In the months leading up to the March, we were working out our plan:
we had decided we wanted our business to support all the women on our staff to participate in anyway they wanted to, and if they wanted to go to D.C. with us, we would cover the cost for our employees. At first, we assumed we would close our store the day of the March in solidarity and so that anyone on our staff who wanted to could march. But then Nova’s husband, Gene, offered to work at the store – not only to facilitate our attendance, but also as a statement. Around the world, men would need to step up to take on the daily work (often unpaid & unappreciated) that the women in our society do. Gene taking over the shop for the weekend was a great way for him to step up and support us in our efforts. He had a great time and spent most of the day serving tea & talking to people about the march and how important it is for men to back women in the fight for equal rights.
We left Brooklyn by car in the evening on Friday, January 20th and arrived to our hotel in Arlington at 2am. After only a few hours sleep, we woke up to Malin pinning words onto our matching jumpsuits. She’d had the idea earlier that week for us to wear our sign: We Are All One. We got ourselves together as quickly as we could and headed to the Metro to travel into central D.C. When we boarded the train, it was a sea of pink “pussy” hats. We squished in like sardines, worse than the L-train on a Monday at 8am. As the train trundled slowly into D.C., we made some friends with our closest neighbors on the train car, some were local to the D.C. area, others had traveled for hours and hours by car from Iowa. As we ascended the escalator exiting the station near the Washington Monument, we moved with the crowd like a stream to a river, joining the throngs of people gathered in every possible direction. The excitement was tangible but unthreatening, flanked by the Capitol on one side and the White House on the other, the Mall was abuzz with activity. It took us a few moments to find our stride, to choose a direction to go. There were no bad options, just so many choices! Everywhere you turned, people were swarming, moving like a shimmering school of fish. As we started moving, holding hands so as not to loose one another, we took in the sights & the signs, pointing things out to each other, laughing or gasping (or sometimes both!) at how clever people were, how audacious. One of the most moving things to see throughout the day were the young children, marching with their parents, carrying signs. Signs so full of obvious truth, about love, mother earth, their futures. All of us were that age once, and can easily recall how blatantly wrong so much of the world seemed, how unfathomable it was that the adults in the world could just stand by and watch others be hurtful to each other. We still know these things to be true, but have become desensitized, jaded or numbed to the things we were so upset by when we were young. One of the beautiful things about a movement such as this one is the revitalization of hope for something better, of the hope that we can right the wrongs in the world and learn to treat every human and living being with the love & respect they deserve.
Throughout the day, we ran into several friends – customers of ours – along the way. The first one we met because she asked to take a picture of our outfit-banner and when she started talking with Malin, they realized they knew each other. Malin even remembered her little dog, and the bag she’d sold her several years ago to carry her dog in. We shared some of our snacks with her (she’d decided last minute to take the train to D.C. and had arrived by herself early that morning) and she joined our gang and marched with us for a few hours before peeling off to meet some other friends. We saw some other friends in passing, as we were waiting to use a port-a-potty. We exchanged hugs and a few excited words – pleased and proud to be there together. Later, we ran into another regular customer who was marching with her husband and their baby. We walked with them for a while, too, until getting swept away in the sea of people. We even met a customer who was wearing the boots she’d bought from us earlier that week. There were so many more friends who were there that day and though we didn’t meet them along the way, knowing we were there all together meant the world. It was so fun how all those we ran into were such happy surprises.After several hours marching, we broke off to find a place to warm up for a few minutes before meeting up with some friends. As we wandered down a street, we stumbled upon a statue of a man astride a horse, and around the statue, several people had laid their signs to rest. There were maybe 10-15 signs, it was still early evening and the March was still going strong. Later, after meeting friends for dinner, we were walking back to the Metro and we happened to walk past the same square with the statue – and it was transformed. There were signs EVERYWHERE. Someone had climbed up and hung their sign in the man’s hand; signs were scattered (thoughtfully, so each one could be read) at all levels around the statue, woven through the bars of the low gate enclosing the square. We walked around slowly, taking in the signs, each one stirring a different feeling or thought, Some factual, thought provoking, some moving, some inspiring, some enraging. The level of togetherness in turmoil, in heartbreak, in hope as well as outrage, reminded me of something I hadn’t experienced since the days in New York City after 9/11. People had left these signs as offerings, so similar to the way NYC was littered with flowers and candles, drawings, notes, and prayers in the days & months following the attack on the World Trade Center. After the largest global gathering of protest to inequality in human history, these offerings were being made all throughout D.C., across the United States, and around the world, sending up a prayer to those who came before us, who fought for what we have, what we now fight to not only preserve but to continue to change & grow. In effect, lighting a candle for humanity, for unity, for hope, and understanding and love of one another. Because it’s true. We must always fight to remember the truth: We Are All One ♥︎
Want to get involved? Check out this story for some useful links.