A group of Sammamish women has organized an assembly of hundreds of Eastside residents to attend the Women’s March on Seattle on Saturday, Jan. 21.
The march, which will begin at 10 a.m. at Judkins Park in Seattle, is a sister movement to the national Women’s March on Washington, D.C., as well as to the hundreds of similar marches taking place around not just the U.S., but the entire world, that Saturday, the day after Inauguration Day.
Cathia Geller, one of the organizers from Sammamish, said that the march is a completely peaceful movement for human beings to show solidarity with one another and convey a message of kindness.
“The message of the march is peaceful — we would like to move forward, not backwards,” she said.
She explained that the three-mile march will be conducted entirely in silence until the last couple of blocks, so as to emulate the nonviolent protests of the Civil Rights Era.
Over 30,000 people are planning to go to the Seattle march, according to the Facebook event page, though participants point out that this number is likely to be even higher in person because not everyone marching is on Facebook.
Concerned that the idea of battling traffic and crowds may put people off attending the event, Geller joined forces with Sammamish group Plateaupians for Peace to charter buses so that locals could go as a group.
“It’s a much more convenient and safe way to get to and from the event,” Geller said, explaining that everyone from babies to grandparents is encouraged to take part in the family-friendly march. “We don’t want people to be afraid to participate … it’s a march of inclusion.”
Sarah Hawes Kimsey, the founder of Plateaupians for Peace, said at press time that so far there would be at least seven chartered buses. Geller, Kimsey and the Plateaupians’ leadership team, Liz Faaland and Kate Gordon, have filled 900 seats so far.
Kimsey started Plateaupians for Peace on Nov. 9, the day after the presidential election. Through social media, the group has gained 500 members in just the two months since it began.
“The election happened and I felt completely drained … Everything just felt so negative and divisive,” Kimsey explained. She said that she started the organization not as a political movement, but as a way for people from all backgrounds to come together and support one another in creating a better future.
“People of every political party are welcome, as long as they’re social justice-minded,” she said. “We all have this mentality of, ‘Let’s make things better.’”
When the Plateaupians heard about the march in Seattle, they knew at once that it would be a perfect opportunity to show their support for diverse groups of people. Kimsey and Geller explained that the march will not only represent women’s rights, but will be a chance for any group, such as the LGBTQ community, refugees, environmentalists and Black Lives Matter activists, to make their voices heard and stand up for equal rights.
“The idea is to march for those who feel marginalized,” Kimsey said. “Everyone is marching for a different reason.”
“Every possible group that might have an interest will be there,” Geller said, and called it “a peaceful march meant to bring people together.”
Kimsey said that the timing of the march one day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration is no coincidence.
“It is a response to an entire election where pretty much any marginalized population has felt disenfranchised,” Kimsey stated. “A whole lot of us are willing to stand up and say … ‘We’re not going to let the United States go backwards.’”
However, for Geller, the march is not political. She said that she even knew of “Republicans who are so moved by the message of this march” that they will be attending.
“This is not a political march, this is not an anti-Trump march … It’s a message of, we are all here, we are all watching, we will all be heard,” she said.
“My motivation was, I felt there were so many people who might be affected moving forward,” Geller continued. “I wanted to make sure their voices were heard.”
For Geller, who has participated in marches in the past while living in Washington, D.C., the Seattle march is also a way to share an important lesson in civics with her 14-year-old daughter.
“I want my daughter to be involved, to see freedom of speech in action,” Geller said. “It’s really important to get teens out there.”
She believes teens get “so caught up with social media that they may be missing the bigger picture,” and wants to show them that it’s never too early to start getting involved and making a difference in the world around them.
“The most important thing is the group message — keep it positive, keep it inclusive, keep it moving forward,” Kimsey said.
The buses, chartered through Beeline Charter Tours, will leave from the South Sammamish Park and Ride at 8 a.m. on Jan. 21, and will stop at the Issaquah Transit Center and South Bellevue Park and Ride. Registration to ride the buses is currently over, but Kimsey said that anyone interested in attending should still contact the Plateaupians for Peace Facebook group or the group’s website, www.pforpeace.com.
The Women’s March on Seattle is also being called the Womxn’s March, to demonstrate the fact that the marchers will not only be standing up for women’s rights, but for the rights of many different marginalized groups. Participants encourage everyone — not just women — to attend and take part.