At the beginning of this project, I claimed my theme to be a series of paintings based off my Instagram photos, but yesterday I broke the theme to create a sign for the Women's March on Portland. Unfortunately I did not capture any "professional" or well framed photos of it, and now it's pretty banged up from the rain, the march, and my lack of ability to dodge tree branches.
I didn't decide to make a sign until late on Friday night, and when my first attempt didn't pan out, I gave up and went to bed thinking I didn't have time to make something I'd be proud to carry. Saturday morning I was wide awake at 5:00 am, so I decided to try again. I wanted to make a sign that was direct, and didn't directly mock the president or new administration. While flipping through my Instagram feed, I saw this collage of signs, and my inspiration. A simple but direct reminder to resist the behaviors that I find unacceptable.
So I made my own version of my favorite and off we went to the march, with the paint still wet in places.
I am not a fan of large crowds, and I have never protested anything before, but this felt like something I had to do, something I needed to do. The initial estimates called for a crowd of 30,000 people, and when you're on the ground it's difficult to gauge the size of the crowd, but as we stood under the Morrison Bridge, shielded from the pouring rain, we could see streams of people crossing the Burnside and Hawthorne Bridges towards the rally. We stood there nearly 90 minutes waiting for the marching part of the march to begin. People chanted "let us march!", which struck me as funny- Portlanders protesting their own protest. But in all sincerity, I was beyond moved and inspired by the kindness, compassion and good energy this crowd, of what turned out to be 100,000 people.
This article from the Willamette Week captures the day perfectly. Agree or disagree politically, you must admit there is something truly moving about tens of thousands of strangers coming together of their own free will to peacefully make their voices heard. And it happened all over the world. To me, that speaks volumes about human nature, and the goodness most people have in their hearts. I left the march, thinking "what next?" This can't end with a march. We must take action to make a difference. Get involved! Donate. Volunteer. I have lots of ideas percolating.
For now, I'll finish up my 30 in 30 project, and keep talking to people in my community, and doing my best to be empathetic, and kind to the people I encounter every day. I hope you'll do the same, no matter which side of this thing you're on.