Monday, March 26, 2018

Marching Local: Why I Love Going to Marches and Protests In My OwnUpstate NY Community

Did you participate in the March For Our Lives this past weekend?  Or have you participated in any local marches recently?  I did, I have, and they're amazing!  I highly encourage everyone to find something that aligns with your passions and participate in the positive movement.

Marching changes you. 

But marching local gives you something that is easily snubbed or overlooked.  

At the March For Our Lives in Albany, NY this past Saturday, I had two similar discussions with new marching friends.  We talked about how inspiring it is to hear voices from our own local schools and districts and communities.  People who shop in the same grocery stores and eat at the same restaurants and attend the same local activities and know the same people rallying the crowds for a unified mission isn't just cool, it's critical.

It's critical to know you are part of something bigger, even in your tiny {very conservative and behind the times} community.  It's critical to stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers turned friends who are from all backgrounds but believe in a common good.  It's critical to see local families and local leaders and local youth and local everyone who want to be a part of a solution.  It's critical to use that momentum to jump start your further local involvement.  It's critical to feel empowered and encouraged and engaged.

And on top of that, it's insanely convenient.

Here's an example of how easy it is to get in and out of a well-organized march in Albany, NY.

I parked, for free, about four blocks from the March.  Walked right up to my favorite spot, the front, with less than five minutes to spare.  Talked to people, took photos of great signs, held my signs out for others to take photos of them, and felt right at home, despite being an introvert with anxiety.  The rally started right on time at 10am and lasted a little over an hour.  It included music, students with heart-clutching personal stories, politicians, and local community leaders.  It was the perfect mix and offered a little something for everyone.  Then we marched around the capital building.  Which didn't take long at all.  From start to finish, I'd say the March lasted not more than an hour and a half.  Then I talked a bit more to people, stopped for folks to snap pics of my signs {that uterus sign proved most popular, which tickled me to no end}, walked back to my car, dealt with traffic getting out of there, stopped to pick up an iced coffee, got home, turned on the insanely powerful speeches from the Parkland kids, and started my grocery list.

And that's when my bestie District sent me a text, asking if I was still at the March.  I wasn't.  It had ended almost an hour earlier.  But she and my baby bestie H were nearby and thought they would come say hi to me.  Which is so incredibly sweet and fun.  Alas, of the estimated 5000+ attendees, two and a half hours after the March began and almost an hour after it ended, there were only a few hundred folks left meandering about on the sunny Saturday.

If that's not an example of convenience, I don't know what is.  I mean, it takes me nearly as long to navigate the parking lot at Trader Joes on Saturday!

I know a lot of people snub their noses at marching locally.  I've many times heard how it just doesn't matter or how I just don't understand how different a big March experience is or how they just don't feel like it or how it no one in their area will attend or or or.  And of course all of that is perfectly okay.  We are all entitled to our own thoughts on the matter.

But I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that all politics is local.  And participating locally has a huge impact locally.  And since I lead the least global lifestyle and go days on end without even driving anywhere {woot woot for walkable communities!}, I'm quite honestly most interested in how things will impact me day to day, locally.  

It's often so easy to feel alone in the world.  

I live in an area that is rather conservative doesn't readily welcome those who are not.  It is not easy to fit in most of the time.  Or at least, it's not easy for me to fit in up here.  And as a result, I often feel very alone.  

Marches change that.  They are so welcoming and inclusive!  And there's something to be said for going to an event as one little alone human and chanting in unison 5000 strong!  

And still having time to go home and do normal weekend chores like grocery shopping and laundry.

If you have thought about marching but never worked up the courage to participate, I strongly encourage you to just go!  Go to the next event in your area.  Go with friends or family or alone.  All are perfectly okay!  You don't have to sing or chant if that's not your comfort zone.  It's perfectly acceptable to just soak in the experience.  Just go!  Go witness your very own local community participating in making the world better!

It will change you in the best possible ways!  I promise!


1 comment:

MCW said...

I'm pretty lucky that my "local" marching spot is DC! But, if I didn't live close I would surely be marching locally.


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