Photo: Lisa Nardi

(and Back, and broken down on the road but not broken)

In D.C., Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Ann Arbor, Pittsfield, and Portland

On Saturday, I parked in front of the TV watching the D.C. Women's March on C-Span. As a high school drummer with a blue State of Ohio medal in drumming in 1966, I was thrilled to see the event kicked off by a Native American woman drummer, thrilled by many of the speakers which many of those present couldn't see or hear. But most excited to be hearing from my friends.

Because I also had my laptop open, watching Twitter and Facebook for their posts and watching the stream from the Sister City marches. I responded and listened, downloaded and saved. The panoramas of the many hundreds of thousands of marchers was inspiring, so many that the mainstream media finally had to step up and cover it. You could see that. If you're here, what you will see is a report on what my friends found important, including some of their images. Next week, I am going to ask them what they think it means in reflection and in the future. For now, let the good times roll:

(Notes: 1) To see the backstory of many of the people featured here, see my first post here. 2) A "WomPo" is someone I know from the Women Poets List Serve)

from The D.C. March
Patricia, Carole, Kathleen, Laura, Julia, and Lisa

...snapped lots of shots of buses and these three photos that I love: two Native American women-- I think the two who spoke at the end-- and for her friends in Hawaii, the Wahine sign, then one of her, at the end, looking, as I told her "exhausted and exhilarated." She replied, "I was." And she still had the long ride back to Newburyport, MA, then a drive home from there.

Carole Elchert and Kathleen Welsch
Beginning in the mid-1980s, I worked with these two at a university in Ohio until Kathleen left in 1988 to complete her PhD. Here was their message at the end of the day: "What a great way to end such a great day -- running into to Carol at the metro as we prepared to board buses and head home. Haven't seen this gal since 1988, but it felt like just yesterday. PERFECT even though I lost my phone and can't post other photos of Washington March at this time. Yes, the phone was found -- by a woman from Boston who will return it by mail. All's well that ends well!"

...is one of my two friends (see Peggy in Boston) who got stuck in transit. Here's her story, in four Facebook posts, one after the other:

5:20 a.m. - Our busload of 55 DC-bound marchers from Oberlin [OH]  now at the side of the road waiting for a mechanic.

8:53 a.m. Aaand our rally bus is still broken on the side of the road. It's been nearly four hours now. Most of our passengers were picked up by buses with open seats. 12 of us left. My jokes about similarities to disaster movies are likely only amusing to me.

(Meanwhile, confusing her with our mutual friend, Laurie, I kept reporting that she had broken down on the way to Cleveland, and she kept correcting me, "No, I am going to D.C." Then, finally:)

10:59 a.m. – The Bus is moving at last!

8:00 p.m. - - Arrived about 2:00 p.m. This has been amazing. The whole city has been alive and connected. Residents even stood outside their homes smiling, waving, saying "thank you." The bus left late after our driver helped three young woman find the right bus to get them home despite a dark parking lot with hundreds of these vehicles. It wouldn't have mattered. The roads are slow-moving rivers of buses, a heartening sign of our solidarity.

Julia Lisella
I never realized that Wompo Julia was going to D.C. till I spotted her pics with her crew from Medford on Saturday morning, and great pics they are.

Lisa Nardi
...is a writer, erstwhile teacher, and college administrator, who is her total lack of spare time has become one of the best photographers I know. She posted 40 excellent photos from the March, all professional quality. If you know anyone who needs that kind, let me put you in touch with her. Here are just a few of hers.


To see my friends who marched in Boston and Cleveland, go here.
To see those who marched in Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Pittsfield, and Portland, go here.

Women's March II: Boston and Cleveland

MY FRIENDS REPORT from the FRONT (and Back, and broken down on the road but not broken) 

In Boston and Cleveland


Peggy Nelson

...like Laura (see D.C.) had travel adventures. She drove from Connecticut, which for the geographically impaired, is south of Boston to Beverly, which is north of Boston, to meet up with a high school friend and take the train south again to Boston from there. Except the train station was jammed with women, who all felt they were going nowhere and posited that the city was saving extra cars for the Pats game on Sunday. For those of you who like visuals, you can see Peggy's route here. As you can see, so close and yet so far away if you have to hoof it. And yet, finally, finally, Peggy got one of her most exciting moments of the day, a seat on the train to Boston:

And photos of signs and the high school friend mentioned in last week's blog that she would be marching with.


From Boston Magazine


Laura Cherry   

I was very tickled by an image out of Boston earlier this week of some of my    favorite characters who live across from the Commons getting ready for the March, so then just as pleased to see Wompo Laura Cherry there with her daughter also in the pink hats that have been a sign of the resistance:

 Meanwhile, in Cleveland

...Larry Smith

editor of Bottom Dog, poet and writer, marched with his wife Ann and posed with one of Ohio's terrific Congresswoman from the 9th District, Marci Kaptur

....Laurie Kincer,

a  poet and my very favorite librarian, took the #55 bus to Public Square, from whence she reported that as an introvert on her very first march, she appreciated this sign most of all

Tweeted by Susan Kauffman

For photos and stories from Atlanta, Ann Arbor, Pittsfield, Portland, and Philadelphia, go here.  

WOMEN'S MARCH II: Atlanta, Ann Arbor, Pittsfield and Portland


in Four Sister Cities: Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Pittsfield, and Portland


Indigo Fleming-Powers
sent this headline and lead from the local paper:

Thousands march through the streets of Ann Arbor for the Women's March

"Thousands gather at the Diag at the University of Michigan during the Women's March on Saturday, January 21, 2017. The march was one of several throughout the country and drew over 11,000 people." (Complete story here)

Of her photos, Indigo says: "A great march with peaceful, positive, and unified energy! Everyone was very friendly and helpful."

Courtney Peralta ONeal

...was cautioned in the morning not to go: a friend called to say there would be violence, and winds of 60-70 miles per hour were reported, maybe tornados. She went anyhow, couldn't get close enough soon enough to hear John Lewis, whose campaign she had worked on as a child. But the crowds were very encouraging, and when she got home, she found her six-year-old daughter, Maddie, named for Madeline Albright, had made her a sandwich for dinner with a note. It made her day.


Rosemary Starace 

...a Wompo friend, describes the events there: " I waited on line for half an hour to get into Pittsfield's Women's March at the Colonial today. It was packed to capacity--but the overflow gave us a chance to take it to the streets while we waited. Outside and in, the atmosphere was equally kind and fierce; "we the people" are on the move! I enjoyed watching the Washington feed in a packed theater with a crowd of people who came to be counted. No mob frenzy, just deep shared experience. Pittsfield's Mayor Linda M. Tyer was full of flair and enthusiasm introducing Jayne Benjulian's wonderful program on the Constitution. Actors and writers presented their passionate FREE SPEECH and moved me to goose bumps and tears.

"Last but not least, I loved seeing the mayor of my town really GET IT, and I loved her super-cool jeans outfit, too :) And I love that my humble city has been host to a number of important justice-oriented rallies and programs recently."


Aaron Long
... a Portland teacher sent this message before the march:  "I marched to add myself to the massive crowd of people who want the world to know they are in favor of constructive decisions and love over division and hate. I didn’t march to change Donald Trump. I marched to help change the mind of sane and civil people who may think that voting for or supporting Trump is a good idea. I also marched to show support for all of the people who could be under attack from this administration. And I want to add. I have a job. I vote. I pay taxes. And I am a verdant champion of good sportsmanship." Fifty friends met at his house before hand for coffee and then set out with him, his wife, and three children for the streets of Portland. 
Afterward, he said: "The estimate was that 30-35 thousand would be in the Portland march. It rained like hell, and over 100,000 showed. There were no broken windows. There was no violence. Nobody even crossed against the traffic lights. It was kind and cordial and inspiring. I spent much of the time too verklempt to chant."
Of this photo, he says, "That’s my family marching in a pouring rain with an estimated 100,000 Portland residents." 

WOMEN'S MARCH, Part I Jan. 21, 2017


in D.C., Boston, NYC, Atlanta, Cleveland, Ann Arbor, Pittsfield, and Portland

So far, the major coverage of the upcoming Women's March has been underwhelming. The NYT carried an article in the business section on what bus companies are making great business out of it. The fashion section had an article on two designers who are making clothes for the event. Oh yeah, and there have been several articles on the dissent surrounding the event. Even as I was typing this, my husband came from listening to On the World out of the BBC. "Get this, " he said. "They announce, 'We're going to report on who's not going,'" and then they interviewed one woman who didn't feel safe going. Really? Really? This is the story about an upcoming day when over 200,000 people are going to march on Washington in support of women's issues? 

And yet in small town newspapers, march participants are being featured, their causes and reasons more meaningful to me than whatever  numbers that turn out this weekend. Wanting to put faces and reasons to this march, I asked among my Facebook friends, "Who is going? And can you tell us about your march?" 

I am featuring seven of them here today in the lead-up to Saturday, in order to lend individual faces, hopes, and purposes to the event. On Saturday, I will be sharing their news during the march. And next week, I hope to ask them all to share what they make of it all in the aftermath. 

Before I get around to those seven, I'd like to mention a few others. My FSLF (former student lifelong friend) Lisa, who lives in Maryland, will be in D.C., taking the very excellent photos she's been wowing me with the past two years. One of my writer friends from Yaddo days, David, will be on the street in NYC, where he lives, and my poet friend Rosemary will be at a gathering in Pittsfield, MA. My former North Shore of Boston neighbor Margot is heading to Boston, with her tween daughter. Ohio poet Larry and his wife Ann will be in Cleveland, and Aaron (also FSLF), now a teacher in Oregon, is hosting a meetup at his house before heading to the Portland march with his  wife and three (very) young children. I'll hope to have news from some  of them here on Saturday as well. 

Meanwhile here are the seven I interviewed on how they are going and why, what they hope to achieve.

Marching in to D.C.:

Carole, Patricia, Ellen, Kathleen



PATRICIA, who lives in a coastal town north of Boston, is a 70-year old professor, retired but still teaching the occasional course.  She's going with a busload of women from Newburyport, none of whom she knows.

I caught Patricia by phone as she was preparing to leave and asked her how she decided to go. She said, "After the election, I was so distraught, I emailed one of my groups looking for anything to do [in response]." She felt then and continutes to feel that it was necessary to have solidarity and concern about women's rights clearly expressed, to have those rights out in the public, to be vocal about them. She found a group leaving for D.C. from Newburyport, MA. 

And why is she going? "I just felt I had to, even though it's going to be grueling. I originally imagined we'd all get housing, stay over night, but we're going there and back." Her goal is to make the march public to those who are not there and so, to make people see. She is taking extra chargers, teaching herself how to use Facebook live and hoping to broadcast live as well as take photos. "I want to make this all VISIBLE," she said, reiterating her goal. Another big plus for her is "I know I am going to meet people."

ELENA ELIZABETH HENDRICK is an American coming from Managua, Nicaragua, where she has lived and worked for many decades as what we in the U.S. might call a community organizer.

To say that Elena works as a community organizer with  Kairos,  which is "dedicated to contributing to the building of a world of justice and love" does not begin to describe the work she has done for decades between churches and college groups in the U.S. and Nicaraguans in villages and neighborhoods. Check out their website to get some idea of the scope of her love and involvement. She has a joyful but crushing workload, so deciding to take on the task of travel, marching, then returning to work was a big decision, and she wavered for a bit. At the last minute before she left Managua, she emailed me, " I am flying into New York City, I'll see my mom quick, and take a bus or car pool to D.C. I am going on behalf of Kairos, our team, and behalf of the women of Nicaragua. Why am I going? I am going because...I can't not go."

CAROLE ELCHERTof Findlay, Ohio, is a professor, photographer, and speaker, whom my husband and I call "our friend who is friends with the Dalai Lama" (and she is), an activist on Tibet, and most recently, with the artists of Cuba. She describes herself as "one of 15 children raised on a 65-acre Northwest Ohio farm of mostly pigs, sheep, and hungry children."

She told her hometown newspaper, "I've taught Gender Studies & Global Perspectives on Women and Culture at the University of Findlay, which is the main reason I am going and walking because, as I encouraged the young women in my classes, we must all get involved and walk our values.  To practice what I preach, I will walk for them, to improve and advance the lives of their generation.  I am walking, frankly and with delight, for those who cannot," as you can see on my sign.

Asked if she is wearing or carrying anything of import to her, she said, "I am wearing Phil’s [her husband's] sky blue sweater to remind me of the hope I feel when I look into that blueness that shields life on Earth from a dark universe.  Of course, it’s Phil’s sweater, and his affection too will accompany me." Like Patricia, she is traveling as an outsider with a group she doesn't know all that well,  the Bluffton Mennonites. "I’m not one of the flock, she says.  "However, I am supporting them, so local women realize the power in organizing, gathering/working together, and carrying each others’ needs to Washington and then forward to change policies, norms, laws, belief systems around the globe."

She ended, "I am viewing this Women’s March as a protest against corporate wealth, the power brokers who are buying our country and its policies.  Their privileged voices in Washington are compromising the whole system of protections to insure that this country remains of the people, by the people, for the people.  Wish us luck and fair weather!"

KATHLEEN A.WELSCH lives in Pennsylvania where she teaches at a state university. Among the courses she teaches is one in Women and Gender studies, in which, she says, she can flex her teaching skills in a positive way.

Kathleen writes, "I could go to the sister march in Pittsburgh – a 90 minute drive south, but I want to be in the capital. I want to be part of that roaring crowd of women! And I don’t want to go solo. The bus is sponsored by my university, and a number of my Women & Gender Studies students will be attending their first march. I want to witness their excitement and passion."  
She has other reasons, too: "I live in rural western Pennsylvania where Trump/Pence signs still litter lawns and roadsides. Where people posted signs reading, "Lock her up!" Most times I feel like I live behind enemy lines where there's little I can do to make a difference. Going to this march is an act of empowerment.  

She sent this photo, which she says, "is one of me at an ERA rally in 1982 holding the purple, gold, and white Richmond, Virginia NOW banner. I was 24.
"I’m now 60 and can’t believe we are still fighting the same battles. This event is too big, too important, too historic, too empowering to miss! My sign is completed. My “pussy” hat arrived today. I am ready!"


Marching in Boston: Peggy


PEGGY NELSON lives outside of New Haven, Connecticut.  (via Canton, Ohio and Syracuse, New York). She currently co-hosts a weekly radio show about the Arts, “State of the Arts” (WPKN.org – check it out) and she's also a local actress. She's been a high school teacher, saleswoman, director of plays, and best of all mother and now grandmother. And she's always been passionate about the arts, women’s rights, civil rights, LBGT rights and the elderly.

She will be marching with her best friend from high school, "in itself is worth celebrating:  a friendship lasting over 50 years," she says. "We were part of the first generation of women to dream of a career beyond housewife and mother.  We were idealistic young people who believed in universal peace and love; we remember the assassination of JFK, RFK and MLK; we protested the Vietnam War; we believed in civil rights; we wore bell bottoms and were known as hippies; we almost went to Woodstock; we fought for women’s rights; we were clients of Planned Parenthood." Of her hopes for the trip, she says:

"I see this as a march in solidarity with The Women’s March on Washington. I have a strong allegiance to women, people of color, immigrants, and the LBGT community and I want their rights protected.  Mostly, I’m hoping to send a strong message to our leaders and the American people."

Marching in Atlanta: Courtney

COURTNEY O. (FSLF) is a 40-year-old mother of two, a native of Michigan now living in the suburbs of Atlanta. She is the internal communications specialist for a global software company. 

She began by saying, "I will be wearing my mother's scarf," a pronouncement that comes clearer when she says why she is marching: 

"I’m marching this week for my mother who died in 2013 at just 66 years old. My single mother..a victim of domestic violence in her first marriage as a young mom..a Hillary supporter. I worked alongside my mom as a kid volunteering for John Lewis during one of his many runs for re-election. I march for my multi-racial daughter and son.  I march because I am a Girl Scout leader and we teach our girls to be honest and fair, considerate and caring, courageous and strong.  It sickens me how people have been treated for speaking up and standing up to the hate over the last few months. I want us to be an example of the good in this world…love, equality, diversity, inclusiveness…. That is what I want EVERYONE to embrace, and to embrace EVERYONE. I march for my grandfather who came here in 1922 at the age of 22 years old from Sicily and whose name is on the registry at Ellis Island. I march for my husband whose safety I fear for as a black man. I march for my son who becomes a teenager this year that he is judged for his character and how he treats others and not for the texture of his hair.

"I march for my interracial marriage that would not have been possible if it wasn’t for people like MLK.  I march for my liberal-minded, caring and gentle Muslim friend who often attends mass with his Catholic grandfather.  I march as a victim of sexual assault and I march for the reproductive rights for all women.  I’m going to the march with Cobb Progressives—formally known as Cobb County for Hillary. These are people I worked with, making hundreds of calls to get the vote for Hillary.  I plan to meet my friend of 30 years downtown on Saturday and hope to take my sister with me on this historic march."

Marching in Ann Arbor: Indigo

INDIGO FLEMING POWERS (FSLF) lives in Toledo, Ohio. 

When I asked for a significant fact about her march, Indigo responded, "I'll be riding my scooter for the march because I have mobility issues that limit walking (I'm so happy to have a portable scooter so that I can take part!) and I also think that it is important for all potentially and frequently marginalized groups to be represented (and my scooter is a very visual reminder of people with disabilities). My aunt is also knitting me and my mom pussy hats, and my friend and I are shopping for sign supplies tomorrow."  

And about her reasons for going, she says, "I feel that the march will be a very visible message for both politicians and the rest of the country that women and all the other probable targets of discrimination perpetrated by and during this administration will not just silently endure and suffer (or shut up and look hot, in the case of women). I also think it is a clear message to those targeted populations that they are not alone and the hate-filled voice of America is not the true or only voice of America. Lastly, I think it is an important reminder that women (and the members of every other group that was disrespected or targeted for violence) are actual real people and tolerance and equality are principles the citizens of America have been fighting long and hard to make a reality—a reminder we need because this election season saw feminism and civil rights take a horribly hard hit."

She ended on the positive, which is definitely in keeping with her character: "I also love the idea of a march because it is a clear statement without potential for escalating the violence and hatred we are resisting."  

Be watching here for reports from these folks and other friends on Saturday.