Over 600 people attended the Women's March in Homer on Saturday. It was one of the many protests nationwide where community members spoke out on a host of progressive issues. The initial march last year was a response to Donald Trump’s inauguration, but this year the focus was on unity and getting out the vote.
Volunteer Angie Newby watched hundreds of women, men, and children carry signs on Pioneer Avenue and directed them toward the Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith & Love Park in downtown Homer.
“I saw a young child carrying a sign that said ‘Don't Forget to Fund Child Care,” Newby said. “I saw a little boy carrying a sign that said ‘My Sister Can Do Anything.’”
Even with the variety of signs, she said there was a theme.
“Love your neighbors,” Newby said. “All of your neighbors. There is no planet B. We're all in Planet A together. It’s a very inclusive message.”
She felt the overall mood was one of comradery.
“There's a great deal of community, a lot of people talking to each other, total strangers and people catching up,” she said.
Sandy Garity, the coordinator of the march, said inclusiveness was one of the most important elements in planning the event.
“I think that's important for us in this community because our intent is not to divide the community but to bring everybody together for a purpose—our theme this year is together we rise,” she said.
But amid calls for unity and positivity, many marchers couldn’t help but express anger at the Trump administration. Marcher Barbara Kennedy held up a sign with the word ‘Togetherness’ on it but she said there was one person who inspired her to march.
“Trump. Trump, Trump and more Trump,” she said. “I can't take it anymore!”
She hoped the march sent the message to impeach Trump quickly, if not just “throw him directly into jail.”
Despite national politics looming over the march, there was an emphasis on grassroots change and getting out the vote. A handful of leaders spoke including Council Member Rachel Lord, who celebrated making local change.
"Last summer, I decided to run for Homer City Council," she said. "I realized that if I wasn't willing to sit at the table others could be. And I believed in local government. I believe in the process. I believe in our democracy."
She too spoke about coming together.
“I believe my role and the role of all of us, all of you, who are frustrated and ready for positive change is to listen and to engage thoughtfully, to be open to gray areas," she said. "Push back against the polarization and the separation of issues into black and white.”
At the end of the march, attendees had an opportunity to register to vote. Some left the march saying they felt more energized and hopeful than a year ago. Others said the state of things made them feel more depressed. But even for those who don’t follow politics, like Lila, Cecily, and Ada the day still seemed to have an impact.
Shouting over one another, they said they felt happiness, love and simply “awesome.”