Women's March returns, message remains the same
"Tiny but mighty" was how facilitator Lori Kuechler described this year's Women's March on Sandy. Around 60 people came from various places, some as far away as Washougal, Wash.
The Women's March on Sandy started in 2017 to oppose the inauguration of President Donald Trump and allegations made about his treatment of women.
"We march to show women in this area that there are other women out here who feel the same way they do," Kuechler noted.
Nearly 200 people took to the streets in Sandy that year for a peaceful protest.
Now three years later, Kuechler said their reason for marching remains.
"The first march was a visceral response to the election of Donald Trump and an opportunity for women to say this is not acceptable," Kuechler told The Post. "The presidential administration is not beneficial to women."
The group Women's March on Sandy, Kuechler noted, "isn't just marching." They meet monthly to discuss topics from making sense of the Second Amendment to who's in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"We're creating a platform to educate women on how to run for office," Kuechler said. "Fifty percent of our population identifies as women and only 24 percent of our government representation is female. We think that's the root of many of our societal issues. Folks my age and older, (I'm 59), really grew up studying male political leaders. For some of us it never entered our imagination that those were roles we could fill. So we're trying to rethink that."
The march was law-abiding and peaceable — participants recognized traffic directions and worked to not block driveways for local businesses.
"We understand our culture and our town," Kuechler explained. "We're not here to inconvenience. We're here to raise awareness. We also encourage participants to patronize local businesses so that we're an asset, not a liability."
Christina Chestnut was among those who traveled to Sandy to march on Saturday. The Gresham resident said marching "feels like a small thing you can do" to make yourself heard.
"We (women) represent a near majority of the population, but we're not represented in Congress," she said. "We're not here because we're angry. We're here because we want to be happy."
She also noted that she marched in opposition of environmental policy changes made by the Trump Administration.
Chestnut was accompanied at the march by her 4-year-old daughter Amelia, who carried a sign that read "Build Kindness Not Walls." Chestnut said it felt important that Amelia experience the march.
"It's her future more than it is mine," Chestnut explained. "I don't want to have to explain to her one day what polar bears were."
Another Gresham family that came out to the march carried signs quoting former President Barack Obama — "I may be a little grayer than I was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like" — and promoting the idea that God is a woman.
Gresham High School student Georgia Telander, 16, carried the latter.
"I think it's really important to be out here," Telander told The Post. "I'm gay, and as a white, gay woman I still have more privilege than others. I think it's important I speak up for those girls who don't have that voice."
Some people came out to Sandy's march because they preferred a smaller assembly.
"Portland was so big and we wanted a smaller march," said Washougal woman Sherilyn Walsh.
Walsh's daughter, Vicki Hines, was also at the march and noted that she appreciated the approach local facilitators took to the protest.
"I think how we represent ourselves will reflect how we're heard," Hines explained.
The Women's March on Sandy group meets the first Sunday of every month. For more information, visit the group page at www.facebook.com/groups/127689557733476.
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