The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
The first I read about Seattle’s march was “Get a babysitter and come march with us!” so I figured I’d just follow along virtually, but a few days ago I realized it’d become incredibly more inclusive and open to all. Hooray!
Even given the short time to prepare, I did a lot of hemming and hawing over how to get us to the start. I LOVE that the march started in the central district, but the sheer distance from our home means we don’t get down there often, and the one-way march made things tricky as well. It was nice to see the location addressed in the FAQ, though having a ton of friends who live in that area I think calling Judkins park “out of the way” is unfair.
Q: Why is the march starting at Judkins Park? It’s a bit out of the way.
A: The location of Judkins Park was the result of several factors: 1) budget, 2) the need for a space that can accommodate 50,000-75,000 people, 3) availability on the day of, 4) approval of the city of Seattle. While there are several locations that meet one or two of these criteria, Judkins Park is the only location that was approved by the city for the march.
I’ve walked with a bike in marches before and I don’t like doing so, so I wasn’t too put off when I read that bikes weren’t allowed (several people walked bikes anyway and did fine, but I still would have found it difficult). I figured our best bet was to bike to the end point of the parade, the Seattle Center (a.k.a. the Space Needle), leave our bikes there, and catch the bus to Judkins Park. I checked on the bus options to Judkins all the way from home and we would have had to transfer and not being a regular bus rider, I dislike dealing with transfers–one bus is plenty for me!
I figured the buses would be packed and if it proved too difficult, we could always wait at the Seattle Center for the march to come to us, but I really wanted the kids to be part of the rally at the start. We left home at 8:15 a.m. and biked 5 miles to the Seattle Center to get in line for Metro bus 4 (“A new bus!” The kids were so excited for a new bus route).
The 9:10 bus was packed and didn’t even slow at our stop. Moments before the 9:40 arrived (late), one kid needed the potty now so we went inside the Armory building of the Seattle Center to take care of business and missed out on that bus. I was convinced the bus would have had room for us, but in retrospect it was probably full, too. The 10:10 (also late) was also too full to stop. We kept waiting because I knew 50,000 attendees were expected so even if we missed the 10:30 program and 11:00 beginning of the march, people would still be at the park waiting their turn to hit the route. Lots of people left the bus stop, some to run across the street and hop the bus in the other directly to loop around, some to catch $70 Ubers, and some for the monorail to Westlake Center (we saw an incredibly long monorail line when we headed back from the potty) so we were at the front of the line for the 10:40 (again, late). This bus stopped! But only to say she was full and that they’d be rerouting from now on so no more buses would show. No!!!! But fortunately I had my backup plan of just hanging at the Seattle Center, though I had figured that’d be more about having gotten out of the house late or an overwhelmed kid.
We heard many people in our long bus line mention they’d never taken the bus before. Of course, most of these people never made it on the bus; I hope they were able to bus home at the end of the day. Given the purpose of the day, no one I saw was angry about the lack of buses and seemed happy to get creative. Many new friends were made squeezing into shared taxis and Ubers. I’ve been on light rail when it’s packed with sports crowds and love hearing people talk about this awesome first trip and plan to use it more for other reasons. I wonder if the overcrowded buses were able to leave anyone with the that feeling today–I sure hope so because transit is the future (after bikes :)).
I remembered reading about three designated access points and looked them up on the spot and saw the closest to us was at Westlake Park. This must have been where the monorail riders were headed. I know the monorail runs a mile so I figured we could manage walking there considering I’d originally expected the kids to march 3.6 miles. Of course walking just the three of us isn’t quite the same as being swept along in an exciting crowd so we had to stop for a couple “MY LEG IS GOING TO FALL OFFFFFFF!!!!” rest breaks. But we never walk anywhere so it was pretty great! We saw that new street park at 5th and Vine I noticed from our last monorail ride. There’s a small parklet across the street the kids happily ran around in.
And we found a great alley!
We also stopped to read the plaque on the historic bell in front of fire station 2 and mess with the giant Popsicle™.
There were a ton of people at Westlake Park. I would have liked to immerse ourselves in the crowd and read all the signs, but the playground called so we hung out there for an hour or so until the march arrived.
We hopped in near the beginning of the march and it was amazing. Ours was a silent march, but waves of sound traveled from the back of the crowd to the front periodically.
We peeled off as soon as we hit the Seattle Center to make for the food court, but I suspect the march went one block farther and ended at the International Fountain. I was sad to skip the grand finale and miss out on exposing the kids to one more element of the day, but I hope the small part of the march itself had a big impact on them. Feeding hungry, tired kids is important, too, as was visiting the playground for a bit before heading home.
In retrospect we could have hopped the 9am #4 bus in the opposite direction and looped around, but of course I didn’t think of that at the time. And there’s a good chance Judkins Park would have proved overwhelming for the kids and the whole 3.6-mile march would have been too long. So the lite version we ended up with was probably perfect. There will be more peaceful protests and as their legs get longer and their hearts even bigger, we’ll participate more fully.
For more from today, see timelapse video from KING 5 Seattle News and The New Yorks Times: Pictures From Women’s Marches Around the World. The last count I heard for Seattle was 175,000 participants!