The Berkshires gear up for Women’s March on Washington and local solidarity events

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By Wednesday, Jan 18 We the People  23 Comments
The civil rights march on Washington, 1963. More than 200,000 marchers are expected at the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday, Jan. 21, to stand in solidarity over basic tenets of an array of inclusion and human rights concerns in the wake of what many voters feel was a hate-fueled campaign by President-elect Donald Trump. More than a million “sister marchers” around the world plan to attend hundreds of events.

Pittsfield — The trains are sold out, most of the bus seats are reserved, the women––and men–– are packing their sensible walking shoes, and many a pussy hat is being speed knitted after the girls have wired themselves up at Dottie’s or any Berkshires coffee institution.

Pittsfield's Colonial Theatre will play host to an event in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, Jan. 21. Photo courtesy Berkshire Theatre Group

Saturday’s sister event will be held at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

No, we can no longer shy away from that “p” word, even though it…well, it wasn’t our fault that classy conduct has gone the way of the dinosaurs.

So far it looks like more than 200,000 marchers will descend on Washington, D.C., this Saturday, Jan. 21, the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. The Women’s March on Washington is meant less as a protest than counterweight to what many voters feel was alarming campaign tough talk from Trump about women and other vulnerable citizens.

“The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us,” reads the official statement of the Women’s March. “…women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim and Jewish, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQIA, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming, Native and Indigenous people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.”

Likely more than 9,000 of those marchers will come from Massachusetts, which, according to the Massachusetts Chapter of the WOMAWA, has so far the second most attendees of all the states.

Kristen van Ginhoven, artistic director and cofounder of WAM Theatre, is on the steering committee for the sister event at the Colonial. WAM supports the event.

Kristen van Ginhoven, artistic director and cofounder of WAM Theatre, is on the steering committee for the sister event at the Colonial. WAM supports the event.

“At this point there are very few bus options,” says the state chapter’s website, a clearing house for practical march information, and also “strongly” suggests carpooling if you didn’t get those train or bus tickets.

But there are always bus seat cancelations, so state march organizers say to keep checking the www.letskedaddle.com site, which monitors transportation changes.

Many will choose to stay in solidarity by staying put, however, and for that there are 616 sister marches around the world. As of Wednesday afternoon, 1.4 million sister marchers had said they were attending one of these. All 50 states and Puerto Rico will have at least one of these events Saturday.

In Berkshire County, we have a free indoor sister solidarity event at the Colonial Theatre that day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event was organized by a local steering committee that includes Kristen van Ginhoven of Lenox-based WAM Theatre, which focuses on work by female theater artists and stories for women and girls, and volunteers Jayne Benjulian, Lynn Festa and Mary Lincoln.

“People are welcome to stay the whole time or come and go between 10 a.m.-2 p.m.,” van Ginhoven said. “We will be streaming the DC Rally from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the theatre, along with having some other action oriented activities in the lobby. We are having a curated program from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. inside the theatre that will highlight readings from the Constitution and original writing created especially for this event by local writers. The committee came together to organize this event because we wanted to offer a local alternative for everyone who can’t make it down to DC but wanted to support the March.” (A full schedule and more information can be found here.)

Thousands of women are knitting pussyhats in solidarity and to draw attention to some, well, tasteless revelations about the President-elect. Photo courtesy Pussyhat Project

Thousands of women are knitting pussyhats in solidarity and to draw attention to some … well … tasteless revelations about the President-elect. Photo courtesy Pussyhat Project

Van Ginhoven said an anonymous donor rented the theater for the sister event. “We just wanted a place to gather,” she added. “The impetus was that I was going to be sitting around my house because I knew I couldn’t get to D.C. but wanted to be in solidarity with them. I looked around on Facebook and connected with about five people on the steering committee for this event.”

The event will also have a social media station and Post-it note project. A food table run by That’s a Wrap Café will be on duty for takeout orders so no one has to leave the theater and miss something, and food will be allowed in the theater.

“During the last hour, actors and local writers will perform monologues they’ve written especially for this event and will perform portions of the U. S. Constitution like you’ve never heard it before. Local luminaries appearing include MaConnia Chesser, Joan Coombs, Lori Evans, Corinna May, Brenny Rabine, Jennifer Browdy, Sheela Clary, Barbara Newman, Grace Rossman, Rachel Siegel and Lara Tupper.”

For some, the day will be one for sassing back at Trump after a campaign season of screaming at the television set or commiserating angrily at the long farm table over espresso at Rubi’s in Great Barrington. No, this is not Trump-land; one is hard-pressed to walk these Berkshire hills and find a supporter, if one would dare even reveal themselves.

Outside Town Hall on Friday, January 20, Great Barrington, Gotta Love HoUSatonic will hold a “Not My President” gathering from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

And Thursday, January 19, Barrington Stage is hosting a nationwide theatre project called Ghostlight, to “light a light in these dark times,” and asks participants to bring a light.  It starts at 5:00 p.m., at the BSC Mainstage on 30 Union St in Pittsfield, and lasts one hour. It is sponsored by the Four Freedoms Coalition, whose spokesperson Sherwood Guernsey wrote that the event is to support “our common values of inclusion, participation and compassion no matter who you are or where you are from, regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” 

Great Barrington-based playwright and actress Rachel Siegel said she went to ukulele makers the Magic Fluke and asked someone to teach her how to play her grandfather’s ukulele for her act. It took 20 minutes. She’ll be singing the preamble of the U.S. Constitution to Schoolhouse Rock “with a school marm intro as if I’m speaking to Trump as if he is a child and teaching him the Constitution,” she laughed. “Though a little more serious than that.”

Playwright and actress Rachel Siegel will do a somewhat comical musical number.

Playwright and actress Rachel Siegel will do a somewhat comical musical number.

Indeed, this is all some serious business. Siegel pointed out one example of fears to vulnerable populations stemming from Trump’s policy talk and appointments so far. As the parent of a child with Down syndrome, Siegel said she’s worried.

“The thing that really got me after the election, and the thing I couldn’t stop crying about, was having a president — who is a symbolic leader, a figurehead — who sees my son as having no value.”

Siegel noted that Trump’s Department of Education pick, Betsy DeVos, didn’t know about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) though the federal law hit the books in 1990. “She said it should be left up to the states, which is terrifying,” Siegel said. “There’s already a lot of ignorance about people with disabilities.”

WAM’s van Ginhoven said march organizers had done a great job making this a “positive gathering for anybody who supports equal rights for all” rather than a “protest.”

“The event is about dignity and respect,” she added. “We want to send a message to the world that the U.S. stands for human decency. This is not a political protest about what’s happening Friday.”


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23 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Michael Wise says:

    How about live-streaming Rachel’s dramatization of the Preamble for broadcast in Washington? Susan and I already have our bus tickets [guys can come too] so we’re going to the main march, but the Berkshires events look like more fun!

  2. Amy Warner says:

    Thanks Heather! Clarifying that the GB Town Hall demonstration will be on the 20th at inauguration time, with folks expected to be standing out from 11:00-2:00.

    1. Heather Bellow says:

      Thanks, Amy, I added the info. Thanks for catching that!

  3. GMHeller says:

    Leave it to lefty Berkshire media to give more ink to fringe groups running an agenda-driven sideshow (requests to attend the Washington march by pro-life womens’ organizations are being declined by the organizers) rather than address the importance of what is truly an historic inauguration. See you Friday, west front of the U.S. Capitol at Donald J. Trump’s inauguration.

    1. DB says:

      someone please knit an extra large pussyhat for GM.

    2. Sheldon Hoxie says:

      I’m trying to figure out what makes this one “truly an historic inauguration.” First president with zero government or military experience gets sworn in?

    3. Sharon K says:

      Awwww.guess you don’t remember the repubs who skipped PRESIDENT Obama’s inauguration and the marches against his inauguration..funny hw those righties have amnesia when it comes to our President Obama…and by all means send him an extra large pussyhat with a point at the top DB..lololol

    4. CPS says:

      I will give you the benefit of the doubt, GMHeller, and surmise that you did not hear any of Trump’s campaign rhetoric. Were you ill at the time of Trump’s vile messages misogyny, xenophobia, bigotry, and racism? If so I can see why you think that Trump will be a great president.
      If you did hear his campaign promises to ban people from entering our country due to their religion, punishing women for wanting to be in charge of their own health care decisions, building a wall between Mexico and the US, disturbing immigration policies, disrespecting other ethnicities, other than his own, and you still are thrilled with the election results, I am at a quandary.
      Did you see who is in his cabinet? They are all billionaires, and many from Goldman Sacks, after excoriating Hillary for some loose ties with them. Do you think that they will advocate for you, unless you, too, are a billionaire. Most of Trump’s cabinet choices are ill equip for their positions, and some have troubling ethics issues.
      Are you very young? Have you read our Constitution? Are you still in middle school? I cannot fathom, how anyone, with a conscience, and who cares about their fellow human beings, could have cast a vote for Trump.

  4. GMHeller says:

    Recommended reading:
    NBC News article entitled: ‘Democrats: Left in the Lurch — The curious decline and uncertain future of the Democratic Party’
    SEE:
    http://www.nbcnews.com/specials/democrats-left-in-the-lurch

    1. Sheela Clary says:

      Recommended reading: The United States Constitution. The Emoluments clause feels especially relevant.

      “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

      (In other words, the article they’ll be invoking when our new president gets impeached.)

  5. Patrick Fennell says:

    Find it odd that the all inclusive demonstrators will not allow Women Pro-Life groups to march. Hypocritical to say the least.

    1. Sharon K says:

      Not odd at all….it’s a PRO WOMAN MARCH..not a PRO FETUS MARCH!

      1. Patrick Fennell says:

        Solidarity is unity as a group or class. So apparently with liberals Pro-Life women are a different class, a subspecies maybe? Being together has a different meaning with ‘tolerant’ liberals. Very sad indeed.

      2. Patrick Fennell says:

        Actually it is a Pro Narrow Minded Woman March since you are discriminating against other women

    2. Cathy says:

      Could you site the evidence that ‘demonstrators will not allow’ anything? How would they control such a thing?

      1. Patrick Fennell says:

        Check out the Dallas Morning News and FOX. Oh that’s right they might lean a little to teh right for you lefties.

    3. CPS says:

      Anyone is more than welcome at our march. The march is not just about women’s issues, it includes people of religions other than Christianity, people who are not Caucasian, people who have come here from other nations, and yes, those who are pro life, as pro life, means they are against the death penalty, and want a decent standard of living for all of their fellow human beings.

    4. Sharon Koperek says:

      Hypocritical??? Hardly that! We are fighting fir women’s right to choose..that the old white men in WA a.k.a. as repub congress want to take away from women..Oh, yeah, that so called “pro life” group is pro birth..they go and vote for repubs who are taking away all the social programs that help the mothers and these children..an then want to send them to be fodder for war so they can get rich $$$! You mean you didn’t listen to the BLOTUS a.s.a. Bigget Liar Of The Unites States say he wants to go back to Iraq and “get the oil”??? Oh, that’s right you listen to the entertainment station Fox Spews! My grandson has been a Senior Intel Analyst Special Forces Airborne for 13 years , he wants to do 20 years, and he didn’t join to become war fodder for trumputin..he serves his country to protect us from our enemies and to protet our constitution….the constitution trumputin knows NOTHING about!

  6. Cynthia LaPier says:

    The Women’s March on Washington has had a clearly stated platform since it’s creation. It is a Pro-Choice platform and calls for open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education.
    If you were holding a rally with a strong anti-abortion stance as part of your platform, would you welcome Planned Parenthood or NARAL to join you as a partner? Exactly. Let’s not be silly.
    Here is a link to very well written Women’s March platform: https://www.womensmarch.com/principles/
    Women who are pro-life are welcome at the march – everyone is welcome to march. Pro-life does not mean Pro-Trump. Just google “I’m pro-life, but not voting for Trump” to find testimonies of women whose principle would not allow them to choose Trump. Here’s a particularly good one from a pro-life conservative republican catholic mom:
    https://www.google.com/amp/fusion.net/story/367080/trump-catholic-abortion-special-needs/amp/?client=safari

    1. Susan Pettee, Great Barrington, MA says:

      Thank you, Cynthia. You have stated our position exactly.

  7. Leonard Quart says:

    Predictable criticism and niggling from the usual suspects. Stirring protests from Berkshire residents.

  8. Brece says:

    Citizens will be gathering in Salisbury, CT on the green in front of the White Hart from 11am-12pm.
    https://actionnetwork.org/events/stand-for-the-womens-march

  9. Michael Wise says:

    Huge crowd here in DC today, gratifyingly young and enthusiastic. Best sign so far: The Handmaid’s Tale is not an instruction manual.

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