Great Barrington —If there’s a better place to witness how connected so many residents of the state’s smallest county are to rational inquiry — indeed to the rest of the world — then you’d be hard pressed to find it.
About 100 activists turned out on a beautiful spring day to participate in the River Walk’s March for Science. Strategically scheduled as Earth Day approaches, the second annual event was part of the larger national march in Washington, with 200 satellite marches in cities around the world, including Boston, Albany and Hartford.
Last year, there were more than 500 satellite marches nationwide and 200 people in Great Barrington. A year ago, there was a march in Pittsfield as well. The numbers may have cooled but the passions clearly have not.
See video below of Great Barrington Land Conservancy President Christine Ward, Heather Cupo and Elia Delmolino introducing the march:
The Great Barrington event was sponsored by the Great Barrington Land Conservancy. President Christine Ward thanked those who made it possible, including founding conservancy president Rachel Fletcher. The accent this year was on women in science.
In an effort to determine who exactly was participating in the march, Ward asked for a show of hands as to whether there were any students, scientists or families with young children. Each time a scattering of hands went up. But when she asked if there were any environmentalists present, all hands shot up and cheers erupted.
Not only were the rank-and-file environmentally conscious and passionate about it but there were representatives from several regional groups strongly allied with the cause and, of course, with science: Mass Audubon; the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT); the Flying Cloud Institute; Greenagers and the Housatonic Valley Association. Those spokespersons urged participants to get involved and offered volunteer opportunities.
“Do we recognize that our present efforts will shape our future — and quite possibly the future of our planet?” Ward asked.
In its mission statement, the movement emphasizes that it is nonpartisan, “with the understanding that science does not belong to any political party, and that scientific evidence is an essential part of good policy making at every level of government.”
But it’s clear that the Trump administration’s actions, including the weakening of the Environmental Protection Agency, are the animating force behind some of the demonstrators, whose signs proclaim opposition to “alternative facts.” And there were thinly veiled attempts to ridicule Trump for his past statements that climate change is an “expensive hoax … created by and for the Chinese.”
“If you are here today, you know that global warming is not a hoax; it’s a fact,” said Ann Le, a 17-year-old junior at Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield.
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See video below of organizers invited to speak at the Great Barrington March for Science:
Le, who was born in Vietnam, was one of several speakers who emphasized the need for rational discourse and a fact-based approach to public policy and environmental law. There were several other students and three faculty members from Miss Hall’s participating in the march as well.
“Science is bringing positive changes and solutions to maintain the only planet that we together as brothers and sister call home,” Le added.
Ward also cautioned those in attendance that, “It’s not enough to march, as Anna has suggested. It’s a dedication to the good that science can do for our communities.”
Lindsey Berkowitz, who leads the Young Women In Science Programs Director at Flying Cloud, a science education organization for young people in Great Barrington, urged attendees to visit her organization. Alison Dixon of the Housatonic Valley Association sought volunteers to help clean up the river.
Becky Cushing, who directs Mass Audubon’s Berkshire programs, noted that the Audubon Society was founded by women in the late 19th century before they had the right to vote.
“They wanted to put an end to the slaughter of birds for the fashion industry,” Cushing said. “They went up against a lot of power. They went up against the odds. They went up against a lot of money. And I think there are a lot of parallels to what we’re trying to do right now. We need to make our voices heard.”
Cushing urged the marchers to “keep the conversation going and to stay engaged.” She added that Mass Audubon has an office on Beacon Hill and so has the ear of state lawmakers.
BEAT’s Elizabeth Orenstein said her organization performs invasive species removals and listed events and volunteer opportunities BEAT offers. Elia Delmolino, who works for the both BEAT and Greenagers, urged marchers to volunteer for the River Walk’s annual Earth Day clean-up to be held Saturday, April 21. Click here for more information.