Walk a While with Me Friend – The Women’s March Continues for a 3rd Year in Eastern WA

Please enjoy my article and photos for the March/April 2019 Edition of the Loon Lake Times

Walk a While with Me Friend
The Women’s March Continues for a Third Year in Eastern Washington
By ElizaBeth Coira

How do you choose to honor our democracy?
How do you choose to advance “we the people”?
How do you choose to strengthen and grow our beautiful nation whole?

In the shivery, wintery days of late January this year, Americans across the nation showed up and spoke out. For the third year in a row the Women’s Marches convened in response to a rising sense of tyranny, taking ever deeper root in our national governance, while threatening to divide and separate us here at home. In eastern Washington we the people gathered January 19th in both Spokane and Chewelah to indeed honor our democracy, and express our concerns over issues that include women’s rights, human rights, immigration policy, accessible healthcare, economic and social justice, environmental protection, governmental corruption and fraud, and so much more. Thank you to those that marched for so many reasons yet united, in our desire to evolve our society and find a better way, for the greater good…for us all.

While around 3,000 people rallied in Spokane this year, here in rural eastern Washington just under 100 gathered in Chewelah.  That’s not bad for a small town, grass-roots movement that also welcomed concerned citizens from neighboring communities including Addy, Colville, Kettle Falls, Loon Lake, Newport, Omak, Summit Valley, and Valley.

There are a number of misconceptions across our country, filled with stereotypes about “rural America;” but we here in rural America are rising beyond the identities of traditional party affiliations, and actively questioning whether the policies being pawned off on us at present actually enhance our day-to-day lives. We Americans, of all backgrounds, are indeed waking up to realize our democracy is under threat, and desperately needs us to re-engage.

Is America the nation of white supremacy, or did we fight and die to eradicate such a plight in Europe once upon a time? Did the Statue of Liberty slam the door in the face of our ancestors, and lock up their kids? Does our constitution legally guarantee the recognition of your human rights based conditionally on your race, gender, or socio-economic status? Do Americans really love and value stakeholder profits above clean water and the very air we breathe? Do we as Americans prefer to look the other way, as a sick neighbor or friend withers away, unable to access healthcare or afford medications? Should we as Americans be concerned about foreign government meddling, corporate lobbying, and the money being funneled to unpatriotic elected US government officials?

As women, men, and children gathered together this year to march a beautiful hope, dream, and vision for our nation began to rise anew. A vision of unity and equality, a dream of love, and a desire to reconnect and take care of each other. Isn’t that after all what our social contract is really about—we are stronger together than alone? When we live interconnected and reunited; resistance, struggle, ego, greed, fear, and hate all seem to melt away. Is America suffering in the midst of separation anxiety, one from another, humans and earth? Why not answer that simple call to care, love thy neighbor, recall the Golden Rule. These aren’t difficult or costly ideas; yet could they be expiring from the way we choose to behave as individuals, and how we choose to govern ourselves as a whole?

As we walked the march route through Chewelah, I heard from a number of people of their desires to find a better way for our nation together. Judy Bean from Chewelah shared why she was marching: “I care about people all over our world and in our own local community. And I believe it is absolutely critical that we commit to caring for one another.” Another marcher, Orla Colvin, said she first started marching for women’s equality in 1968 due to discriminating policies she was experiencing in her workplace as a young woman. “We cannot go back” she said. Jeffrey Lisa Charvet from Addy is concerned, “I want everyone’s voice to be heard. The hate and divisiveness in our country right now is horrific. I’m looking for some kind of way that we can stand together for the values that I believe we all have as Americans. We have a lot more in common than we do apart. We have to find a way to get the money out of politics. Until money is out of politics, money will rule, rich people will rule, and 98% of the rest of the country will be ignored. I think we can agree that everyone deserves equity in housing, jobs, wages, you name it. And we all know people that go through emergency situations. We need safeguards in place to take care of everyone.”

Chewelah neighbor Susanne Griepp has been instrumental in organizing Chewelah’s independent, grass-roots Women’s March all three years, offering our regional communities the opportunity to come together to express our concerns. She shared, “So many gaping needs motivated me to get involved…I couldn’t stay silent any longer. And so many people are showing up! It’s exciting to see how strongly people feel and care enough to be here! We have to keep putting pressure, raising awareness, and voting on the issues and policies that impact us as everyday people.” Griepp was also very appreciative to the Chewelah United Church of Christ (UCC) for offering a safe, warm gathering space for participants. Holly Peterson, a member at the UCC mentioned, “I would like folks to continue to have a dialogue around the issues that face us as Americans. We believe that everyone has the right to healthcare and a fair wage, without bringing politics into it. I took part in the march today because it’s important for folks in Chewelah and Stevens County to get together and form a bond. The Chewelah UCC is pleased to open the building for people to come in to enjoy fellowship and refreshments, and speak together to share our concerns.”

So where do we go from here America? Politically, time will tell. In the meantime let’s take shelter in reconnecting, caring for each other, and reuniting. The best aspects of human existence– love, kindness, compassion, and friendship—will not only heal us one at a time, but through our communion heal us whole.

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