Aspen Untucked: Taking It to the Streets
February 16, 2017
Our feet were soaked. It wasn't the normal kind of foot soak one gets in February in the Roaring Fork Valley. This felt more like Seattle in mid-March. Despite the precipitation, there were around 65 ladies — as well as several gents — marching on Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs on Saturday afternoon. This was one of nearly 150 pro-choice protests spreading across the country, which were organized to counter more than 200 anti-abortion demonstrations.
We started in Sayre Park and traipsed toward downtown. Many participants had signs in hand. A few bold leaders started chants among the group like "Show me what democracy looks like." Participants would answer, "This is what democracy looks like." As we marched, drivers passing us honked in support, giving the thumbs up or rolling down their windows and cheering.
"I was really excited," said Gretchen Brogdon, one of the organizers of the rally through the Facebook group Indivisible Roaring Fork. "I was worried we wouldn't have many, but to see 65 show up in the rain and actually be able to march the whole way was great."
Marches and protests of all kinds have been in existence for hundreds of years. More recently, we have seen thousands come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. We have also seen large numbers protesting against the North Dakota pipeline. Possibly the most notable rally so far in 2017 was Jan. 21 when millions across the country and beyond came out in towns and cities to participate in a women's march. In Aspen, there were around 1,000 people who took to the streets and the slopes on that day to stand up for issues close to them.
No matter one's political beliefs, these marches and protests are hard to ignore. They are visible on the streets in many major cities. They fill the newscasts on television and the radio on a weekly basis. There is a hefty portion of the country that is not happy with the current political terrain, and they are trying to show that through positive and peaceful protests.
I did not attend a women's march on Jan. 21. I was visiting some friends and family in a city I don't know particularly well and wasn't sure where to begin if I did want to check it out. I was disappointed with myself by the end of the day for not making more of an effort to find the march. Not because I felt that it was my duty to take a stand. As a journalist, I felt it was negligent of me to not experience something that was affecting so many. When I heard about the march for Planned Parenthood in Glenwood Springs, I felt it was necessary for me to attend and see, firsthand, how so many people were channeling their frustrations into peaceful demonstrations.
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"We are driven to take action," Brogdon said. "Sometimes we just need to get together. This was a kind of huddle."
The camaraderie in the air was palpable on Saturday. I understood quickly how these types of rallies have become so popular. The positive energy and impassioned sentiments are almost addicting to be in the presence of.
Another one of the ladies who got the word out about the march, Janet Ferrara, was front and center in the effort on Saturday, holding a sign that said "I am woman, hear me roar." She likened rallies like this to civil rights protests. That history motivated her to get out there.
"I remembered how people have been so strong in the past for causes," she said. "They have done sit-ins, they haven't eaten. Here we are with a little rain and we are all out here getting wet even though we may have had second thoughts about coming out."
Aspen resident Cyndi Tikunoff made a point to get past the roundabout to attend the march, as well. She marched in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her mother and sister on Jan. 21. After that, she said she was hooked.
"The march in Santa Fe was so peaceful and positive. It really gave me hope for the future," Tikunoff said. "I want to continue marching for issues I believe in. It makes me feel like I'm making a difference."
Saturday's march went for about an hour, returning to Sayre Park for one final chant. Many marchers' signs were unreadable at the end because the rain had made the ink run. However, that did not seem to dampen anyone's spirits. It was obvious that everyone felt empowered. They liked that they were able to do something to express their fears and frustrations. And that, ultimately, each and every one of their voices has the ability to make a difference.
To maintain journalistic integrity, Barbara Platts observed and reported on the march on Saturday; she did not participate. Reach her at email@example.com.