Southern Oregon women plan to march in solidarity with others in Washington, D.C., and cities around the world in support of human rights, the environment and marginalized people everywhere.
The march will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 — the day after the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump — in Ashland. Participants will meet in front of the Ashland library and march to the Butler Bandshell in Lithia Park, where the event will culminate with a series of speeches and live music by the Peace Choir.
Event organizers emphasize this is not an “anti-Trump march” but a peaceful, "pro march."
“We’re marching for the things we’re for, rather than what we’re against,” said Sharon Dohrmann, one of the event organizers and a local information technology consultant.
Following the election, Dohrmann and Samae Chlebowski, an Ashland mom and former art teacher, considered hosting a vigil in the Ashland Plaza after the inauguration, but when they put the word out, many people suggested that they organize a march instead.
In D.C., more than 200,000 people are expected to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. And similar marches also are being held in 100 other cities in 41 states and 15 other countries.
For many years, Chlebowski said she sheltered herself and her children from the hardships of the world by avoiding all media.
“After the election, I woke up fearful and scared for people who were close to me and people I didn’t know,” she said.
“I realized I couldn’t really ignore what was happening outside, and I needed to do more than sign a petition or send a mercy check to some organization.”
Dohrmann also felt a “heavy heart” after the election and decided to join Chlebowski in organizing the march and “expressing our support for people who feel marginalized or negatively affected by the things said during the Trump campaign.”
“For me, I just couldn’t believe it was happening,” Dohrmann said. “I was watching the election and was thinking, ‘Wow we are rolling backward on all the progress we’ve made in (regard to) women’s rights, environmental protection, gender equality and progress made for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community.”
Dohrmann and Chlebowski invited several women to speak, including Miriam Pippel, the chairwoman of the Ashland chapter of the American Association of University Women; Teresa Cisneros, an Ashland artist and activist; Claudia Alick, producer of community events at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Rabbi Vanessa Boettiger; and Ashland High School student body co-presidents Amelia Zeve and Kate Joss-Bradley.
The two students circulated a letter on Facebook following the election, expressing their support for immigrants, the LGBTQ community, women’s rights and “the things that feel threatened by the coming administration,” Dohrmann said.
“We’re giving a forum to people who want to talk about what’s at stake for the next four or more years and how we can support each other,” she said.
“At the end, we want people to walk away feeling empowered,” she added.
Despite being called the Women’s March Southern Oregon, the event is inclusive and open to everyone, Dohrmann said.
For more information about the event, look for “Women’s March Southern Oregon” on Facebook or see www.womensmarchsouthernoregon.weebly.com.
Dohrmann and Chlebowski also have started a Go Fund Me account to raise $5,000 to cover the costs associated with the event, including permit application fees, liability insurance, overtime pay for the Ashland Police Department and the rental of the Bandshell. To donate, see https://www.gofundme.com/womens-march-southern-oregon.
“I don’t want this just to be an Ashland march,” Chlebowski said. “I want it to reach Klamath Falls and Northern California and the coast and all the little nooks in between.”