At the bottom of the blog post you’ll find a gallery of photos that I took at the Montpelier Vermont Women’s March on Saturday, January 21st, 2017. (Click on any image to enlarge and scroll through photos. When pictures are enlarged, click on the small “i” at the bottom of the panel to read more information about each photo.)
It was colder than I expected it to be in Vermont’s capitol city. There was more snow on the ground than I expected. I had only worn my walking shoes for comfort, and neglected to wear my warmer boots. I arrived in Montpelier plenty early enough to find a parking space on the far side of town. I had enough time to go to the art supply store to buy posterboard and a marker with which I could fashion my own protest placard. I went to the library with plenty of time to make my sign.
…But a person still couldn’t prepare for the overwhelming number of people and the spirit that erupted for the march-parade and the rally at the State House. There were so many people at the beginning of the parade route—at the high school—that you could hardly tell when the march started because the trickle out the high school drive still left thousands of us milling about looking for direction or introducing ourselves to fellow marchers and gawking at everyone’s creative signage.
Eventually we funneled onto the road and made the short distance to the State House…just across the Winooski River and around the corner less than a block. The whole route was less than half-a-mile. And despite the overcast white skies and cool temperatures, jubilance and enthusiasm reigned along the route…and erupted at the State House.
By several accounts it was the largest protest gathering at Montpelier’s State House on record…and I’m not bullsh*tting conflated numbers like Donald Trump did yesterday. The local news station WCAX estimated around 10,000 at Vermont’s State Capitol. (The State Police have since upped the estimate to 15-20,000.) We shut down Interstate 89 because so many people were trying to get into Montpelier. As the smallest capitol in the nation, Montpelier couldn’t handle all the parking (even though lots of people carpooled). So people parked on highway medians and eventually right on the highway and tried to walk in off the interstate. (Probably not the greatest idea in the world, but obviously this exhibited people’s enthusiasm for participating at the event…)
I got to hear surprise guest Bernie Sanders who showed up to speak, saw Vermont’s 1st woman governor Madelaine Kunin speak wearing a pussyhat. (She looked out on the crowd and declared that viewing all of us from the podium on the State House steps looked like a beautiful spring garden of flowers because of all the bright colors.) There was a group of young Muslim women who did a sort of poetry slam with crowd-enthralling effect. When the state police shut down the highway…they sent out an emergency broadcast system notification—which apparently they can send out to any electronic device via cell tower (who knew?)—and at one particular moment everyone’s phones went off simultaneously at the rally with a text message about the shutdown. Hilarious.
I had knit extra pussyhats and gave them out for free to naked-headed marchers…who were grateful for them because the weather was colder than expected. Some came to me later to say that wearing the hat had helped them feel more of a part of the event.
I didn’t even hear about The P_ssyhat Project until quite late… a little more than a week or so out from the march event date. So in that week I knit furiously. This project was the perfect outlet for a knitter like me…because it could focus the rage and frustrations I have felt about the direction that politics, and subsequently the country, have taken… when otherwise it would be easy to feel helpless. Each stitch is a miniature spell puncturing holes in the lies and the gaslighting and the life-destroying ideologies of the new regime-administration.
I have decided that I won’t stop making pussyhats. I made so many of them in such a short amount of time that I am in a pussyhat groove. (I’ve been having fun coming up with color variations while still integrating the essential color pink.) Just because the Great March happened, doesn’t mean the distaste has waned, doesn’t mean the fight is over, doesn’t mean resistance can fade with exhaustion…
No… vigilance against tyranny and injustice can’t stop and can’t recede into a single footnoted calendar date with photos filed away. It has to be a movement. We have to keep saying that things aren’t okay.
If you doubt the veracity of this, consider the Trump administration’s response to the protest rallies that happened around the world. Trump’s press secretary demanded that the public accept Donald Trump’s assertion that attendance at his inauguration was the largest in history—a complete and provable falsehood. His consultant, Kellyanne Conway, created a new administration trope while defending the press secretary’s remarks: “alternative facts.” The news media—thank goodness for them—continue to be demonized by Trump and his cronies, who are attempting to disintegrate the American people’s sense of reality and judgment. That’s some f*cked-up shit right there…that dictator-style suppression and manipulation right before your eyes…
And I’m grateful for the news outlets that continue to fight back, doing their best to reveal what’s true and what’s not…because frankly it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the truth…it’s gets harder and harder to be an information and investigative warrior with the apathetic falsehoods that are scattered purposefully and with intent by this administration.
Be vigilant. Join the Resistance. I’ll keep makin’ ’em if you’ll KEEP WEARING YOUR PUSSYHATS UNTIL THE REGIME IS DEAD. Keep doing whatever is necessary to resist the erosion of progressive values…values of dignity, equality, and respect. For every pussyhat I sell to the public I’ll set aside a portion of the profits to donate to Planned Parenthood or other organizations that benefit intersectional communities. Peace.