In the year between women's marches, here's what people have been doing to change things

Albany Womens March 2018 taking action composite

It was almost exactly one year to the day between the big rally in Albany's West Capitol Park to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017 and this past weekend's Women's March, which again drew thousands of people. (It was one of many such events around the country.)

Protests can be important ways to focus attention. But change doesn't happen from protests alone. And because so many people are so keyed into what's going on politically in the country right now, we were curious about what they've been doing to change things on those other 364 days.

So we asked. Here are a bunch of the answers...

Jessica - Troy

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I'm working with the people who organized the March for Science that was here and we're going to have a second March for Science on April 14. And that group actually did a spin-off group of people called CapSci, which we founded last December and partnered with other people doing science outreach and we're reaching out for opportunities for scientists to interact with the community so we have some bar events and other events for little kids to get people to interact with science and make it more accessible.

If you're angry and you're overwhelmed, just pick one thing you can do and have it be something in your skill set, which is engineering and science for me. And it just makes you fee a little bit better about what is going on. Well, science is driven by politics and so it's important to be aware of what is going on and to be smart about what science is true.

Julie - Round Lake

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I've been to a lot of marches starting with the women's march in DC last year and the March for Science here last year and the Planned Parenthood rally and the airport the morning after the ban and the march for education justice in Schenectady. But then I decided that there needs to be more than just marches, and I volunteered to be the chair of the Malta Democratic Committee. There had not really been a fully-formed, functional committee there ever, and we just elected the first Democrat to the town board ever -- and she's a woman.

Amanda and Rich - Rensselaer County

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Amanda
I'm home with the girls and we talk about kindness and sharing and what it means to be a good person.

Rich
And this isn't just for women, this is for dads. I should also say that I am a Republican.

Amanda
And I'm a Democrat.

Rich
I think people have taken an impression of this gathering as a Democrat or liberal thing, but it's about everyone, it affects everyone. People will say we need gender equality and equality for all the races but these protests really get people thinking about what that means and how can you effect change in your area. But you can't just march, you have to actually do something. You have to be involved.

Myself, I've gotten involved in our town's local Republican party, trying to get less extreme views in the party in our community. I think it's hard, but over time it will change. There need to be more people our age more involved, not just leaving it to older people -- of course everyone has the right to be involved.

Heather - Troy

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I was able to participate in giving an interview that was part of a play that told the stories of women of different backgrounds and sexual orientations. It was really powerful watching it all come together.

I am an educator and while I can't directly tell the kids -- "Hey, this is bad" -- I can tell them that they are worthwhile and valuable.

And I'm part of the roller derby community and and every game we have a 50/50 raffle. We don't keep any of the money and half the money goes to a charity. We've worked with Planned Parenthood, Habitat for Humanity, and women in general. And and we show up to as many things as possible.

I've written letters, more than I can count. I write my legislators -- probably on my off months once or twice a week; when I'm really busy, once or twice a month. But still to sit down and write four or five or six letters every week it's a good thing. And they are hearing you. They are being bombarded and that is why it's being talked about. We went from none of these issues being talked about and now there are at least two or three thousand people here listening and talking about it. So that next step is going to be action and change and making things happen. We've got to talk about the problem to fix it.

Cessie - Albany

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I am an active member of Citizen Action, which is a progressive organization that's committed to social justice, racial and economic equality. It has several components and one of them is legislation and the development of policy and activism.

Judi - Altamont

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The march last year inspired me to call my representatives and either tell them "I agree with what you're doing keep at it" or "You really have to change course -- this isn't working." I just made it part of my morning routine. I got my coffee and I made a phone call. I think protests do make a difference because they remind us all that we are not alone in this, and it doesn't take that much to get your voice out there and be heard.

I also talked to my boys. I have a seven year old, a five year old, and a two year old, and I made what is going on in the country a conversation to have with them. Today when I told my boys I was going to the women's march and what I was doing they said "Just like MLK did!" I said you've got to keep working, keep your eye on what is important and right in this world and never give up.

Jay, Jim, and Sydney - North Greenbush

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Sydney
I joined an LGBT activist group called SHINE. It's a youth-run organization where we do what we can to better LGBT students.

Jim
Myself and a few of my students started an LGBT+ group and that is on top of a community service organization that I was already running. As a teacher I'm not allow to proselytize my views, but I think it is important to make sure people are aware of the things that do need attention.

I think the marches are important. If you don't march and you don't show how you feel about things then you're complicit to what is going on that you disapprove of. Is it a direct change? Maybe not. But maybe if enough attention is called to circumstances maybe direct change starts to happen.

Elizabeth and Becky - Albany

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Elizabeth
We've tried to participate in our community as much as possible by volunteering. As a Girl Scout troop we have done the meals in backpacks for school districts. We did the science march and worked with the girls on women's rights.

Becky
We did a whole activity around women of the past who have contributed to society and we are just trying to shape their minds in a way that they can think of things critically and analytically and see the big picture. And definitely at home too, I'm talking to my kids at home a lot about what is going on in age-appropriate terms so that they are educated about what is happening and know that it's not meant to be like this, that this is not how a president should be.

And then, of course, signing petitions and donating to causes like Planned Parenthood and the Democratic committee, calling our representatives, and sending postcards.

Whitney and Stacy

Women's March 2018 Whitney & Stacy.jpg

Whitney
We always support local businesses and we try to focus on minority- and women-owned business when we are doing anything. We are currently planning our wedding and all the vendors we plan on using either have to be a minority- or woman-owned businesses, and locally based.

A lot of it is money, right? Money helps make the world go around. It helps make decisions, helps motivate political campaigns. We don't have a lot of it, but we can choose where we spend what we have.

We had a dignity drive because a lot of teens couldn't go to school because they had their periods and couldn't afford tampons. The local organization was Things of My Very Own Inc. We try to find local organizations and focus on our immediate community. We did some work with Habitat for Humanity, too. Down in Sheridan Hollow you can see the difference in the community. They're doing those rehabs getting people into those homes, giving people options, and also teaching life skills. It's expensive to hire a contractor to do work, but Habitat for Humanity teaches so then you have those skills in your pocket.

We went to all the protests, too. The ones at the airport, a couple of Black Lives Matter protests, the ones down at city hall, and the Planned Parenthood rally.

Vinita

Women's March 2018 Vinita.jpg

Pictured left. I am a Montessori teacher and I have a daughter and we have conversations all the time and in our school. It is always an ongoing conversation about being kind. And it is very heartening to hear both the boys and the girls -- young children -- talk about equality and dignity for everyone.

Ellen

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I've called representatives, especially when bills are pending that I want them to vote for or against. Protests are important. I'm an animal rights activist and if it wasn't for protests, Ringling never would have shut down.

Stacy - Albany

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I attended marches in Vermont, where I lived previously, and here. I've been selling handmade goods to raise money to give to charity: the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and other groups that support marginalized populations in our county. I've done Facebook fundraisers as well.

I've endeavored more than ever before to really listen to people from marginalized groups that I'm not a part of to try to understand their lived experiences, how the world is a different place for them than it is for me so that I can better support their needs as well, because I occupy a position of relative privilege and I want to use that to make the world a more equal place and not just for myself but for others as well.

Susan - Delmar

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I have been meeting with a group of women in Delmar who are concerned about what is happening in the country and are really interested in getting out the vote and helping to register people to vote.

Patsy - Albany

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I'm here because I don't see any change -- I just see things getting worse. I see a lot of racism. I know it's been around a long time but to me, now, it is getting out of hand and I don't think it should be and especially with the immigrants... every one of us have immigrants that because of them we are here today.

I pray a lot about what is going on because I am a very prayerful person and I believe that despite what we are seeing God is still in charge and I believe, because of the strong beliefs that I have. I think the marches make a difference because I think they are sending a strong message that we are not happy with what is going on.

Lydia - Round Lake

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I marched in DC last year. It made a difference to me. It was a great experience -- astonishing to be in DC with wave after wave after wave of people who may not agree with us on the fine points, but shared a universal sense of outrage and it was really affirming to be there with all of those people.

I'm certainly more aware and in-tune with everything that's going on, and that is probably not good for mental health. I've been more involved in my community, in not necessarily politically ways, but in trying to strengthen the bonds among our friends who are not necessarily the same political persuasion. Creating events like a storytelling event that is going to bring together people from around our community.

Jennifer - Albany

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I teach and most of my students happen to be Muslim, so it's incredibly important to me to represent their voices. So I'm reaching out and doing community events to bring Muslims into the community to have interaction with other people. Also showing up at city hall and raising our voices for sanctuary cities, and showing up at protests like when we had the tax march here and making sure we are out here and we are the loudest voices.

Michael

Women's March 2018 Liz:Maura:Michael.jpg

I have mailed letters to legislators. That is one of the things I've been able to do. We've done it through church and through work. Protests like this are part of a grassroots movement. And I think it will change. I think it's going to be slow but it's going to happen.

Erin and Nicole - Guilderland

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Nicole (pictured on the right)
I think the biggest part is just showing up and being present and just showing your support. We have tried to do that at events throughout they year. We went to one event in Saratoga that was a gathering to let immigrants in the community know that everyone is welcome here. It was outside of the track in Saratoga so a lot of people had signs in Spanish and Arabic and it was great to see. We've also reached out to our representatives. It's important to show up and be part of the masses to show that people are aware of what is going on.

Lee

Lee.jpg

Lee (pictured right)

I've been volunteering with NY 19 Votes to register voters and to canvass the 19th [Congressional] district and try to get [Congressman John] Faso voted out this year.

Betty Ann and Tobias

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Betty Ann
I went to Washington last year. We've done voter registrations; helped local candidates in Schodack, West Sand Lake, Averill Park; go to Faso Fridays in his Kinderhook office on Fridays from noon to one.

Joel

Women's march 2018 Joel.jpg

I've called various Senators around the country on the health care bill -- people I thought may be sympathetic -- even Republicans and then some Democrats who I knew needed to be reminded that people were paying attention.

Kate and Tricia - Moms Demand Action

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Kate
I am a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Over the last year I have been very concerned about the money that the NRA has put into the elections, into different campaigns. I feel I need to raise awareness among my friends and neighbors and colleagues about that and the fact that in America we could have common sense gun laws if we had the will and the knowledge to do that. We have membership meetings, we do lobby day here and in other states, and we also do phone calling to our members and to other states for hot-button issues for common sense gun laws.

Trica
This year we did our first lobby day here in Albany where we brought people here from all over the state to ask our local lawmakers to support common sense gun legislation like the Extremist Protection Order bill and funding of the New York State Institute for Gun Violence Research. We are also doing programs where we are sending post cards to our lawmakers to ask them to stop concealed carry reciprocity -- a dangerous bill that would really impact New York State very hard. We worked on the [Ralph] Northam [gubernatorial] campaign in Virginia and the Chris Hurst [House of Delegates] campaign in Virginia as well as many federal campaigns for common sense gun legislation.

Bryce, Kerry, and Laura - Albany

Women's March 2018 Bryce Kerry and Laura.jpg

Bryce
I call out my male friends when they are being dipshits. I don't let them get away with it and I don't laugh at those kinds of jokes.

Kerry
I think just being positive with your friends and making sure that your friends are aware of what is going on and talking to them and supporting.

Laura
I think it's also donating. The Time's Up movement, I've been donating to that.

Judi

Women's March 2018 Julie 2.jpg

I think people sometimes forget that their voice counts and you get lost in the "I'm alone" mindset. And even though this is Smallbany, as opposed to NYC or the largest cities, look at all the people that came -- children and elderly and people of all facets of life. It makes you feel less alone.

I try to get myself as much documentation -- read articles, talk to coworkers and friends and see where their head is at and I feel like I'm enlightening them to things they might not be aware of. I donate to different charities. We did the Planned Parenthood march last year -- that was the first one I attended up here. I hope I'm spreading the word.

Earlier

+ A bunch of photos from the 2018 Women's March in Albany

Comments

Thanks for asking this question - it's something I've been asking myself as well. In my opinion, terrible policy is being made daily and it is discouraging to think how long it will take to recover, and to truly make America great (for the first time). America can't be great with racism and misogyny and intolerance, or with bans and walls and nasty tweets.
I was at the march in DC last year, and the march in NYC this year - everyone is certainly fired up on march day, but we can't afford to fizzle out!
All of these people have good ideas - educate, demonstrate, donate - and maybe the most important of all is to SHOW UP and VOTE!

Note it is called: "The local organization was Things of My Very Own"

Editors: Typo fixed. Thank you.

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