Photo by Martin Tollefson
After the march. 

At Large In Ballard: That day in January

By Peggy Sturdivant

It was the day after the power outage. Leaving the yoga studio at Ballard Health Club my path crossed with that of Alison Krupnick near the elliptical machines. Because we stopped in our sweaty tracks, for no longer than a minute, Alison Krupnick changed my life.

One could argue that our lives change every single minute, which is true, but I’m speaking in the abstract and potentially profound way. I didn’t know at that momen, but the opportunity offered by fellow Ballard Writers Collective member Krupnick had the potential to change me.

Krupnick is formidable in the way of a former world-traveling diplomat, Jersey girl, soccer mom, and education writer. I think she wiped sweat off her brow and looked at me as though trying to decide whether to take me off the bench and put me in the game. “I volunteered to put together a Media Crew for the Womxn’s March,” she said. “We need people to do interviews. How about you?”

She had been working out. I had been lying in corpse pose, so I hedged my response while asking questions…afraid I’d be responsible for video or recording equipment. “Let me think about it.” Then my intuition pushed aside my defenses and I said, “Wait. Yes. Absolutely. I’ll do it.”

On January 21, 2107 I rose to an alarm and looked southeast to the pink-orange sunrise. It was as though excitement was already rising over Judkins Park, and I could feel its pull. But I never dreamed that over 100,000 others were making their way to the park, and plus tens of thousands more who joined along the 3.6 mile route between the park and Seattle Center.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts my mother was one of some 200 people who marched in her small town of Topsfield. The day before she’d gotten the phone call she didn’t want; the biopsy showed the lump in her breast was indeed cancerous. As a lifelong Democrat one can safely assume that Inauguration Day 2017 was already difficult. Along with so many of the 100+ people that I interviewed on January 21, 2017, and have heard from in the weeks since the international Women’s Marches, my mother says the day after one of the worst, was one of the best in her life.

I was going to take part anyway in the Seattle Womxn’s March but what Alison Krupnick offered me by chance was like winning the lottery. I was the weak link of a three-person team, the microphone wielder for two Seattle Art Institute students who did the videography and sound. As one of ten media teams organized by volunteers in conjunction with Reel Grrls I got to interview perhaps 150 people attending the march about why they marched, and what they would do next.

Everyone has a story, and on a day that everyone already sensed would be historic, oh the stories. So many issues, all based on wanting future generations to have a safe and healthy future. Footage continues to be edited and added to the website. A future documentary is possible. Photographs and video from all across the world is being assembled. The date of January 21, 2017 may come to have its place in the history of America, as evidence of what it can mean to live in a democracy.

Never before in my life so far have I felt like I was a witness to history in the making, and part of it.

Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of “Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race” said during a Seattle appearance, “the seeds of the next thing always come out of the old thing.”

All across America, no matter our opinion on the outcome of the presidential election, citizens are realizing they need to be engaged, that everyone should have a voice.

Even as signs of spring in the Northwest emerge above ground, seeds are sprouting underground. It has only been six weeks since the Seattle Womxn’s March, and all the peaceful marches throughout the world, but the old seeds of complacency are giving way to new seeds of activism. Who knows what the next thing will be? Who knows when a chance encounter will become a defining moment in life.

Memories, accounts, photos, and videos are online at https://womxnsmarchseattle.wordpress.com/stories/

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