Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Pink Coalition

In late November a friend texted to ask if I was going to the Women's March on Washington.  Not having heard about it, I did a quick Google search and responded with a "Yes, let's go!". What started as a carpool quickly turned into chartering a bus, knowing that I would have many friends that would want to come along too.  

Our bus could accommodate 56 people, so I initially factored in 6 scholarships wanting to allow some young female students to come along at no charge. The scholarships went like hotcakes and young women continue to ask if there were any scholarships left. Not wanting to turn them away, my mother and I started sewing pink fleece hats, and selling them for $20, with all proceeds going to more scholarships.  Friends and complete strangers gave many straight donations ranging between $20 and $200, sponsoring a total of 15 scholarships.  

All together we raised over $4000, more then we needed, and were able to give a $1000 donation to Planned Parenthood.

Just after the New Year our bus, "The Pink Coalition", was filled to capacity. I called the bus charter company to ask if I could reserve a second bus, but there were none.  If there had been, I'm sure we could've filled a second bus because the requests kept coming!  Instead, I steered those interested towards other bus companies and Sister Marches in Maine.  

The next step was to host a Poster Painting and Pin Making Party in my Rockland studio.  Over the course of an eight hour day, about two dozen people came through, and 60 bright pink posters were painted by women and men, teenagers, neighbors, old and new friends.

Then, on their first day of class, my Kinetic Sculpture students at the Maine College of Art dove right into a collaborative project creating a 12 foot long giant hot pink cat in five hours flat!

 One team built the head, 

One team built the body, 

While others created the tail and legs.

By the end of class we had a giant pink cat puppet.

At 8:30 PM that night we loaded the big pink cat into the luggage compartment beneath the bus and crossed our fingers hoping to get it passed security in DC.

We picked up passengers in Rockland, Portland, Biddeford and Portsmouth along the way, drove through the night (trying our best to sleep) and arrived in DC at 9 AM.

We had good intentions of staying together, but soon found that to be impossible and ended up breaking into smaller groups, marching with fellow protesters from around the country.

To our delight, we were able to march all day with our giant pink cat, who fellow marchers referred to as "The Pussy Dragon". 

I personally had the pleasure of being "The Pussy Dragon's" head, enjoying every opportunity to turn towards people (especially kids) and open its mouth, so I could see them smile back.

The DC police, National Guard and residents welcomed us, all one million of us.  As we marched peacefully and protested in support of women's rights and other causes including immigration reform, health care reform, protection of the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion, and workers' rights.

We departed DC on our bus about 6:30 PM, drove through the night and all returned safely, both exhausted and exhilarated to have been part of this HUGE (5 million) international event.  We made new friends, solidified our convictions, made our voices heard and committed to being activists from this day forth...