Realizing that during this historical march that folks might be in need of a space for their children, their creativity, and to rest BC Summers contacted the organizers of the Women's March Oklahoma https://www.womensmarch.com/oklahoma/ and offered to create such a space. They responded with great enthusiasm and organizing supplies and volunteers began. The day of, with a car full of tables, chairs, hula hoops, a giant caterpillar, and project supplies galore, BC was immediately met at the capital by a wonderful sense of sharing and giving with folks helping unload the car, donating water and snacks, and setting up the space. Volunteers like Brittany Wagstaff and Heather Akard helped make signs while Jennifer Bjerk Lessard set up picnic blankets and bagels and candy for everyone while getting a DJ box of tunes going. Bella Lessard climbed the tree to hang a ribboned hoop to show folks where we were located and flung the hula hoops around, and Chris Lessard brought an extra table. Boom H-P volunteered to walk the crowd inviting folks to bring their kids by. Una Anderson set up her sign and Raechel Brown from Kaliedescope Arts set up a facepainting area. Joey Rodman and Michael Rodman and their friend showed up and helped set up the markers and paper while making sticks for posters, and James Varnum brought prints of the http://theamplifierfoundation.org/ Amplifier Foundation's We the People posters for folks to use. Then the marchers started to arrive...they began to share snacks, help eachother pick out slogans for their signs, talk about their hopes for the future, play with the hula hoops and make games with the parachutes...together. There were all ages, races, socio-economic levels, religions, styles, political leanings, kinds of people there participating and saying, Thank You to the space and the volunteers...It was great fun to say each time folks walked by, "We have hula hoops, snacks, blankets, water, and arts and crafts projects, feel free to enjoy!" Nicole Emmons-Willis showed up with a giant puppet and the kids got to try it on! There were so many people, I heard later that there were 14-16,000 people there. It was a wonderful day.
One of the volunteers Joey Rodman wrote a post later about her experience and I want to share it as much as possible:
"Today I went to the march at the capitol, but I could not march. My hip/back is killing me this week. Luckily my friend provided a way for me to go help and be useful even with my disability.
I womanned (it's a word now) part of the children's area at the march. Yes, the children's area, for children. We made signs and learned about capillary action and how a little bit of goodness can spread and change the whole landscape of the world. We ate snacks and rode caterpillars and played with parachutes and had hula hoop contests. We high-fived each other and talked about our dreams and hopes for the future, and I answered a lot of questions.
I arrived before the march, when there were mostly only organizers and volunteers, and I watched people trickle in. Before we knew it the place was completely packed with men, women, and children and a few dogs. At the beginning people would come up to the children's area and I would greet them and sometimes they seemed like maybe they didn't know how to process that, so I realized a lot of the people out today are probably introverts, and not used to the type of energy I put out, so I came up with a solution. I made a sign to make myself more approachable and I taped it to my chest.
It said, in black sharpie marker: ASK ME A QUESTION
and it worked. I told people how to find the potty, and where planned parenthood was set up, and how to register to vote and where to find bottled water, and where they could park and why I was there and why I have a cane and why we had a children's area, and who was that lady over there with the epic puppet.......and one little boy asked me about the tree.
The tree nearby the children's area was tall, and strong, and it had a plaque below it. He couldn't read yet so he asked "what does that say?" and I read it to him. This tree was special, it was the Earth Day Birthday tree and it was planted in 1990 on Earth Day. We talked about how that tree is younger than me but also bigger than me and how I find it amazing that trees get so very big so very fast but also so very slow. We talked about how I sit outside sometimes and look at the trees and even though I know they are growing they seem to stand still and the same, even after a whole day, even after a whole week, even after a whole year.....even after ten whole years a tree may seem the same, but one day you look at the tree and you realize it's not the same at all, it's BIG now. It changed. It got tall and its branches reached to the left and the right and the front and the back and way WAY WAY up to the clouds, and it was always growing bigger. We talked about how sometimes you want things to change but it seems impossible, like you're not making progress, like nothing will ever be different but if you keep going and working and watering it and feeding it and giving it light one day you'll wake up and realize everything changed. Everything is bigger, everything is better, everything is growing and changing right in front of us all the time and we just have to wait for it.
His dad gave me a heartfelt thank you for answering his kid's question, but I didn't realize until now what he was thanking me for. My husband said "it's the WAY you talk to kids, that's what he meant" but I talk to everyone that way so I didn't realize. Anyway, keep watering the tree guys, it is worth it."
Thank you to all who got involved and participated!