The Clean Water Blog

Marchers with CApitol in background during the Women's March on Washington. Credit: Michael Kelly

It's Not American Carnage, It's American Promise

On Friday we watched a bleak American president speak of rusted out factories, the confidence of the country disappearing over the horizon, and American carnage. It was an address completely divorced from reality and devoid of any hope. It was a dark and strident message to a nation hungry to come together in solidarity and look forward. It was the opposite of what we deserve from the President -it wasn't worthy of this country.

No Hate sign at the Women's March - Michael KellyOn Saturday that hunger met the streets  where we found hope and inspiration in each other. We came together in Washington and New York and Oakland and Austin and Chicago and Fairbanks and Nashville and Cleveland and hundreds of cities and towns to march toward a just future.  It was the biggest mass demonstration in U.S. history. It was beautiful.

I was in D.C. with friends. We stayed in Baltimore Friday night and I wouldn't be surprised if every guest at our Kimpton hotel was attending the March. We parked a few miles away and walked to the Mall. Nearly everyone on the street seemed to be heading the same way. Metro was packed, as were cabs; Uber and Lyft were surging. There was a lot of pink.

When we got to the Mall at 7th and Constitution we found ourselves in a sea of pussy hats and handmade signs. I can't say we walked from there - we were carried along by the flow of the crowd and ended up near a screen showing the speakers four blocks away. We stood there, surrounded by a cross-section of America for the next three hours. We heard from speakers about criminal justice reform, women's health and abortion rights; we joined in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and native activists; we cheered in unison as speaker after speaker implored the President and Congress to join with us to fight for justice, not the polluters and corporations who seek only to protect their bottom-lines.

And then we marched. People came from every direction. As we were marching down Constitution, past the American History museum, an equally large group was walking in the other direction. We got as close to the White House as we could, deposited our signs on the barricades, and turned up 15th. The march continued. Everywhere you looked there were protestors and marchers.

Here's the thing: It wasn't a march, it was an occupation. And it wasn't one day, it was day one.

I couldn't get a cell signal or data service for most of the day. Sitting in the Clean Water office, charging my phone, I began scrolling through the news and posts I had missed during the day. It was spectacular. For the first time in a long time I breathed a sigh of relief. This was the hope I had been looking for since November 9th.

The grace and passion and tenacity and loving kindness and spirit that was evident Saturday was enough to bring me to tears. It has been a tough 75 days watching this dumpster fire grow. It's not going to get easier because this dumpster fire is on wheels and it's out of control. But we will beat this back. Because it is what we do.

Saturday was just a preview. Let's strap in and get going.

Resist Injustice sign at Women's March - Michael Kelly

Marchers all over the Hirschorn at the Women's March - Michael Kelly

March up 15th - Women's March on Washington - Michael Kelly