Earth Day 2017 — March for Science

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In these days of dangerous lies called alternative facts and facts touted by our leaders as fake news,  the celebration of Earth Day has never seemed more important.  All over the nation today, people in cities big and small gathered to defend science and scientific research.  Scientific knowledge and education is important to keep our water and air clean, our food healthy and safe, and keep our young people educated instead of indoctrinated in ignorance.

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The organizations that sponsored our event.

In one important sense, the Trump presidency is the best thing that could happen to our country, because it’s forcing people to wake up and finally take a stand for the things that really matter.   I doubt there would be this level of activity had Hillary won the election.   People would remain stuck in their apathy and cynicism.

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It’s encouraging that so many cities had such a big turnout for these Marches for Science, including my own.   I live in a small city (a blue city in a red state), but it seemed like there were thousands of people attending (though some were probably just there to watch the goings-on).

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Our March for Science started at one end of town (where I picked up my tee shirt I’d ordered ahead of time) and wound up on the other, in a park in the center of the city, where we’d be seen and heard.    I enjoyed watching people’s reactions, most who seemed friendly to the cause.    Many people carried signs, though I didn’t — but as you can see, I enjoyed taking pictures of the signs, most which were pretty creative.  We chanted and someone banged a drum while we marched to the park.

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When we arrived at the park, loudspeakers were playing three rock songs related to science:  Major Tom by David Bowie, Rocket Man by Elton John, and She Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby.   Some of the attendees were dancing to the music.   After about 20 minutes of listening to music, the organizer of the event — a 17 year old high school boy named Luke Shealy — gave a short but inspiring speech and introduced some other speakers.   They were all good, but one — a Latino man who is also an astrophysicist — was so passionate he moved many people to tears.

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Young Luke Shealy, the organizer of our March.   The tee shirt I purchased is exactly like his.

After the speeches, some local musicians played for awhile, and I went to the various tables and picked up literature and a couple of bumper stickers.    Next Saturday I’ll be attending another rally I just found out about today addressing climate change.  I might make a sign this time!

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Rally for ACA (Obamacare), Asheville, NC

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This event, which was really an outdoor Town Hall meeting, focused on the right to affordable or better yet, single payer healthcare and the importance of not repealing Obamacare, since the ACA was an important step in that direction — and now it’s under threat.

I arrived early, so early there were only a few people there before me.  The day was cooler than it has been, but clear as a bell, as you can see in the photos.  It was fun taking pictures of all the different sights I saw.  Some of the protest signs were really creative.

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I apologize — the tops of her signs got cut off but I think her shirt is a hoot.

I would say probably about 400 people attended, and maybe a few more than that.   Most of the people attending were older folks — some older than me (Medicare age), which makes sense since older people are the most likely to have medical issues and the most at risk should they lose their healthcare.   There were some young families there too though, and a couple of the speakers were quite young.

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I was surprised how many people brought their dogs, and one woman, wearing a “pink pussy hat” had dressed up her little dog in an adorable miniature version of the hat she wore.   The sign she had made was pretty funny too.

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Not everyone there was a Democrat. There were some independents, and even a few stray Republicans, who agree that ACA should not be repealed, like the sign of the lady shown below. When it comes to affordable healthcare, party really doesn’t matter. Some actually understand that.

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Some of the signs were quite funny.  Here are a couple.

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There were four speakers.  One speaker’s story brought tears to my eyes.  She talked about her son, who was born in 1974. Doctors urged her to have an abortion because he had some genetic abnormalities but she refused.   Well, the condition he had left him extremely vulnerable to certain forms of cancer, especially colon cancer.   In 2008, just before Obama was elected, when he was just 34, he had to be rushed to the emergency room.  He hadn’t been seeing doctors regularly  because they didn’t have the money and he could not get health insurance because of his pre-existing condition.  He was too sick to work enough hours to get company sponsored health insurance so he never got the surgeries and other treatments that had been recommended.   So he just did without.

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One of the young volunteers.

On the day he was rushed to the ER, some tests were run, and it was found he had developed inoperable colon cancer. He died just before Christmas in 2008, just after Obama was elected, but before Obamacare was a reality.  It was too late for him.

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The woman, who was now in tears, concluded her story by saying that no politician who says “No” to the ACA or who wants to repeal it has the right to call themselves pro-life.  Life doesn’t stop at the end of the birth canal.    Being pro-life means caring for people of ALL ages — and making sure everyone has affordable health care. No exceptions.

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These are the kind of tragic personal stories that used to happen on a regular basis before the ACA was passed.  People dying prematurely and unnecessarily, and sometimes suffering horribly — just because they couldn’t get health insurance and weren’t wealthy enough to pay for treatments out of pocket.    And now our “dear leader” wants to roll back not only that but is also threatening social security, Medicaid, Medicare, and even Veteran’s benefits.   Can you imagine how horrible things would be if they were to succeed in taking all that away?   We can’t allow that.

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I took lots of pictures — the rest are below this post. I didn’t have a sign this time, but next time I will make sure I do.  It was a good experience, and was very peaceful. In spite of the serious issue being addressed, it was a lot of fun too.

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On my way out, there was a vendor selling related merchandise, such as T-shirts and buttons.   The proceeds go to the Indivisible movement, which co-sponsored this event.   These are my purchases (I’ll  be wearing these at the next event I attend — and carrying a sign too).  The button in the middle was free — it was given to me when I signed up for emails.

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The rest of the photos:

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