When I first heard about the Women’s March in San Francisco, I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to participate. I’m a proud feminist/humanist with a soft heart, but not much of a protester. You know, the marching, chanting, sign-wielding kind. I honk like crazy every time I see the lovely residents of Redwoods protesting for peace on the corner of Miller and Corte Madera, but that’s about as far as I go. Thankfully, I had The Hivery, a co-working space for women in Mill Valley where I work, to set me straight. The community there helped me realize the importance, the necessity of taking action, and walked the talk by offering buses to and from the march in SF and fashionable all-weather protest gear: cheerful yellow scarves and matching rain ponchos, Maya Angelou-inspired “We Rise” pins, battery-operated vigil lights and emergency maps and plans that adhered to the insides of our jackets. (Pussy hats sold separately.) We were ready for battle (or to rule the free world). After what I experienced on Saturday, standing side-by-side with 300 proud, bold, determined justice-seekers, caravaning in seven school buses from downtown Mill Valley to City Hall, I can’t believe I was ever on the fence about participating in such an epic display of love and hope.
During the workweek, The Hivery is my shared haven for getting things done, procrastinating with like-minded doers over super-strong coffee, and, I realize now, inadvertently becoming an active participant in the world around me. Despite my best efforts to use The Hivery as a heads-down workspace where I wear my noise-cancelling headphones and float the periphery, it has grabbed a hold of me and transformed me into someone who takes herself more seriously – professionally, personally and civically. It has transformed me from a reluctant protester into someone who pushes her way to the front of the bus to lead strangers in “We say 'stronger', you say 'together'!" chants.
To me, Saturday’s march wasn’t so much a protest as it was a celebration, a demonstration of love, hope and kindness. This was partly because of how The Hivery handled the pre-march prep – with grace and joy and the kind of organizational prowess I believe women so often possess – but also because of the generous, positive vibe of the protesters in general. People took the high road. They wanted to show the love. They were grateful to have a forum to be heard. Our democracy is alive and well and it’s such a rush to participate in it. It was a melting pot of protestors, of all ages, stages, hairstyles and degrees of mobility. One woman on our bus came with a cast on her foot in a wheelchair. Another woman had her 9-month old strapped to her in a baby carrier. Two silver-haired women hadn’t been to a protest since the Vietnam War. A professional photographer with Princess Leia buns hopped on the bus and asked if she could help by taking (gorgeous) photos. The only other time I’ve been this proud to be a woman was after I gave birth to my first child. I had a newfound respect and awe for women and what they are capable of and a connection to humanity like I’d never experienced before. I felt that way again on Saturday, and I get a renewed sense of it every time I’m at The Hivery.
Women are amazing, especially when they put their heads, hearts and hands together in acts of solidarity.
Bio: Mary Michael Pringle is an independent copywriter for companies like IDEO. She lives in Mill Valley with her husband and two sons.