Jackson Hole March Joins Efforts Across the Globe

By on January 20, 2017

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Three self-described “ordinary” women have spearheaded Jackson Hole’s involvement in what is likely to be an extraordinary global event. On Saturday, Jackson residents will join people in hundreds of locales across the country, in all 50 states, and the world—from Italy and Bulgaria to Peru, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia—marching in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C.

According to the WMW website, more than 600 national and global marches are slated for the day following President Donald Trump’s inauguration. WMW and its “sister marches” are a grassroots effort to rally people around the protection of women’s rights and human rights and the environment. Organizers, who say they want to send a potent message to the incoming administration, anticipate a turnout amassing more than 1.3 million people worldwide with 200,000 people estimated to march in D.C.

Massive support for these efforts seemingly stems from people’s widespread alarm about Trump’s incendiary rhetoric pertaining to women, minorities, immigrants and the environment. The new president appears ready to practice what he preached. On Friday, in the hours following Trump taking his oath of office, WhiteHouse.gov immediately wiped pages from its “Issues” section on LGBT rights, civil rights, climate change and health care, The Daily Beast reported. Trump also made it his first order of business on Friday to sign an executive order to fast-track the repeal of Obamacare despite there being no alternative in the works.

‘Compelled to do something’

In Jackson, so far more than 200 people have signed up via Facebook to attend the Saturday march. Its three organizers, and decidedly some of its participants, are emblematic of a growing segment of the American populace that, since the 2016 presidential election, is becoming increasingly politically engaged.

“We are the Jane Does of Jackson,” said co-organizer Elisa Stephens, a psychiatric nurse. “Beyond voting and political conversation, I have never been that politically active. What is extraordinary about this march is that there are so many normal people like us who are just feeling compelled to do something.”

Stephens, along with Sue Wolff, a former wildlife biologist turned nurse, and Shannon Burns, an interior designer, said they waited for a WMW sister march to materialize in Jackson. But this week, with inauguration day fast approaching and no word of a Jackson event, they decided to organize what they thought would garner a small amount of interest.

“On Tuesday night we said, ‘Let’s just throw something and have a few friends,’” Wolff explained. “We did not expect this many people to sign up for the event and to invite their friends.” The event page lists that people have sent almost 2,500 virtual invites.

So that more people would feel comfortable signing up for the march without the threat of “internet bullies,” Wolff says they made the Facebook event page private. But on Thursday eve, after noting the page’s swelling popularity in just 36 hours, they created an additional Facebook page accessible to the public.

However, they were hesitant to publicly push the march for another reason. The trio didn’t want to discourage people from joining the ranks of Jackson folks who have made plans to demonstrate at scheduled marches in more conservative parts of the state, like Casper, Cheyenne, Lander, Cody and Pinedale—where the presence of protesters, they say, could be more impactful. Around 15 Jacksonites are caravanning to Casper for its march, according to the Women’s March on Casper Facebook page.

“We really respect [the Jackson residents] who are going to marches in other parts of the state; it’s easy to stay in your progressive Jackson bubble … we were worried about overstepping those efforts,” Stephens said.

Still, for people like this trio of women—with kids, myriad commitments, and financial constraints, they say it was important to create a convenient way for Jacksonites to participate in a WMW event. An event, they hope, will be an inclusive gathering that rallies people around values they believe are important to all Americans. “We realize each person who marches is going to have a different reason for marching … from protecting the environment, to health care, women’s rights and civil rights,” Wolff said.

The women also pointed to the act of demonstrating itself—something the new president has repeatedly disparaged during his campaign speeches and on Twitter—which they say has the potential to bring people together. “Being American,” Stephens said, “is about being able to demonstrate and invoke that revolutionary spirit.”

Protecting these First Amendment rights, Burns added, are concerns shared across party lines. “Our right to free speech … that is something people on both sides of the political spectrum are willing to stand up and fight for.”

One of the president’s more recent assaults on First Amendment rights happened this week, according to Politico’s Daniel Lipmann. Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel banned reporters from its premises during inauguration week. The move, according to the nonprofit research group Media Matters for America, underscores Trump’s personal hostility toward the press and raises First Amendment issues, as the president leases the hotel space from the federal government.

Wydaho folks mobilize

In Driggs, Idaho, two other seemingly “ordinary” citizens are helping the small Idaho town be part of WMW’s national efforts. Susan Maddrey and Stacey Simmons are the organizing force behind a march there. Maddrey is a stay-at-home mom who home schools her three children. She says she is not a political person and “does not understand political lingo in the least,” but that she wanted to be around like-minded people the day after Trump’s inauguration.

The women had planned to travel to Helena, Montana, for a WMW march there. “But we soon realized it coincided with Snow Fest—Teton Valley’s big winter weekend,” Maddrey said. “It took about half a second to suggest, ‘Let’s march here,’ and that was it. Stacey made some calls, our local librarian made us signs, another organizer signed us up as a sister march to WMW, and here we are.”

More than 150 people have accepted Facebook invites to the Driggs march. According to the WMW website, Idaho also has marches scheduled in seven other locales: Boise, Idaho Falls, Ketchum, Moscow, Pocatello, Sandpoint and Stanley.

The Women’s March on Jackson meets 10 a.m. Saturday at the Home Ranch parking lot. Find more info here.

The Women’s March on Idaho, Teton Valley, begins 1 p.m. Saturday at the Teton County Courthouse in Driggs. Find more info here.





About Robyn Vincent

Robyn is the editor of Planet Jackson Hole and Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. When she's not sweating deadlines, she likes to travel the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow her on Twitter @TheNomadicHeart

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