Racial tensions, economic disparities, and women’s rights aren’t exactly new issues, but the election of President Donald Trump – and the divisive nastiness of the campaign in general – has galvanized a few groups of St. Helenans to take action.
In February we met a group of men who took out a full-page ad in the Star encouraging tolerance and unity. Last week we met with local women who participated in the Women’s March in Napa on Jan. 21 and are determined to spread awareness about what they see as social and economic inequities.
Calling themselves “Women Stand Up,” a group of women including Beth Lincoln, Jan Darter and Mary Burton began meeting last month in hopes of maintaining the momentum generated by the Women’s March. Though the organizers expected at most a dozen, more than 50 people showed up for that first gathering, and its momentum has inspired at least two spin-off groups meeting Upvalley thus far.
They began with only a brief agenda suggested by the National Women’s March on Washington group. In general, they said they want people to address the inequalities that exist in the community and, in Beth Lincoln’s words, “stand up and be a voice for people who can’t find their own voice.”
For now, that means promoting March 8’s “A Day Without A Woman,” in which women are being encouraged to stay home from work or at least wear a red armband in their workplace in support of women’s rights and equal pay. They’ll also be educating themselves on such current issues as immigration and Electoral College reform.
The group reflects a growing trend across the political spectrum to tear down the barriers between the personal and the political, to express one’s personal values in the social sphere, and to shape a political system that more closely reflects those deeply held values – whatever they may be.
To their credit, they’re spreading an open and inclusive message that isn’t about hating Trump, vilifying his supporters or constantly “resisting” in the streets. They say Republicans are welcome to join them, they’re willing to consider engaging with Trump supporters, and Lincoln said she agreed with some of the things Trump said in his Feb. 28 address to Congress (especially about the cost of prescription drugs).
That search for common ground is crucial, and we encourage the group to continue to make it a centerpiece of their message. While the core of the group undoubtedly shares liberal positions on abortion, immigration and health care, we’re glad to hear that they’re receptive to people who don’t share all of these opinions.
An inclusive, grassroots, non-partisan community group can get things done more effectively than a loner ranting in the streets.
No matter your political persuasion, you have to salute well-meaning people who are willing to organize themselves and spread a positive, peaceful message of righting what they see as wrong. That’s the essence of democracy.
To learn how to join the group, email WomenStandUp.StHelena@gmail.com.