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It is about woman’s rights, civil rights, human rights, DACA and immigration, said a number of Calistogans and St. Helenans attending the Women’s March Napa Valley 2018 on Saturday.

“This march is about taking action,” said Beth Lincoln of Women Stand Up, a local St. Helena group promoting political action in support of women’s rights. “Last year’s women’s march was more about the shock of the presidential election. This is about getting out there and doing something about it.”

Calistoga Karen Chang, who attended the march and participates in Calistoga’s monthly Walk for Democracy said, “The crowd was cheerful and seemed to be enjoying themselves; maybe less intense than last year and letting their signs speak for them.”

Calistoga was well represented at the Jan 20 Napa march, including those from the Hispanic community and the younger generation, said Joan Temple, of Calistoga.

“The energy was great at the March,” Temple said. “Much of the signage encouraged folks how to move forward, which is what Calistoga’s monthly Walk is trying to do.”

Moving through the thousands of people packed on School Street in front of Napa City Hall, the variety of signs held by marchers had less anger than the 2017 Women’s March Napa Valley. Though there were definitely anti-Trump sentiments expressed (“Lock him up!”), there was also humor (“Free Melania”).

“The crowd was definitely larger than last year, and I heard 3,000 to 4,000 (marchers). There was much better organization, walking along a closed Third Street was better than on the sidewalks, where one could slip off into the street,” Chang said. “The placards were entertaining as always, reflecting the creativity of the participants. There was such a diversity of causes represented.“

But there was still a multiplicity of causes: everything from DACA Dreamers (“The Dreamers ARE home”), the changes in the EPA (“Save the Planet”), the recognition of disability rights (“Disability Rights are Human Rights”), the global warming debate (“Women for Science”), the sexual abuse scandals (“#METOO”), and the loudly proclaimed sentiments to actively confront the conservative policies of the current administration (“RESIST!”)

On the ground during the march there were also significant comments about the numbers and the composition of the marchers, while the reasons for attending were much more focused.

Angwin resident Briana Forgie was at the march with her son Trevor and husband Brian, and was enthusiastic and somewhat surprised at the turnout in front of Napa City Hall on School Street. Trevor was beating on a bongo drum held by husband Brian. “I’m here because I have two sons,” she said. “And I want them to understand the importance of respecting the rights of women.”

Sandy Dickson, who had driven down from St. Helena with her two grandchildren, said that the march for her was about the Trump administration and the need to support equal rights.

Calistogan Kiri Gardner, age 6, sat bundled in her stroller with a sign that read “Disability Rights are Human Rights.” Her sister, Ada, age 3, sitting on her father Bryan’s shoulders, held a sign that read “Though she be little, she be fierce!” Their mother, Arwen Rose-Stockwell marched with a sign that read “Science is not a liberal conspiracy.”

Kirk Grace from St. Helena said that he was at the march to support his wife Lynn and to also support the rights of immigrants. “I work with people who are immigrants, and I am very concerned about what’s happening to them,” he said.

Lincoln said that she was impressed by both the number of people who showed up, and by the changed demographics of the marchers from 2017. “There seemed to be many more men coming out in support of women’s rights,” she said. “I think they may be as much as 20 percent of the marchers.”

Lincoln was also encouraged by the increase in the number of young people. “Did you see the contingency from the St. Helena High School?” she asked. “There must be about 30 of them, all chanting and marching together. That’s a significant change. They’re engaged!”

In the past year, “Women Stand Up” has been focused on getting people registered to vote in the upcoming election in November. “We’ve had a number of events in St. Helena and Calistoga to register voters,” Lincoln said. “Now it’s time we transform this energy – this momentum — into actual votes.”

As the groups progressed down Third Street towards the Expo grounds, the references to “vote” scribbled on signs were everywhere, and at the Expo, tables were set up to register new voters.

But for Lincoln and others the primary message was “community.”

“It’s about the communities in the valley,” she said. “And how we’re going to take action to bring the policies of this country back in line with the hopes and aspirations of our residents.”

Anne Ward Ernst contributed to this report.



Tom Stockwell is currently a staff writer for the St. Helena Star. He is an author of fiction and non-fiction books and has been a working journalist for a variety of technical publications as well as a consultant for numerous wineries in the Napa Valley.