FEATURE The W.O.M.A.N. behind the marches February 3, 2017February 7, 2017 Maddy Futter 1 Comment Maddy Futter, Women's March, women's rights, w.o.m.a.n. The meeting starts off with group conversations about march experiences. “We started anchoring every meeting to those three tenants,” co-founder of the W.O.M.A.N group, Jen Ciolino said. “We usually start our meeting with some form of connection with each other, then we either plan or work on personal action, and then we plan or work on public actions that we are going to take.” The Feb. 2 meeting used conversation about march experiences as the connection, writing postcards to Michigan senators for the personal action, and planning 10 plans in 100 days locally for the public action. Photo by Farryn Cook. The Feb. 2 meeting was expected to have the biggest turnout in history of the group according to Ciolino. After the sister march in Midland, Mich, more attention was brought to the group. The W.O.M.A.N’s Facebook page grew to 700 members and attendance at meetings grew to over 80 people. When the group started in November, in reaction to the election, normal attendance was 50 people. “People were fearful of some of the rhetoric that we had heard,” Ciolino said. “A number of us had experienced, some of the, as I would say, the emboldened hate that came out as a consequence of the election rhetoric. My own family was directly targeted. I have a mixed race family, we were targeted while we were coloring the sidewalk in front of our church. With hateful, racial slurs yelled at us, along with Trump’s name yelled at us. This was here in Midland. We were fearful of what kind of policy [Trump] was going to drive and what kind of rhetoric was there going to be.” Photo by Farryn Cook. Kathleen Carull discusses her experience at the women’s march. Photo by Farryn Cook. Leader of the Feb. 2 meeting, Sarah Schulz takes over for co-founders Jen Ciolino and Jody Liebmann who were unable to attend. Photo by Maddy Futter. Attendees of the meeting write letters to their Senators about issues that are important to them as one of the 10 actions in 100 days suggested by Women’s March on Washington. “There are certainly folks that are angry and so one of the things we’ve worked on as a group is how to get our message out without people saying ‘Oh, it’s just a bunch of angry women,’” Cioloni said. “We honor the emotions that people will bring to the table but we’re really about working and actively engaging in our government.” Photo by Maddy Futter. Attendees hold up their post cards to take a picture and post on social media under the hashtag #WhyIMarch. Photo by Farryn Cook Ideas of good signs were shared at the meeting. On Jan. 20, day before the march, the W.O.M.A.N. group had about 50 people attend the meeting to create signs. Photo by Farryn Cook. As the groups public action, members brainstormed ideas for actions that can be made locally in 100 days. The goal is to do 20 actions in 100 days. Ideas included communicating with the Muslim community in Midland, talking to school boards about the importance of funding the music program, and creating a Flash mob. “Just because there’s a new administration in office doesn’t mean that the democracy stops requiring the active engagement of our citizens,” Cioloni said. “We want to continue to be actively engaged.” Photo by Farryn Cook. (left to right) Organizer of the sister march in Midland, Mich. Amy Rogers and Kevin Kendrick discuss issues facing the nation today. “Anyone is welcome,” Rogers said on the day of the march. “You don’t have to be a Democrat, you don’t have to be a Christian, you don’t have to be anything except dedicated to progressive ideals.” Photo by Maddy Futter.