We woke up the morning after the Women’s March in DC completely exhausted, but also incredibly moved and emotionally energized from such a historical day of unity. It was a feeling we carried with us to our community event at Le Diplomate, where we joined some of our readers who had traveled far and wide to DC, for a panel conversation with three women working in areas that most need our attention right now.
I sat down for my moderating debut (!!) with Nicole Steele, Claire Lampen, and Erin Allweiss, who work in energy, the media and sustainability respectively, for a conversation about how we can take action now that we’ve marched. With their diverse areas of expertise and their honest point-of-view, we all came to realize that what we are talking about are not political issues, they are human ones, and there are ways to fight the good fight. I hope you come out of this conversation as hopeful and motivated as we did.
On how they are feeling right now…
NICOLE: I woke up the day of the inauguration with tears rolling down my face, and it became real. But at the same time, I feel like it was almost the closure of my grief and I was able to finally move on and leverage the fight and be ready for what’s next and understand there is a movement happening. Trump talks about bringing this country together, and he just might, but it might be against him!
ERIN: Seeing this president inaugurated and then going into the march, where it feels like that was such a momentous first step, for all of us to come together, but it is just a first step. I was really impressed that the speakers touched on that yesterday. That while we’re all gathered together, this is just an energizing moment and the next thing is going to be taking action against the attack on women’s rights, the environment, civil rights, LGBT the list, unfortunately, goes on. It was good to energize with everyone and then be here.
On dealing with an administration that doesn’t believe in what they do…
NICOLE: We just have to be working closer with our state and local government and really making sure everyone truly understands that your voice matters! And it matters more the closer you get to your community. So get involved, run for city council, or whatever it might be, because those are people whose voices are heard and really make the impact.
CLAIRE: There are certain benefits to being in new media right now. There’s a lot of mistrust in the mainstream media, and we are that but we’re also not, so I think we’re in an interesting position to get to know people, tell their stories and make them widely known. That’s the most important thing for me right now.
On activism being sexy again…
ERIN: I do feel like activism is in vogue so I’m really excited to see people from two years old who are carrying signs, these little kids, to people who have been working in politics their entire lives, to grandmas and everyone here saying, I’m going to do something and participate in our democracy.
CLAIRE: Feminism was kind of a dirty, stigmatizing word for a long time and carried connotations that had nothing to do with what feminism is, which is just human rights. There is something weird in it being trendy now, but it’s also wonderful to see people understanding that it just means equality, and really pushing for it and saying it proudly.
On what we can do next…
CLAIRE: My coworker, after the election, made a really good point about not continuing to treat millennials as a monolith and engaging in conversation with people who don’t share many of the beliefs that are pretty clearly reflected on our site. The most important thing we’ll be doing going forward is talking to the other side and try to make them understand and we’ll try to understand them better and the best way to do that is through personal storytelling and finding your in.
NICOLE: There’s a lot of ways we can get involved. Support your local nonprofits, monetarily. The giving just started to explode after the election. People want to put their money in places where good causes are going to happen. Money does speak. Now we have to be supporting the nonprofits and other advocacy organizations that are working in this space. We had a woman who did an alternative bridal shower. She brought all of her bridesmaids out and raised money to install of solar panels! It was amazing and they had a wonderful day and that’s impacting our bottom line and then we’re able to bring solar to more homeowners. So just get involved and really start to be active.
ERIN: I’d say two things. One, what we spend our money on sends a very clear message. So supporting brands and individuals you believe in, who you know are doing things in the right way, that’s a great start. Two, it is getting involved. I’d say, find your issue and then supporting people who are running for public office at a local level, be it volunteering with time or giving contributions.
Thoughts from guests..
SOPHIE-MARIE: I think it’s very interesting to consider how this election is changing us. Even Garance Doré, which is a fashion blog, has become more involved in, I won’t say political matters, because they are human matters, but it’s very interesting how it might become, in the next four years, or eight years, maybe, part of our identity to be activists, basically, to be aware that there is something more important than our lives, than fashion, than everything, and that we have to be more united in fighting for what’s right, for our rights and creating a better world for our children. I think that could be the only positive consequence of what’s happening. It’s a wakeup call.
EMILY: I love your suggestion of just choosing the thing you want to focus on and go there. I think that’s a really good start for everyone and maybe you get into other things because of what you’ve chosen and you can collaborate on other issues.
AUDREY: What I am realizing is that a democracy means you can get involved in your government, as a citizen. Even if you don’t run for office, you realize your government belongs to you, your government works for you, so, you call them! You actually call them and tell them what you want!