(ETA: The link near the end of the post, “Headed up State Street,” links to a 45MB video of the Climate March, so unless you have a good connection the download may take some time.)
I have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and worked in analysis and product development for almost thirty years. I like knowing the truth about things. For those reasons and others, on Saturday 22 April, I took part in my very first march, the Chicago March for Science. Then the following Saturday, 29 April, I participated in the Climate March.
Rain had been predicted for the March for Science, but as the day approached, the threat faded. We had sunshine, and though it was chilly, winds were calm. I was staying in the city for C2E2, so I got to have breakfast at a spot on the corner of South Michigan Avenue and E. Jackson and watch people walk by on their way to the pre-march rally on S. Columbus Drive.
The rally consisted of speeches by the organizers and other guests, capped off by a rousing and funny keynote by Emily Graslie, the Field Museum Chief Curiosity Correspondent. After that, we walked down Columbus Drive to the Field Museum campus and the Expo, which consisted of display booths from Northwestern University, Brookfield Zoo, disease advocates, and other organizations.
The estimate of attendance was 40,000 at first, but a few days later it was bumped up to 60,000. The mood I sensed was determined but upbeat. It was an all-ages event—there were grade-schoolers with their parents, teens and young adults, middle-aged and elderly. Some folks brought their dogs (there may have been cats, but I didn’t see any). There had been some controversy over the fact that the national organizers had sought to downplay the social and political aspects of science denial, and while support for science was the primary focus, there was an obvious political slant to a number of signs.
In contrast, the Climate March on Saturday April 29th felt much edgier and more political because of threats to the EPA and first people’s lands and the fact that contamination of air and water has often been concentrated in more impoverished areas of the city.
We gathered in Federal Plaza. After a rally and short speeches from activists and a representative from the Chicago EPA, we headed up Dearborn to Monroe, then up State Street to the south bank of the Chicago River at Wabash, ending up just across from Trump Tower. Some drivers honked support as we passed. Folks videoed us from the sidewalks and ‘L’ platforms.
Once we reached Trump Tower, we dispersed fairly quickly. According to one report I found, about 5000 folks attended. I think the numbers would’ve been higher if the weather hadn’t been so miserable—40s, windy, almost continuous rain. I didn’t come away with as good a feeling as I did after the Science March. There is so much to do, and all the clichés about uphill battles apply.