Marching for Science

(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.

Heading to the rally

One of my favorite signs

Yours truly, and a whole lotta other folks











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.


The post-march expo

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.

Climate March Rally

Headed up State Street

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.

Polar bear photo op




About Kristine Smith

Kristine Smith is the author of the Jani Kilian series and a number of SF and fantasy short stories, and is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She worked as a pharmaceutical process development scientist for 26 years, but now writes full-time. She also writes supernatural thrillers under the name Alex Gordon. Check out her BVC bookshelf


Marching for Science — 4 Comments

    • Thanks, but, well, one of the speakers at the climate march was from Honduras, and spoke about a fellow activist who was assassinated last year. Some people are risking their lives. It puts things in perspective.

  1. The energy at today’s May Day protest in Oakland was very high. A very representative mix of Oakland’s workers, from restaurant workers to health care aides to teachers to grad students! Our Climate March and rally last Saturday had a wonderful line up of speakers and musicians — including our firebrand Member of Congress, Barbara Lee — but the crowd marching in the street today was more fired up and let me with more positive feelings.

    • My MoC rode on the bus with us and walked to Federal Plaza, but then had to leave b/c he was scheduled for another climate-releated event. I’d like to think that these marches, overflowing town halls, etc have put MoCs on notice.But memories are short. Need to play the long game.