“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
-Neil Degrasse Tyson
After centuries of scientific discoveries and breakthroughs driving the decisions of our society, thousands upon thousands of people in the US alone took to the streets in peaceful protest in response to our administration’s recent demolition of evidence-based policy making.
If you had told me when I graduated college 6 years ago that the scientific community and its supporters would have to try to convince the government to believe in science – let alone use it – I would’ve assumed you were insane.
Unfortunately, this is real. This is happening. So my friends and I, along with 45,000 other people, marched through Chicago to make our voices heard. The experience was incredible. People from all walks of life and cultures joined together in support of science – a universal truth. I met doctors, researchers, moms, dads, kids, students, fellow teachers, pharmacists – you name it, they were there. To see so many people in support of something so fundamental was inspiring, and I feel lucky to have been a part of it.
We arrived in Chicago around 9:30am on April 22nd, 2017: Earth Day. Upon exiting the train, it was very clear which direction we were supposed to go – us non-city folks followed the immense crowds all walking towards Grant Park. Before even arriving at the starting point, people held their signs high and proud.
Once we arrived at Grant Park, the immensity of the turnout became very clear. The crowd was massive. The rally before the march included speakers Karen Weigert, who served as the Chicago Chief Officer of Sustainability for 5 years, Gary Cooper PhD, the CEO of Rheaply, INC, Dr. Lee Bitsoi, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Rush University, and keynote speaker Emily Graslie, The Field Museum’s Chief Curiosity Correspondent and host of the science YouTube channel, The Brain Scoop.
As the rally ended, the march to The Field Museum began. As we meandered through the streets, chants were sung, signs were held, helicopters hovered, and conversation with strangers ran wild. Though we were there to support science, it didn’t mean we didn’t have a little fun. When you get a group of nerds that big together, things are bound to get funny- in a very scientific way. For example:
When we arrived at the end, we climbed to a high spot where we sat and watched the crowd pour in. To see thousands upon thousands of people laughing and smiling and having hope during a time like this gave me hope as well. Sometimes we feel like we can’t do anything. We feel that politicians have all the say and we just have to deal with it. But that’s not true. Regardless of your political beliefs, age, or experience, there is always something you can do. Call your senators, take part in peaceful protest, have conversations with people. Let people know what’s on your mind. But most importantly – educate yourself. Without education, we have a world full of bad ideas and careless people. Be someone who cares. Be part of the solution.