Vail Valley women raising their voices via the Women’s Marches
February 4, 2017
EDWARDS — It's hard to have a private conversation in the cafe area of The Bookworm, so when Adriana Bombard sat down for an interview about the Jan. 21 Women's March, it didn't take long for a couple of table-neighbors to join the conversation.
Bombard attended the march in Washington, D.C., joining hundreds of thousands of others at the event. When she made her flight plans in November, no one knew what sort of turnout there would be for the Women's March on Washington, an event planned as a response to the election of President Donald Trump.
"It turned into a monumental event," Bombard said.
That event reverberated internationally.
A USA Today estimate on Jan. 22 put overall U.S. attendance at more than 500,000 in Washington. A roughly equal number of people attended marches in a number of cities across the country. Worldwide, the USA Today estimate put total attendance at more than 2.2 million.
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Bombard said she hadn't been much involved in politics — except for voting — before Trump's election. But getting involved in Eagle County might have been easier than other places.
"It's easier to have access to the political system here," she said.
Bombard said she was awestruck by the march in Washington, but for now, those marches have been the start of activism for a number of people.
Thanks in part to a local Facebook group, several people gathered recently at Zino's restaurant in Edwards. That brief meeting was a chance to talk about shared experiences and concerns. They also filled out postcards to mail to their congressional representatives expressing concerns about various Congressional and presidential actions.
Those postcards are part of the Women's March's 10 Actions in 100 Days campaign.
Bombard had a pile of those postcards on her table at The Bookworm. Table-neighbor Jennifer Fueston, who was visiting the valley on a family ski trip, asked if she could pick up a few.
Fueston that day was trying to arrange a visit with Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner during a planned trip to Washington. Fueston, who didn't attend any of the Women's March events — she's the mom of a months-old infant — said she'd like to talk to Gardner or one of his representatives about a number of issues, from alleged Russian interference in the November election to proper vetting of potential cabinet members and other officials.
"I have real concerns about who's having an influence on decision-making," she said.
At a second nearby table, Kelly Williams was doing school work — she's working on a graduate degree in environmental science. Williams went to the Denver march with friends, and said she was impressed with the turnout.
"There was a wide variety of people and causes," Williams said. "We just wanted to let people know we're here and we want our voices to be heard."
The power of speech
Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler Henry said more voices brought to bear on the political system is a good thing.
"A lot of folks don't realize they can contact their elected representatives," Chandler Henry said.
That's why she was at the recent meeting at Zino's with Bombard and others.
"There were folks there who had never contacted a senator, who didn't know whose congressional district they were in or whether to address postcards 'Dear Cory' or 'Dear Sen. Gardner," Chandler Henry said.
While she questioned the ultimate effectiveness of sending post cards, Chandler Henry said the bigger benefit is simply getting more people engaged in the process.
"We ignore the democratic process at our own peril," Chandler Henry said. "You can't just vote and forget about it."
There's no way to know what sort of lasting effect the Women's March may have, but it has captured the attention of many people. And, Bombard said, those people represent a number of different ideas.
Chandler Henry said she hopes the passion fueled by national events will translate into more engaged voters in local elections, too.
"I hope people stay engaged, and then run for office," Chandler Henry said, adding that people shouldn't leave serving in elective offices to others. "I was guilty of that as well," she said.
But people can make an impact on their representatives, Chandler Henry said, citing a report that Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz had quickly withdrawn a proposed bill that would ease the sale of 3 million acres of federal land — a proposal first generated in 1997 by Bureau of Land Management officials.
"That's what we're talking about," she said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.