A Look into the March for Science – Los Angeles
Last Saturday’s Earth Day was not only a celebration of the planet but in many cities throughout the world, it also marked an opportunity for scientists to vent their frustrations at the current administration. In Los Angeles, the March for Science drew tens of thousands of like-minded people — many first-time activists — for a peaceful gathering. The event began in Pershing Square hours before the march itself, giving participants — most decked out in clever t-shirts and costumes — a chance to check out the science expo and an array of exceptionally brainy and inspired attire.
For those who experienced the intensity of the Women’s March in January, the science march seemed more like nerd Halloween, in the best possible ways. Sure, there were a few seasoned activists in the group; organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity from Oakland, for example, came across as experienced, organized, and on-message. Another Oakland group represented was Chalkupy (rhymes with occupy), a collective that grew out of the Occupy movement. Their group-illustrated chalk art read, “Science, you don’t have to believe for it to work.” The brainchild of organizers including Naomi Pitscairn and DJ Occupy occupied a massive footprint that became a meeting ground, selfie station, and perhaps the best marriage of art and science at the event.
In this cynical moment when activists are accused of being paid professionals, the vibe on Earth Day was almost entirely homegrown. Most participants were there as part of small collectives of friends, families, or school groups. They carried charmingly handmade signs that addressed everything from climate change to peer review, with many veering toward the extremely personal. One middle-aged woman’s sign read, “it’s not a hot flash, it’s climate change.” A priest in his habit declared God’s love of science on his sign.
All in all, the science march proved an effective platform for those who rarely draw attention to themselves, their work, or their philosophies. Before this administration, it would have been impossible to imagine self-declared nerds participating in street-level call-and-response en masse:
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
But, these are tough times and one thing that the March for Science showed the world is that in each of us is a potential activist.