minnesota march for science logo

The March for Science Write-Up

So as I mentioned before that I was going to the March for Science in St. Paul, Minnesota. And given the amount of trepidation I’ve had over it, I figure I’d be remiss if I didn’t leave a note. You see, ever since Trump was elected, I felt I had to do something against this evil authoritarian/bully. I considered the Women’s march successful IMO — especially given the contrast to the previous day’s dismal inauguration. People I admire on Twitter documented it, and I watched. My own sister was there in Boston. And moreover, it emphasized the feeling of “I’ve got to do something against this regime, because if no one does anything, that’s when they win.”

So after playing Starcraft for a little while (it’s free, you know), I got in my car and headed to downtown St. Paul, toward the Science Museum parking ramp. And I put in my motivational music, music to foster the rebellion’s purpose inside me, which was… I don’t want to say… Come on, do I have to?

Fine, it was Newsies. But just the good songs, okay? Fine? There, I told you. Anyway, because there was a Minnesota Wild game (playoffs) also happening at 2:00. As a result, parking at the ramp was $20 (which is quite high). I walked up to street level, where the Wild pre-game activities were going on. But it wasn’t hard to find some other marchers, so I just followed them. More and more gathered and soon it was a mass that blocked traffic. I don’t think we were supposed to block traffic on this route, but it felt like the march had begun. Until we stopped.

At this point, the anxiety began. I felt very exposed and alone. People were taking pictures, marching with friends and family, holding up signs. I was alone in my black polo shirt, trying to blend in. Not that I thought riots would break out, but I’m meant to be the observer, not the observed. Made me wish I’d taken another venlafaxine that morning. There were a lot of families there and it made me miss my own. Not that I asked they be here — this is something I wanted to do for myself. But it would have made a great Girl Scout project.

The point I stopped was a street corner before Cathedral Hill Park (where the starting point was supposed to be). I could see the Capitol building from my uphill angle. At this point it’s about 10:30-10:40 — the march starts at 11:00, so I had time to kill. But there was plenty to look at — science signs and costumes, many witty and colorful. I can’t remember where I read it, but one of the ways to make a successful movement is to make protests fun. Yes, that seems contradictory, but on-the-fencers won’t attend if the process is drudgerous. No one wants to chant like monks walking up a hill, banging a book against their heads. This felt like a convention. I didn’t catch anyone around me being too political. Presence there was enough, and there’s no point in preaching to the choir.

I could see the march’s start — people holding a banner like a barricade — and the capitol was not two blocks away. Short march, I guess. From where I stood, I was already halfway there. Then there was a movement of people, and I just followed them. I didn’t see anyone there who wasn’t already part of the march. Several people were standing at the sides watching, holding signs. I’m not sure why they weren’t marching — they weren’t taking pictures and it didn’t seem like they would have been in people’s way. Nor were they dressed in a way that they wanted to be seen. 

With shuffling steps, we moved to the lawn in front of the Capitol. I was able to maneuver into a shady spot under a tree when I looked at the clock. Ten minutes. That whole thing took ten minutes, and there was still fifty minutes until any speakers were to begin. And it wasn’t supposed to end until 2:00.

This brings me to my main thought. It was all… kind of boring. Besides the waiting, the speakers weren’t very interesting or notable (all were local). D.C. got Bill Nye and ?uestlove. A few times I thought about ducking out — I already did my part. I didn’t need to listen to people in the science industry eloquenting about the value of science (see prev. statement re: preach/choir). But that wouldn’t be very honorable. People were going to be taking pictures of this event and every head adds one. 

Besides some interstitial kids reading prepared statements, there were four speakers. Three worked in the field of science. One was a politician (a St. Paul senator) who didn’t sound like she’d written her speech the night before (but I think that’s par for the course for politicians). Among the 13-18 year olds, some were better speakers than others. One reminded me of Vanessa Bayer’s “Laura Parsons” character on SNL Weekend Update, the child actress who reads news that’s way too adult.

It was scheduled to end at 2pm, but at 12:50, the last speaker had finished. And everyone turned around and went home. Like literally. No pomp or circumstance or pledges to take action or resolutions by congresspeople. We just started walking back the same way we came. And it felt a lot longer the way back. It didn’t feel as immediate or vengeful (in a good way) as the Women’s march was, but that makes some sense. After that Access Hollywood video leak, I would feel defensive and vulnerable too. But also, after all the tweets and build-up (some of which was made in my head), I’m left wondering…

I look over to Washington at the higher-ups on Capitol Hill. I know Donald Trump doesn’t give Fuck One about climate change or environmental regulations or “facts”. Those things impede his business from making profits. And the congresspeople and cabinet members are either “on his team” or looking the other way so they’re not targeted. Is any of this going to change anyone’s mind? Did it make a difference? Did I have an impact? Did any of it matter? Was any of this worth the stress I placed on myself?

I guess time will tell.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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