Wooweekly January 13 2018 Vol. 15 No. 48

By Ellen Pill

"This year's march has a theme," Kevin Barnet said. "It's Power to the Polls."


Barnet is the president of Indivisible Wooster, part of a progressive grassroots network of local groups. The group's mission from their Facebook page is to "promote a progressive and inclusive agenda by effecting change through the political system at all levels of government."


The page says, "We embrace liberal values and promote inclusivity, respect and fairness in all of our actions."


Indivisible Wooster along with Wayne Forward will host Wooster's second annual women's march on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the gazebo in downtown Wooster from 1-3 p.m. Numerous other community groups are involved in the planning as well.


The theme comes from the national women's march movement that on Jan. 17, 2017, saw 5 million people of all backgrounds — women and men and gender nonconforming people; young and old; people of diverse faiths; differently-abled people; and immigrants and indigenous — come together on all seven continents of the world.


They were answering a call to show up and be counted as those who believe in a world that is equitable, tolerant, just and safe for all, one in which the human rights and dignity of each person is protected.


Grounded in the nonviolent ideology of the civil rights movement, the women's march was the largest coordinated protest in U.S. history and one of the largest in world history.


This year organizers are coming together once again all over the country. Barnet said, "We invite and encourage everyone, men and women, to stand in solidarity with our spouses, our partners, our children, our friends and our families to express our intentions to continue to support women’s rights. We will stand to protect our safety, our health and our dignity."


The theme refers to the group's desire to encourage people to vote in the upcoming 2018 and 2020 elections.


Barnet believes it is important to hold another gathering in Wooster. "I think people are still afraid and angry and want to participate," he said.


He referred as well to the recent Me Too movement that inspired millions of women to post on social media, sharing personal stories of sexual harassment and assault.


The Wooster event will include a roster of speakers and live music by Joe and Chelsea Churpek. The emcee for the event will be Oliver Warren, president of Concerned Citizens of Wayne County. Warren will speak about voter registration and gerrymandering.


Barnet also will speak as a candidate running for state representative of District 1 in Wayne County. Barnet will talk about growing up in a home where two women were the head of the household.


Don Noble is slated to talk about the environment, Paula Chenevey will speak on health care and Dee Dee Giese will address the importance of women voting in 2018.


Kevan Franklin will discuss poverty and how the new tax laws impact those most in need. Ashley Breneman will address the Me Too campaign.


Ken Harbaugh also will be on hand to address those gathered at the rally. Harbaugh is a candidate in Ohio's 7th Congressional District.


"I know last year I was really moved by how many people attended," Barnet said. "Sometimes you feel like you're the only one who cares, and when you get around other people and go to a rally like this and hear the speakers and hear people's stories, it really energizes you. For me it energized me enough to run for public office."


Mandy Parkinson is a member of the local group, Wayne Forward. "For me," Parkinson said, "the march is about supporting each other: our families, our sisters, our moms. It's a women's march, but it's for everybody."


Parkinson explained that the theme revolves around encouraging everyone, especially young people, to get out and vote in 2018 and 2020.


"It's about empowering our young people to pay attention," she said, "to learn about the issues and vote. Education is empowerment."


Wayne Forward is a secret group on Facebook, reflective of the current divisiveness often seen in the local community. "There are some people in Wayne County who don't want people to know their political leanings," Parkinson said.


Anyone interested in joining the group is invited to a private message by Parkinson (Mandy White) on Facebook.


Find Indivisible Wooster on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/indivisiblewooster/.


The Facebook event page can be found at Wooster's 2nd Women's March at www.facebook.com/events/2041006932832273/.  


For more information about the national Power to the Polls women's march in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Jan. 21, go to www.powertothepolls.com.