-Did you participate in the Women's March on New Jersey?
-Want to know what you can do to continue our movement?
-Have ideas to share?
-Would you like to stay connected to the WMONJ community?
Please join the Women's March on New Jersey Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1483338171698834/
An Open Letter to the Women’s March on New Jersey Participants: The Meyer Guide for Where to Start
The response to our event in Trenton has been overwhelming. The march inbox and my personal FB messenger is teeming with notes of gratitude, personal stories from the day, and, most frequently, the question, “What do we do next?” The stories and thank yous move me to tears. My cry-face has taken centerstage around here the last few days. And in almost every note, someone inevitably says, “I’m ready to go! What’s our next move?”
Honestly, I don’t know, but you can bet your keister I’m going to find out for all of us.
When the concept of having a Women’s March in NJ came to mind, I didn’t know how to go about that either. You all know that I’m not a politician or a member of any social or civil justice organization. Before the election, the only action I took was to rolling out of bed in the morning, hustling the kids off to preschool and kindergarten (which kinda takes a well-oiled machine to navigate the “No, I’m not getting dressed!” and “I don’t like it when you brush my hair!” resistance commentary), and scrubbing old sneakers I bought at garage sales and sold on Ebay to help support my family (that’s a tale for another time). But, I was smart enough to acknowledge what I didn’t know and find the resources to help me turn my idea into action.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s what I’ve been doing the last wek - thinking, planning, and reaching for answers. I'm a big believer that when you put good things out into the universe, good things find their way back in return. Without a doubt, connections will be forged, plans will be made, and those plans set into action. Things will fall into place, as long as I keep reaching and you do too.
More than ever, we need to come together - crossing over boundaries that divide and crushing labels that do the same. We all need to clasp hands, form a wall of resistance, and stand our ground. This is about policies that threaten our rights as human beings. From where I’m sitting, this is also about humanity and basic human decency being under attack.
I may be an ordinary woman, but, I will not allow our nation to become an incubator of hate and bigotry. I will not allow our children to grow up in a country that gives permission from its highest office to assault women, label people as ‘illegal’, mock the disabled, degrade the right to freedom of religion, or tell my daughters who they can or cannot marry. I will not allow the people around me to live in fear because their skin color, lifestyle, or ability makes them a target when they leave the house. This is not the America I want to live in and this is not the America I will raise my children in. Oh. Hell. No.
The questions has been asked since the march, Is this a moment in time or a movement? I choose the later. In fact, it’s almost not a choice. If we want our country to move forward, not backwards, we must continue to rise as often as necessary. But where do we start?
Start here. We need to ACT.
A - Administration (Local, State, and National)
Do you know who your representatives are in the State House in Trenton and in Congress in Washington D.C.? If not, find out.
- Get their contact information. Write it all down and stick it on the fridge or make them contacts in your cell phone.
- Visit their websites. Read where they stand on issues. Dig online. Find out how they’ve voted on matters important to you. Where did they come from and where does it look like they’re going?
That’s the first step. These are the people who report to us. True power rests in our hands and it’s time we wield that power. Right now, we need to be vigilant. You know how kids always seem to see everything, even when you try to slip something past them? We gotta be those kids. Let’s stick our noses in their business. Their business IS our business. And when they make a move we don’t like, we need to call them on it. When they do, we need to support them. Fast and furiously. In large numbers. Inundating a legislator’s office with phone calls, emails, and letters works. We need to do it. Here’s some ideas on how to do that:
- Call. It takes but a moment to pick up and phone and say, “Hi, my name is_______________ and I am a constituent. I urge Assemblyman Blah Blah to vote a certain way tomorrow.” or “Hi, my name is _____________________ and as one of Congressman Foo Foo’s constituents I’d like to put it on record that I’m unhappy with the way he/she is handling this issue.” If you’ve never done it, it’ll feel weird. Once you do it a few times, you could probably do it while feeding the cat, brushing your teeth, and sending a couple of work emails all at the same time.
- Write. Send a postcard. Send an email. Send two or three. Get your friends to send them.
- Visit their office. Seriously. This one takes a little effort, but if you’ve got chutzpah, and maybe an army of friends to accompany you, stop by and make your voice heard. Keep it classy, of course. If you don’t, you downgrade the power of your message. Maybe even phone ahead and request a meeting. Why not?
- Attend board meetings. Go to local events where administrators/legislators are appearing. Talk to them. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid. One thing I’ve learned throughout this process is that people are people. Titles. Labels. None of that matters. Don’t let anyone’s position intimidate you.
This includes local administration as well. Who are your town council members? What platform did they run on? Have they kept their promises? Do you know the phone number for the mayor’s office? Who is on your town’s school board? Know this information. Keep it and use it. Elected officials, local, state, and national, need to be reminded that they work for us. If we voted them in, we can vote them out, as long as we mobilize like we did at the march - peacefully and in solidarity. We need to make our voices heard.
C - Communities
Let’s get out into our communities. We need to start our influence on local ground.
What issues are important to you? Women’s health and reproductive rights? Connect to your local Planned Parenthood branch. Want to foster the development of our youth? Join Big Brothers, Big Sisters as a mentor. Feel strongly about a particular party? Join a local democratic or republican organization. What groups are in your community that support issues important to you? Whose mission matches yours?
How do you find them?
- Start by looking at our list of sponsors and organizations of our march planning team.
- Join our new Facebook group:
- Look online. Google whatever the issue is paired with your county or town name. Check out your town’s website for meeting times that may be posted.
- Talk to friends about what groups they may be involved with or plan on joining together.
- Ask around at your local library or town hall.
When you find that out, get involved somehow. You don’t have to put a ton of time into this. Bake a cake to share with those at an upcoming church, temple, or mosque meeting. Make a donation. Make some calls on the organization’s behalf. Volunteer to help out at an event. Attend some meetings. Talk to other members or volunteers. Mutual interests and ideas build friendships and solidarity. That leads me to my next point...
This part is all about weaving connections. We need one another to send our nation forward. It starts on home turf. We need to get out there and forge relationships with one another - first with those who have mutual interests and then with those whose race, ethnicity, religion, orientation, age, or ability is different than ours.
No protest, rally, or resistance will work if we don’t rise as one. Before we rise, we need to build bridges to solidarity. The best way to do that is to expose yourself to someone else’s color, creed, or lifestyle that is different than your own. People need to connect face-to-face with people. This is an area I hope to focus on as we move forward. I firmly believe we need to listen to understand one another rather than listening to respond. Social media serves its purpose, but real understanding is bred when people talk and share their stories and views. Suddenly, labels get tossed aside and people become just that….people. That was the inherent beauty of our march. We saw one another’s faces, hopes, concerns, and genuine goodness. Find interfaith events in your area. Seek to attend community gatherings that may highlight issues that you aren’t informed about. Get out of your comfort zone. Open your mind and heart and say, “Okay, I’m going to learn something here.” We need to hear one another’s experiences. We need to respect one another’s experiences. We need to learn from one another’s experiences. And don’t think for a second that because, let’s say, someone’s orientation is different than your own, that you have nothing in common. On the surface, there are labels and difference, but I bet, as human beings, you have more in common than you think.
T - Take action
So many of you have come to me with ideas for how to move forward. My response is always, “Yes, do it.” Ideas mean nothing unless you put them into action. Who knows what you can achieve? Do you think I had any clue the idea of “let’s have a march in Jersey” would turn into the awe-inspiring event that generated so much hope and forged connections between 7,500 people? Heck, no. If it gave a voice to a handful of people, I would have considered it a success.
You can type what you think should be done on a Facebook post or spout out ideas to your friends or family. It’s a good place to start, but nothing will come from it unless you “do something”. Right now, there is a great energy and fervor to forge ahead. Let’s move ahead instead of talking about it. Want to start a local group focused on an issue close to your heart? Do it. Thinking about writing a letter to a legislator? Get out your pen or hop on the computer. Seen an event on Facebook that interests you? Go. Change “What if” to “I am”. Find your something and do it.
Never be afraid to do something because you don’t know how. I had zero experience putting together a march. It didn’t stop me. I found army of like-minded, experienced men and women and we worked together to put the idea into action. Things will fall into place as you go. Sure, you’ll stumble along the way. Maybe things won’t go as planned (you should have seen some of the behind-the-scenes preparations for the march...egads!). Reach out. Get help. Find those that do know what they’re doing and bring them in on your idea. Just take action.
The truth is I don’t know….yet. These are my own suggestions for what I think we should be doing right now. Take what you like and leave what you don’t. I make no claim to have any authority whatsoever on this subject. This is just the opinion of me, one woman, and is in no way associated with any of our organizing members or sponsors. I described my newfound role in leading the march to my husband as someone hiring me to teach a neurology class at Stanford. I’m about as qualified. In fact, before the election, I’m lucky if I recognized the names on campaign signs peppered along roadways. Politics has never been my thing, but you know what? People have. And since I’ve become a mother, I will literally move a mountain for my girls if it gets in their way. Their futures are at risk. All of our futures are at risk. If one of us is targeted, we are all targeted from now on. Come for one, come for all. Like you, I don’t know have much of a clue either, but, join me, and let’s figure it out together. See you on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1483338171698834/.
*The above material is the intellectual property of Elizabeth Meyer and retains all rights herein associated with such material.
On Saturday, January 21, 2017, we will unite at the War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey, at 10 a.m. to rally in solidarity with marchers in Washington, DC at the Women’s March on Washington and at the over 170 sister marches being held nationwide and globally.
At this peaceful march, we will unite and empower one another to use our collective, diverse voices to send a clear message that we expect our civil and human rights to be upheld and protected. We will remind those in government that they report to us and that true power is retained by the people.
Women United, Together We Rise
Women of New Jersey will rise united. Though we are diverse in so many ways, we will stand together peacefully with our families and our friends, united in our belief that the strength of our country depends on the strength of women.
We rise together because we affirm the autonomy of women – all of us entitled to control our own bodies.
We rise united because we affirm the dignity of women – all of us deserving of equitable concern, respect, and protection from abuse and violence.
We rise together to advance racial justice and to fight discrimination based on our skin color, ethnicity, gender,religion, orientation, differing ability, or citizenship – all of us safe and free from discrimination and bigotry.
We rise united to dismantle the barriers that keep too many people from healthcare, homes they can afford, and the public education on which democracy depends – all of us committed to moving toward a better tomorrow.
We rise together to end police violence and mass incarceration - all of us standing together to fight against the inequality our sisters and brothers face everyday.
We rise united for urgent action on climate change - all of us recognizing that none of these rights matter if we do not have clean water, clean air, and a habitable earth to leave our descendents.
From our diversity comes one message: we stand to protect women’s civil and human rights. Women United, Together We Rise!
Please help us by sharing this event with every person you know, from any and every background, that may be interested. Our march, an event built on the cornerstones of inclusivity, diversity, peace and acceptance, welcomes all women, of every race, ethnicity, religion, orientation, ability, immigration status, socioeconomic background, and age, as well as their supporters. The greater our numbers, the greater our impact.
ANNOUNCEMENT! First stop on January 21st: Patriot's Theater
The WMONJ is pleased to announce that our event will begin with a program of engaging and dynamic speakers at Patriots Theater located at the Trenton War Memorial.
Following the speaking program, we will march approximately a half of a mile to the steps of the State House, where we take a People's Pledge together and hear a call-to-action.
All marchers should plan to meet at the theater at the War Memorial. The address is 1 Memorial Drive in Trenton. The start time is 10:00 a.m. Due to the large volume of participants, we highly recommend arriving as early as 9:00 a.m.
Please see our official website for transportation and parking options (two free parking lots are located within steps of the War Memorial). All buses and vans are asked to drop marchers off on Memorial Drive. Parking for buses and vans is available on Perry Street. https://sites.google.com/view/womensmarchonnewjersey
WANT A RIDE?
The WMONJ has partnered with Sharethebues to offering buses to the event. Interested? Please visit https://www.sharethebus.com/events/wmw-satellite-new-jersey-march. Please copy and paste the link into your browser. Don't see a departure point from your area? Request it via the Sharethebus website.
DOWNLOAD, PRINT, & SHARE OUR OFFICIAL FLYER. Spread the word!
Official Website: https://sites.google.com/view/womensmarchonnewjersey
For more information on the Women's March on Washington, please visit https://www.womensmarch.com/.
For more information about all of the Women's On marches forming across the country and the world, visit http://womensmarchonamerica.org/.
For an official list of all of our sponsors, please visit https://sites.google.com/view/womensmarchonnewjersey.