April 29th marked the first major evaluation point of Trump’s presidency: the 100-day mark. We’ve realized that March for Science – Seattle (MFSS) is also approaching our 100th day as an organization as well. Today, May 2nd, 2017, marks our 99th day. This realization has given us cause for celebration but also reflection. In honor of our upcoming 100 days together, we are making the first ever blog post to celebrate our past accomplishments and outline our future.
Call to Action: Our Facebook group, and subsequently the MFSS movement, was formed on January 24th, just days after the inauguration. As organizers with MFSS, we each signed up for a leadership role and many hours of labor because we felt called to action. We are women, men, parents, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, members of the disabled community, educators, and we are scientists. Trump’s anti-science, xenophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric threatened our culture, our families, and our work. Worse yet, we felt hopeless to make a change. This is why we joined March for Science - Seattle.
March for Science – Seattle: Earth Day March
Our march far exceeded our goals. When we arrived at Cal Anderson Park just before 6:30 am the park was nearly empty. A few people stopped by to ask what we were doing – none of them had heard of March for Science. Just as we were starting to worry that no one would show up, the crowds started to arrive. The music started and shortly after that MFSS Organizers took the stage for “The Star-Spangled Banner”. As we stood on stage, we were awestruck by the number of people that had joined us in taking a stand. At that moment, we had two life-affirming realizations: 1. We did it! 2. We couldn’t have done it without YOU. Although we had significant obstacles and very little time, with your help, we banded together and did something amazing!
Despite poor weather, southbound I-5 being closed, and a ferry route that was shut down, we gathered an estimated 25,000+ scientists and science enthusiasts. More importantly, our voices were heard!
In the days before the March, the current administration boasted of wide and deep cuts to science, health, and environmental agencies. Specifically, Trump’s initial budget proposed cutting the EPA by one-third, resulting in the potential of one in five employees being laid off. Trump also boasted about major cuts to the NIH, threatening to slash NIH funding by as much as 20%. Yesterday, just days after our march, we received the exciting news that Congress has reached an agreement on a budget. This 2017 budget excludes the proposed crippling funding cuts to prominent science and health agencies. Although the EPA funding avoided a major funding cut, it did suffer from a 1% decrease in funding. NIH receive no budget cuts; instead, they received an additional 2 billion dollars in funding. Other big wins in this budget include the National Parks, which are fully funded; NASA, which also received a modest funding increase; even the National Endowment for the Arts received an increased budget this year.
This is our proof of concept, our litmus test. We have evidence that our voices are being heard and our actions matter. In reflecting back on the work that MFSS has become, we see ourselves as a science service organization. We have worked to provide the scientific community a platform to share their concerns about funding and climate change. We have also served the science enthusiast community by hosting free events that connect scientists with the public. (Click here to learn about March for Science Outreach Events Leading up to the March). As we look toward our future, we are going to continue to use science to serve our community.
That said, we are at a critical point in our resistance against anti-science rhetoric. Now is the time for sustained action.
March for Science – Seattle will use science to support our community. This is how:
March for Science – Seattle: Will be the parent organization and will host two major events each year and will sponsor a series of smaller events. March for Science – Seattle, going forward, will consist of two groups – Education and Policy.
Citizens for Science: March for Science – Seattle’s education outreach, will strive to use science to serve the community while giving marginalized voices in science a platform to share their discipline. We will be hosting outreach events and be helping to connect community members with scientists.
Upcoming Citizens for Science Events:
Food Science Cooking Class: A food scientist will teach a lesson about food and fermentation and teach the class how to make a fermented dish: kimchi. The event will be hosted in a soup kitchen and all proceeds will go to the hosting soup kitchen. Details coming shortly.
Indigenous Voices on Climate Change: Talk with local tribes about climate science, risks to their reservations and ancestral lands, and solutions to the global climate crisis. Details TBD
The WA Science-Based Policy Center is an organization dedicated to fighting for robustly funded, publicly communicated science and evidence-based policy. The Policy Outreach Group is an organization with the goal of interacting with and educating legislators on:
- The process of science beyond the simplistic classroom scientific method.
- How science can inform evidence-based policies that are beneficial to their constituents in areas including, but not limited to: Global Climate Change, Medicine, Energy and the Environment.
- Why funding STEM research and education now is a smart investment for their constituents’ future.
The WASP Group will also produce educational materials to help increase the literacy of the legislative process among scientists and help facilitate interactions between scientists and legislators so that we can achieve evidence-based policies.
Moving forward, our immediate next step is to apply for status as a Non-Profit Organization. As we define our organization’s structure and roles, we will need people to help us advance our cause. We will be hosting a volunteer picnic in June to update volunteers and discuss the organization. Details will be posted soon.
We are strong because of you. Thank you for being part of this adventure.
Let’s keep up the good work!