Members of Sisters Indivisible met at Sisters Library to create signs for the Women’s National March for Action .
photo by Linda Hanson
Grassroots activism in Sisters
Many of the participants in last Saturday's Women's National March for Action in Bend are members of a loosely affiliated group of like-minded people called Sisters Indivisible.
The group describes itself this way:
"We are a community of progressives in the Sisters area who organized following the 2016 presidential election. Our goals are to actively resist the Trump agenda through grassroots efforts to hold the administration and our members of Congress accountable and to offer positive solutions at all levels of government to build the future we need. We seek to educate and inform our community about actions they can take to make a direct, positive impact."
Delayne Giardini is on the steering committee for the group, which has 150 members based on its "weekly update and daily actions" email.
"We were founded in late 2016 by locals Paula Surmann and Josh Berger," she told The Nugget. "We are passionate about getting out the vote and promoting a more progressive, just, and equality-based government agenda."
Giardini noted that there are local "Indivisible" groups across the United States, organized for much the same purpose.
Sisters Indivisible meets at the Sisters Library Community Room a couple of times a month on Thursday or Saturday. Their next meeting is on February 8 at 5:30 p.m.
"Our meetings are open," Giardini said. "Anyone can come."
The group has featured speakers including Democratic Party candidates seeking to run against Republican Congressman Greg Walden and John Davidson of the Neighborhood Leadership Program in Bend.
Giardini acknowledged that, thus far, the group has engaged with like-minded people and speakers.
"I'd say we tend to be more on the progressive side, but we're open to all conversations," she said. "We're not inviting people who think the opposite of us. We haven't. Maybe we
She said the group is interested in "real dialogue that is not divisive."
Asked how the group can achieve that kind of dialogue if its engagement is with the like-minded, Giradini said, "It happens in an informal way - on the street, in the grocery store..."
Giardini said Sisters Indivisible is comprised of people of all ages, from various backgrounds and walks of life. And it's not somber or angry.
"It's basically local, grassroots activism," she said. "In a loving, caring, fun way I might add."
About 30 people - maybe more - from Sisters headed to Bend on Saturday to join an estimated 3,500 others in the National Women's March for Action.
The specific issues that motivated the women - and some men - to march varied individually, but they coalesce around a deep disquiet about the course of the republic under the Trump Administration.
Many of the Sisters marchers are affiliated with Sisters Indivisible, which describes itself as "a community of progressives in the Sisters area" whose "goals are to actively resist the Trump agenda through grassroots efforts to hold the administration and our members of Congress accountable and to offer positive solutions at all levels of government to build the future we need" (see sidebar, page 18).
"This is actually a part of a nationwide movement," said Linda Hanson, a Sisters photographer who marched on Saturday. "Every major city had a big turnout - a mass turnout.
"It's just to say we don't like what's happening. We do not approve of Donald Trump and his crude ways. We don't approve of what's being done with the government - what's being done and undone."
Hanson said that her concerns include healthcare and the fate of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). She is concerned about the fate of so-called "Dreamers" who face deportation if DACA protections are lost.
"The very idea that you'd export 800,000 people that have been living here their whole lives - I don't understand it," she said. "I just don't."
For Margaret Wood of Sisters, Saturday's march was her second Women's March. Wood's participation with Sisters Indivisible marks for her a new level of involvement in the political process.
"I'm not an activist," she said. "I wasn't."
She feels there is a "need to be connected with others who are also disappointed with how things have gone the past year."
Wood said she is motivated by something deeper than particular concerns about particular issues.
"What motivates me most is that I feel there is a cynicism with the current administration that I can't support," she told The Nugget. "I recognize the frustration that led to the election of Trump, but I feel I have to be active in letting the administration know that people are watching."
She cited as an example of cynicism the "irony of campaigning on getting Wall Street out of Washington and appointing Steve Mnuchin (a former hedge fund manager with an estimated net worth of $300 million) Treasury Secretary.
"It's deeper than just thinking Donald Trump is ill-equipped for the presidency," she said.
The activism of the Sisters women is not confined to marching on a Saturday.
Hanson noted that she has joined Bend protesters in front of the offices of Republican Congressman Greg Walden. She says she is working to see him defeated at the polls. She said she recognizes that Walden is pretty secure in his district, but she thinks that a campaign to unseat him will get his attention even if it's not successful.
"I talked to somebody at a party who said, 'Oh, he's bullet-proof,'" Hanson said. "But, you know, so what?"