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Second annual women’s rally draws hundreds to Greenfield common

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’€s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Andrea Michael holds up a sign reading "I am somebody" as hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Shannon Prescott stands with a sign on her back reading "I'm with her" as hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’€s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Attendees of the second annual Franklin County Women’€s Rally hold up signs on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Joan Featherman speaks to the hundreds gathered on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’€s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Band members of Kalliope Jones perform to the hundreds gathered on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’€s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’€s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds gather on the Greenfield common for the second annual Franklin County Women’€s Rally on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Saturday, January 20, 2018

GREENFIELD — Standing on the Greenfield common Saturday afternoon, 17-year-old Clara Richardson-Omamo joined in an embrace with her three friends, reciting the blessing led by Pastor Liza Knapp of the First Church of Deerfield.

Richardson-Omamo, a student at Stoneleigh-Burnham School from Chicago, was one of approximately 500 people who gathered for the second annual Franklin County Women’s Rally.

“It’s a place where not only women’s rights matter, but it’s clear everyone here supports the individual struggles we’re facing right now,” she said, noting how she felt “copious amounts of support. I came because I knew it would be beautiful.”

“I think now, more than ever, we need to get together to keep things positive and thoughtful,” agreed Leyden resident Holly Spatcher. “This gives me hope, coming out and seeing all the positive messages.”

The rally involved eight speakers and performers that made the crowd cheer, chant, dance and sing, proudly holding signs reading, “Voting is my superpower” and “Fight like a girl.” Opening speaker Katherine Harris summed up the event’s purpose as being “to celebrate and call forth the power and voices of women.”

“We are this world and we can change it for the better,” said emcee Amy Proietti.

“All voices and lives count in shaping a country we want to live in,” added speaker Joan Featherman, who was involved in starting both NELCWIT (New England Learning Center for Women in Transition) and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

A common theme linked the speakers together: the importance of voting and participating in democracy.

“You don’t have to worry about being beaten. You don’t have to worry about the hose being turned on you. You don’t have to worry about police dogs,” said Greenfield City Council Vice President Penny Ricketts, gesturing to City Hall behind her. “You just have to walk in and vote.”

Ricketts hoped to see the voting age for local elections lowered to 16, as has been done in Ashfield, Shelburne and Wendell, and called it her duty to get more women involved in politics and at the City Council table next to her.

“Get out and vote,” agreed activist Cate Woolner. “It matters.”

Bernardston resident Woodley Wardell, who was accompanied at the rally by his friends Tom Daughton of Deerfield and Ron Senn of Greenfield, said how important it is to have more women in positions of power, whether it be in politics, business or the military. Wardell looked to the 2018 election, which will see 33 Senate seats and all 435 House of Representatives seats up for grabs.

“There’s a big opportunity in 2018,” he said.

Woolner addressed the men in the crowd, like Wardell, Daughton and Senn who attended to support their wives, sisters and mothers. She asked them to do their part in ending sexual assault, bringing up the next generation of children with a deep respect for women, and rejecting not only the “blue-pink paradigm,” but the idea that “boys will be boys and girls are sugar and spice and everything nice.”

Woolner went on to say she’s angry that women continue to struggle for respect and equal opportunity, while President Donald Trump “boasts about his predatory behaviors.” Trump’s “Grab them by the pussy” comments in a 2005 video sparked a local #GrabHimByTheBallot campaign in 2016, where women posed nude with a strategically placed mock ballots in protest.

Activist Rhonda Anderson hoped residents would “resist harmful policies and legislation that seek to turn back the clock” on women’s rights.

“Against this current government and administration, we must all be resilient,” Anderson said.

The speakers offered practical messages about how individuals can make a difference. Woolner hoped residents might learn about nonviolent direct action through the Sojourner Truth School in Northampton or through Sugar Shack Alliance, while Featherman reminded attendees there are hundreds of ways to have an effect, whether it be by getting involved in politics or volunteering at a local food pantry.

“Your work, your energy, matters,” she said.

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

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