Sunday, January 22, 2017

Wyoming Women's March and Potluck draws big crowd to downtown Cheyenne

Me: We had 5 million people in Cheyenne yesterday for the Wyoming Women's March.
Other person: No you you didn't.
Me: Yes we did.
Other person: Impossible. Only 65,000 people live in Cheyenne. The crowds would have stretched all the way to Chugwater. We have photos to prove you wrong.
Me: Photos, schmotos. If I say we had 5 million, we had 5 million. That's all you need to know in Trump's America.

OK, some 1,200 people attended Saturday's Women and Allies March on Wyoming. How do I know? I don't. I am relying on guesstimates from the Cheyenne Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Office. That number was repeated in this morning's Wyoming Tribune-Eagle which featured the march on the front page. At one point, I ventured that several thousand had attended. My proof? My own bias and buoyant enthusiasm at seeing such a large group of enthusiastic people gathered to protest Trumpism. So, I am as much a reliable source as Trump is reliable with estimates of attendance at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

No matter. The crowd exceeded expectations, and may have been the biggest ever to protest anything in The Magic City of the Plains. It was organized by a coalition of liberals that included the Laramie County Democrats, the Laramie County Democrats Grassroots Coalition and Wyoming Equality. Organizers were Sara Burlingame and Lori Brand. Speakers included Cathy Connolly, the first openly LGBT state rep, Rev. Rodger McDaniel, and a host of others from faith communities and activist organizations. Many, many people volunteered as parade marshals, cooks, servers and for anything else that needed doing.

I'm a member of the Grassroots org's fund-raising committee. As such, I was tasked with making chili and baking brownies. In my Crockpot was a big serving of Mike's NASty Man/Woman Beef and Bean Chili. The N-A-S in NASty is the abbreviation for No Added Salt, a battle cry of mine since salt helped bring down my heart a few years ago. Actually, I helped bring down my heart. Modern medicine, science, a refugee cardiologist, great nursing care, and my own hard work aided in the return of my heart. My mission, as a home gardener and a cook, is to make low sodium foods from scratch. It is almost impossible to find low sodium canned chili, one of my favorite remedies for Wyoming's long winters. So I make my own without salt and expect people to eat it.

They did. It was gone by the time I went through the serving line. 30 other Crockpots awaited my attention. Organizers don't know that so many hot dishes would show show up at Cheyenne's Historic Depot. We put out the word on social media and e-mails and even phone calls. The people responded with chilis, stews and soups. I would have liked to sample them all, the vegetarian minestrone. the white chicken chili. the vegetable soup. I sampled Sherryl's beef and sausage chili which featured salt but was oh so good (I had a small bowl). I ate my post-march meal with some friends from Fort Collins and some strangers from Laramie and Centennial.  A congenial group, impressed by the hospitality. I was impressed too, even though I was part of it. The warmth of the crowd had all the markings of a church social or grange hall potluck. You don't see many pussy hats or artistic uteruses at the grange hall. But you get my meaning. A group of like-minded people gather for an event, chat, eat well and then go on our way.

All the Crockpots and soup pots plugged into a limited number of outlets caused a short circuit. Latecomers to the food line had a limited selection of lukewarm dishes. But I heard no complaints. There was, after all, plenty of cookies and brownies. The homemade cupcakes were gone, as were Ray's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. You have to get there early for those.

What about the march itself? Were the speeches good? What else did you see? Were there any riots?

Short answers. I couldn't hear most of the speeches due to defective sound system. I ran into my one-time work colleague Katie and her four-month old baby and her handcrafted uterus sign. I also like the big banner unfurled by women from Laramie: "Wild Wombs of the West." No riots, although I did have to serve as bathroom monitor at the depot when the women staged an uprising at the long women's restroom line and marched over to the men's room looking for equal time. We graciously took turns.

Read today's WTE's story on the march here. Google "women's march" to get scads of stories about protests all over the globe, even in Park City, Utah, and Antarctica. And four other Wyoming locales: Casper, Lander, Pinedale and Cody.

See you next time.

Afterburn, a post-march transition meeting, will be held at 3 p.m on Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Laramie County Public Library in Cheyenne. More info at

P.S.: If you came here looking for part two of "Learning to Breathe," I will post it tomorrow.

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