This Saturday, April 22nd, Reno participated in the international March for Science.
With call backs to the Reno’s Women’s March, both in route and size, people gathered in front of the Reno courthouse and federal building preparing for their march down Virginia Street to the Believe sculpture. Warm weather graced the eventi, and the crowd was boisterous, filling the air with the sound of a thousand conversations.
There was a small amount of disagreement off the bat as some wanted the march to be a celebration of science, while others wanted to use it as an anti-trump rally. A small exchange of words took place during the march between a man with a sign that read, “Groper in Chief” with a derogatory image of President Trump, and a marcher who called out asking the man to put the sign away saying that it was not the message of the day. The two exchanged a few more words of disagreement, but I personally did not see a reappearance of that particular protest sign.
Many protest signs did have a distinctively political take on the event, referencing elements of either the Trump administration or President Trump himself. Slogans referred to Trump’s “Make America great again” slogan, changing it to “Make America think again,” or the administration’s use of the term “alternative facts”. Two different Trump piñatas were paraded around the event giving may people a chance to take photographs with their signs and the Trump likeness.
While not the same size as the Women’s March, which estimates have put at 10,000, the crowd at the science march was about 2,000, which filled City Plaza as participants gathered around a small stage to hear speakers.
Trudy Larson, director of the School of Community Health Sciences at UNR, spoke about the importance of vaccines and the pain she saw children and their families go through while suffering from diseases that are now preventable. She continued by asking the crowd where people get their information from. Someone in the audience shouted back, “Facebook.” before the rest of the crowd shouted, “us!. Larson agreed with both, discussing how while the internet is a vast source of information, it is also a vast source of misinformation.
Taylor Wilson, who built a fusion reactor at age 14, spoke about the human drive to understand their surroundings, repeating the comment that curiosity and inventiveness are the reasons our species has succeeded.
Irene DeHann, a junior in high school at The Academy of Arts, was the most energetic speaker of the event. Among other things she talked about her goal to work for NASA, even donning a NASA hat while she spoke. Her main point though was the idea that science needed to be supported by everyone and how bettering science would better the lives of everyone.
While scientists made up the speaking section of the event, they also made up a decent percentage of the crowd. UNR professors could be seen greeting students, including Geoffrey Smith and Jenanne Ferguson of the anthropology department. Others in the crowd discussed their love of science and often mentioned the TV program the Magic School Bus or work by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Some simply said they were “science nerds.” While perhaps there was some dissent in the ranks regarding the message of the event, pro-science vs anti-Trump, the message that science has a permanent and important place in American, specifically Reno’s, society was loud and clear.