By Michael Sullivan Appeared Originally in The Ventura County Reporter

The Women’s March sent a strong message that millions of Americans do not agree with the direction or vision that President Donald Trump has for America, and we will not support a president who does not respect the rights, equality and dignity of so many. I also learned that millions of Americans are more motivated than ever to organize, speak out and effect change.

I will use every opportunity I have to speak out. Whether it is on the floor of the House of Representatives, with the press or at events in the district, I will make sure that my constituents and all Americans are kept informed. For instance, in just his first few days, President Trump has rolled back important environmental protections, removed any mention of the LGBT community from his official website, put a gag on global women’s family planning services and has put in place directives that will thrust the health care of all Americans into uncertainty and chaos.

I will vote according to the values of my district. The vast majority of the voters in my district are committed to women’s health and economic rights, civil rights, protecting our environment and supporting our immigrants who contribute so much to our communities and our economy. While the Democrats are in the minority, the Republicans in Congress are very much divided on Mr. Trump’s agenda. The votes of Democrats will be critical to slowing down or stopping much of Mr. Trump’s most extreme agenda.

What’s to do next? Get engaged, get organized and speak up. That means staying informed and being proactive. Volunteer your time and resources to an organization, local cause or charity you believe in. Engage your local, state and federal representatives.

Giving your time can help effect change. It is vitally important that we channel our energy toward organizing and taking positive action, because we’re stronger when advocating together.  The Women’s March showed us just how powerful we can be when we come together in solidarity.  Democracy only works when all Americans are engaged and make their voices heard.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, in L.A.

I was absolutely astounded by the truly historic turnout, as well as the peaceful and joyful tone of the march. I could not have imagined that 750,000 people would turn out on the streets of Los Angeles, and that we would see equally astounding turnouts at marches happening locally, around the state, the country and the world. What it showed me is that, while women (and many men) are angry and afraid, they are also hopeful, energized, eager to take action and very eagerly looking for opportunities to express the values they believe in and the vision of America that they hold for this country. It showed me that women will be the vital force in leading this resistance. We were on the cusp of electing the first female president of the United States, and while Hillary Clinton did not make it into the Oval Office, her candidacy changed us. We can now imagine a woman holding the highest office in the land. Her values changed us. And we will not go back.

California Democrats are committed to being the center of the resistance in this country. Trump lost here and he lost badly — two out of three Californians did not vote for him. Democrats in the legislature plan to resist through legislation — we will be using all the tools at our disposal to pass state laws that will serve as a backstop against the federal government’s action and to protect the values and policies of this state. We will be speaking out, as we did last week when we passed a resolution calling on Congress not to defund Planned Parenthood through a resolution I authored, Senate Resolution 9. And we’ll be taking action through the courts. The state Senate, on Jan. 24, just confirmed the appointment of Xavier Becerra for attorney general, who has promised to use all the legal tools at his disposal to strategically challenge, delay and block egregious action at the federal level. California is an economic powerhouse, one of the top economies in the world, and we have to keep reminding the president that he lost the majority vote badly in this state. He does not speak for us.

We all have to be ready to do our part, not give up hope and not be silent. Trump may never listen to us, but we must demand that Congress will. Call your Congressional representatives about actions you do not agree with. Get your relatives and friends in red states to do the same. If you do not subscribe to a respected newspaper, do so now. It’s vitally important in this era of fake news and “alternative facts” that we support responsible and ethical news outlets and the free press. Give to causes and organizations that are fighting this fight and that will seek legal recourse as necessary to protect our values. Continue to show up at marches and demonstrations and be ready to do your part. This weekend’s march is just the beginning of a long fight ahead and we have to work together.

Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, in L.A.

was so struck by what happened there. We ended up missing the speeches at the park at City Hall because I couldn’t get there. I went with some girlfriends to the Metro at Universal Station. The wait was unbelievably packed. Every train going by was full. This was an unbelievable success. It was so positive, really joyful; the chanting, it was so inspiring,

When I was at the station at Universal, my daughter was sending pictures from D.C. There was no room to move in a sea of pink. I thought, “Oh my god, this is happening, this is a movement! This is explosive.” I just wanted to be around like-minded people and I was surrounded by hundreds of thousands.

What I think we saw at that march, there are a lot of people who care about women’s issues, equal representation, access to health care; to see that was very encouraging. For some of us, it meant to get more engaged: writing post cards, calling senators, congressmen not your own like Paul Ryan and at-risk moderate Republicans — they are going to be a little more in tune with their districts; supporting nonprofits you agree with; getting politically involved or campaigning. We need to focus on what’s going on, read newspaper and see what type of legislation is being passed. Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) and Salud Carbajal,D-Santa Barbara) answer their phones.

The real reason of the march for me is to protect those rights for my children, my daughter and for the next generation. I have everything I need but there is a much bigger picture. For me this was about women, women being empowered to protect women’s rights.

Teenage pregnancy is the lowest [in 70 years]. If we take away access to health care, it is not in the best interest of anyone.

Division in democracy is not healthy. We need to look at this: People have much more in common than we have differences,. We must find some way to bridge these gaps.

Assemblywoman Monique Limon, D-Santa Barbara, in Santa Barbara

On Jan. 21st I marched with the women of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties – right here in my own backyard. These sister marches were crucial in not just supporting the larger marches in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, where the attendance was record breaking, but to show all of the United States and the world we are a compassionate and accepting nation. Marches were held in hundreds of cities, in every single state, and nations all over the world. What makes the multitude of marches so impressive is the sheer number of people who made their voices heard with passion and conviction; committed to protecting their environment, their families and their bodies.

Although many in our community are afraid and anxious about the uncertainties that lie ahead, the consensus from these marches is that we are ready to stand up to uphold our rights. The march showed us that when we are able to bring people together, united in a common sentiment of love and fellowship, and dedicated to keeping these principles at the forefront of our minds, we will see an America reflective of our values.

We can see the results of such strong mobilization. Just one week after the marches, this network of organized advocates took to the streets in and around airports when approved refugees and other legal visitors were detained at airports after an incredibly short-sighted and discriminatory Executive Order was signed by the new President.

I am proud to be a California representative because California is — and will continue to be — a state that values equal protection for all. If people continue to be as committed as they were last weekend, this weekend, and moving forward; we will make a difference.

County Supervisor Steve Bennett, District 1, at Women’s March in Ventura

There is tremendous energy to protect the people of the United States and the world from a leader whose value system includes misogyny, racism and the consistent exploitation of people for his own gain.

[To have our voices heard in D.C., I will] point out as many situations as possible where the wealthiest cabinet ever appointed by a president is implementing policies that ingrain our country’s income inequality, that roll back hard-won protections of women’s rights, and that make the 99 percent of Americans less secure in the long run.

For a movement to be successful it must be focused.  The energy that was displayed on Saturday was generated by the election of Donald Trump and the values and policies he exposed. The first focus must be on the strategic steps needed to build the coalitions and develop the effective strategic steps across this country to defeat Donald Trump in 2020. This is not the most enjoyable work, but it is the most important. Losing the White House is giving us a Supreme Court that will hurt virtually every social justice cause we expressed concern for on Saturday.

Oxnard City Councilwoman Carmen Ramirez in D.C.

I have been marching since I was very young for causes I believed in: against the war in Vietnam, against the nuclear arms race, against U.S. policy supporting death squads in Central America, for immigrant rights and against racism, for peace. But I learned during this march, and the build up to it, that our most unpopular president can actually unify us to push back against his stated goals that would hurt so many of our most vulnerable people. I am hopeful we can defeat those harmful proposals by becoming an ongoing force, changing hearts and minds.

We are lucky to have many great representatives in Ventura County. We have to keep them informed about what we want to see and back them up when there are tough decisions to be made.

We must join with others formally to push our humane agenda. We have to save the planet and thus, ourselves. The real challenge is in those states and communities where the representatives vote against their constituents’ interests. We have to have empathy and try to understand people and where they are coming from. Reach out and find common ground.  Don’t jump to conclusions about people.

Renee Frasier of Simi Valley at Los Angeles March.

The crowds were astonishing. I kept trying to get my group to the beginning of the march, which started at Pershing Square, but we couldn’t get through all of the people in the streets!

My mother occasionally threw her arms in the air and shouted, “These are my people!” The gloomy mood of the past few months lifted. The march energized us, and I am ready to take on each negative change Donald Trump tries to push through with my words, my money and my body.

I shall work hard to organize labor and to fight the coming attack on unions, working conditions, minimum wages and worker safety.

I shall send money to environmental organizations and write to public officials to protect our public lands, waterways and water, and fight global warming.

I shall send more money to Black Lives Matter, the ACLU, Gideon’s Promise, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the United Negro College Fund and other favorite groups fighting for justice and equality.

I shall fight at the local, state and federal levels to expand food stamp programs, Social Security and Medicare for all, including contraception and abortion rights.

But I’m going to start with a postcard party.

Carrie Fisher walked with us at the last walk for the Equal Rights Amendment back in 1979, so my mother’s favorite sign said “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance” with an image of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in the background.

Mary Haffner from Ventura at D.C. march.

The Women’s March made clear to me that this is a very real movement aimed at resisting, speaking up and speaking out about injustice, civil rights, reproductive rights, diversity, and discrimination. From looking at all the signs and hearing the organic chants at the March it is also clear that this movement values facts, science, love and respect.  The election of Trump is a real and serious threat to all that we care about and all that we are willing to fight for.

This March felt like a true fellowship of people coming together who care about others and about our country.  At times it became so crowded and jammed that it was impossible to move. But with every single person I encountered or accidentally bumped into or shared physical space with, we gave each other a mutual glance as if to say, “I’m your sister, your brother, and I stand with you and respect you.” It was exceptionally peaceful and loving. Men were present in great numbers, equally offended by the ominous promise of a Trump presidency.

But more than anything, it was an affirmation that we are all in this together. We have to build on this momentum and continue to resist and to fight and to make our voices heard. We need good progressive people to run for elected offices and we need to support those people in every way we can. We need to continue to contact those who represent us in Congress and reach out to other states where their leaders have forgotten about equal rights and justice.

Tracy Hudak of Ventura at Ventura March

For me, participating in the march, and its global reach, was very, very nourishing. I found myself weeping a lot during the day, and since, in gratitude, and in recognition of how traumatizing it has been to absorb the toxicity of Trump’s approach to difference and dissent, along with the mental contortions of people who support him. What I learned is that I am not alone, that being visible and being together feeds the spirit. I am very eager for the solidarity, love and fierceness of this expression to manifest itself into something actionable and sustainable. Can we coordinate the efforts of many, working on disparate parts of the same elephant? Are there examples of this in nature that we can draw from?

I would like to work on two facets of the movement locally. One would be to work with a group of people to re-think protest, drawing inspiration from the sisters and brothers of Standing Rock and asking: What is sacred? What are we protecting? And what are we expressing? Just being “anti,” while necessary, is a bit incoherent. And it also has us focused on the negative, which, under this administration, seems to be intentionally crazy-making. Rather than protest, what can we demonstrate? Let’s demonstrate unity, strength, care. Let’s be clear about our relationship to nonparticipants. Are they audience? What message to we want them to take away? As a theater artist, I care about the experience of the audience. Can we infect them with joy, curiosity, sympathy? Is that even possible? I would love to have this conversation with a larger group. And secondly, we need to pressure local officials to provide adequate and sincere opportunities for civic engagement. We have a lot of issues and divisions right here in our own county that we could face together if only there were channels to do so. Can we reconcile oil and gas interests with the environment and green energy solutions? Can we reconcile the dire need for affordable housing with maintaining the character of the region? Municipal and county leadership undermine the effectiveness of their own efforts and democracy itself when they merely pay lip service to public engagement. Artists can and should be go-to partners in meeting this regional need to better understand and hear each other, and to come to some agreements on what to try.

Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley of Ventura at Ventura March

I am one of those who didn’t believe the America I know and love would elect Donald Trump as president. I am also one of the 3 million or more people who marched on Saturday.

Today I’m left with the reality that we’re in a fight for democracy. Paulo Freire says, in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that first we need to name the problem, reflect on solutions, then take action.

If we want to save our democracy, we must name the problems that connect us and avoid conflicts and differences. What binds us together? What are our commonalities? What’s our collective story? To name the problem, to figure out what brings us together, who we are and what matters most, we must reach out to friends, neighbors, colleagues and strangers to find out what’s important to them, so we can work together to achieve our goals. To hear what is being said, we may need to practice role-playing these conversations.

Once we find what unites us, we can’t be afraid to take power, and local power is where we can have the most impact. That doesn’t mean that YOU must run for office but we must step forward and support those who are willing to run for office. Voting is important, but we must be aware and involved all year. What does it take to get us off the couch to become a participating citizen?

The massive mobilization that we saw with the Women’s March must lead to organization of those 3 million or more people who left the comfort of their homes to stand up for what matters. For me, it’s social justice and environmental justice.

It’s going to be a wild ride for a few years. This administration will accelerate the progress we’re already seeing in California. Change will come: Just like we showed up by the millions to march, we will show up by the millions to make it happen. The U.S. and the world will transition to a sustainable, global, connected civilization. May it be just. May it be peaceful. May it be soon.

Marshall Sheridan of Ventura at Ventura March

What did we learn? That no one can take America away from the people. The best way to solidify this sentiment is by following the lead of how our forefathers survived: by showing strength in numbers. Trump, on the other hand, seems to think he knows the answers to everything, and the answer to America’s current problems is, let’s just go back to a simpler time, when America was great for white, wealthy people like Trump, when a far more homogenized America could easily believe they were better off while ignoring the large portions of our country suffering. For the first time in quite a while, I recognized my country that I love so much, and it finally once again felt like home.

“Some folks are born into a good life

other folks get it anyway, anyhow,

I lost my money and I lost my wife,

Them things don’t seem to matter much to me now.

Tonight I’ll be on that hill ’cause I can’t stop,

I’ll be on that hill with everything I got,

Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost,

I’ll be there on time and I’ll pay the cost, …”

The words and lyrics above are from, “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Bruce Springsteen, whose lyrics are as relevant today as they were in 1978. As Bruce spoke from the stage on Sunday. in Perth, Australia, “We are the New American Resistance.”

We must look forward, and make everyone accountable for their actions, and not let this momentum slip away. The power and energy at the march, and watching what took place all over the world, was just so powerful.

Kate Larsen of Ventura/Santa Paula at Los Angeles march

The Women’s March was a mind-expanding experience for all of us. People of all races, types, persuasions and ideologies were represented.  I went down with the hopes of finding a positive way to tackle the problem of a divided nation, caring and listening to those on the “opposite” side. If we don’t take into account what others think, we will fail our forefathers’ (and mothers’) idea of a “more perfect union.”

On the way home, we talked of the next step, and friends also emailed. My first project is to support California’s primaries moving up to February, two weeks after the beginning nationwide. We are the most populous state in the union, and yet by the time our votes are counted, the races are over and we have no say in the decision. This is NOT a partisan issue.  Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, a state assemblyman, is spearheading the move. I can spread the word, on editorial pages, to friends, and to people I meet. On the way to the march, at least 10 people read about the primaries-moving-up proposal on the train. They were strangers that caught the excitement about the movement. But the bravest people I saw there were the disabled in wheelchairs in a crowd of 500,000-plus.

Then what? Dialoguing with people who have different stands, and learning to listen and finding ideas that we have in common.  This won’t be easy but it is critical.

Annika Forester of Ojai at Ventura March

While there’s just about nothing Drumpf says that I feel good about, if I had to pick one, my greatest concern is for how his actions are affecting the fabric of our community, specifically the immigrants who do so much essential work and contribute so much to our quality of life here in Ventura County. I felt this most directly when, just after the election, I heard the same story from every teacher and school administrator I had spoken with: Children poured into classrooms everywhere, teary-eyed and stricken with fear that their families would be torn apart. Drumpf’s election signaled the onset of a permanent state of anxiety that their parents, grandparents, siblings or other extended family members will be deported. The question may be literally interpreted as no longer if, but when. No child should have to live with this kind of deep fear that penetrates their being. How will this affect their learning? How they see themselves in the world? And who they might dream to become in their lives? Drumpf’s vile, divisive, toxic rantings have done nothing but scapegoat an entire population, a culture — our next-door neighbors, no less!

What’s next for me is to continue what I’ve been doing, but with more conviction.  I speak Spanish fluently, and in my professional life I serve the immigrants who grow our food here and across California by providing communication and leadership training in the agriculture industry. I have also been very active in my school community where I’ve written grants and helped develop awareness around language access and language justice. When our school communities (parents, in particular) are segregated into English- and Spanish-speaking groups, each group grows more insular. I believe it is the responsibility of school and community leaders to facilitate bilingual meeting spaces, with qualified interpreters, so that discussions can happen transparently and people can hear one another’s questions, opinions and concerns without language limitations. When we hear people’s voices and emotions directly, we remember that our neighbors are really just like us, and we’re better able to recognize that their needs and aspirations are just like ours too.

One area I would like to get better at, in the short term, is learning how to prepare, support and shelter the immigrants in my community if and when real deportation threats emerge. I know there are lots of immigration lawyers gearing up for this now, but the need for adequate legal defense is far outstripped by the demand. Each community is going to have to create resource banks for local people who need help or who want help. What happens when my daughter’s classmate’s parents are picked up in a sweep in Oxnard one day when they’re at work? Who will take custody of the children left behind? Who will house and feed and clothe them? How will they reconnect with their parents once this happens?  What avenues of recourse are available once a parent is in ICE custody? I am very interested in thinking through these scenarios and establishing a support system for just these kinds of unthinkable situations.

Karen S. Socher of Ventura at Ventura March

I was so pleased to see so many people that passionately feel the same way as I do about the Affordable Care Act, the environment and equal rights for all.