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Women’s march in Aspen: ‘I still have a voice’

A thousand people took to the streets and slopes on Saturday in Aspen as part of a nationwide show of solidarity. The group ski and march through town came on President Trump’s first day in office, in response to divisive campaign rhetoric.

Avery Master, 9, skied at the front of the pack Saturday, leading hundreds of riders down Aspen Mountain. With her mom, organizer Kim Master, at her side, she also led the chant, “Joy, peace, love; Aspen rises above.”

Master said that message of positivity — more than protest — was the purpose of Aspen’s complement to the Women’s March on Washington, this one involving skis.

“You know, you take your kid by the hand and you show them how to stand up for themselves and how to stand up for others, and just be part of a caring, thoughtful community,” Master said. “So I’m excited to take Avery’s hand here and march up the mountain, ski down with her.”

Activists ranging from seasoned feminists to pre-school children gathered at the Aspen Art Museum Saturday morning to craft signs to wear down the mountain.

“It’s so cool to have that multigenerational span and to just come together as a community,” said Olivia Oksenhorn, a high school senior.  

And the messages run the gamut, with phrases like:

We don’t want your tiny hands anywhere near our underpants

Tweet everyone with respect

Girls just want to have fun-damental human rights

Mountain women take the high road

Stay nasty

Women for wild lands

Together we can love each other (a tiny 5 or 6 year old boy reading this one)

Climate change is not a hoax

Protect our winters, protect our immigrants, protect our migrants, protect our rights

I am a proud feminist since 1969

Grandmothers are wise-asses

We are the re-sisters

We shall overcomb

Together we can keep animals safe

As Master helped her daughter pin a sign to her ski jacket, she said she’s appalled by some of the language she hears from President Trump. There’s a part of her that’s angry.

“But the good mom part of me is excited about doing something that’s really peaceful and really positive,” she said. “I think that can be just as powerful.”

High school senior Calle Ferguson agreed.

“I had a lot of fear and anxiety, and it feels a lot better just to be here,” Ferguson said as she made signs with her friends. “I feel a lot less powerless just knowing that I still live in a democracy, and I still have a voice.”

After ski patrol escorted close to 500 riders down Spar Gulch, they were met by a flood of protesters in a packed gondola plaza. In the largest demonstration in Aspen’s modern history, men, women and children, clomped in ski and snow boots from the base of the mountain to Wagner Park.

Shereen Sarick marched in a pink hat with cat ears, a so-called “pussyhat.” The hats are a reference to President Trump’s lewd comments from a 2005 Access Hollywood tape. Sarick said it’s important to confront those vulgar statements.

“Like in other points in history, you have to reclaim the word,” she said.

Sarick marched for women’s rights, climate action, education and rights for all people.

Trump’s inauguration and the subsequent protests fell on the final few days of Aspen Gay Ski Week. Chris Bradford was here from Los Angeles for the 40th anniversary of that celebration, holding a sign that said, “I’m with her - and her, and her, and her.”

Bradford was here to show solidarity, and he was reassured by the large turnout.

“It’s so encouraging after what was a dark day yesterday for so many of us,” he said. “I would like to see young people energized by this.”

Across the valley, these protesters say they’ll stay active. There’s a new women’s empowerment club at the high school, and women in Basalt have started a political action group called Indivisible Roaring Fork. But on this Saturday afternoon, they embody the values of a ski town and march to the bar for aprés.

Aspen native Elizabeth Stewart-Severy is excited to be making a return to both the Red Brick, where she attended kindergarten, and the field of journalism. She has spent her entire life playing in the mountains and rivers around Aspen, and is thrilled to be reporting about all things environmental in this special place. She attended the University of Colorado with a Boettcher Scholarship, and graduated as the top student from the School of Journalism in 2006. Her lifelong love of hockey lead to a stint working for the Colorado Avalanche, and she still plays in local leagues and coaches the Aspen Junior Hockey U-19 girls.
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