Supporters to ‘Huddle’ together at potluck
By Kaitlin Servant
Citizen Chronicle Writer
CHARLTON — This coming Sunday, local members of the Charlton Resistance group will gather at the Charlton Arts and Activities Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a potluck brunch to celebrate the anniversary of the Women’s March.
Last January, the Women’s March took place in cities globally with estimates of 5 million marchers making it, what many political scientists believe to be, the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.
Local residents traveled to marches in Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., to stand together for reproductive rights, equal pay, safety for women in the workplace, and against racism, sexism, sexual assault and harassment. Kathleen Walker, a Charlton resident and member of the Charlton Resistance group, attended the Women’s March in Boston last year.
“It was really empowering and we want to have our gathering this weekend to commemorate that event, recapture some of that energy, celebrate some of our accomplishments over the last year and plan our action items for the coming year,” Walker said.
As for the potluck gathering on the anniversary of the Women’s March, State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) will speak, as will Deborah Noble, a new Selectperson in Charlton.
Walker hopes other like minded members of Southern Worcester County will join them.
“There are other groups in the area doing similar things and we would like for all of us to network to make an even bigger impact this year,” Walker said.
She added they are a non-partisan group of people who share some of the same ideas on certain issues, but may disagree on others.
In addition to the event in Charlton on Sunday, there will be marches and events taking place all over the country this weekend. A flagship march is being held in Las Vegas and large numbers are expected to turn out in cities like Washington D.C. and New York City. The Women’s March website has ten registered events taking place in Massachusetts this weekend, including marches in Northampton and Boston.
After last year’s March, the organizers urged supporters to gather hyper-locally to continue the conversation that had been started. These regional groups are called “Huddles” and there are several throughout the state. Tanya Neslusan of Sturbridge is the president of the Sturbridge Regional Huddle which meets monthly to discuss issues in more detail.
“Our group has had meetings covering topics like healthcare, systematic racism, intersectional feminism, DACA, local elections and a wide range of other topics,” Neslusan said. “We are looking to not only educate people on these topics but find specific ways we can funnel the frustration people were feeling early last year, and many are still feeling, into action.”
Walker and Neslusan both agree that the networking and connections that were made this year will lead to even more direct action in 2018.
“Over the past two years, large numbers of women have found themselves unable to remain satisfied with the status quo and have become more politically active and finding ways to get involved — from letter writing campaigns, to protests, to supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood, to running for office,” said Neslusan, who is planning a run for State Representative in the first Hampden District later this year.
Both women are excited about what the next year will bring.
“We have a lot of work to do in 2018,” Neslusan said. “This weekend is a great opportunity to regroup and come up with a plan on how we are going to do that. Even more so than last year, we have to be focused on the individual issues that impact women but also on the midterm elections to ensure we are represented by people who have our best interest in mind.”
Walker echoed those sentiments, noting: “We have accomplished a lot this year, but there’s a lot more to be done.”