GLENDALE - Glendale resident Hope Liu had never been involved in politics, but after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, she was motivated to participate in the Women's March on Washington.
After an estimated half million people participated in the D.C. event, the Women's March organization encouraged participants to continue their activism back home. Liu, of Glendale, said she followed the organization's advice to form a "huddle" group, and along with Whitefish Bay resident Ellie Gettinger, they posted a huddle event for North Shore residents the following month on the women's march website.
Liu and Gettinger expected six or eight people to attend the event, but when they walked into the back room of Whitefish Bay's City Market, they were shocked to find 60 people waiting for them.
Liu and Gettinger later noticed that several other North Shore huddles existed, so they reached out to other huddle leaders like Angi Krueger to join forces. With all of the North Shore huddles combined, they now have 160 people on their email list and 200 in a private Facebook group. About 60 people came to their first combined huddle meeting in March.
"It's definitely taken on a life of its own, beyond what I envisioned," Liu said.
The group has formed several subcommittees dedicated to studying issues and creating specific actions in the areas of human rights, civil rights, education, environment and electoral systems. The huddle has connected with progressive advocacy group Grassroots North Shore, as well as other existing organizations around Milwaukee. Their goal is "not to recreate the wheel but to amplify the voice," Liu said.
The progressive advocacy of the Women's March and the North Shore Huddle have inspired other new activists, like Whitefish Bay resident Laura Greene, who said the march in D.C. was "life-changing."
Greene was one of about 12 women who came together in a vigil for Syria on Thursday, April 13, at Cardinal Stritch University. In addition to holding a vigil and signing a petition urging Congress to allow Syrian refugees into the U.S., the women also vented about recent political stories while mixing in stories from their personal lives. They talked about Trump, misogyny, Islamophobia, health care reform, voter ID laws and Russia.
"We have been in suspended animation in this country because things have been so comfortable in some ways for many of us, and we have taken that for granted," Milwaukee resident Lo-Ann Trembley said.
"There are so many changes so quickly of late that it almost leaves you reeling," added Whitefish Bay resident Linda Dotson. "When you get together with other people who have similar concerns, it helps you affirm that these values are important and that we can work together to do something about it."
Liu said managing political fatigue is her biggest concern. That's why they are taking their frustrations and channeling them into educational events, rallies and specific action items.
"There are too many things that we can react to, and it becomes easy to be overwhelmed," Liu said. "The challenge is to give ourselves breathing room but still make forward progress for a long period of time."
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