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Women take their places against Trump

Robin Paoli walked into City Hall 11 days before thousands of women marched in downtown Houston. She had her application and the $55.92 permit fee in hand.
Immediately she received calls and emails from people wanting to help.
“A week before, a group of 12 women met at a coffee shop and over coffee we said, here is what we need to do to make this march happen and at that point we already had thousands signed up,” she said.
Little did she know that the march would draw a crowd of more than 23,000 – making it the largest Houston had ever had – sparking conversations among Houstonians and making her a target to receive hate mail.
But that did not stop Paoli.
After working in public affairs and civic activities, she felt inclined to step up to lead Houston’s march.
“I had a lot of reasons not to do it but I thought, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve done stuff like this before – maybe I need to step up and do it again. And as soon as I did it, it was like the saying, ‘If you build it, they will come. And people came,” Paoli said with a smile.
And that was just the beginning.
Many volunteers helped to organize the march and figure out at logistics of the event. They spread the word through their
communities, on Facebook and other social media platforms.
“The majority of the people just found us. We didn’t have a budget. We started out with nothing,” Paoli said.
Planning this event on such a large scale did not discourage her. In fact, one of the main reasons she did it was because she cared about her fellow man.
“Even now, I want my neighbors to live in peace and safety so that’s why I stood up,” Paoli said.
Because she stood up, Paoli became the target of some not-so-nice hate mail. She described the experience like opening up a piece of mail to find a rat or roach inside.
“It was filthy,” she said. “There was a moment of real fear that an angry and hateful person knows where I live. But I thought – this is why we have to be brave.”
Paoli believes that Houston’s march was more than just a one day event. She is already planning on the next order of action. In particular, action that includes women standing up to make a difference and ultimately starting a world-wide movement.
“Houston was singled out and was asked to give a brief case study to all the other sister events around the world. We explained what we had done and what we were going to do next on a conference call of leaders of cities from around the world,” Paoli explained.
She understands that there is still much work to be done – not only for women but for the rights of all under the new presidential administration – affecting people from around the globe.
“We are trying to figure out some impactful things that don’t just lead to marches and rallies but that lead to concrete actions.
There is a whole group of us working together including the League of Women Voters. The steering committee has decided to form a non-profit and will continue holding non-partisan events and providing citizens with a way to learn more about what’s going on and engage with their communities and elected city officials.”
Those who attended the march not only marched for the rights and equality of women, but they marched for their families and children.
“There were all genders, nationalities and races present at the march. Many told us that they were marching for their children and their grandchildren and they wanted a better future for them along with safer neighborhoods and a change in political discourse,” Paoli said.
She urges Houstonians to visit www.houstonwomensmarch.org to get information on upcoming events as there are already plans in place for the next set of action.
Although there was no distinct goal of the event, it allowed Houstonians the chance to get their voices heard.
“We marched in a sense of peaceful solidarity with our neighbors to say we are not going to be torn apart by divisive rhetoric and we are going to find a way to show love to our neighbors and build together,” Paoli said. “We marched so that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth. There are now 25,000 people who know that there are other people who may not look like them but want what they want.”

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