Robert Brown had been organizing the Redding March for Science for a week. "It's a lot of work," he laughed, but added that it was wildly successful, estimating the marchers totaled around 400. Hosted by the Whole Earth and Watershed Festival and Young Democrats of Shasta County, the turnout exceeded his expectations - and the expectations of many of the marchers I talked to.
As Brown gave instructions to the crowd of marchers, he also talked about his childhood dream of being an astronaut, and lamented the cuts to the space program. Others stepped forward to talk about what this march and science means to them.
Marchers moved along California to Placer to East, then down Cypress to Redding City Hall, where they joined the Whole Earth and Watershed Festival. Many carried signs supporting science and research such as, "Remember polio? Neither do I. Thank science," "Ignoring science creates ignorance," and "There is no Planet B."
All along the route, occasional call-and-response chants of "What do we want?" "SCIENCE!" "When do we want it?" "AFTER PEER REVIEW!" were heard along the path of the lively crowd. Participants ranged from small children holding finger-painted signs to white-haired men and women. One participant wore a State of Jefferson t-shirt and a pink pussy hat.
Similar marches were held globally on Earth Day to show support for science and oppose funding cuts for such programs as NASA, the EPA, and communicable disease research.
Brown said he's looking forward to one similar event every quarter. "We need to figure out what will get people excited, what they'll turn out for."