"It's unacceptable," says Dr. Michael Doyle, of Sault Ste. Marie.
Current threats to the scientific community do not sit well with Doyle, an expert in renewable systems, sustainability, and evolutionary botany. That's why he, alongside dozens of other Upper Peninsula scientists and researchers, and hundreds of UP residents, will participate in the March for Science, this Saturday, April 22. A national March for Science will take place in Washington D.C., and organizers in Houghton, Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie are planning satellite marches in solidarity. They join over 500 other marches worldwide.
The national march organizers say budget cuts, censorship of researchers, disappearing datasets, and threats to dismantle government agencies harm us all, putting our health, food, air, water, climate, and jobs at risk. It's time for people who support science to take a public stand and be counted, they say.
What's noteworthy about all three U.P. marches is the organizers. They do not represent the stereotypical vision of a scientist as a white man in glasses and a lab coat, holding a pen and clipboard. Rather, they are nearly all women, many are Native American, and they come from diverse backgrounds -- not just science and engineering, but journalism, farming and fine arts.
"That makes me so excited!" says Emily Shaw, one of the organizers in Houghton. Shaw is a white woman who says she understands how science interacts with her, but she's very interested in learning the non-white experience with science.
"When you have intersectionality… you have different perspectives," she says. "You have a richer conversation, and that's critical in science."
When Marquette organizer Nate Frickshorn learned about the female- and minority-led groups throughout the U.P., he was pleased. Frickshorn gives credit for the Marquette march's success to Daabii Reinhardt. She's a physics and Native American studies major, is Native herself, and helps lead the Native student group behind the march.
"If you would have asked me a year ago, it would have seemed unusual," Frickshorn says. "Now it doesn't, especially when you look at the Women's March [on Washington] where thousands of women took the lead on that, and continue to take the lead."
In Sault Ste. Marie, a group of seven women transformed a simple rally and march into over eight hours of events. Joanne Galloway is one of those organizers. She's a farmer in Pickford, just south of the Sault.
Galloway says, "The lack of recognition of various scientific facts astounds me. I see the fear in others' eyes and do what I do best, organize! The number of worried people approaching me over the past few months propelled me to take action."
Galloway adds, "The march, starting with sign making parties, will be fun while making it known that we cannot fail to recognize scientific facts. The Mackinac Bridge is not held up by chance!"
Frickshorn is a student at Northern Michigan University and a member of both the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Gamma Theta Upsilon Geographical Honor Society, which are the two groups backing the Marquette March for Science. Frickshorn is motivated to protect the country and the environment so it doesn't regress to 1950s pollution levels.
"I don't want to go back to the conditions where rivers would catch fire and air was filled with smog," he says.
A senior this year, Frickshorn is looking forward to a career in environmental justice work, where social and environmental issues come together. "I think a lot of environmentalists forget the human aspect," he says.
Shaw is working with Nicole Wehner on Houghton's March for Science. Both are graduate students at Michigan Technological University, with Shaw in the environmental engineering science program and Wehner in water resources.
Before grad school, Shaw worked at Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA), which is a nonprofit organization focused on Great Lakes stewardship and education. ISEA uses tall ships to provide a floating classroom for students during the school year and the public in the summer.
"My time at Inland Seas really defined why science is important to me," Shaw says. "When you have the opportunity to educate students who've never had an experience like that, you're not only teaching them about the science of the Great Lakes, you're also providing them with a memory that can serve as a springboard. It's about creating an experience."
For the Houghton march, the two women honed in on a Great Lakes theme for their events: "Why are the Great Lakes important to our region?" Shaw plans to have teach-in events and hands-on science activities during the day.
She says, "It's an opportunity for community members with kids or young people to come and learn something from a teacher or another student. We're hoping it's a really wonderful way to get traditional and nontraditional educators involved."
Back in the Sault, Doyle agrees with the national March for Science concerns about threats to the scientific community and why scientists need to speak up. Having worked in 32 countries throughout the world, he feels that in developed countries, we take science for granted, and we feel that everything is "fine."
"There's no place that I see science more appreciated than when I go to the developing world. When you go [there], it's not so fine," he says. "After working all over the world, there's not a question of the need, more than ever, of the continuation of science."
For Doyle, political parties don't matter when it comes to science-based policies. "Science," he says, "is the only path to a successful, sustainable society. The idea of anyone discounting science or data is completely in opposition to the right path."
In support of that, Doyle has volunteered as a presenter at Sault Ste. Marie's March for Science. He, along with 11 other local scientists and pro-science presenters, will speak at a rally at City Hall at 11 a.m. before the group marches through town beginning about 12:30 p.m. Several additional events are scheduled in support of science in the afternoon into the evening, including "Cheers! Chat with a Scientist," where participants can meet up with local scientists at participating downtown establishments for lunch or drinks.The march has a website with more information here or find the event on Facebook.
Marquette's March for Science made a home for themselves on Facebook, for those who want to keep up there. Events there begin at 10 a.m. in the Berry Events Center parking lot. Participants will march down Third Street and gather with signs and chants at Third and Washington in front of the post office.
In Houghton, events begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Portage Lake District Library where participants can get in on activities and demonstrations led by area students and educators. The march begins at noon on the Houghton side of the lift bridge. Marchers will cross the bridge to Hancock and come back, then head back to the library for a community action meeting on impacting policy decisions. The Houghton march is also on Facebook