Step by step
Local advocacy group marks first year with rally at Rotary, march along Main

Step by step

On Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration, hundreds of Durangoans hit the snowy streets to be a part of the "Stand on the Side of Love" march. This Saturday, locals will hit the streets again to both honor that day and get ready for the battles that lie ahead./File photo

Tracy Chamberlin - 01/18/2018

It all started because it got nasty. When then-presidential nominee Donald Trump said his opponent, Hillary Clinton, was “such a nasty woman” at the end of their final debate during the 2016 election, it sparked something in a group of local ladies.

As progressive women and Clinton supporters, they joked at the time, “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a nasty women’s group?”

After election results came out, however, this group of 23 decided to turn what was funny into something formidable. They had heard about some former Washington staffers and legislators who were beginning to coalesce into the Indivisible Movement. Modeled after the Tea Party, the idea was to resist the Trump White House through calls to action and messaging to lawmakers.

Taking inspiration from this national movement, they became Indivisible Durango. In the past year, the group has grown from the original 23 “nasty women” to more than 800 women, men, Democrats, Green Party members and Independents. They’ve seen their share of ups and downs, learned and adapted along the way, and through it all continued to fight for the progressive values they – and their growing membership – believe in. 

“I just can’t believe what we’ve accomplished,” Deb Meyers, one of the original 23 founding members, said. “So much resilience, a commitment to progressive values and a government serving all ... the spirit of the people is just amazing.”

With the one-year anniversary of the nationwide Women’s March fast approaching, Indivisible Durango’s leaders decided to hold a rally and march this weekend to both commemorate the 2017 march and get ready for the year ahead.

The event kicks off with a rally at 10 a.m. at Rotary Park, featuring speakers, live music and more. Then, at 10:30 a.m., everyone heads down Main Avenue toward 17th Street where they’ll turn off toward the Durango Public Library for a general meeting scheduled at 11 a.m.

Meyers said the group has asked Melissa Stacy, who organized last year’s local march, and Rachel Turiel, who organized the march’s complementary educational event, RESPOND, to attend the meeting.

Meyers and other Indivisible Durango members wanted to acknowledge these two women for their efforts, and asked them to say a few words to get things started. Then they’ll spend some time looking back at the past year, before turning their attention to the one ahead.

With the mid-term elections fast approaching, it’s likely going to be a big year for the group – especially for member Anne Markward.

As a leader of Indivisible Durango’s national collaborations and election team, Markward will head up efforts to get voters registered and keep them informed of the issues and – most importantly – enthusiastic about voting.

“The challenge for us is, too many people feel the process is so broken, their vote doesn’t matter,” Markward said.

But it does, she explained. “Every vote counts.”

For many people, the mid-term elections this November represent a chance for Democrats to take back some control in Washington and in many state contests. Here in Colorado, the top of the ticket is the governor’s race. Also, Republican Rep. Scott Tipton is up for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“There are a lot of us who feel the current Congress and administration are taking us in a direction we’re not happy with,” Markward explained.

Whether it’s making public lands available for private use, lifting regulations on clean air and clean water, or the treatment of women, immigrants or allies around the world, these

decisions are troubling to Indivisible Durango’s members. But, as members, they’ve learned there is something they can do about it.

Over the past year, Meyers said, the group has hosted rallies, demonstrations, educational events, film screenings, workshops, presentations and more. They’ve also put out 85 “Calls to Action,” which are alerts that let members know about legislative or administrative decisions – like lifting clean air regulations – and how they can contact their elected officials.

The group also has formed issues-based committees to focus its efforts. At this point, there are 13 committees, including Environment, Immigration, Women’s Rights, National Security and Freedom of the Press. There is also one called the Member of Congress Monitors. Rather than being issues-based, this committee assists the others by tracking legislation as it makes its way through Congress, letting each committee know about the bills that matter to them.

Committees can have any number of people – from eight to100–andmemberscanbeapartofasmanyorasfewas they choose. About half of Indivisible Durango’s 800-plus members are involved with at least one committee.

Some members only participate in committees, and others only in “calls to action.” Members can be flexible, do what works for them and still stay involved.

One thing, Meyers said, they’ve learned over the past year is how important it is for people to stay connected to others who share their values.

“That’s an intangible,” she said. “You can’t measure that, but it’s there.”

It also allows for the group’s leaders to keep up with the chaos coming out of Washington. Meyers said it’s been a challenge dealing with the current administration. “Every time you think things will slow down, they don’t. They ramp up,” she explained.

In December alone, the group tackled the new tax law, addressed net neutrality and held a rally to support universal health care – just to name a few.

“We can’t always plan ahead, we have to go with the flow,” she explained.

Like any group, Indivisible Durango saw its share of ups and downs in the first year.

On the downside, for Markward, was the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule, which places restrictions on the venting and flaring of methane gas – the prime component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas – on BLM lands. The idea was to try and address a highly concentrated methane hot spot over the Four Corners discovered by NASA in 2014.

A first attempt to void the rule by Congress failed last year, but the Department of Interior followed up by announcing it would delay its implementation. Since then, local and statewide advocacy groups have filed suit, and the issue is now headed to court. In the meantime, however, the methane hot spot continues to grow.

On the upside, however, was the Affordable Care Act. With a Republican president and Republican majority in both houses, many people expected the ACA would be repealed in short order. But it wasn’t. It’s still the law of land and, Markward said, they consider that a success.

Another one of Indivisible Durango’s successes happened on the 4th of July. Meyers said the group had about 100 members walk together in the parade along Main Avenue, carrying signs describing what they stood for. As they headed down Main, cheers rang out from both sides of the street.

Meyers thought the community was aware of Indivisible Durango, but realized that day just how much of a presence the group has in Durango. “We’re a fixture,” she said. “It was incredibly gratifying.”

When the group of 23 “nasty women” first came together, they didn’t know how long it would last or where the journey would take them. They only knew they had to stand up for what they believed in.

Since then, they’ve grown to more than 800 people wanting to stand up for what they believe in – with more joining every week.

“The momentum is there,” Markward said. “We only need to keep the momentum going.”