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'The Time Is Now': Fourth annual Women's March SLO slated for Jan. 18



Three years after an estimated 7,000 descended on downtown San Luis Obispo for a protest following President Donald Trump's inauguration, Women's March SLO is still marching on, now gearing up for its fourth annual event on Jan. 18.

TIME IS NOW Women's March SLO attendees hold signs in Mitchell Park at the inaugural event in 2017. The fourth annual Women's March takes place on Jan. 18. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • TIME IS NOW Women's March SLO attendees hold signs in Mitchell Park at the inaugural event in 2017. The fourth annual Women's March takes place on Jan. 18.

This year, the march has a "The Time is Now" theme, picked to reflect the urgency of today's issues and that it's a presidential election year, according to Women's March SLO communications director Andrea Chmelik.

"It comes down to there is an election in 2020," Chmelik said. "The time is now to show up in power across age groups, to come to the voting booth. It's definitely going to be a year where the direction of the country is going to be decided in many important ways."

Attendees should expect a similar format to the prior local Women's Marches. The event will begin at 10 a.m. in Mitchell Park with a rally featuring a line-up of speakers and performers "who advocate for human rights, women's rights, social justice, and environmental justice." The march through downtown SLO will follow the rally at 11 a.m.

Speakers will include Kendra Williams, a Cal Poly Psychology and Child Development lecturer; Carmen Bouquin, founder of the SLO County Youth for Environmental Action and a Cuesta College student; Wendy Lucas, a member of the yak tityu tityu yak tihini Northern Chumash Tribe; and Dian Sousa, a local poet and activist.

Williams, Chmelik said, will bring a previously unaddressed subject to the Women's Marches' speaker line-ups. She'll share about her experience as a victim of sexual harassment in the Cal Poly workplace and the challenges she faced going through the Title IX investigative process.

"Right after the Women's March, the #MeToo movement came in strong," Chmelik said. "This is something [women] should never have to deal with but it becomes a thing that's on every woman's mind. We feel like it's another important theme."

All of the rally speakers will touch on topics that reflect the urgency of the Time is Now theme. Those issues range from climate change, to reproductive rights, to LGBTQ-plus rights, to immigrant rights, and more.

"The time is now to fight for those values," Chmelik said.

As the local Women's March organizers gear up for their fourth march, Chmelik said in some ways the event gets easier to plan and in other ways harder.

"The part that gets easier is we know what to do now; we know who to contact," Chmelik said. "The part that is not easier is things are going to cost more just because [the cost of] services and things in general go up."

Despite the gargantuan effort it takes to put on the march, Women's March SLO has come to see it as their duty to keep the community politically energized—to "keep the fire going."

"It's part of our mission," Chmelik said. "The first time it was super exciting, and by now it becomes a part of keeping people engaged. Their voice matters; their vote matters; their truth matters. It's worth coming back and worth marching forward."

While free to attend, the march is expensive to organize. You can make a donation to offset its costs at

Fast facts

The U.S. Census Bureau is hosting an upcoming local event to recruit workers for the 2020 Census. On Thursday, Jan. 9, head over to the San Luis Obispo County Government Center (rooms 161 and 162) between 10 to 11:30 a.m. to learn more. According to a SLO city press release, "the results of the 2020 Census will determine how billions of dollars in federal funding are spent locally for schools, hospitals, roads, and more, therefore local involvement and accurate representation is vital to the community's future." The SLO County Government Center is located at 1055 Monterey St., SLO.

• Donovan James Antiques and Estate Jewelry in Cayucos is closing its doors at the end of January, as owners Don and Toni McClain are relocating to Idaho. A closing sale "aimed at selling everything in the store" will take place throughout the month. The store, which has antique and vintage items, is located at 248 S. Ocean Ave. Δ

Assistant Editor Peter Johnson wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to

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