When the DC March finally released the date for the March for Science, all the CU organizers groaned. April 22nd is Earth day. It's symbolic and a great choice for the movement overall. But In CU April 22nd is also the date of the Illinois Marathon and Ebertfest.
Don't get me wrong, We love the marathon. It brings people from all over to visit our little town. It gets the community out and moving. It's a boon to local businesses.
But it's also a traffic nightmare. Many streets shut down and getting around town can be impossible. Ebertffest has the same effect on downtown Champaign. Definitely not the weekend we would have chosen to host a large march.
Many hours were spent discussing what to do. We had polls to gather public opinions. The consensus was that it was important to use the same date as the DC March.
Now we had a date and we had to figure out how to make it work. Moving to an evening time gave us more options. It also meant that science-loving marathoners would still be able to participate. We explored many venue options but we found that many locations were off-limits.
Again we debated. In our general meetings, in our diversity committee, among ourselves, and with non-organizers. We discussed things like accessibility and visibility. Pros and cons.
Finally we struck gold. The Orpheum children's museum is in downtown Champaign. It's highly visible; accessible; close to parking, bus and bike routes; and it was AVAILABLE.
Figuring out a March route was still not easy but we did it. In the end we found a location that lets us meet our goals: that no one will be barred from participation due to lack of accessibility or difficulty in reaching the venue. That our March will be visible to non-Marchers so that we can increase awareness. And that we will be able to safely host the number of people we expect to attend.