South Bend is marching… for science. Local community members have come together to organize a March for Science in Downtown South Bend on Earth Day, April 22nd. The event is scheduled to begin at 2 pm in Howard Park, followed by a march to the Jon R. Hunt Memorial Plaza in front of the Morris Performing Arts Center. A committee of scientists and concerned citizens organized the march, due to recent government policies preventing federal science agencies from sharing their findings as well as decreases in funding for scientific and educational programs.
The march organizers hope to raise awareness of the ways in which federal policy is relevant on the community level. “Government policies have real consequences on people’s lives, on the country’s future,” notes retired molecular geneticist Elliot Rosen, one of the organizers of the South Bend march. “Policymakers need to make their decisions using the best available empirical evidence, rather than ideology or biased information from vested interests.”
The March for Science South Bend is one of over 428 satellite marches occurring globally on Earth Day, alongside the march on the National Mall in Washington D.C. on same day. The mission of March for Science South Bend is to develop awareness of the need for scientific funding, of science education in our local schools, and to foster communication between the public, scientists, and local businesses.
The marchers will meet in Howard Park at 2PM. After a brief welcoming ceremony, the march will proceed up the sidewalks along the East Race, turning left at Lasalle Street headed west over the river. The event will culminate at Jon R. Hunt Memorial Plaza in front of the Morris Performing Arts Center, with speakers and other planned events, including a “teach-in,” where marchers will be invited to engage with local innovators and educators in science, technology, medicine, and engineering.
In the mind of another of the march organizers, Bridget McGann, the recent policy changes and budget proposals underscore the importance of healthy communication between scientists and the communities they serve. “The scientific community has not done a fantastic job engaging and involving the public in what they do, and showing them how science is relevant in their everyday lives – from the decisions we make about our health, to social issues. South Bend was built around a river, which represents a history of hydraulic engineering feats as well as current ecological issues. This is why it was important to us to march along the river, past the East and West Races, and then into the heart of the city.”
To highlight the many ways in which science serves the Michiana community, the March for Science South Bend is also partnering with Brigitte Dee Fries of D. Lilas Photography, to do a storytelling portrait series of community scientists and science enthusiasts in the Michiana community. The march organizers invite participants to tell their stories, or nominate someone they know to tell theirs, at marchforsciencesb.com.
The organizers further invite the participation of community members in a myriad of other ways, from hosting a teach-in table to providing volunteer support for marchers with disabilities. The organizers are also seeking an established local non-profit organization that can serve as a fiscal sponsor.
For more information about March for Science South Bend, or to get involved, community members can contact the march organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit marchforsciencesb.com.