Friends of science stood and marched together last Saturday, gathering first in front of the courthouse, then continuing onto Jackson Avenue, down 11th Street, and then Madison Avenue, all the way to Central Park—a distance of just under a mile flooded with science-minded sentient beings.
As the mass of people packing the courthouse lawn coalesced in the early afternoon sunshine, a young boy passed by in the street, stopped to stare at the crowd, and asked his dad, “What’s that?”
“That’s the March for Science starting—Mom’s there, too,” the man replied.
Kids his age were standing in lab coats and goggles across the street with hand-drawn signs held high: “Science: Because You Can’t Just Make Stuff Up” and “There is no Planet B.” Earth Day’s March for Science brought together families and neighbors of all ages who demanded science-informed public policy backed by falsifiable, peer-reviewed facts. And in this town, they were certainly in good company. Several thousand people turned out for Saturday’s event.
Corvallis’ Mayor Biff Traber made the opening remarks and welcomed everyone from the courthouse steps. He first echoed a sign that had caught his attention—it read, “Beliefs Don’t Equal Facts.” Science is indeed more than a body of explanatory knowledge, facts, and equations.
“Science is a process to learn more truths,” said Traber. “Gravity is not something you can choose to believe in.”
Traber made mention of his own background in mathematics and engineering as well as the lifelong dedication to science of other members of his family.
Benton County Commissioner Anne Schuster spoke next, and highlighted a hopeful bit of data. All three elected commissioners currently serving Benton County have backgrounds in science. Schuster holds a doctoral degree in plant molecular biology and began her career as a research scientist.
“Sometimes science and politics clash,” she said. “Science should always win.”
Marchers even seemed willing to wait for adequate evidence of this. Filling the streets they chanted, “What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
The more direct “Deny Science—Expect Defiance!” and “Science, Not Silence!” slogans circulated widely as well.
The post-march rally at Central Park featured remarks from several members of Corvallis’ humble globally renowned scientific community along with music from Cheatgrass, Raging Grannies, and Cassandra Robertson. Professor Bill Ripple led the pack of people gathered in a howling good time with wolf noises the crowd hoped would be heard all the way down in Mar-a-Lago.
By Matthew Hunt