This Saturday, April 22, is Earth Day, and to commemorate the day activists will descend on Washington, D.C. for the March For Science. Inspired by the Women’s March on Washington that took place January 21, there will be an additional 500 satellite marches conducted at various times and locations worldwide, one being at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.
“It is my job to work on issues of the environment, but at the same time there isn’t much I care about more than the issues that I work on everyday,” McKenzie Fulkerson-Jones, a co-organizer of the Coachella march, told Amplify. “Even if I am off enjoying myself on vacation, this is such an important issue and something that is such a core thing to who I am that I couldn’t miss it. It’s one day. It is one time. It just seems too important to miss for me.”
Fulkerson-Jones is the Marketing Manager, Strategic Events & Engagement at The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy, which has worked in 70 countries worldwide and has a chapter in every state in the U.S., is a partner of the national march occurring in Washington. Other conservancy chapters are working on a state level, with local marches throughout the country. Fulkerson-Jones happens to be one of the employees helping organize The Nature Conservancy’s presence at several California marches.
“The funny thing about this is that I am heading up our March For Science contingents across states for The Nature Conservancy, but I was asked to do that knowing that I was going to be at Coachella the weekend of the march,” Fulkerson-Jones said. “It was a bummer that I wasn’t going to be involved with this whole thing that I was helping with. I decided, there’s no reason why we can’t have a march at the festival.”
Fulkerson-Jones searched around online, finding co-organizer Zoe Cabral on a Reddit thread who was looking for people with the same interest. Cabral is a Research and Development Senior Chemist at Covance, and together the two women started a Facebook page and got listed on March For Science’s website as an official satellite march.
Events for the Coachella march will begin prior to any scheduled act on Saturday morning at 10:30am, where participants can meet up at the arts studio located within the camping area to gather and create signs. Artist Chuck Sperry, who designed the March For Science posters, has also donated 75 prints to the Coachella marchers.
“I’m definitely going to have a banner, so that will be enough to show people what we are about,” Fulkerson-Jones said. “I think we might focus mostly on marching through the camping area to get it on folks’ radar that are attendees.”
The marching will begin at noon within the camping area and, depending on the level of difficulty, into the actual festival. The march organizers, however, want to be conscientious of the real reason people go to Coachella – the music.
“We’re there because we all love music and want to enjoy that part of the experience,” said Fulkerson-Jones. “It is an opportunity to, on a bigger stage (no pun intended), bring these issues to light, but at the same time we are there for the music too and don’t want to be disruptive to the artists and the work and preparation that they put into their performances.”
While the number of participants continues to grow on the Facebook page, Fulkerson-Jones isn’t expecting a disruptive number of participants. Still, her and her fellow marchers intend to place signage throughout the camping site on Friday and drum up support as they march through the camping area. As for the attendees who may not be politically aligned with the March For Science’s mission, Fulkerson-Jones is hoping they simply ignore the group.
“I think the reaction will be mixed,” she said and explained, “I can tell that already from the reactions on Reddit. Everything on Facebook so far has been really positive, but the original post was on Reddit where I met Zoe. She has gotten some questions like ‘Why are you doing this?’ ‘Why are you bringing politics into our vacation or our music scene? This isn’t why I am going.’ I understand that.”
She added, “We want to be respectful about the way that we do it and not take away from the experience with the music, but it seems like a great opportunity to bring these issues up to people who might not be thinking about it everyday and maybe that can make a difference. I have hopes that people will primarily be supportive or if people aren’t then maybe they will just ignore us. Generally I think the demographic, as we saw in this last election, young people care about progressive issues.”
For more information on the March For Science at Coachella, head to their Facebook page.