+

Josette Belant has never planned a protest before. Much less one that might draw thousands of people to the streets of her hometown.

Belant, a scheduler at a primary care clinic, was eager to lend a hand when her friend invited 15 people to a women's march in their hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, on Jan. 21, in solidarity with the larger women's march in Washington, D.C. She joined the steering committee along with two other friends, and buzz swiftly, unexpectedly spread far beyond the tight-knit group.

Photo via iStock.


As of January 11, over 6,400 people have indicated they're going to the Madison rally.

"We were angry. I mean that’s what a lot of it comes down to — is being done with it. Needing to do something is a very powerful feeling," Belant says.

While thousands of Americans are marching in Washington, D.C., thousands more are planning to attend "sister marches" in their home states across America.

Many of the sister marches are being helmed by first-time organizers.

Women's march organizers state that nearly 300 solidarity rallies will take place around the world on the 21st.

"I’ve never really been political or an activist really up until this past year," says Billie Mays, an organizer with Women's March Cincinnati. When one of her fellow organizers created a Facebook event to send a local delegation to Washington, D.C., she was the first one to volunteer help. The committee, which was soon joined by half a dozen others, came up with the idea to hold a local rally in addition — which they planned over four 18-hour days between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2.

The weekend was a crash course in event planning for Mays — figuring out how to secure permits, raise money, and acquire insurance, among other tasks.

"So many people feel like this, and they’re fearful, and they’re scared of what’s going to happen to themselves, their families, their friends, their coworkers. And it’s just been a growing movement," she says.

Mays, an administrative assistant, explains that she was disturbed by a campaign dominated by hateful, racially divisive language and was motivated to push back in person — after a series of frustrating experiences trying to do so with friends and family on social media.

Many say they're looking to the platform that was recently released by organizers of the D.C. march as a guide to what they're protesting for.

The platform is a wide-ranging document that calls for equal pay and an end to sexual violence, as well as criminal justice reform, a renewed push for union organizing, and an elevation of domestic care work, which is frequently performed by women of color.

A poster for Women's March, Madison. By Josette Belant.

Still, for many of the local organizers, the motivation to get involved in planning these rallies is personal.

Sheli Weis, a member of the planning committee for the Tucson, Arizona, march, doesn't know if she'll be able to join in person. As a disabled woman who suffers from extreme allergies and often has difficulty leaving home, Weis sees her role on the planning committee as a chance to make her voice heard from behind the scenes.

"A lot of what causes me problems and many people problems is the environment," Weis says. "It’s the cars, and the manufacturing, and the damaging of the soil and the air and the food, and we have to do something. I can’t lay in bed and do nothing. I have to go. I have to do something."

Many involved in the sister marches are especially eager to make sure the message of the march reaches their local politicians.

"It’s a little bit different, potentially, for Scott Walker to sit in the capitol and see a bunch of Wisconsin men and women marching in D.C. than it is to have all of us show up on his front door," Belant says of the Madison march.

Ohio Governor John Kasich. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

"Our lovely state government was just trying to pass a six-week heartbeat abortion bill," Mays explains. Though Ohio Governor John Kasich vetoed that bill, the state went on to pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

Beyond providing a platform for those who can't afford to travel to D.C., organizers said the local marches provide an opportunity to start discussing ways to affect change from the ground up — and to let like-minded locals know they're not alone.

“It’s important for us not always to look toward Washington," Weis says. "Not that we aren’t supporting the march, but it should also be in our town. It should also be between our neighbors. We should also be able to stand together as a community and help one another."

More importantly, these freshmen organizers see their marches as a beginning, rather than an end.

The Madison march is set to travel nine-tenths of a mile from Library Mall to the state capitol building, but Belant hopes it — and the other marches — won't end there.

Photo via iStock.

"They’re a kicking-off point," Belant says. "They’re saying, 'Here are all these people who agree with you, who also see that things need to change and need to be different.'"

For these organizers, whose lives have taken on a surprising new dimension in recent weeks, the thousands planning to swarm the streets of Madison, Cincinnati, Tucson, and dozens of othercities across the country aren't just proof of their newfound skills. They're vital allies for what comes next.

On Jan. 21, they'll finally make contact.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

Keep ReadingShow less

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

Keep ReadingShow less