After Trump victory, stronger together
Beth Filla briefly considered postponing Yogawood's anniversary bash after Donald Trump won the election last week. To have a party at the downtown Collingswood business she opened in 2006 "seemed inappropriate," she said. "It seemed tone-deaf."
Beth Filla briefly considered postponing Yogawood's anniversary bash after Donald Trump won the election last week.
To have a party at the downtown Collingswood business she opened in 2006 "seemed inappropriate," she said. "It seemed tone-deaf."
But on Saturday evening, Filla's yoga studio welcomed a high-spirited crowd of 100 who drank wine, sampled homemade vegan treats, and celebrated community.
"There's a lot of energy," observed Yogawood's director, Maiga Milbourne, 35, of Pennsauken. "People are trying to figure out what to do with it."
For folks appalled by the prospect of President Trump - but unenthusiastic about hibernation, migration, secession, or revolution - the last few days have been challenging in ways earlier post-election periods were not.
This time we're not merely talking about a preferred candidate losing the White House; the talk is about the potential loss of hard-won political, and personal, ground.
And these conversations are happening wherever people concerned about the country's direction are gathered. Meaning, pretty much everywhere.
"Chalkboards will be available around the Campus Center . . . for students to respectfully share their feelings," Rutgers-Camden vice chancellor Mary Beth Daisey said in an email to students.
In the LGBT community, "there is some concern out there about losing our marital rights," Steven Burch, 56, who married longtime partner Stephen Drayton in Cherry Hill three years ago, said by phone from his Collingswood home.
"But I'm more worried about the deportation of immigrants and the 'religious freedom' movement, which could potentially lead to discrimination against LGBT people," he added.
Others are simply "trying to stay positive," as Stacey Douglas, owner of Espressit coffee in Westmont, said from behind the counter.
"I'm immersing myself in creativity," Westmont resident Michael Tearson, the pioneering radio DJ and musician, messaged me on Facebook.
And as Collingswood artist Fred Chase, 66, wrote in an email: "I remember [participating in] protests in my college years. . . . Something tells me I may find myself returning to form at this late date."
A "March for Peace" on Friday in Collingswood attracted several hundred people, many of them parents pushing kids in strollers.
The resolutely positive event was organized by South Jersey Women for Progressive Change, a Facebook group founded the morning after Trump's election.
The group since has attracted about 2,500 members; on Sunday, 150 women met at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill to more formally establish the organization.
The march "arose from the desire to set a tone of mutual respect, unity, and healing," organizer Amanda Cohen, 42, said in a statement.
The only negative feedback, she told me, came courtesy of a heckler shouting that the marchers ought to "get over it!"
Which raises a question: What should people who unexpectedly find themselves at odds with a nation they thought they knew do next?
"Becoming violent isn't going to help anyone," noted Burch. (Hear, hear.)
And how do we reconcile our patriotic desire to see a new president succeed with Trump's utter disregard for, you know, facts? Or, for that matter, with his jaw-dropping appointments - such as Breitbart flamethrower Steve Bannon?
"I'm going to work on myself," said Jay Lassiter, a longtime LGBT and medical marijuana activist.
"I lived through the AIDS crisis, which was a threat to my liberties and my life. This feels familiar," the 44-year-old Cherry Hill resident added.
"But ours is a resilient community. We can make sure this will turn out all right by not losing our cool."
As the garish pageant of Donald Trump's pre-presidency unfolds, it's already clear that simply fuming to our Facebook choirs - or firing away at our online opposition - will not get us anywhere. So I embrace the notions of being creative, becoming active, and gaining strength as individuals and communities.
Because we've got a lot of hard work ahead.