The March for Science Continues
Milwaukee activists form advocacy group to press the case for 'evidence-based policy'
Earth Day has always been a time to rally, but this April 22, the demonstrations took a new turn. In Washington, D.C., 150,000 people participated in the first-ever March for Science in response to alarming signals from the Trump White House, especially threats to renounce the Paris Climate Agreement.
Fueled by social as well as conventional media, grassroots marches for science surfaced on Earth Day in hundreds of cities across the world. Milwaukee’s March for Science drew more than 2,000 participants to Red Arrow Park, according to local organizers. Unwilling to let the momentum of that day dissipate, a group of participants were inspired to establish Milwaukee Area Science Advocates (MASA) to continue to put the message before the public and political leaders.
“We want real engagement in the community—a community-based effort to support science education, community health and sustainability,” says Jason Kern, MASA’s communications director.
Educating the Public
Kern and MASA’s managing editor of its websites and podcasts, Lisa Taxier, insist that their organization will remain non-partisan. It will critique proposed legislation, not the legislators. “We intend to come out with statements on proposed bills—to educate the public about those bills so that the public can understand how fact-based science supports or does not support the legislation,” Kern says.
Fundamental to MASA’s mission is to increase popular awareness of the meaning of science and how it underlies the technology of contemporary life. “Our interest is to increase scientific literacy—to show how science impacts people day to day,” Taxier says. She concedes that academic science has often placed walls between itself and public understanding. “MASA intends to be for the general public—to make sure there is no exclusion.”
While social media helped the March for Science to organize around the world on Earth Day, it has also been one of the reasons that science is under threat. “Social media has played a big role in the spread of fake news,” Kern says. “It’s so shareable and so infectious. Many people aren’t taking the time to break down the ‘news’ they receive and validate it before they share it. People share things before vetting. MASA will only dispense sourced and validated content. The world needs people who will take time to vet the content they share.”
As part of its outreach, MASA will mix education with entertainment at public events starting with a kick-off event from 4-7 p.m. on Sunday, June 11 at Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., 224 W. Bruce St. There will be a panel discussion on how climate change affects science education, public health and sustainability with UW-Milwaukee climatology professor Mark D. Schwartz, the Milwaukee Public Museum’s Hillary Olson and Compost Crusaders founder Melissa Tashjian among the speakers. There will be interactive science exhibits, a voter registration booth staffed by the League of Women Voters, food trucks and live music by Coyote and King Courteen.