In defense of reason

Demonstrations around the globe push for evidence-based policy and support for science and research

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PITTSFIELD — It seemed as though just about everyone had a sign at the March For Science on Saturday at the Pittsfield Common.

That included dogs like Franco, a small mixed breed canine who sported a "Doggies For Science" sign tied around his torso.

"Franco," said his master, George Reeve of Sheffield, "gets it.

"We're here because we are hoping to make a tiny dent in the mess other people have gotten us into," said Reeve. "Every little bit helps."

Reeve had a pretty good sign, too, that said, "Let Us Pause For A Moment of Science."

Science supporters in both Pittsfield and Great Barrington staged science marches on Saturday to support national fact-based policies, research funding and support for science-based programs on all levels.

A preliminary budget by the administration of President Donald Trump is calling for catastrophic cuts in science-oriented programs such as the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy, among other agencies.

The events in Pittsfield and Great Barrington are among hundreds of such protests across the nation and around the globe, according to organizers.

In Great Barrington, between 75 and 100 walked up Main Street and looped around to the W.E.B. Du Bois River Park. The park is part of the Great Barrington Riverwalk.

The March for Science in Great Barrington was folded into the community's annual River Cleanup, according to Rachel Fletcher the founder and director of the cleanup.

"They were both happening on the same day, so it made sense to fold them in together," said Fletcher.

"Water quality is essential to our future," she said.

"We're acting in defense of our environment today," said Christine Ward, president of the Great Barrington Land Conservancy and one of the organizers of the Barrington event.

In Pittsfield, more than 250 people marched. In addition to marching, people could peruse information booths set up by several sponsors, and listen to musical selections by Sarah Lee Guthrie and the Hoping Machine, as well as singer-songwriters Billy Keane and Erin Landry. In Great Barrington, music was provided by the Berkshire Stompers.

Both events made available information about local science and environmental organizations.

"One of the reasons we're here is to provide information to people on how they can help, what groups they can support," said Alisa Costa, one of the organizers in Pittsfield.

Another Pitsfield organizer, Kathie Penna, emphasized that the event was not specifically partisan.

"We're here to address environmental issues that affect all of us," she said. "Not just one group of people."

"We want to work toward a positive outcome," said Karen Karlson of Becket, who attended the Pittsfield event. "They can't ignore us if we speak up."

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.




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