The March for Science scheduled for this coming Saturday, April 22 on Earth Day in Ashland has been cancelled. The parade, which would have gone from Ashland High School on South Mountain Drive at Iowa Street to ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in the 1500 block of East Main could not find sufficient resources to pull it off.
Organizers and participants will, instead, be walking on the sidewalk from Garfield Park to ScienceWorks to demonstrate support, but the full parade couldn’t be managed given the amount of help needed, according to organizers.
The parade was to coincide with a National March for Science in Washington, D.C. and marches across the globe in other cities which calls for support for science, scientists and evidence based policymaking that protects the environment.
However, Ashland organizers announced its cancellation as a result of not being able to find qualified volunteers to assist in road closures. “After an extensive search, a volunteer planning committee was unable to find enough certified flaggers to obtain permits for road closures,” according to organizer Laura Davis, who announced the cancellation.
The city of Ashland has a requirement for certified flaggers in its requirements for a parade permit. “The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) provides traffic flagger training. After completing the training, participants will be certified flaggers for two years,” according to the city website.
If parade organizers cannot find certified flaggers to volunteer, there is another option, but there would be additional expense. “If the applicant is unable to recruit the required number of ODOT Certified Flaggers, City staff will be assigned to work the event, if available, and the applicant will pay 60% of the overtime costs.”
But even if the March for Science could afford city services, it’s unclear if Ashland could provide the assistance on short notice. “The City cannot guarantee city staff will be available to work the event with less than 30 days notice from the date of the event. If the applicant cannot secure the required number of certified flaggers and city staff is not available the event cannot proceed,” according to the city’s permit processing paperwork.
Participants such as Brett Belan, founder of Apparent Energy, who planned to lead the march in his solar powered VW Bus, expressed disappointment at the parade cancellation, but remains hopeful about the support for science and an event still happening at ScienceWorks Museum. “I’m a little bummed,” he said of not being able to lead the parade, but he’ll still be at ScienceWorks showing off his various solar-powered vehicles. “I appreciate doing my part to keep science in front of the community and show what’s possible through renewable energy," he said. "It’s inspiring.”
Belan and others will be at Science Works starting at 11:45 a.m., presenting “Scientists Speak Up,” representing a global community advocating for science in its role supporting health, safety, economies and governments, according to Davis. Belan still plans to display his van with a solar panel mounted which he drives around town using energy from the sun along with rickshaws and other solar-powered vehicles.
— Email Ashland freelance writer Julie Akins at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/@julieakins.