After a contentious presidential campaign that brought issues of sexual assault and women’s equality to the forefront, many women in Western Washington are getting politically involved, some for the first time in their lives.

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For Shauntel Callandret, a playground supervisor at Beacon Hill International School in Seattle, the women’s march Saturday in Seattle will be her first-ever political rally.

Before Donald Trump was elected president, the 33-year-old never felt the need to discuss her political views with other people. After school lets out, she spends most of her time shuttling her three sons to after-school activities.

“I was like, you have your ways, I have mine, and that’s fine,” she said.

After a contentious presidential campaign that brought issues of sexual assault and women’s equality to the forefront, Callandret is one of many women in Western Washington who are getting politically involved, some for the first time in their lives.

 

Shauntel Callandret, 33, is photographed with her sons, from left, Stacey Fosha, 9; Savion Fosha, 5; and Stephon Fosha Jr., 11, near their home in South Seattle. Callandret— who works two jobs and coaches track— said she had avoided voicing her opinions on politics to be respectful of others. After the election, she was compelled to make a stand for herself and three boys by participating in the Womxn’s March on Seattle. “Maybe I can show other, younger, black African American women my age, who aren’t necessarily interested in these things, ‘Oh she’s out there, what is this about?’” (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
Shauntel Callandret, 33, is photographed with her sons, from left, Stacey Fosha, 9; Savion Fosha, 5; and Stephon Fosha Jr., 11, near their home in South Seattle. Callandret— who works two jobs and coaches track— said she had avoided voicing her opinions on politics to be respectful of others. After the election, she was compelled to make a stand for herself and three boys by participating in the Womxn’s March on Seattle. “Maybe I can show other, younger, black African American women my age, who aren’t necessarily interested in these things, ‘Oh she’s out there, what is this about?’” (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

 

They include Jayla Nickens, 16, a junior and cheerleader at Seattle’s Cleveland High School, who, after Trump’s election, felt she was “obligated to do something or say something.” And Tami Kurahara, 56, who hasn’t joined a protest since college; Aurea Astro, a 34-year-old program manager at Microsoft who is transgender and recently held a protest sign for the first time; and Patti King, a 72-year-old textile artist on Whidbey Island who has been making pussy hats out of recycled cashmere for her friends and boyfriend to wear at Saturday’s Womxn’s March on Seattle.

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“I’ve really never been very political all my life,” King said. “I wasn’t part of bra-burning because I wasn’t interested in that at the time. When you’re just sort of free-floating with all these negative thoughts and disbelief and then suddenly you have a way to direct it, that’s fabulous, that’s what happened to me.”

Patti King, 72, a textile artist on Whidbey Island, has been sewing hats out of recycled cashmere for her friends to wear in Saturday’s Womxn’s March on Seattle. The Garfield High School and University of Washington graduate will be traveling to the march with a carload of Whidbey Island residents.  (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)
Patti King, 72, a textile artist on Whidbey Island, has been sewing hats out of recycled cashmere for her friends to wear in Saturday’s Womxn’s March on Seattle. The Garfield High School and University of Washington graduate will be traveling to the march with a carload of Whidbey Island residents. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)

“A lot of women, like myself, are stirred out of our complacency,” she added.

For Callandret, a big motivation was her children’s fear about what they heard during the presidential campaign. Her oldest, 11-year-old Stephon, asked if they would have to move to Canada.

Raleigh Nowers, 73, a retired health-care professional, competitive rower and part-time painter, will be marching for the first time at Saturday’s Womxn’s March on Seattle. “I got caught up with getting married and having children and doing the things we all do, growing up and having family,” she says. Nowers will march for a variety of issues, including her disapproval of repealing the Affordable Care Act and her concern for families in accessing health care.  (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)
Raleigh Nowers, 73, a retired health-care professional, competitive rower and part-time painter, will be marching for the first time at Saturday’s Womxn’s March on Seattle. “I got caught up with getting married and having children and doing the things we all do, growing up and having family,” she says. Nowers will march for a variety of issues, including her disapproval of repealing the Affordable Care Act and her concern for families in accessing health care. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)

So she decided she would no longer keep her political views to herself, thinking “maybe I can change someone’s mind about something, maybe I can influence somebody.”

To Callandret, who works a second job as a waitress on weekends, health care is the most important issue because she has experienced the stress of being uninsured and not being able to visit a dentist or take care of her health.

“As a mom, I’m concerned. Will my children be able to go to the doctor? Will I still have insurance through my job if this goes away? What will it be replaced with?”

For Nickens, the spark was her desire to give fellow students a safe place to talk about their concerns and support each other.

The day after the election, she coordinated a school walkout — the first time she’d joined a protest, much less organized one.

“I got to hear other people’s perspectives and how other people felt and who was scared for their parents,” Nickens said. “It really just opened my eyes and it kind of felt like a community.”

 

Jayla Nickens, 16, a junior at Cleveland High School, felt like she was “obligated to do something or say something” the day after the election. Nickens, who had never organized or protested before, coordinated a school walkout the day after the election so students had a safe space to talk about their concerns and support each other.  (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)
Jayla Nickens, 16, a junior at Cleveland High School, felt like she was “obligated to do something or say something” the day after the election. Nickens, who had never organized or protested before, coordinated a school walkout the day after the election so students had a safe space to talk about their concerns and support each other. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)

 

Putting her background in visual art and merchandising to work, Kurahara joined the art and signage committee for the Womxn’s March on Seattle and is helping to construct 10 enormous puppets representing figures central to civil-rights and social-justice movements.

“When Donald Trump came out during the campaign and said that people of Islamic faith would need to be registered … it reminded me of when my dad and his whole family was interned during World War II, just for being Japanese American,” says Kurahara. “It was a terrible wrong to do to a group of people. Just because they looked ‘different,’ they became the target for the fears of the country at that time.”

Tami Kurahara, 56, a Nordstrom employee, joined the Womxn’s March on Seattle art and signage committee to help create 10 large puppets depicting figures central to historic civil-rights and social-justice movements. Kurahara says she hasn’t joined in a protest since college. “When Donald Trump came out during the campaign and said that people of Islamic faith would need to be registered or denied entry into our country, it reminded me of when my dad and his whole family was interned during World War II, just for being Japanese American,” says Kurahara. “It was a terrible wrong to do to a group of people … Just because they looked ‘different,’ they became the target for the fears of the country at that time.” (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)
Tami Kurahara, 56, a Nordstrom employee, joined the Womxn’s March on Seattle art and signage committee to help create 10 large puppets depicting figures central to historic civil-rights and social-justice movements. Kurahara says she hasn’t joined in a protest since college. “When Donald Trump came out during the campaign and said that people of Islamic faith would need to be registered or denied entry into our country, it reminded me of when my dad and his whole family was interned during World War II, just for being Japanese American,” says Kurahara. “It was a terrible wrong to do to a group of people … Just because they looked ‘different,’ they became the target for the fears of the country at that time.” (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)

“I’ve kind of been stuck in my work, go home, make dinner, be a mom,” she adds, “and to get out and meet people who share similar interests and concerns, and are creative, is really fun and really gratifying.”

Astro has accidentally ended up in protests on Capitol Hill, where they live. (Astro prefers the gender-neutral “they” pronoun.)

But on election night, overcome by emotion — “namely rage,” Astro took to the streets with several dozen other people and the next night joined a march.

“I felt so much camaraderie with people,” Astro said, “so empowered and so strong, when the night before I felt so afraid and weak and like I didn’t have any voice in American politics.” Now Astro has tickets to fly to D.C. to participate in the Women’s March on Washington.

When she marches Saturday in Seattle, King hopes that being around so many similarly minded people will inspire her to get involved in other issues she cares about, just a little later in life than most people become activists.

“It’s never too late for anything, right?” she said.

 

On election night, Aurea Astro, a 34-year-old Microsoft employee, felt overcome by emotion and took to the streets with several dozen other people to channel their energy, and joined a march the day after. “I felt so much camaraderie with people, so empowered and so strong, when the night before I felt so afraid and weak and like I didn’t have any voice in American politics,” says Astro, who will be flying to Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington.  (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)
On election night, Aurea Astro, a 34-year-old Microsoft employee, felt overcome by emotion and took to the streets with several dozen other people to channel their energy, and joined a march the day after. “I felt so much camaraderie with people, so empowered and so strong, when the night before I felt so afraid and weak and like I didn’t have any voice in American politics,” says Astro, who will be flying to Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)