Naperville moms planning second annual walk for unity
Members of a Naperville moms group who planned a unity walk after President Donald Trump's election last fall say the need for a second march has grown over the past year.
Leaders of Moms Building Bridges say they've seen growth in community involvement among other women-led groups, making them optimistic for a larger turnout at their second annual Community Unity Walk.
The half-mile walk and community-building program, set for 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, in downtown Naperville, is now being planned with the help of groups including the League of Women Voters Naperville, We Are One Naperville, Naper Gals, Naperville Women's March Action, the Alive Center and the Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association. Participants are asked to register for the free event at https://www.eventcombo.com/e/Community-Unity-Walk-2017-29557.
Leaders of the "allied groups" are supporting each other as they aim to promote inclusion, acceptance and understanding of people of different faiths, ages, races, cultures and gender identities, says Kathy McBane, who founded Moms Building Bridges two years ago.
"We have our differences, but we belong to each other" is the theme of this year's walk, McBane said. It's an important message, she says, amid the policies, tweets and talk from the White House.
"The divisiveness in the rhetoric has gotten worse," McBane said. "Did we think it would get worse after last year? Maybe not. But it is."
Organizers expect between 300 and 500 people to walk together from Fredenhagen Park to Naperville Central High School in a show of acceptance and respect for those who are different.
Anne-Stava Murray, one of the organizers of Naperville Women's March Action, said her group sent a member to a planning committee for the unity walk to support the work of building cross-cultural connections. She said new activist groups like hers are aiming to get people involved in the political process while not duplicating what others already are doing.
"It's about sharing resources, thinking smartly," Stava-Murray said.
The second annual Community Unity Walk will be at least the third in a series of unity-focused events hosted by Moms Building Bridges this year. Others have included a unity dinner in the spring and forming a circle of peace around the Islamic Center of Naperville in February, which resulted in some participants entering a mosque for the first time.
Events like these, McBane said, "bring people together for the purpose of being together and being stronger because we are together."
Attendees likely will be at different stages in their personal processes of building bridges to people who don't look, think, act or worship like them -- and that's OK, McBane said. The walk will help break down silos and urge people to step out of comfort zones into a space of valuing each other's voices.
"It's what our democracy is requiring of us right now," McBane said.