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Tucson celebrates ‘A Trillion Acts of Love’

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Courtney Talak | The Daily Wildcat People make their way toward the Arizona State Capitol as part of the "Women's March to the Polls" march in Phoenix Sunday, Jan. 21. The Phoenix Police Department estimated between 20,000 and 25,000 people participated in this year’s march, similar to last year’s Phoenix march turnout.

A year after millions of individuals marched in solidarity for women’s rights, Tucson community members gathered Saturday, Jan. 20 for a vigil to promote kindness and love. 

The 2017 Women’s March in Tucson, orchestrated after three months of planning, over 150 volunteers and approximately $25,000, brought 15,000 Tucson voices together in a historic march. 

This year, in lieu of that display, three of the march’s organizers came together to plan a candlelight vigil to kick off a year of kindness and love. 

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“A few months ago we got together feeling this sense of grief and anxiety,” said Sheli Weis, one of the event organizers. “We said, 'we want to do something,' but we weren't sure we could march. All three of us are disabled.”

The three organizers, Weis, Donna Sutton and Pam Bickell, befriended one another at last year’s march and bonded over a common objective. Since then, each of the women has faced tragedy ranging from car accident to illness. 

In response, the women created the Trillion Acts of Kindness movement, hoping that their event would be a space for positive change. 

“If you were upset that there was no march this year in Tucson, we were too. However, we hope you accept this gift of love,” Weis said. 

The vigil was a means to amplify the voices of Tucson’s residents. While marches may attract community leaders and established names, the event planners saw the vigil as a platform for individuals to hear from their neighbors and friends.

During the event, individuals were given the opportunity to take the stage and share an act of kindness they plan to enact during 2018. 

The owner of a yoga studio offered up free classes as a place of refuge for those in need, an aspiring politician declared her commitment to building compassion if elected into Congress and a three-time leukemia survivor pledged her support to cancer patients in her community. 

“I'm unhappy with what I'm seeing in politics, and I wanted to spread happiness,” said Taylor Greene, a local teacher. 

Greene said she attended the vigil in the hopes that it would be a forum to speak about issues in a positive manner, rather than with negative rhetoric and hate. 

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The vigil was held in Armory Park, adjacent to the Armory Park Senior Center. In close proximity to the center, event organizers pledged to donate supplies to seniors. Additionally, care bags were distributed to homeless individuals in the area after the event. 

Veterans for Peace, a Tucson volunteer group, provided security at the event. Though not affiliated with any particular issue, Veterans for Peace mediated the event and attended with other Tucson residents. 

To participate, the organizers urge others to email their own act of kindness to wmtrillionactsoflove@outlook.com.


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