This past Tuesday, District’s Editor-in-Chief, Emilie Kefalas, met with Paulita Bennett-Martin to discuss the upcoming March for Science happening this Saturday, April 22 at 10 a.m.
Bennett-Martin is Chief of Coastal Advocacy for 100 Miles, an organization dedicated to preserving the coastline, and the lead organizer for the event here in Savannah. The march is scheduled to happen across 518 different cities across the globe.
Known as “Satellite Marches,” the march aims to bring together members of the global community in the name of science. With the main event happening in Washington D.C. and an option to attend a virtual, live-streamed version of the march, the March for Science plans to reach a major audience.
Emilie Kefalas (EK): Where are you from originally?
Paulita Bennett-Martin (PBM): I moved here from Atlanta. Before Atlanta, I lived in Miami, and before that, I was always in South Florida or Belize.
EK: In terms of the March for Science, how has the organizing and planning been?
PBM: It’s been awesome! I’ve had some support from Savannah River Keeper. Jacob Oblander is my contact there. As of right now, we have about 700 people that have liked or followed our Facebook presence and we’re expecting at least 100 to 200 people to come.
EK: What is the day going to look like in terms of schedule and activities?
PBM: So, we’ll have a rally in Johnson Square at around 10 a.m. and at 11 a.m., we’ll start the march.
The march ends by the Forsyth Farmer’s Market and from there to Starland, there’s going to be different science activities that are going to be located at different businesses. The booths will be open from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., so people don’t have to feel rushed.
100 Miles will have an action table where people can come and sign onto an action that we’re going to share with the White House, with our congressmen to say we do not support these federal budget cuts that are putting all the areas of science under threat. All people have to do is stop by the table and sign!
We’re just trying to make it as easy as possible for people. If some folks can’t make it to the march, they can come by in the afternoon, pop by one of the stations and learn about anything from hurricanes to sea level rise to medical science.
EK: Tell me more about the concept behind the event. What has been the driving inspiration?
PBM: The idea was to not make this just an isolated festival. The whole concept is that science, in my eyes, is an integral part of everything we do, it’s part of all our lives.
What we’re trying to say is, “Go out and experience your town and as you walk through your day to day locations, check out science, because chances are it has something to do with your day to day activities.”
We lose sight of that because science seems so removed or so foreign, but in many ways, it’s practical and applied in so many different things.
EK: You said before that all fields of science are under effect with the new budget cuts. Can you elaborate more on that?
PBM: So, you’ve got a lot of different agencies under threat: NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association), NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency).
These people that are under threat are supposed to be doing objective science that is provided to our government. They’re government agencies, and then the government is supposed to make decisions based on the knowledge found through these very long-term studies.
It is important, now more than ever, for us to pay more attention to science because we have a lot of phenomena that is going to change the way we must live in the future. The one that I point to most immediately, definitely in our area, is sea level rise. It’s not questionable whether it’s occurring. It is. It’s about what are we going to do to adapt to that.
EK: Is there anything else you want to say to encourage people to come out Saturday?
PBM: Come out and talk to people and learn about what these scientists are doing. Most of the activities are interactive and will require that people give their input. Come out and celebrate science!