Posted on Dec 31, 2017 | No Comments

As many people today, on New Year’s Eve, are reflecting on the year they had, I feel compelled to document and more suitably archive my year in protests. This is not a post telling you what you should do or what to compare yourself to. Welcome to a personal blog – my personal blog. Going through these photos and videos helps give me faith for whatever 2018 brings, whether it’s rebuilding a long staircase out of the darkness, or simply surviving it. It’s helpful for me to remember that this is not a marathon, nor a sprint, but a relay.

It began on November 9, 2016, the day after the “election”.

The weekend that immediately followed was Science Hack Day San Francisco, which was tough. Science Hack Day is an incredibly positive grassroots community that I have been building since 2010, and the 2016 event was the 7th annual one in San Francisco. Nearly everyone around me had understandably sunk into a depression. As lead organizer, I just went into “be a rock” mode and tried to shoulder everything I possibly could. And then I got a phone call that a close family member had a life-threatening event and was in the hospital for an unexpected major surgery. That was a tough week. I got through it because building even a tiny little corner of positive community for people felt like one of the best and most useful things I could be doing in this darkest timeline.

The following week, I traveled to Iran – a lifelong dream of mine given my partial Iranian heritage. We had booked the travel months in advance to take place before the inauguration – we told ourselves “just in case”. Ha. The TL;DR is that Iran is amazing, warm, and welcoming, and you can browse the photos from my trip here.

While in Iran, I was quickly booking my flights to go to Washington D.C. when I got back. The Obama White House was organizing a Champions of Change Reunion, to bring together the people who were recognized as Champions of Change, a program started by Barack Obama to highlight community change-makers across a myriad of causes. In 2013, I spoke at the White House as a Champion of Change in Citizen Science. When I got to D.C., it was encouraging to be surrounded by so many people that had also focused on building a tiny little corner of positive community, all across the country.

2017 began with the historic Women’s March, which was something both to experience in person and to watch unfold around the world. My friends and I gathered ahead of time to make signs and go together.

pre-protest sign-making workshop

#squadgoals #womensmarch #womensmarchsf

A post shared by Ariel Waldman (@arielwaldman) on

In San Francisco that day, it was cold, dark and nothing short of absolutely pouring rain. We huddled together shoulder-to-shoulder with so many thousands of people stuffed into and overflowing Civic Center, waiting for the march to begin. Just as the march got started, the rain intensified even more. Everyone was soaked to the core, even if they had a rain poncho. Protest signs were wilting, ink running. But what I remember so clearly is that every time the rain intensified, everyone, thousands and thousands of people, roared back at it – nothing short of a battle cry.

San Francisco Women's March

San Francisco Women's March

San Francisco Women's March

wet and marching

Only a week later, Tr*mp would attempt his first Muslim Travel Ban on a Friday night. I was devastated. I began checking in with my Iranian friends, making sure they had access to good lawyers and getting good lawyers for the ones who didn’t have one. I made plans with friends to look after their apartment should something happen to them, and to offer my apartment should they be forced out of theirs. There was then a tweet or two about going to the SFO airport to both protest and attempt to get support to the people who had been flying overnight when the ban was announced and were just landing into this chaos.

My friend Lisa Ballard and I hopped on BART as soon as we could to get down to SFO. I quickly scrawled out a sign in Farsi since I had been learning it in prep for my trip to Iran just a couple months prior and learned from the Women’s March that it was a good way to connect with other people of Iranian heritage. Arriving at the BART station, I saw other people with quickly drawn signs and we immediately bonded knowing we were going to the same place.

When I arrived, there were only around 25 people protesting inside the terminal at international arrivals. A guy asked to borrow my Sharpie to make a sign. The large hallway began to fill with more and more protesters until it was over capacity and we were pushed to the sidewalks just outside. Then the sidewalks began to fill on both sides of the trafficway, but police kept us from blocking the street. As the crowd continued to grow the police quietly retreated, letting us take over the sidewalks and the street, and then also the inside of the terminal itself again.

We chanted and stomped and human-microphoned stories of people impacted and updates on getting lawyers inside to help travelers. We cheered when we heard of people being let through. It was so loud and vibrational that it really wasn’t an exaggeration to say the entire international terminal could hear us. People who were just landing at SFO joined the protests, luggage in tow. Lisa and I spent 8 hours straight protesting at SFO that first day and were encouraged to see so many of our friends showing up on the second day. Before I left, a man introduced himself to me telling me he had shown up because of seeing my tweets. I was glad to have handed over the relay baton. Here are some of the videos I took that day:

The following week (now into February) I went to a #NoBanNoWall rally:

I guess this is what Saturday is for now

In April, there was the Tax March, which wasn’t as well-attended as the other marches but was still large enough to shut down Market Street downtown for several blocks:


A post shared by Matt Biddulph (@mattbiddulph) on

There was also the Science March, which I had reservations about going to, which I detailed in a thread and also explained my personal reasoning in choosing to attend in the end:

I began realizing that my art supplies were getting a workout this year for the first time in a while.

Science March prep by @arielwaldman
March for Science San Francisco 2017

I met Dianna “Physics Girl” Cowern completely by chance at the Science March by recognizing her at a distance and awkwardly shouting “Dianna!?”.
March for Science San Francisco 2017

I met an Iranian man who introduced himself after seeing the Farsi on my sign and then told me he had worked on Apollo 11, which was so exciting to hear.
March for Science San Francisco 2017

Kishore Hari, who had helped co-organize the SF Science March, and I discovered we were wearing the exact same SCIENCE socks.
SCIENCE #marchforscience

In August, there was a rally in response to the horrific events in Charlottesville:

Later that month, San Francisco organized a #UnitedAgainstHate counter-protest in response to the Nazis and other white supremacists who planned to protest in the city. The march started in different places across the city, eventually merging as they went downtown. I started in the Castro:

As the march reached downtown, the crowd passed by Twitter’s headquarters, and the chant quickly changed, loudly and forcefully:

At the end of the long march, though, it turned into a number of scattered dance parties and I rested my feet in the grass before Civic Center.

Throughout the year, I met many new people at protests and rallies. Began recognizing the faces of the regulars. Watched people of all ages participate at each and every one. Witnessed support systems grow stronger and communities grow larger. For myself, and no doubt many other people, participating in protests revitalized us and reminded us that we are not alone, that we are far from alone, we are the majority as much as some would like us to believe otherwise and importantly that #WeGotThis.