'Be unifying and not dividing'
More than 300 community members march for peace, love and diversity in Lake Oswego
Lake Grove Elementary School fifth-graders Sevyn Watson and Natalie Foss marched side-by-side Friday night, carrying signs that read Kindness matters and Be the light.
The girls were among more than 300 children and adults from Lake Oswego and surrounding communities who took part in a peaceful walk in response to reports of racism at Lake Oswego High School and the national political climate.
It should be a world of love, not a world of hate, Sevyn said.
Natalie agreed: Lake Oswego stands for love, she said.
The group met at George Rogers Park and marched along sidewalks to Millennium Plaza Park, carrying balloons, handing out candy and holding up signs with positive messages.
Lake Oswego resident Amy Waterbury, who organized the walk with five other local moms, said the movement started with an email she sent to her friends after hearing reports of student racism in Lake Oswego. She wanted to find a way to celebrate love and diversity, and to help her kids process what was happening around them.
I wanted it to be focused on spreading love and compassion, and anyone who wants to do that no matter who theyre voting for, she says. I wanted it to be unifying and not dividing.
Waterbury and her friends launched an LO for LOve Facebook page and worked with the City and Lake Oswego Police Department to ensure that the walk would be peaceful and positive.
Another organizer, Jenny Foss, said she hoped the walk would be part of a continuing conversation to encourage children and adults to celebrate things and people that are different, and how that makes this town better, she said. Theres not any space to look at others as less than.
Walkers handmade signs declared messages such as Love wins, Words do matter and Hate free thats me.
When the group reached Millennium Plaza Park, members chanted Love not hate, and Waterbury held up her megaphone to address the crowd.
What we dont want is for people to go home now and say, OK, Ive done something, she said. We really hope this is the beginning of something more.
The organizers offered everyday ways to promote love and diversity, such as showing compassion and kindness to others; interrupting and reporting mean-spirited conversations; and contacting school administrators to emphasize that schools should be welcoming for all students.
City Councilor Jon Gustafson called the turnout fantastic, and said he would like to see the walk become an annual event.
Its so great to see so many fresh faces, especially young ones, he said. It really is representative of the Lake Oswego I know.