On Saturday, Jan. 21, one day after the presidential inauguration, approximately 200,000 people are expected to descend on the nation’s capital for the “Women’s March on Washington.” The grassroots effort, organized to defend women’s rights and stand in solidarity with other marginalized communities, has inspired women worldwide, including Columbus resident Christian Tamte. She will take over 100 people to the march via two buses.
On Saturday, Jan. 21, one day after the presidential inauguration, approximately 200,000 people are expected to descend on the nation's capital for the “Women's March on Washington.” The grassroots effort, organized to defend women's rights and stand in solidarity with other marginalized communities, has inspired women worldwide, including Columbus resident Christian Tamte. She will take over 100 people to the march via two buses.
“This isn't just a bus ride,” Tamte said in a mid-January interview at a German Village coffee shop. “This is a mobile conference. This is a mobile think tank. This is something that is going to empower and educate and make [people] better advocates.”
That's because the trip, branded “Rolling into Washington,” will feature discussions, workshops and guest speakers that include Rep. Teresa Fedor and former Democratic congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy.
“They've definitely effected change themselves and … they're going to be teaching us how to do that, too,” Tamte said of the two women, who will advise passengers on what to expect in 2017. There will also be a Q&A segment.
“Rolling into Washington” is a launching pad for Tamte's new company, RISE Travel, which she described as “advocacy and education in action.” Tamte's goal is to offer transportation, lodging and workshops for people attending marches and rallies around the country. The company will also host local events; there are already plans in the works for an International Women's Day celebration in March.
“I think there's an opportunity out there to get people involved to take action and [Tamte]'s doing it,” said Mary B. Relotto, founder of Dames Bond — a networking organization for businesswomen — and discussion leader for “Rolling into Washington.”
“At 51, I never thought I would be marching for equal rights,” Relotto said. “This is not about denouncing the incoming president. … This, to me, is about making sure that [the government knows] that women are more aware, we're educating ourselves, we're getting more involved in politics and we want to take care of our own bodies.”
Chelsea Varnum will teach a workshop on values and creating a mission statement, and Tamte's wife, Marjorie Rizalvo, will offer a workshop on personal safety. Tamte will also lead her own discussion.
“I am not usually the person that stands up on the soapbox and has signs and is out there on the front lines,” Tamte said. “I'm more of a behind-the-scenes person.”
Tamte quite literally worked behind the scenes as a videographer for NBC and ABC-affiliate news stations throughout the country.
“I got into it to give a voice to those that don't have a voice,” she said. “I covered [Hurricane] Katrina and many other big events all around the country and I had a blast.”
Then Tamte noticed a shift in news coverage.
“It started becoming less and less unbiased and it started becoming more commercialized,” she said. “I realized that it wasn't where I was supposed to end up and to do my life work.”
After winning a regional Emmy award for Best Breaking News Videography, Tamte became a travel agent and worked her way up in the industry.
“I loved just being able to live vicariously through people and plan vacations all day,” she said. “It was like, if I can't go on vacation all the time, I'm at least gonna talk about vacation until I figure out what I want to do.”
Tamte founded her first agency, Zone Travel, in 2016. Specializing in “luxury philanthropic travel,” the company offers customers theme-based vacation packages — featuring everything from a stay at the Treehotel in Sweden to a World War II lesson in Berlin – with options for volunteer or education activities based on earth or animal conservation. Customers can also customize their own trips.
“We're changing the way that people travel,” Tamte said.
And with RISE and events like “Rolling into Washington,” Tamte has found a new way to help people “form their voice.” She is especially excited about guiding young people in this effort. “Rolling into Washington” will also feature a discussion for the teens in attendance.
“It's so, so cool to see parents bringing their kids, and the kids want to show up and they want to be there,” Tamte said. “That gives me hope.”
Tamte is looking forward to an “impactful, awe-inspiring” experience in D.C., but stresses there is more to come.
“We're not done after Jan. 21. This is just the beginning. 2017 is the end of apathy,” said Tamte, who hopes “Rolling into Washington” will inspire further action in the community.
“When we get back and people are participating more in local events and women's rights and showing up to other events that are important to them … [I'll] know that I'm successful,” she said.