A local man is working to bring a growing national trend closer to home, but it's not about trying to lead, it's about provoking questions.
Did you ever look around and feel like something's not quite right?
That maybe society, from the overall structure down to the beliefs and values held by individuals, might be a little off?
You're not alone.
From the Tea Party to the Occupy movements, growing numbers of people from vastly differing ideological perspectives have rallied around the concept that there are serious flaws in the structure of our society.
One way this increasing sentiment has expressed itself is through a surge of rallies and marches. These events can seem remote here in the hills of northwestern Pennsylvania, often being held in the nation's capital, Washington D.C.
One such event, coupled with comments to a webpage he co-administers, helped inspire Warren County resident Dan Kronenwetter to organize an event in western Pennsylvania.
On Nov. 5, Kronenwetter attended the Million Mask March in Washington, organized by individuals identifying with the loose collective of activists known nominally as Anonymous.
"It wasn't about one person leading anything," Kronenwetter said of the Million Mask March. "It was about everyone leading themselves. About people asking questions. These protests are everywhere now."
Kronenwetter said the eventual shape of the event - whether a rally, a march or something else entirely - will largely be dictated by the crowd it draws but the location and the time have been set for months.
"Right now all I have is the function," he said. "I don't know what form it will take. That'll depend on how many people; what actions we take. I still don't know and I won't know until I get there. In D.C., we started with 100 people and we started walking. By the time we got to the park, we had two- to three hundred people. When we started walking again, we had probably 500 people. People we picked up from the sidewalk who were doing whatever and just felt something. It's fluid. I'm not a leader. It's our march."
A Facebook page dedicated to the event, titled simply the March for Freedom, was created on Jan. 20, and lists the event as occurring at Point State Park in Pittsburgh from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on April 5.
Kronenwetter said comments on the webpage he co-administers after the Washington march prompted the events formation.
"Some of the comments were, 'There's never anything in Pennsylvania,'" he said.
While Pittsburgh is still fairly far afield from Warren, it does serve as a close alternative for western Pennsylvanians, especially when compared to Washington.
The purpose of the event is broad-ranged, but it is intentionally so.
"Realistically, I kept it broad and vague, for the concept of freedom" Kronenwetter said. "I think it means different things to different people."
He said, personally, he feels a change of approach is needed both on an individual and a societal level.
"We seek and preach separateness," he said. "We seek and preach isolation. When there's so much plenty, it's really about helping each other. You either have it all or you have nothing. It's like watching someone drown when you have a magic wand and can lift them up and you don't. It's a feeling, not just for yourself, but for someone else. I don't want it to come across as hippie nonsense but it's obvious. You can see it everywhere. Anyone who takes a good look at things can see this isn't working. More and more people are waking up to this stuff."
Kronenwetter pointed out the goal is to draw attention to the flaws in the system and promote people considering the alternatives.
"We're saying, not that we have all the answers, but it's about the message that something's wrong," he said. "So many people have been saying the same things forever, but it's overlooked in favor of selfishness. You think about the propaganda and that's really what this is about. Creating a movement to push back and say, 'Here's another alternative way to do this.'"
He added the event, and his organization of it, is just one way for the individual to take responsibility for the society they're a part of.
"I get tired of the apathy from people, but you hear it when you talk to them, they feel the same way. I see it resonate with people, but to get them to do anything about it is difficult," Kronenwetter said. "Who's truly responsible? I am. It's my responsibility to stand up. It's a moral responsibility for everyone.
"If my voice or someone else's voice is not being heard, that's not freedom, that's not democracy. I don't think it's of the people and for the people if I can't weigh in on specific issues. Here's something anyone can do. They can say, 'Hey, this isn't right,' and it gives the chance to someone else to look at it a see this isn't right. If it provokes thought, that's what I'm hoping for."
The March for Freedom event page on Facebook currently shows 74 individuals confirmed as going to the event and 40 as possibly going. The page Kronenwetter administers, which has been giving event updates, currently has over 1,000 likes.