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blog action day

Activism

A is for Activist (Raising Radicals)

17 October, 2014

A is for Activist!

“Hip hop hooray! Tom and Arthur are getting ready for their wedding!” A classic theme for our doll play; getting married. Everyone is getting married these days for Ramona. It is all about the marriage. (Even the biscuits tie the knot before she eats them.) I slip the gay dad’s union in without Ramona batting an eye lid. I figure it is our role to balance out any limiting and exclusive social conventions through our play, right? We tackle all sorts of progressive stuff with those dolls.

It’s a bit of a tightrope. As all of these parenting acts are. How do we guide children into open mindedness? How do we instill a status quo challenging inquisitiveness? Must we? Should we?

I have always thought my role was to raise radicals. We attend peace and environmental marches with gusto. I try and tackle any “isms” that dare cast their shadow upon our lives.

But I’m beginning to think that the biggest thing I can do is simply give our children the space to be who they are, to find what they are naturally drawn to. To allow them to question everything, to be authentic.  To trust themselves, to respect themselves. I think these things are perhaps the foundations that every radical stands upon. Less then what I do with them. Do you know what I mean?

I do think we can nurture a questioning environment. And I thank books for helping me do this. The girls were recently giving A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. (Actually, they were given it by Thalia of Sacraparental.com, not Innosanto. Thalia wrote 6 Ways Children Can Change the World this week, which I found quite thought provoking!) A is for ActivistA is for Activist A is for Activist A is for Activist  It is a brilliant little book – one that every kid should have upon their shelves.  Imagine a world where words like “feminist” and “grassroots” and “abolitionist” are a part of every child’s vocab.

(How is it that children manage to pick up swears so easily? Rather than classic human rights lingo, huh?)

We also hunt out the books recommended by a Mighty Girl…

We have an open door policy with books (although, you know I sometimes can’t help myself tweaking boy knights into girl knights) but I try really hard to bring in stories that nurture a perspective that includes and celebrates difference and diversity and action.

And I’m trying largely to trust that the way of being with our children is as much as important as what we do with our children, if we really care about raising radicals. It isn’t wholly necessary to represent the rights of homosexual people in every doll game, y’know?

And I’m also trying to come to terms with not raising a radical! To just love whomever they are, and whatever they love.

And mostly, I’m trying to put my own adult privilege under the microscope and attend to my own inner urges to control. Because our world will only ever become more equal if each child understands that power shouldn’t be used over another person.

As the ever challenging Teresa Brett puts it, in Parenting for Social Change:parenting for social change
Would love to hear from your radical family!

A is for Activist is available from here from the Book Depository – currently discounted on there and with free delivery, whoopville!- or ask your local independent to stock it!

This blog is for Blog Action Day 2014! Do check out all the blogs that have joined in today, and my previous year’s contributions:

Landgrabs- where roots and rights count for nothing

Occupy London- a glimpse of utopia

Activism

Landgrabs- where roots and rights count for nothing

15 October, 2012

Ramona’s tiny Chucks pound the same streets my own small feet did. She squeals on the same squeaky swings. Chases the children of the squirrels I chased.  Somehow, despite living in  five different towns and two different continents in the 17 years since I left here, we are back at the place of my childhood and my daughter is growing up in my old neighbourhood.

It has always drawn on me, South London, always felt like the place I’d call home the most.  Despite having a nomadic and flighty upbringing, this is the land where my roots have dug the deepest.

My husband lived in the same house for most of his life. And they reckon most English people live within 5 miles of their birth place, which is baffling to me. And then there are communities who have lived and tilled the same land for generations and generations. Imagine their roots. Wily, strong and ancient.

I went to the breathtakingly beautiful country of Cambodia a few years ago with Oxfam, to hear the stories of people in communities they work with.  The people in the villages we visited were doing incredible, transformative stuff. Tapping into age-old farming techniques to protect themselves against a future littered with weather-related disasters and learning new ways to regenerate their land. Yet almost every single community were fighting a nightly battle with the tractors of corporations who would come in by stealth, move the fence posts, clear a space and claim it as their own. Every village had a team on nightwatch, patrolling the boundaries yet still they were all watching their land decrease in size knowing their chances of fighting it were slim. And they were the lucky ones- losing their land metre by metre instead of in one violent snatch.

Some of the heroic womenI met, transforming- and fighting for – their land

Even since I visited Cambodia three years ago an area half the size of Wales has been transferred from village farmers to corporations, more often than not in the form of “landgrabs” – villagers evicted without warning or compensation and with no recourse to action. It is heartwrenching imagining  some of the families I met, who were so stoically fighting a changing climate and invasive poverty now left with no land and no rights at all. Grandparents who were born there and who still worked the land, hand in hand with their grandchildren who were born there, forced off by men in hard hats and high vis jackets.

This battle for land is going on all over the world; roots and rights mean nothing in the face of The Paperwork. The almost bigger injustice is that the land once used for hunger-busting crops is often left derelict- to grow in value, or used for bio-fuels to feed the wealth of rich nations.

However, this injustice is preventable. In fact, already landgrabs campaigners have taken the New Forest Company to task on the eviction of 25,000 people in Uganda. Oxfam is harnessing it’s knowledge of the World Bank to call for a freeze on all dodgy land deals while the whole business gets sorted out.  This tiny video explains just how the “Power of We” could change things…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExCQlobfAUU]

Can you spare two minutes to add your voice to the symphony of others, calling for justice?

I don’t know what it would be like for us to be chased out of our home, this grotty concrete paradise of Camberwell that I love. To be uprooted, even without generations of sweat poured into it, or a livelihood that depends on it. To be made homeless overnight, left with only the things we could carry.

I only know that I am on the side of the heroes who belong to their land, the ones who have built their lives around it and who use it to feed their families and provide for the future. And I want to join them to fight the big buisness villains who seek to evict them. And thankfully history tells us that together we have an excellent chance of winning this battle.

It is Blog Action Day 2012 and thousands of bloggers are writing along the topic of “The Power of We” – have a read and even join in.

Craftiness, Whoops didn't tag these puppies

Feasting at the Occupation- a glimpse of utopia

16 October, 2011

There is a little old lady who lives round the corner from us with a tree in her garden that is spilling over with fat, juicy apples. A few weeks ago we plucked up the courage to knock on her door to see if we could pick some.  She was completely delighted as she can’t reach them and doesn’t even like them (I know! Who doesn’t like apples?!) and in all her time living there (she has lived there FOREVS) no one has asked.

So this morning we packed a few bags of those scrumpcious morsels and took them up to the protest camp in front of St Pauls – Occupy LSX. As we wandered over to the kitchen we saw a table GROANING under the weight of abundant fruit, sandwiches, chocolate, lentil soup. It was exactly like the harvest festival at my primary school when I was a nipper but with a lot less baked beans.

Throughout the course of today this food has been handed around, shared out, feasted on. It is a beautiful, utopian picture of how the world could be. Where people who have lots, bag it up and pass it round the crowd.  Mums and babes getting served first (woo!) along with the really hungry and vulnerable. Skips delved into, bringing out still the freshest of delights; nothing wasted.

It is a really tiny aspect of Occupy LSX, the feasting, but the rest of it is pretty up there with ideal too; the huge diversity – every age, religion, ethnicity, sexuality and salary represented, the creativity and friendliness, the slow and steady democratic process – and the patience shown throughout it.

Of course it is only a tiny corner of the world, but it reveals what is possible AND highlights what a complete, criminal, joke our current global system is- where people simultaneously die of obesity and starvation.

If you haven’t already joined your local occupation, take a few hours this week to join in the antics – even if it’s just for the food. (Jokes, that would be well cheeky. You should at least make a placard or something.)

Today we started a Kids Space, which will be every afternoon from 2-5pm by the big statue in front of the steps. We have bubbles, toys, paper and pens.

This blog was written for Blog Action Day 2011, the theme is Food, coinciding pretty superbly with World Food Day. Check it all out here.