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May 17th, 2008

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11:34 am - Parents as Organizers and Organizers as Parents

Hi Everyone,

I just joined this group and this is my first post. I'm a former teenage mom, now with a 12 year old and a 2 year old - both sons! I'm not only an anarcho-parent, but a lot of people might consider me a political anarchist as well! :)

I've been an organizer for social justice my entire adult life. My main inspiration has always been my children. What I found as I landed one *paid organizing job after the other, whether as a community or union organizer, was that the very two people that have inspired me to be a great, passionate, effective organizer were people I was unreasonably asked to abandon for "the cause," over and over again. This is problematic, but it is made even more so by another experience. I have simultaneously  volunteered in my community as an organizer, and in those *volunteer experiences I was not only more effective than in the paid work, but I actually worked less, and my children were an asset, not a liability. This raises some questions about how exactly “the cause” benefits from denying paid organizers the ability to be full parents.

This has agitated me for a long time. I have observed this as a phenomenon among organizers, as opposed to something I alone have experienced. As a result, I took a huge leap of faith this year and founded an organization to help organizers find balance in their lives: Services for Inspired Propinquity. The website is inspiredpropinquity.com.

We've got a survey for organizers going strong this month if anyone here is a paid or volunteer organizer that wants to talk about their experiences as parents and organizers. You can find it on the homepage. Please do pass it on. It's anonymous, by the way.

Otherwise, I'm just interested in starting a conversation here about what it is like to love your kids and love the world. It seems to me like our kids are a huge investment in this place.

Best to All,

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:May 17th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
congratulations on making it intact through experiences of having your parenting devalued in the context of 'activism'. i'm really sorry that happened to you. i've seen it happen time and again and it disgusts me. in minneapolis, a group of mamas formed RAMBL - radical activist's mama & baby league - in response to that same phenomenon.

i completely believe that any form of working toward a 'better' future that fails to, at root, deeply account for the children - in the present as well as in the vision - is not a revolution i'm gonna dance to.

also, i really appreciated hearing your observation about the difference in *effectiveness*, due in part to the valuing of your children, that you experienced in paid vs unpaid organizing work. one of the principles i'm devoted to living out in my life is that the most effective work towards change in the world feels pleasurable and as graceful as breathing - i don't really believe in the banging-head-through-brick-wall approach; i'm more interested in wandering off to the side & finding the place where it's easy to vault over the wall, or talking to other people about what would be simpler to do about this wall. i'm really tired of seeing the only validation (& pay!) go to organizing work that is *hard* & only creates theoretical, incremental change outside of our direct experience of our lives as change-makers. not to say there is no place for hard work, but i do think the nose-to-the-grindstone method is validated far too much compared to the relaxed, seeing-a-critical-opportunity-and-taking-it method. you can blow and blow all you want on a poorly configured campfire & it still won't start, or you can build it right & strike just one match, and it'll be ablaze.

some thoughts, kind of ranty. welcome to a pretty quiet group...

Date:May 17th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Hi Lisa,

Thanks for the welcome. I totally agree with you. You know about Baby Bloc? Tis very cute.

Please do take and share the link the the organizer survey I mentioned with organizers and affinity groups you know. It is the 2008 Survey of Organizer Well-Being, Attitudes, and Work Issues at
or you can just find it on the homepage of inspiredpropinquity.com

I'm especially interested in getting responses from those of us with kids at this point. We are underrepresented, in my opinion.


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