Here are my reflections on the marvelous gathering of mama's I brought together on April 14th, 2016, to have 'A Conversation about Caring' - my 'practicum' as a Caring Economy Advocate-in-training.
Ten mamas met with me in the historic
in San Francisco. I presented on what a caring economy was all about to nods of approval and knowing sighs. There is something elemental in the appeal of Riane Eisler's work - and there was hunger for more than we could cover in one sitting.
The presentation helped my mamas center themselves and gain perspective on their experiences as carers, and I would say even provoked more self compassion. One could hear a faint rustle as hope and self worth began to bloom.
One area I would like to dig into more is what is being done to carry this work into the world and really effect system change - this is the critical next step to actualizing whole systems change and creating a caring economy. What can mamas in SF and people like me really do here? We can intentionally choose partnership in all our daily interactions - with our families, with our friends and communities and in our work places - but what else can we do?
There was a definite sense of helplessness (and exhaustion) amongst the women present. I want to add at this point that I have a theory that American women are superhuman - they never seem to rest, never say no, ALWAYS do potluck, and must have kryptonite in their marrow! But on a more serious note, the women take the brunt of the lack of caring policies and bear it all like warrior queens. As an English woman born and raised, with antennae attuned to social inequality and gender relations, I have been amazed at how different the UK and US are in their approach to and support of families. Hence my interest in CPS.
It didn't take long to scratch the surface of the illusion that all is well - defeated by what they see as the domination system running amok - whether it's the latest core curriculum academic drive in kindergarten, the rise of Donald Trump, the amount of pesticides on our food, the sexism at work, or the lack of family support...... there is a definite sense of overwhelm. And a strong sense of disempowerment about what to do about it, where to start, the impossibility of achieving a work / life balance - everyone is running so fast just to stand still.
I was struck by how deeply entrenched and normalized the concept of what constitutes a job is. I asked; Why does a job have to be 40-50 hours a week? Why are there so few
options(?) and why is
almost unheard of in the US? mostly to quiet resignation - because this is the way it is . This is an area I would like to grapple with further. I see progress in creating a more flexible and dynamic job market as the key to unlocking the false choice of work or family. Maybe we could start by targeting women-run businesses and organizations, and ask them to model a caring work place - presenting the business case for caring policies and flexible working...?
Sydney Gurewitz Clemens
, an early childhood education guru came and spoke at our childcare co-op yesterday, and counseled us not to ask whether our children are ready for kindergarten, but to ask whether the school is ready for our children. Wouldn't it be revolutionary to ask, not whether we are ready for the work place, but whether the work place is ready for us?
Ultimately hearts were open and bold and it was an honor to be in the presence of so many warrior queens. I will pursue the questions and hopes raised in Part II - and look forward to working together to find ways to bring the caring economy into our lives in more radical, meaningful, game-changing ways.