New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

A Personal Gift

September 13, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Pat LaMarche

All the Good One Woman Could Do…

by Pat LaMarche

Waterville, Maine is a small town on the Kennebec River. About 16,000 people live there and by Maine standards they are young. You see, Maine’s got the oldest population in the country and Waterville’s per capita elderly population is lower than the state average. These young people have young people, and about 20% of those kids are living under the poverty level. One thing about poor kids — especially the children of the working poor — is that they are usually pretty hungry by the end of the day.

Poverty is directly related to food insecurity, and food insecurity among children — according to Feeding America — is responsible for “health problems, education problems, and workforce and job readiness problems.” (Their report on hunger’s negative effects on society can be read at their website.) (more…)

Living, Loving Meaningfully

August 21, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Windy Cooler

The Revolution Will Not Be Anti-Social

by Windy Cooler

I have been ruminating lately on how much I am looking forward to school starting up again for Ob, my six year old son, because of how deeply I enjoy my time with other parents picking up their kids after school; how meaningful, powerful, and frankly, political, much of that time is.

Most of us are women. One is a grandfather and one is a stay at home father, married to the only woman he ever dated. We are very different people, religiously, in age, in personality, in class background and country of origin, to some extent, racially. We talk about everything and we have a huge impact on each other’s lives.

We jokingly call ourselves, after the suggestion of one of us, a poet and homeschooling mother, the “Playground Coven.” I usually write for activists, and I am doing it here, despite myself. I think of us sometimes, in that light, as a kind of Bughouse Square. (more…)

Work-Life Balance

July 02, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Family, Jennifer Browdy

Not Just a Women’s Issue…

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

I decided to bite my tongue and wait to see the reaction to the recent Atlantic Monthly cover story by Anne Marie Slaughter on women and the work-life balance — I knew as soon as I started reading it that it would set off a firestorm of commentary, and I have not been disappointed.

Slaughter, in case you have not been following this story, is a Princeton University professor and dean, who was drafted into the State Department by Hillary Clinton and worked there for two stressful years.  She wrote the article after returning to the snug harbor of Princeton, where, thanks to the flex time allowed by the higher ranks of academia, she is far better able to manage her professional and family commitments.

Slaughter’s main point in writing seems to be that our society needs to adapt itself better to the needs of working women. She calls for more women to get into leadership positions in business and government, and make workplace and policy changes that will make parenting and working outside the home more manageable. (more…)

The Space Between

June 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Rob Okun

Choreographing the Father-Son Dance

by Rob Okun

Rain was gently falling overhead; clouds obscured the stars. I was safe and dry in my son Jonah’s tent. I turned off the flashlight and dozed. I was sleeping a parent’s weekend sleep — one ear open waiting for his safe return. Old habits die hard; I needn’t have been so vigilant. He had only gone in search of cell service to call his girlfriend to say goodnight; he was years past high school curfews.

Jonah is our youngest and had recently finished college. As a graduation present we were spending the weekend at a writing workshop at a conference center and camp we both have a long history with and deeply love. We hadn’t done something like this for some time — just the two of us going away for a few days — so the gift was as much for me as for him. (more…)

Invisible Boundaries

May 10, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Let’s Get on With Our Lives…

by Robert C. Koehler

Nothing fills an emotional void quite like the piercing drone of bagpipes. No matter the kids were rolling their eyeballs as they shuffled two-by-two into the stifling field house — this was profound, and I was on the verge of tears.

Oh, there she is. My daughter. Gulp. Eighteen years old. A college student. I stifled the impulse to wave and embarrass her still further. We had fleeting eye contact, then she turned to the business of finding her seat, one of almost 500 reluctant stars of this event.

I sympathized with their reluctance. Ceremony is about the past, not the future; and the past, represented by a thousand graying moms and dads looking on from the bleachers, wasn’t quite ready to let them go. It had them in its loving tangle. They were making the best of it.

I knew how self-conscious I would have been. All weekend I’d been reliving my own undergraduate career. The previous night, after arriving in St. Paul — a seven-hour trek from Chicago — we’d gone to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and I couldn’t shut up about the old days, and the wonder that I had survived them. (more…)

Multigenerational Justice

May 04, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Politics, Victoria Law

Toward the Quiet Creation of an All-Ages Revolution

by Victoria Law

It is Sunday afternoon. My daughter and I are at home. I am on my (borrowed) laptop in the kitchen, revising chapter forwards for Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind, an anthology on how to support parents and children in social justice movements that I am co-editing with the amazing “grandma of mama zines” China Martens. Garlic bubbles away into broth on the stove, filling the kitchen with warmth (and a very savory fragrance).

In the other room, my 11-year-old daughter is on her dad’s computer and on the phone at the same time. She is on a conference call/computer chat with the folks planning childcare to talk about the Big Kids’ track for this year’s Allied Media Conference. I am, thankfully, not part of the efforts to coordinate either the Kids’ Track or the Big Kids’ Track, but I do wonder how the conversation is going. I can hear my daughter’s fingers strike the keyboard as she enters her ideas into their group chatbox, but I hear her voice much less often.

While puzzling over how to succinctly sum up the gist of each chapter, fittingly on how movements and communities and individuals have supported the children and caregivers in their midst, my thoughts drift back to the event I attended last night: Angela Davis’s talk about prison abolition and a conversation between her and Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was allowed to call in to the event for an all-too-short fifteen minutes. (more…)

Seen and Heard…

September 08, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Politics, Victoria Law

Creating Space for Kids in Our Movements

by Victoria Law

Despite rhetoric about mutual aid and creating new worlds, social justice movements across the US and Canada often neglect the needs of caregivers and children. This has had the effect of excluding crucial organizers and reducing our ability to raise the next generation to be a part of our movements.

Over the past six years, I have interviewed more than 20 mothers who explicitly identify as anarchists about the support (or lack thereof) they’ve received from their peers and movements. These mothers varied in terms of age, race, ethnicity, class, partnership status, and sexual identity. Many had been politically active before motherhood. Some found that continued involvement was not possible and that their peers were unwilling to support the challenges they faced as new mothers. Many who have stayed actively involved were able to do so largely because of community support. (more…)