I was joking with my husband the other day that “it takes a village to raise a child” really means “it takes a village to build an effective carpool.” As logistical as parenting seems sometimes, that reminds me that all the carpools and activity coordination and birthday party plans are just a form of community organizing.
Feminists are so often screaming “Fuck the patriarchy!” or “Eat the rich!” that we get tied up in the top tier of goals. In the hierarchy of feminist needs, dismantling the patriarchy is self-actualization. (Eating the rich is a joke. Probably.) But at the heart of things, feminists are community organizers and to organize effectively, we need to have the basics covered, We all need to be establishing the lowers levels of the pyramid for ourselves and our communities as well. And that happens in carpool.
The communities we organize for our families show our kids what we believe communities should look like. In turn, they will grow up to organize their own communities that resemble the ones we gave them and, hopefully, improve upon them. That’s what generational wisdom is supposed to do: learn from the past, improve for the future.
Conservative forces who have tried to claim the mantle of traditional family/religious/moral values lament the passing of institutions like moose lodges and bridge clubs and weekly church attendance as if those are the only ways to provide a nucleus for a community. (They also always say “church,” never “mosque” or “synagogue.” But that’s a whole different rant.) In fact, those things can be wholly unnecessary, especially now that we have listservs to share information and ideas without all the bother of holding meetings where you need to show up wearing pants and act like you wouldn’t rather be reading a book in a silent room somewhere.
Every email we send to the neighborhood listserv, every text thread about moving kids from place to place for activities, ever book club meeting where no one read the book, every time we take our families to a march or protest, every time we bring dinner to a friend who just had a baby, every time we plan a canned food drive, that’s community organizing.
If you do that right, you are showing the younger generations what it looks like to join with others in common cause. It shows kids how adults work together in positive ways. It builds a sense of togetherness and responsibility for others.
And all of that is feminist as fuck.