Contents "Homemakin'" Articles
Adam Wolfenden is new to being a father and learning a lot in the process. He has worked on economic globalisation issues for a while now and sometimes makes zines, as well as comics, but mostly spends his time perfecting his terribly unfunny 'dad' jokes. Connie Murillo is a peace and revolution-lovin' anarcho-mama, lover to Q, zinester, bellydancer, discgolfer, and a working-class college graduate. She is a member of confluence media collective and co-founder/co-editor of the red pill: http://www.gjredpill.org. Her mama-zine, the peep show will soon be resurrected with a new name yet to be announced, stay tuned. Lara Daley is a parent among other things. She has a number of radical parenting related projects on the run, including Building Blocs, which you can check out at raisingrebellion.wordpress.com or tricyclezinedistro.org Mai'a Williams is a visionary healer and media maker. She's lived and worked in the Middle East, southern Mexico, and east Africa with refugee and displaced women under threat of violence, and has organised and accompanied communities and persons within the US/Canadian urban landscape. Living in Cairo, Egypt, she's a freelance writer/poet/journalist/zinester/photographer/performer and outlaw midwife. Sonny Boy is a Victorian ex-pat still trying to cope with the badlands of the inner west of Sydney - how can you be short on short shorts in April?!
Growing La Casa: Homemaking in a House of Many by Lara Daley
Going Nuclear by Connie Murillo
Notes from a Revolution by Mai'a Williams
Loving on Share Housing (and John Dog) by Sonny Boy
Comic 25 'Under One Roof'
- a comic by Adam Wolfenden
Reviews 31 How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk by Adam Wolfenden Mix Tape 24
Bake Mix by Mucil
Miscellanea 34 Call-outs/Notices/Announcements/Other Contributors 35
Miscellanea Growing La Casa: homemaking in a house of many
Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood
by Lara Daley Most importantly, we cannot build an alternative society and a strong self-reproducing movement unless we redefine our reproduction in a more cooperative way and put to an end the separation between the personal and the political, and political activism and the reproduction of everyday life’ - Silvia Federici (1 ) ‘Building an urban common also involves much more than capturing land and assets, although this is essential. It also requires the ability to control and imagine governance in new ways. ’ - Paul Chatterton (2)
I live in a wonderful collectivity called La Casa. It exists beyond the ordinary confines of share-house living and is a project of sorts, not quite a community, but possibly on its way. For me community does not pre-exist, it has to be built. A grassroots community in this sense is ‘a group of people that are part of a common geographical space who share some common needs, goals, and values and look out for each other's well-beings. A community is not just a network, a neighbourhood, a scene, or a school’ (3) . In truth, I am not really sure what this place is that I live, but amongst the many
things that it is and isn’t, it is where I make my home and is also the home of my daughter, R, her Dad, A and 1 2 permanent and 2 occasional housemates. La Casa has existed for 2.5 years and started when a network of politically active people in Newcastle sought a way to purchase a house to support their involvement in political work. Not having the capital themselves, an individual comrade and friend, was able to purchase the place. The property is now rented from that person with an unorthodox sharing of responsibilities for maintaining
Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood combines the best from the
award-winning zine Rad Dad and from Daddy Dialectic, two kindred publications that have explored parenting as political territory. Both have pushed the conversation around fathering beyond the safe, apolitical focus and have worked hard to create a diverse, multi-faceted space to grapple with the complexity of fathering. Today more than ever, fatherhood demands constant improvisation, risk, and struggle. With grace, honesty, and strength, Rad Dad’s writers tackle all the issues that other parenting guides are afraid to touch: the brutalities, beauties,
and politics of the birth experience, the challenges of parenting on an equal basis with mothers, the tests faced by transgendered and gay fathers, the emotions of sperm donation, and parental confrontations with war, violence, racism, and incarceration. Rad Dad is for every father out in the real world trying to parent in ways that are loving, meaningful, authentic, and ultimately revolutionary. Contributors Include: Steve Almond, Jack Amoureux, Mike Araujo, Mark Andersen, Jeff Chang, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jeff Conant, Jason Denzin, Cory Doctorow, Craig Elliott, Chip Gagnon, Keith Hennessy, David L. Hoyt, Simon Knapus, Ian MacKaye, Tomas Moniz, Zappa Montag, Raj Patel, Jeremy Adam Smith, Jason Sperber, Burke Stansbury, Shawn Taylor, Tata, Jeff West, and Mark Whiteley. Taken from:
Submit! call outs, announcements, letters, etc. to this section: email tricyclezinedistro@riseup. net with subject heading "miscellanea"
and improving the property. This involves the unstructured sharing of labour (physical and creative) and investment (financial, emotional and political) that goes into building and sustaining the hive of social relations and projects that make up La Casa, also including projects that involve non-residents. However, the longer version of that story will have to wait for another time!
Tricycle Zine Distro was created to distribute and inspire the writing of radical parent/ing* zines and other zines/resources useful to parents, caregivers and allies.
It is a project that aims to challenge the norms of parenting (and other norms like gender, race, class, sexuality, age, ability and capitalism) and explore alternatives; inspire writing as an act of rebellion; support radical parenting, politics and action; value parents/ caregivers/ children as integral to building communities of resistance; create collective knowledge and networks of support and mutual aid amongst parents, caregivers and their allies in Australia. If you have a zine or resource which you would like to distro through Tricycle please email firstname.lastname@example.org For orders or more info go to tricyclezinedistro.org
Some zines in stock: Fireweed
Don't Leave Your Friends Behind
This is the second time I have made my home at La Casa. The first time A and I had just returned from overseas, were kind of new to the city, jobless and pregnant. I was really anxious about finding somewhere to live. The rental market is tough on renters and with both of us on Centrelink payments (welfare), I didn’t like our chances securing a place to live easily. Being pregnant only seemed to raise the stakes. In Australia, housing affordability stress is calculated on a ‘30/40 rule, meaning those spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, while earning in the bottom 40
per cent of the income range’ are considered to be experiencing housing stress (4) . In 2002-03, 862 000 lowerincome households were experiencing housing stress, comprising 1 5.8 per cent of all Australian households and 28.2 per cent of low-income households. It has also been found that households with dependent children are at greatest risk of spending prolonged periods of time in housing stress (5) . I like any parent wanted to find somewhere safe (in a broad sense of the term), comfortable and affordable to raise my kid. The first place we checked out confirmed my fears about the competitiveness of limited and expensive housing. It was more than we could afford on our own (we really needed to share to live in a house and in easy distance from amenities) and there were at least 40 other people there at the viewing. Serendipitously some folks we knew said there were rooms going at a share- house that had been set up 6 months prior. We checked it out and I was relieved when in
* Radical Parenting is an imperfect term and is meant here as inclusive and diverse – an exploration of parenting styles that value respect, trust, autonomy, difference, non-oppression, learning, love and revolution.
response to my pregnancy those present proclaimed “we love babies!”. I think my anxiety about revealing my pregnancy to our potential housemates and my concern that it might mean we couldn’t live there is telling of a wider exclusionary attitude towards people with kids in “activist” and “radical” circles. An attitude that constructs “activism” and parenting as mutually exclusive, individualises responsibility (similar to the political right), is ageist, and emphasises population over consumption and global inequality as the cause of environmental and resource pressures. However, the folk we knew in town have had babies in their midst before and appeared to me as loving and supportive of them and their caregivers. Six or so months later R was born and shortly afterwards A, R and I shipped off overseas for 7 months. Upon our return we were back in more or less the same situation. A was still working for a community organisation based overseas so
was full-time, but on a Pacific Island wage and I was receiving a parenting payment from Centrelink. We had enjoyed some time to ourselves with R overseas, but were keen to get back to share-house living for financial, political and social reasons. Fortunately, our timing was right and La Casans were able to have us back. I cannot emphasise enough how much I love living with lots of people whilst raising a little one. Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, it helps enormously with breaking down the social isolation of being a parent. Some days when I was on my own at home with R in another country the isolation was crushing. At La Casa R is surrounded by more loving adults than most kids in dominant Australian cultures and this means there is usually someone with energy and a game to play, sufficient distractions to diffuse the occasional toddler grumps, more people to share the domestic labour, and someone to hang with her whilst A or I need to get something done or just need a little time to ourselves. Some of my housemates are even helping out with her care on a regular basis since I’ve gone back to uni and wasn’t able to find enough available childcare hours in either centres or family day care in our city (indicative of a more generalised shortage of care) (6) . It has also been such a joy to see how R
demonstrate situations is a fantastic idea, as not only does it make it easier to follow but it takes it beyond words on a page to what you could imagine the situation actually being. Whilst I didn't write up responses to the exercises at the end of each chapter, they were also a great way to picture how you would communicate and begin to re-evaluate. I think this is also a great attribute of the book, capitalism loves to teach us not to empathise, not to consider other people's points of view, so much so that it can be extremely difficult to break the habits of self-centred responding. The exercises in this book are a good way to start to check ones own habitual responses to situations and allows you to see if that's the way that you actually want to respond.
you don't really know what it's like until you're there and I think this has tainted my view of what some of this book covers.
This book focusses on opening up communication with kids that takes into account the point of view that they have. This approach emphasises encouraging cooperation, alternatives to punishment, helping kids deal with their feelings, and freeing children from playing roles.
Again, to re-iterate, I'm not at that stage in my relationship with my little one yet so I guess I'll have to go back to the approach that the book starts with “I was a wonderful parent before I had children”. It was great to read this book and I think others should too. Maybe I should write another review in a couple of years to see what's changed under the pressures of reality.
I must confess that my little one isn't quite at the full blown-linguistic conversational age yet and whilst good communication habits must be established early, some of the examples and situations that are used in this book I can't relate to. If there's one thing I've learnt from my short time being involved in bringing up little folk, it's that
There were some suggestions for communicating in this book that I wasn't sure that I agreed with, they sometimes sounded too much like directives that indicated that the parents/caregivers were always setting the boundaries within which kids could operate. Whilst I know that's generally the case and there are those types of responsibilities that have to be set, this seemed at times beyond that and that the 'power' of parents was coming across. I found Naomi Aldort's book on this topic “Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves” more in line with what is my preferred approach.
How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
Review by Adam Communication is such a huge part of how we can view the world. The methods and practises of communicating that get embedded in all of us shape how we approach problems, see others, and I would also argue how we view political change. The authors wanted this book to be more than just a discussion about how
parents/caregivers communicate with children, they wanted it to be able to provide practical exercises so people could really grasp its concepts. The authors have hosted many a workshop on communication with children and see this book as being something that people can take away and continue on with the work. The book itself presents its point in a wonderfully simple, clear, and entertaining way. The use of comics to
and her various housemates have Most notable are trying to be conscious of developed their own relationships. One of cleaning up swiftly after R so that the my favourite things has been to hear the common spaces donâ€™t become way housemates talk about R to each dysfunctional for others to use due to a other. When someone is away from home pile of colourful blocs in the day and for a while, upon their return I often trying to keep night waking noise to a overhear other housemates relating stories minimum so as not disturb sleeping of Râ€™s burgeoning personality and housemates at night. There is also a developments, just like proud parents. A disparate investment in the general and I often comment to each other about cleanliness and safety of the house how great it is that R has her own life with between my housemates and myself (and other trusted adults outside of our familial A) due to the differing needs of our being relationships. I feel this is something that is directly responsible for a little person. I enriching her life find that this dynamic I often overhear other experience now and can exacerbate the housemates relating stories will continue to do so amount of domestic of R's burgeoning personality as she grows, learning labour I do versus and developments, just like a other forms of labour to relate to different proud parents. people and share in at La Casa, labour that their activities and is gendered labour as ways of seeing the world. I also see this as it falls in line with traditional female roles, a model for a world in which not both distinct from and synonymous with everyone needs to procreate to have close traditional maternal roles. Another issue is relationships with little folk and multiple sharing a relatively small amount of space, generations. with one room for the three of us and with common areas shared by 1 5. So far, the However, not everything is made perfect most challenging thing about this for me or easier day-to-day by living in a large has been the lack of private space to go to share-house. Some of the isolation is still of an evening once R is asleep in our there due to the differing realities of room. This is particularly challenging if I parents/caregivers and nonneed some down time after an exhausting parents/caregivers, meaning that the level day (or sleep deprived night/s) or if A and I of camaraderie shared is different. R, A want some time alone together. and I have had to make changes to the way we do things to try and fit in with the This brings me to one of the quirks of La other activities and needs in the house. Casa that impacts the viability of our
family’s continued homemaking here. Whilst R was born here and it never presented as an issue then, when the decision was being made as to whether we could move in this time, some of the residents were concerned about having to make changes to La Casa to accommodate a little person that would affect the activities of La Casa and its residents too much. So the decision was made that we could move in, incorporating the differing concerns about having to change things.This decision is of course remembered and interpreted differently amongst the 1 2 housemates our family lives with. On one end of the spectrum it is viewed that the house was not going to change anything, save for being mindful of noise levels and sharp objects. On the other end, that changes around R's needs would be discussed and decided upon when they arise. However, the persisting issue is that although not necessarily the majority viewpoint in the house, when the decision is formally raised it is predominantly the former view of the
decision being evoked. Another issue with this quirk is that La Casa not changing due to our needs was never articulated in such a definitive way to A or myself as a condition of our residency and it unfairly (even if unconsciously) singles out the needs of parents/caregivers/kids as inferior to the other needs of current and future residents of La Casa. Unfortunately, this decision has resurfaced on multiple occasions as La Casa faces the changing needs of my family and other housemates, as a kind of informal “no change” policy when it comes to our family’s needs. This creates a hostile environment for me as a parent and undermines my confidence and ability to raise concerns or needs I may have in the house. I would go so far as to say so when we allow this informal policy at La Casa we create a two-tiered system between legitimate housemate needs and illegitimate ones. Perhaps most
with J Dog, the whole issue was often diminished to a debate in Big Bad Sims over whether spaghetti bolognaise should have heaps of fancy spices or just a can of Dolmio. It’s hard for me to overstate how important that was for me J Dog (although on that question too, you are wrong. If it aint broke, don’t put rosemary in it). Eventually the social realities of our time caught up with us, and we all made decisions that people like us do. J Dog went to Paris chasing an elderly neocommunist, and me and Ned went to Sydney chasing Eve. That time in Footscrasy will always be with me. In and of itself, it was a peak share housing experience: a warm, fun and functional house that facilitated all of us living our lives with more oomph. The whole episode also irredeemably cemented my conviction to, where it’s doable, always share house. Especially while I’ve got littlies. Our gang has now grown by one Billy Rose, and we live in an inner west Sydney share house with our crasy and beautiful housemate C (Dog) and her 3 y.o. ratbag Squid (Ned’s ‘house brother’ and room mate). Again, it hasn’t been without its challenges – a steep learning curve about the relative merits of biting your friends, for example. Violence aside, so far, true to form living with C and Squid has been
bloody fantastic and I wouldn’t change it for anything (although it’s gotta be said, Stanmore aint no Footscray). I’m pretty resistant to ‘radical parenting’. It makes me think of teenage mutant ninja turtles and eating pizza for breakfast. The notion of a ‘radical community’ itself kind of makes me squeamish. As a term it just feels too limiting, too self consciously about reproducing a one dimensional and self-serving identity instead of grappling with the complex, shifting and imperfect relations that everybody must negotiate. I also associate it strongly with some unfortunate episodes of moralistic (and self righteous) posturing. Having said that, I am eternally grateful for what my network of mates, comrades and fellow travellers have made possible for my day to day reality. There is heaps of other possibilities that have been enabled by these crasy people and their willingness to take the world by the horns, but the one that has really stood out for me as a parent, has been the chance to live with a mate and my kids, and for that to have been such an amazing experience. I highly recommend giving it a go.
The real gold was in our day to day lives as housemates. The hundred moments each week that Ned and J Dog would hang out in the house just doing whatever: google image searches for the hottest new thing (cows, spaceships etc.); Ned busting into J Dog’s homework sessions to harangue him into playing the piano together; or racing cars across the kitchen floor.
It was also a transformative experience for me and Eve, both as co-parents and as lovers. We weren’t occupying endless domestic hours as a nuclear family. Those dreary stretches - of a morning and evening, feeding kids and washing dishes - were broken up with the presence of our mate, telling bad jokes and singing the same line from a pop song over and over. This made it so much easier for us to importantly, the attitude of the policy is at odds with the day-to-day love and generosity that people show R. Most problematic in a broader sense, is that it casts little folk and their caregivers as a burden on the collective (just as the political right say about welfare recipients being a burden on society), rather than little folk/caregivers being able to add something unique to the group, which I think most (if not all) my housemates would recognise.
Having another grown-up in the house that loved him, and loved hanging out with him was so awesome for Nedlet. He loved J Dog, and even more than just that, it made his life so much more fun. Often were the nights that either me or Eve would be in the kitchen trying to cook tea and basically telling Ned to suck it in, get out from underneath our feet and entertain himself, when J Dog would swoop through the door to excited woops of joy from Neddie.
demarcate a (precious) non-domestic space in which to maintain a relationship more about pashing than washing. I find it precariously exhausting trying to T-up opportunities to ‘catch up’ with friends after work or on Dad Day, with kids in tow. When I don’t, then I run the risk of quickly spiralling down into the lonely sand pit at the bottom of the slippery dip. It’s a tricky conundrum. It wasn’t a panacea, but while I was living
In our family’s particular case this informal “no change” policy has also played into narratives, which have been constructed at La Casa through various miscommunications, where our family is incorrectly seen as asking to be financially subsidised (through lower rent) in a house that is intended for “activists”, La Casa being open to subsidising on the basis of the latter. I take issue with this narrative on a number of counts, but beyond the personalised, it is the notion of an
“activist” house that I think worth discussing when thinking about homemaking and our political work. La Casa as a project is for the greater part conceived of as an “activist” house, with the vision of providing cheap rent to “activists”. The idea being, that by providing housing at lower than market value rent (and by capitalising on economies of scale when it comes to bills, house improvements and domestic labour) it will support the activism of the residents. There are two tensions that arise from this vision, the first being what is an “activist” and the second being whether the aim is to support lifetimes of activism or more simply provide shorter-term accommodation to people whilst their lives allow for particular kinds of activism, all of which are contingent upon what one views to be constituted as activism. At present there are different interpretations of what an “activist” is
depending on varying subjectivities in the house. For example, my use of inverted commas throughout this article when talking about “activist” highlights my particular disdain for the word. The reason being that I see it as something that generally values particular forms of political work over others, encourages judging people as “activist” enough, idealises a group of people as superior or separate to the rest of the population and makes working towards social change a specialised activity. Generally, having differing ideas of what an “activist” is functions as an enriching aspect of La Casa, in that it provides flexibility and openness around who can live here and how residents engage in political work, but it can also makes things problematic, when narrower interpretations are mobilised (even if only by some) to judge another residents worthiness to live or participate fully in La Casa. This is something that I as a parent not currently engaged in any campaigning or organising, (largely, but not solely due to my childrearing responsibilities) have experienced.
one step in supporting political work through cheap rent, if we cannot allow for people’s continually changing lives and needs, for people to take “time out” to care for others or themselves, for people to take stock of their politics and actions, or to be kids and young people who contribute something very different to our collectivities, then we are limited in our ability to support intergenerational learning and multigenerational political work at La Casa.
This brings me to the second tension in La Casa’s vision of whether the project seeks to support a lifetime of activism, or provide accommodation for people engaged in forms of activism that are, under most circumstances, only viable periodically in life. Whilst La Casa goes
My personal hope is that my traditional family unit and our larger La Casa family can come up with creative ways to accommodate the changing needs of us as parents and R as a little person, as well as the needs of everyone else living here, so that we can stay long-term and continue
the isolating circle of life as viewed from pride rock. There is one strategy, however, for trying to resist these pressures that I’ve found over the last few years to be bloody great. Share housing. I love share housing with my kids. Fucking love it. I know it’s a massive cliché – as a mate mentioned, it’s pretty Brady Bunch – but if you can make it work, it really, really works. Me and my co-parent Eve first discovered just how good sharehousing with a sprog could be when we moved into a beautiful old house in West Footscray with Ned (then just over a year old) and our mate John Dog. John Dog, if it weren’t for living with you that year, I don’t know that I ever would have known just how good it could be. It was really, really good. J Dog had been a close friend of mine since I met him intermittently slugging whisky, talking continental philosophy and booty dancing at some benefit gig five years previous, and he and Eve had been mates even longer. The idea to live together was first floated when me and the gang had just got back to Melbourne from a spell living in South
Australia, and J Dog was living in some random Brunswick sharehouse with a tragic up and coming human rights law warrior-princess and the ashamed son of a disgraced politician. I don’t know the details of what J Dogs reservations about our gang were at the time, but suffice to say they weren’t compelling enough to keep him away. It’s not like it was all smooth sailing. We had other housemates come and go from the spare room, and there was some dispute over the droplets of piss on the floor beside the toilet (you’re wrong about that, by the way J Dog). But these difficulties were kicked to the curb of an evening as me, J Dog and Nedlet meandered down past the hospital to our local supermarket, Big Bad Sims, to buy Dorritoes and cauliflower, and say hello to all the neighbourhood cats. J Dog didn’t do much ‘babysitting’ of Ned, in that it wasn’t really that often that me and Eve would go out while J Dog and Ned kicked it in the ‘scray (although for all those times that you did, thanks heaps J Dog). When he did, it was often a very straightforward affair, more or less involving us leaving the house spontaneously after Ned was already asleep, J Dog’s responsibilities amounting to remembering Ned as he was fleeing the burning house.
Loving on Share Housing (and John Dog) by Sonny Boy From what I can gather parenting is, at least at first, isolating for most people most of the time. This varies dramatically of course – class and culture, heteronormativity or otherwise – there are a lot of factors that make parenting more or less lonely. Regardless of the different circumstances however, it is how labour is structured that mostly makes this so. First and foremost, the way in which the labour of parenting is still structured to primarily take place in the private realm, structured around the ideal of the nuclear family. This organisation of parenting (domestic) labour obviously has a powerful cultural expression – surprisingly enough, people really dig it – however its economic power rears its ugly pimple in a swift and furious way as soon as you try to transgress its cultural power.
When your economic responsibilities increase (needing more space in which to live, child care, industrial tubs of peanut butter etc.) and the amount of labour you have to exchange for cash decreases (because of the explosion of the unpaid labour in your life), suddenly the reasons so many people choose to live lives in the vast Australian working class suburbs start to feel all a little bit too, well, reasonable. The cheap skanky sharehouse (with only one room that comes up at a time), casual work (with no carers leave), relying on scabbing your mate’s car: all the things that can make life that little bit cheaper and flexible and – cough, ‘radical’ – these strategies all start to get that little bit harder to achieve.
to contribute to the collective homemaking and political work at La Casa. My hope for La Casa is that we can transform our collectivity into a community. A community in which we concretely take responsibility for each other, and ourselves; support lifetimes of varied political work; create our own democratic decsision-making; and build and maintain relationships of mutual aid with the political and social networks beyond La Casa. All in the hope that we can be both humble and dignified in our rebellion. 1 . “Feminism and the Politics of the Commons in an Era of Primitive Accumulation” in Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States, Team Colors Collective, eds. Oakland: AK Press, 201 0
2. “Seeking the Urban Common: Furthering the Debate on Spatial Justice” in City 1 4:6 (201 0): 625628 3. Matt Hern (Field Day), quoted in http://dothisallday.org/resources/ 4. AHURI, “Housing Affordability” page http://www.ahuri.edu.au/themes/housing_affordabilit y/ accessed August 201 1 5. ibid. 6. For the readers outside Australia, the most common forms of mainstream childcare services are centres and family day care. There are both nonprofit and for-profit centres and family day care is where a person provides paid childcare services in their home for a small number of children. The government provides some funding to childcare services as well as a variety of individual family support payments to assist in the cost of childcare. Theoretically those with greatest financial/social need would get the most assistance and priority places. Another article for another time!
That your mates and your co-parent are all at work (or still asleep) while you do the bulk of your parenting is the other thing that seems to inescapably make up part of Photos of La Casa and Casans with R by Nic and A.
Going Nuclear by Connie Murillo
In 2005, I took one step closer to realizing my life long goal - to live in a selfsustaining community of people who cared for each other - each offering their personal gifts to the whole. I lived as a member of the Confluence Collective and its several mutations until moving in with the only other anarchist parenting couple in town, forming the Black Diaper Collective in 2009. The Black Diaper Collective was made up of two hetero couples and their three babies. We lived as a family, took care of each other, shared resources, bills, etc. as families generally would living under one roof. I love living collectively. Not only does it help out financially, but having others around to share company, household chores and childcare was much appreciated. It definitely takes work to make sure everyone’s needs are being met, but to me, the returns are worth it.
I enjoy big dinners being cooked for each other, doing ‘family’ activities together, and being a part of the life of children that aren’t mine, whom I love as if they were. In today’s society, it seems the nuclear model is popular and enforced, as if the only important people were mother and father a to the child. When living collectively there is a shared responsibility for the raising of the children and a general understanding it!.v7!!7!!!'!!!fW of how 6/!7!!!6!/b we’d p!xt!.v7!!R!.a!t¼!xt!.v7!!7!!!'!!!Kq’!!,’!!)
on. But at the same time, the new home I’d go back to a nuclear family setting, but that we’ve built for our family is working that’s how it’s worked out. We (me, my out. Schedules are focused on so that my sons, and my partner) started living in a partner and I get the time we need, the one bedroom duplex to save money, but boys get to stay home with Q while I being there for six months took its toll on work, so paying for childcare is not an all of our relationships - it was hard to get issue - I don’t know what we’d do if we all of our needs met insofar as personal did have to pay for childcare. We actually time and the work that needs to be have space in our new home for private completed when children weren’t in the time - that helps immensely. We’re not house. My partner is an artist. Much of his living on top of each other anymore. work requires concentration and silence. That’s hard in a one bedroom house, The move was definitely a transition for especially in the winter, when it was my sons. Having lived most their lives much harder to take the boys out of the with R, our parenting house. It felt as if there Despite my initial friends’ daughter, they was no breathing space reservations, nuclear didn’t understand why we for anyone and was much more constrained than the living isn't as difficult as didn’t live with her I thought it would be anymore or why we don’t previous collective see her everyday. It was situations we had been in. interesting to navigate these linguistic waters when it came to the children. So when it became clear the BDC was Questions have been brought up as to really dead, I made alternative plans to “why we don’t live with R anymore” and find a suitable place for our family - one “why we don’t just switch houses”, and with a lot more space. This was a decision more. It took some time, but they now made out of necessity not of want for a understand that they don’t live with R nuclear living space. anymore and we can visit when possible. I hadn’t really explained living situations or It was a rough start. My partner, Q, and I anything with boys beyond, “we don’t live went through some difficult times in our together anymore.” It’s still a hurtful relationship, we stuck it out and our subject for me and I’m not sure how to relationship is better for it. I find myself answer the boys’ inquiries. Eight months questioning my role and my place in our later, Nicolai ‘calls’ R and talks to her on more spread out ‘community,’. I’m feeling his phone. Sometimes he uses my phone a bit more alone now - like I took a step to call her and leave messages or texts her backwards from the goal I was working .
to say 'hi'. Despite my initial reservations, nuclear living isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I love collective living because I love being around people. I wasn’t in it for the help I received. I enjoy the time we get together and sharing our lives together -
like family, but I also enjoy the life and home Q and I have built together. This definitely isn’t an end to my desire to live collectively, but it’s working out for now and for the time being I will have to find other ways to work towards and manifest my life goal - where ever that takes us .
Bake Mix Tape
Shining Leaves - The Ice Penguins
Bait of Fish - The Business
Rats Drown in Water - Rataches
Little Monkeys - The Business
Drawers of Sticky Tape - Shark Mountains
Artwork by Pat Grant
This mix is by Mucil, a four year old with numerous music projects, including a grindcore band called the 'Rataches'. Bake mix is a selection of his finest work.
Post script June 26th
The revolution continues. The military took over the government for the interim until elections in the fall. And while at first it seemed to be on the side of the revolutionaries, it soon became apparent that the military is just as oppressive and authoritarian as Mubarak and his police state. What amazes me still is to watch how the revolution changed how people view themselves. Watching my friends realize
how powerful they are, how much strength it takes to be free, and how freedom and justice is worth it. We took whatever we had available and built communities, networks of people who have our backs, and we have theirs. And when Aza talks about the revolution, 'the outdoor party', she cheers and claps her hands and chants, 'horreya! Horreya!' Freedom.
Notes from a Revolution by Mai'a Williams
And I will work for the revolution until she lives in a world that is truly free.
I spend most of Tuesday at home writing. Cal, my partner and a teacher, and Aza, my three year old daughter have the day off school, because it's a national holiday, Police Day. Cal decides to take her to the protests downtown. We've lived in Egypt for two years, and have seen enough 'protests' in Cairo. They mainly consist of a few dozen or hundred people wandering aimlessly around a square carrying signs. But this time it feels different, I can hear the protests roar into my bedroom window, as I type on my laptop. So, in the late afternoon I walk to the Nile and the bridges that lead to Tahrir Square to see what's happening. The riot police's black trucks line the streets and everyone stands outside of their shops. Crowds of people are walking quickly down Tahrir Street toward the square, like a badly organized parade. Aza returns from the protests, into the apartment, strutting her solid three year old body. Cal, her father, follows behind her.
'Hey baby', he says to her, 'what about the police?' Hands on her hips, cocks her head of curly hair to the side and in a proud squeak announces, 'Fuck the police!' I roll on the bed laughing. She starts laughing with me, hands on her belly, jumping up and down. 'Fuck the police! Fuck the police!'
I knock on my friends', Mairead and Niamh's door. Obada opens it, leaning against the door frame with a slight smirk, looking the way he looks every Thursday night, grey sweater and black pants. 'Hell yeah!' I hug him tightly. 'You are out of jail'. He grins. 'So glad to see you. How long were you in?' 'One day'. 'Not bad'. I run my fingers over his fuzzy hair. I
There has been no cell service for the past twelve hours. This morning I woke up with no internet. I look at Jo, 'This is going to be bad. The Egyptian government doesn't want anyone to be able to talk to each other or to the outside world.' Jo nods.
never ask people what it was like in jail in Egypt. We stand in the yellow kitchen, with Mairead and Naimh, drinking Stella beer out of green bottles, as he tells the story of January 25th 'I just want Mubarak gone. You know in my whole life I have never known another president. All I have ever known is Mubarak'. I've never seen him this excited, there's fire in his eyes. 'There are no leaders at the protest', he tells me, 'everyone is free'. 'We are going to create a free Egypt'. In the nine months I have known him, I have never heard him talk politics or revolution. Usually his conversations revolved around parties, girls, hash, beer, and films. 'Yes', I say, 'you never know who the leaders are until after the revolution'.
The next afternoon, I meet Cal and Jo in front of Stella bar next to Talaat Harb Square. Stella is closed, so we go to Felfela restaurant and drink a beer while we wait for the protest to get started.
Right now her five year old daughter, Greer, is playing with Aza in Jo and Greer's apartment in Maadi, a neighborhood on the other side of the city. The three of us have worked in the West Bank with the same human rights NGO's. We've similar instincts. But never did the Israeli government cut off cell phone or internet service. I can barely drink and leave 他 of the beer untouched. 'We'll stay in the back of the protests. I'm not really trying to get tear gassed or arrested.'
This revolution is too big to stop, the whole world is watching, and we'll never get another chance.' Hawary leaves a couple of hours later, leaning on his cane as he goes down the five flights of stairs and walks the kilometer to Tahrir Square. I lay on my bed and I want to cry, but I can't, so I drink another glass of wine, open the door to Aza's room and watch her sleep.
An hour later, my chest, nose and throat are burning. Every time Cal and I turn a corner to get away from one wave of tear gas we crash into another one. Men, women and children drag their bodies through the streets, scarves over their faces, tissue stuffed into their nostrils, bent over coughing the mucus out of their lungs. We are looking for a taxi to take us to Zamalek, a swanky neighborhood on one of the Nile's islands. From Zamalek we plan to cross over July 26th bridge and find out why the police wouldn't let us near July 26th street. All we could see was heavy smoke drifting over the officers' heads, as they tapped their clubs on the black tar and yelled at us us to go home. 'Nothing is going on!' they insist, 'Nothing.'
Cal, Aza, and I are riding in the backseat of a taxi to Tahrir Square. After more than two weeks of revolution, we have gotten used to the labyrinthine routes the drivers take to get us downtown, avoiding the military checkpoints that grow more numerous everyday. The sun is setting and the call to prayer just rang from the mosques. Static. And then a 30 second announcement in arabic. Wait. I must
have heard that wrong. I look at our driver through the rearview mirror. The announcement plays again. The driver lets out a yelp. 'Mubarak?' I ask. 'Mubarak is gone!' He tells me. The 30 second announcement repeats. Cars' horns blare. A kid runs down the street waving a flag and yelling. Cars have stopped and everything is rushing to the streets, to Tahrir, to freedom. We get out of the taxi and join the growing throng of people. Half a dozen boys are skipping
passed us, two middle-aged men are spinning in circles waving flags, an older lady is screaming her arms wide open like she is hugging the moon, a tall boy runs, carrying a sign that says 'Game Over'. Cal scoops Aza onto his shoulders and we walk to Tahrir. We won. We actually did it. We brought down Mubarak. The city is alive. And for one night at least, we are free.
'Why?' replacement. Isn't that enough, people 'Look, I talked to my brother today. I went ask. What more do these protesters want? home and talked to my brother...' They are making this country into chaos, 'Yeah I was wondering what your family why can't life go back to normal? thought of you being down on Tahrir. I mean your dad is like a general or We're all weary and worn. Tahrir is still a something military, right?' magical place of freedom and excitement, 'Yeah, something like that. Yeah my dad but on local television, there is the was like, we are rich, son. Why are you drumbeat of accusations that the down there? And I was like, Dad, I've got protesters are being deluded by foreign to.' agents who are paying them 1 00 egyptian 'You went down anyways.' pounds per day, and giving them KFC 'Yeah. I had to.' chicken. 'But I was talking to my cousin and he was like, no one, and I mean no one, even The revolutionaries are dividing amongst understands the Some are "Mubarak will get his themselves. revolution, you know?' saying it's time to leave 'Tell me.' revenge if we let him. Tahrir, go home and let 'Like, everyone is just You guys have to finish the elections happen. getting annoyed. say that they what you started.You Others Annoyed with all this shit. should leave Tahrir and can't half-ass a They just want their go to the local normal lives man. So why revolution." neighborhoods in the am I down there suffering city and drum up for this shit?' he passes the joint to me and support for the revolution, that maybe I exhale, nodding. occupying Tahrir has become a burden. I've heard some of what he's talking about. The number of protesters on Tahrir are getting smaller. And 'everyday' people are beginning to complain about the inconveniences of the revolution. The traffic is slow, because the protesters have occupied the main square and intersection of Cairo, Tahrir. Curfew is from 1 0pm to 6am. At night vigilantes patrol the streets, while pro- Mubarak protesters fight antiMubarak protesters throughout the city. Businesses are losing money. Mubarak has promised elections in the fall, that he won't run again, and neither will his son Gamal, who has spent the past few years being groomed to be his father's
I pass the joint to him and pour him another glass of red wine. 'Listen, babe, I know it's tough. But it's only been two weeks. And if you quit now, then it'll be so much worse. Even if Mubarak does step down in the fall, you know and I know, this summer Mubarak and the police and the thugs will hunt down every single person who ever came to Tahrir. This summer will be so bloody. Mubarak will get his revenge if we let him. You guys have to finish what you started. You can't half-ass a revolution. I know, I know you have given so much. I know. And you know, babe, there is always a couch for you here, and anything else you need. But Mubarak has to leave. For all of our sakes.
A black taxi stops in front of Cal. '25 pounds' he says. Any other day, we would pay 5 pounds for the same ride, but we hop in the car and ride through the streets. The driver has a wild smile, steering with his right hand, the left hand snapping pictures on his cell phone. 'Bus, bus' he says pointing at a building on fire. The smoke rolls out of the upper story windows. Police men beat the taxi hood, telling the driver to 'go, go'. He argues back with them and laughs. 'Oh my god, Cal, this is the best taxi driver ever. Ever This is so worth 25 pounds'. 'Oh shit', Cal points at the windshield, the protesters have taken over part of the bridge. We are on 26th of July bridge, to the left of us are police barricades and riot police in black uniforms. In front of us are protesters who have set up their own barricades and checkpoints. They wave us through the checkpoint. The taxi driver drops us off on July 26th street in front of one of our favorite bookstores. We run over to the steps of the bridge and make our way up to the hundreds and thousands of people on top. I start to laugh at the incongruity. Zamalek, an upper class neighborhood in Cairo, littered with tear gas canisters and kids sporting freshly pressed jeans, silk/cotton scarves, and shiny backpacks with fists raised marching across the bridge toward the police. Suddenly, the rush of the crowd turns against Cal and I, tear gas screech through the air and then descends the familiar clouds of smoke. Cal grabs my hand and we race across the bridge. A tear gas canister lands less than a foot away from me. I cant breathe, I cant breathe, and I cough and cough.
water in Cal's eyes, inflamed and closed. One of them pulls out a Coca Cola bottle and says, 'take take'. I shake my headâ€”last thing I need right now is a Coke. He cups my hands together and pours some coke into them. I take a sip. No, he says, and he pushes my palms to my nose. 'Breathe. Breathe.' 'What?' He puts the coke into my nostrils. I inhale. My nose and throat begin to cool down. 'You okay?' They ask us. 'Yeah thanks'. Their backs disappear into the crowd. The dusk call to prayer has rung over the streets of Zamalek. The sky is indigo and the horizon is orange and grey with smoke. Curfew began 1 5 minutes ago and we need to get to the other side of the city, to Maadi, to get Aza. Taxis pass by us full of people. We stand under the bridge that had been our battle ground an hour before. The streets are clearing. The sun has set and the air is growing dark. Cal stands in the street, flags down a taxi. I look guiltily at the elderly lady in hijab, her arms full of bulky black plastic bags,
A couple of men pull us aside and wash
she's also trying to hail a taxi. If it had been any other time, I would have let her take the taxi that stopped for us. But, my daughter is in Maadi with a babysitter and we can't call her to see if she's safe. We can't call anyone to know what has happened in Maadi. I close the taxi door and listen to Cal give the address to Jo's house.
'Mubarak is done', I say. This is it. The city is on fire.
I finish my second glass of wine, Cal makes me a sandwich, and the three of us parents watch the news, flipping from CNN to BBC and then back to Al Jazeera. We take turns going to the balcony to smoke cigarettes and listen to the not-sodistant shouts from nearby streets. The We ride over the highways, through rapid sounds of gunpowder meeting fire neighborhoods, backstreets, no streets, begin. 'Are those fireworks or bullets?' we tyre fires in the middle of the road. The ask each other, hoping someone will say, sidewalks are either empty or crowded fireworks. Sharp cuts of with people. Everywhere breaking into our we look there is another For the next few days, Jo, sound nervous conversations. Cal, Aza, Greer and I fire, a building. A car. Piles of wood and debris. become a small For the next few days, community, sharing the Jo, Cal, Aza, Greer and I The entire city is ablaze. cash that we have, food, become a small The smell of tear gas community, sharing the childcare, cigarettes. We lingers in the air. The Nile is maroon, reflecting the sleep, watch the girls, and cash that we have (since all the banks are closed), flames leaping out of go downtown in shifts. food, childcare, buildings. I try to take cigarettes. We sleep, t pictures on my blackberry but all I see on watch the girls, and go downtown in he screen is shadows and blurred lights. shifts. Greer and Aza entertain each other, while we adults try to maintain some We arrive an hour later to Maadi, Jo's sense of normalcy for them and us in this already home. Aza's playing Barbies with new world. Greer in the playroom. They hide in a tent, pretend to be princesses and squeal January 29th at each others' funny faces. Jo pulls out Cal and I walk from Jo's house in Maadi to the bottles of red wine and imported the Nile, escorted by a young vigilante liquor and offers me a drink. 'It took me with a bald head and a large stick. An nearly fours to get from downtown to older man stops us.'It's dangerous on the here.' she says, pulling her waist-length streets at night. I advise you to go back hair into a bun. home.' I look him in the eye. 'Thanks for the advice' I say and keep walking. Al Jazeera English plays in the living room, Every few streets we pass another bonfire, images quickly flash on the screen. Cairo, a few men gathered around, sticks in Alexandria, Sinai, Aswan. Streets aflame, hand. Ready.Looters have been attacking riot trucks overturned, men carrying guns private homes for the past couple of days. and knives, crowds chanting, 'Free Egypt!'
free. Even at this young age, she is learning that freedom isn't pretty, but it is worth it.
Azaâ€™s preschool re-opens. Even though nearly every other school in Cairo is still closed, her teachers say that working in the preschool is their way to support parents who are protesting on Tahrir. One teacher says to Cal, for the first time in my life I am proud to be Egyptian. Aza comes home from school shouting, 'horreya! horreya! freedom! freedom!' She waves her egyptian flag, marching in the living room and laughing. In the afternoons, Cal, Aza and I sit on the couch and watch Al Jazeera. We explain to her that the police are the bad guys and that Mubarak is the 'police's boss'. 'Look,' I point to the television, 'at all those people. You remember you were there too?' 'It's the outside party!' she squeals. She's right, Tahrir is like a huge outdoor party where people are drunk, not on alcohol, but on the headiness of freedom. The next day she tells me about a dream she had. The police were trying to shoot her, so she flew up into the air and escaped them. 'Mama', she says, 'when the police shoot you, you have to run away. Don't let the police shoot you.' I laugh. 'Okay, mija, I'll try not to let the police shoot me.'
Hawary is sitting in our sky blue living room, a couple of hours before night
curfew starts. To his right is his guitar propped against his knee, to the left, is his metal cane. A knitted Rasta cap on his head, his torso wrapped in a leather jacket. On January 25th he was arrested by the police and kept in jail for 4 days. The officers just beat his left leg again and again until it broke. 'I said, man, can you just beat the other leg? Just stop beating the same fucking leg!' When he got out of jail he went to his house, gathered the few things he would need, his macbook, his guitar, his backpack, a change of clothes, and a bag full of coins, his entire savings. 'They stole my blackberry, man. My fucking blackberry. I had just bought that shit, like the day before they arrested me.' I hand him glasses of wine, and pieces of soft black hash. Cal has made stew and dishes him a plate, before going into the back room to put Aza to sleep. 'Here take another,' I say, handing him back the joint. He inhales quickly and then exhales with a deep sigh. 'I think we need to leave Tahrir', he shakes his head.
Obada traces his finger along a red gash on the side of his neck. 'How?' I ask. 'A stone came for me and I didn’t see it coming. I try to cover it up', he says as he moves his scarf back in place. He has been down at Tahrir Square for the past three days, barely sleeping, arrested twice, exhausted but still glowing. We watch Mubarak on Al Jazeera. Lately, Al Jazeera is always on. He opens another beer and sinks to the floor. Last night, Obada, Mairead and Naimh, Irish elementary school teachers, Sherif, Naimh's boyfriend, Ahmed, Sherif's brother, Hani, a high school student, and Louis and Rachel, the American hispters were walking home, slightly drunk, and were arrested at midnight by Pro-Mubarak vigilantes for breaking curfew. They were held at the side of the road for four hours. Sherif and Ahmed begged for mercy and were beaten and electrocuted. Obada says that the older man, the leader, who claimed to be a pediatrician, was Egyptian secret police in plainclothes. According to state television, Nile TV, all foreigners who are in Egypt are spies who work for the CIA/Israeli mossad/Iran. The irony kills. Obada points to me and says, 'You're next.' 'No', I shake my head, 'I can't get arrested, I am a mama'. Aza told me, yesterday, that she was drawing a picture of the police shooting Mama. Sometimes being a mother almost breaks me.
In the midst of this revolution, of this freedom, I ask myself if having Aza here in Cairo is the best thing. One by one, our friends are evacuating out of the city or the country. As the days pass more of our friends are arrested. What would people say if something happened to Aza? If violence came to our door? A couple of days ago Mubarak said in response to the protests, there is a thin line between chaos and freedom. And he seems determined to create chaos. The entire city lives off rumors nowadays. No one is sure who to trust or what Mubarak will do next as he fights for his right to stay on his throne. And I wonder what happened to that child who pointed out that the emperor has no clothes. What did the king do to that child after he returned to his castle humiliated. No one ever tells that part of the story. We don't have to be here, but leaving seems a worse option than staying. The airports are overcrowded with people, waiting for days just to get on a flight. Being packed with hundreds of nervous, traumatized, fearful people pushing to get on a plane, seems an even worse fate than living in the midst of the revolution. One thing is clear, that nothing is guaranteed, that life is a risk. For now we feel safe in our little neighborhood, surrounded by friends and neighbors. Our Egyptian friends have chosen freedom over security, and while my little family is not Egyptian, for better or worse, we have made Cairo our home. Home is what you love and what you love you are willing to fight for. I want Aza, more than anything, to be
We hear gunshots at night interspersed with protest chants. There are rumors that the looters are member of the secret police, that Mubarak is trying to create instability so that his rule seems more palatable than freedom. At the Nile, a couple of guys, no older than 21 , one, with a golf club and a perfect North American accent, offer to catch us a taxi. They stop every car that passes, check the drivers ID, open the trunk, and if it is a taxi, ask if they can take us home to Doqqi. 1 5 mins later we've got a ride. We stop for at least 20 checkpoints, one every ¼ to ½ kilometer. The vigilantes smile at us, apologize for the inconvenience, ‘it's for peace’, we smile back, 'salam waleikum', and watch the teenage boys, fathers, and even grandfathers ,with grey hair and slower steps, rest their wooden sticks, baseball bats, or metal poles over their shoulders and wave goodbye to us. As we arrive in our neighborhood, Doqqi, we pass by a concrete wall with the words scrawled in indigo ink, Game Over, Mubarak. Our neighborhood vigilante waves us through the checkpoint and teenage boys resume playing midnight football on the empty street behind us.
In a taxi on our way to Maadi, we drive by men, tied up on the side of the road, while a group of men beat them with sticks. I look, but can't see. My mouth hangs open. I try to cough. The car window is closed.
were looters, or some of the 1 2,000 escaped criminals from the prisons, or innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't know what the process was to determine their punishment or what happened to them afterward. As much as I love staying with Jo and Greer, Maadi isn't my home. I don't know the community, or where anything is. I crave our apartment in Doqqi, our neighbors and friends, and being closer to Tahrir square, so Cal, Aza, and I, leave the tree-lined streets and over-priced supermarkets of Maadi and move back to Doqqi's trash-lined sidewalks. Men and boys sit outside of our apartment building at night, in front of fires, carrying sticks and cell phones to protect their families and us from looters and pro-government paid thugs. Another mutual friend, Joelle, moves to Maadi from downtown and stayed with Jo and Greer. A few days later, Jo, Greer and Joelle leave Cairo, and head to the north of Egypt, to the Sinai, where there is little violence but beautiful Mediterranean beaches .
My right knee aches constantly. I sprained it, running away from the tear gas and rubber bullets on the July 26th bridge. I drink alcohol, smoke hash, swallow ibuprofen to numb the pain, but we live on the fifth floor and going up and down five flights of stairs is so hard. I stop at every floor, cupping my knee and breathing through the ache.
I don't know if the men on the ground
'What's wrong Mama?' 'My knee hurts.' 'Why does it hurt?' 'Because the police shot at me.' 'The police hurt your knee?' 'Kind of...when they were shooting...' 'Why did the police shoot you?' 'Because I was on the bridge and the police wanted me to leave.' 'Why?' 'Because they didn't like what people were doing on the bridge.' 'The police don't like you?' 'Not really.' 'Why don't the police like you?' 'Because Mama believes in freedom, mija.'
Aza and I dance in Tahrir Square surrounded by a sea and rivers of people, protest signs in English and Arabic, tents, blankets, parades, applause, chants, laughter, singing, and prayer. Aza jumps up and down in a puffy pink winter coat, Mama, I like this party! I like this party! This is a celebration of freedom, a freedom worth more than security, safety, and illusionary peace. Over a million people in this place, with one message. Leave, Mubarak. Now.
Building Blocs: parenting, movement & little folk is a compilation zine of radical parenting challenges, experiences and reflections. It's a...