Photo courtesy of The Green Mama.
For our final Green Moms interview, welcome Manda Aufochs Gillespie, otherwise known as the Green Mama. She’s got two kids, who are ten and almost seven. Perhaps most interestingly, she lives on a remote island off the west coast of British Columbia in Canada. She blogs at The Green Mama, which you can also find on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
As this interview was over the phone, I’ve edited it a bit for clarity.
Welcome to Earth Month! This month, I’m profiling a number of “green moms” who purposely live in a sustainable way.
For our next Green Moms profile, welcome Sandi Schwartz! Like me, she’s an environmental communicator. In her interview, she has some great honesty on what’s hard about being green, even as an adult. You can check her writing out online on Happy Science Mom, the blog’s Facebook page, and its Pinterest board.
Privilege is a word tossed around a lot these days, often in the phrase “Check your…” But even though the words are new, the idea is something I’ve known about for a long time. My mom emphasized how I was lucky to have what I had. Sure, my parents and I worked hard, but what we had wasn’t through hard work alone. I hope to pass that knowledge onto my kids.
Knowing how damn lucky and I my kids are motivates so much of my activism. I got the chance to write about it for Mamalode recently, in a piece called My Privilege Protects Me and My Sons From So Much – This is the Least I Can Do.
Here’s the first two paragraphs:
“President Obama, I know you have two daughters. I know you love them. But I want you to know that I don’t know if I’ll have kids. That’s because I don’t know if they’ll have clean water to drink,” said Eryn Wise, a 26-year-old organizer of the movement against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. As she stared out at the crowd gathered in front of the White House, I gasped just a little. Of course, I know this is a calculation women make every day – whether the world they would bring their child into is good enough. And too often, that answer is no. But to hear a young woman say it in person made me breathe in just a little more sharply.
That’s because it’s a question I’ve never had to face.
Read the rest at Mamalode!
Welcome to Earth Month! This month, I’m going to be profiling a number of “green moms” who purposely live in a sustainable way. If you’re interested in green transportation in particular, check out the Family Biking Profiles I did last year for Bike Month in May!
Our first Green Mom profile is of Jen Mendez, who lives in Southern Maryland with two kids, who are four and six years old. She’s one of the most holistically sustainable folks I’ve ever met. I first encountered her at D.C.’s annual urban agriculture festival Rooting DC. Last year, she provided invaluable input into the Outdoors Family Challenge and highlighted it several times on her website and podcast. She runs the PERMIE KIDs Community Supported Education Network and its Facebook page, which has loads of great resources.
When I was pregnant, I imagined what life might be like if I had a little girl. I envisioned teaching her to stand up for herself, buying her dresses with science symbols, letting her get dirty, and being an example of a strong woman for her. I wasn’t going to stereotype her or allow anyone else to, thank you very much. In short, I considered how to teach her to be a feminist.
But I turned out to have two sons.
The girls are missing.
Children’s literature is remarkably devoid of female main characters. As a recent video illustrates so drastically, in a study of more than 500 children’s books, 25% had zero female characters. Even though there are loads of animals that could easily be female, they’re almost always identified as male.
Even when there are female characters, they’re often relegated to a stereotypical role, like the stick-in-the-mud, the mom, or “the vain one.” In children’s media, just under 20% of female characters had jobs or specific aspirations.
Just like in the broader popular culture, boys in picture books get to go on adventures, solve problems, and save the day. These stories teach our children that either girls don’t get to do fun things or have to stay in society’s prescribed roles.
In contrast, both little girls and boys need female characters in books! While little girls need to see themselves represented, boys need need to know that the story isn’t always about them – and that it’s a good thing.
Bringing down the patriarchy can start at your child’s bookshelf. Here are some of my family’s favorite books featuring girls as main characters. In addition, a number of these books feature girls of color, which are even harder to find.
In these troubled times, it’s easy to ask, “What can I possibly do as a mom / dad?” This past weekend, my family attended one rocking answer to that question.
Welcoming immigrants and refugees to America is one of my core political values. More than one of my family stories revolves around immigration and I’m a better person for knowing the many immigrants in my life. I strongly believe in providing opportunities for people who just want to build a better life for their children.
So when I saw that the Takoma Parents Action Coalition was putting on a “Toddler Dance Party” to benefit the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, I knew this event was our jam.
Of all of the think pieces I’ve read on dealing with Donald Trump’s presidency, there is one small, furry voice that we haven’t heard from: Elmo.
What on earth would innocent Elmo have anything to do with our soon-to-be President, who brags about groping women and lies through his teeth? He’s actually dealt with Trump before – or at least a puppet version of him. In a Sesame Street parody of the Apprentice back in 2005, Elmo is a contestant in a contest to be Donald Grump’s assistant. As the other Grouches (including Oscar) say, “Donald Grump has all the garbage!”
All of us looking to get through the next four years with our sanity intact can learn from what Elmo does in the sketch:
Recovering from the chaos of the holidays, “improve mindfulness” or “be present” may be on the top of your New Years Resolutions list. I know it’s on mine! It’s especially hard to be present as a parent, when we’re pulled in so many directions – sometimes literally. As someone who gets stuck in her head a lot, I’ve worked on this quite a bit. Here are some approaches that have helped:
The overly cheerful Christmas letter is a relentlessly parodied cliche. Yet it and its cousin, the perfectly cultivated Facebook feed, call to us: “You want us, don’t you? Your life should be like this. Your kids should be like this.” And then we wonder – “Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe if I tried a little more, my kids would be like that.”
But for the sake of us and our kids, we need to resist the siren song. Not just of comparison – because that’s a shitty, dark hole to end up in as well – but of treating our children like our personal accomplishments. Believe me – I speak from experience.