Raven's Ait is a squatted island on the River Thames near Surbiton, South London. This artificially made island, which is actually still common land, is steeped in political history, although more recently has been used for weddings and corporate events. The present occupants are creating an amazing peaceful space for community, an eco-conference centre, permaculture and workshops on sustainability and environmental issues.
Raven's Ait island was the perfect place for the kidspace. We had a large indoor playroom with views of the river and passing boats, and a stunning grass lawn for the kids to run around on and climb trees. We had lots of fun playing games and doing forest-school inspired crafts, such as; making dreamcatchers / spider webs, nature crowns, tipis, parachute games, football, twister, a mini rock concert, lots of drawing and painting, Spanish singing, picnics and even played croquet on the lawn, dahling! Being at Raven's Ait also gave the children a chance to experience communal living and working, in a safe space, away from the noise of the city and the police brutality during the G20 protests.
Many actions and demos can easily be made more welcoming for children and their carers to participate in, and we would encourage this. However in respect to this weeks G20 protests, we made the decision that it would be too unpredictable and heavy for our children to attend and looking back on it we feel we made the right decision organising the kidspace away from the action.
Mainstream society is not very welcoming to parents, carers and children, and personally I feel that often activism isnt either. Capitalism places no value, monetary or otherwise, on the work parents do, and patriarchy designates it as women's work. As activists we need to challenge these notions. We need to ensure that as much value is placed on the role of childcare, as is placed on all other aspects of organising actions, demos, meetings, workshops, etc. We also need to be actively challenging the sexist notion that women should be looking after the children, by ensuring that more men are given childcare roles. Paid childcare is very expensive, and most of it ant afford to pay for it to go to meetings or do actions, so if childcare isnt provided or children arent welcome at meetings, then we just cant go. Even if childcare cant be arranged, then we should at least think about enabling children attend with their parents and carers.
This is an appeal for all those organising in the UK at the moment to ensure that your organising facilitates parents, carers and children attending and getting involved.
Don't leave your friends behind!
To get involved visit: www.ravensait.org.uk, www.feministchildrearing.blogspot.com, www.londonprofeministmensgroup.blogspot.com, www.global-mutiny.webs.com