33 posts categorized "Activistas"

A day without women: teens included?

March 07, 2017

My girl, a junior in high school, has been talking to us about how she can participate in tomorrow's events for International Women's Day.  Should I stay home from school?  Can I write senators?  Should I volunteer at the local Planned Parenthood?  Could I take a hike?

...... * screeeech!* .....

"Take a hike"?  Yes, this was one of the proposed activities she offered up as an act of resistance for tomorrow.  I'm not sure what the impetus is around this hike, for she surely refuses my many invitations to take a hike on any other day.  

I support our girl taking a stand, using her voice, engaging in acts of resistance.  To be sure, I was brought to tears when texted me, two days post-election 2016, when she and her peers walked out of their school, joining many other high schoolers around protesting.  Our words to her on that day: use your voice, follow the instructions, please don't destroy property.  Also: "we are proud of you."

Sometimes I wonder: are these teenagers rising up to make a statment or are they joining forces to hang out for the day?  Does that matter?  Should it matter?  Should we audit the activities of the day, if they are staying home from school tomorrow, and expect only to see acts of resistance?  Should we stand by and also watch them hang out, goof off on snapchat, or take a hike?

So: are your teens thinking of participating tomorrow?  In what way? 

#EndDaylightSavings Time?

March 13, 2012

I did everything right: I got dinner ready early, kept the boys off screens on Sunday night, turned all the clocks back before I went to bed Saturday so we would wake up Sunday as if it never happened -- as if the time change was a chimera. We went through the day, keeping to our normal Sunday schedule where I only put the time in quotes in the quiet and safety of my stubborn brain (which had kept me up late Saturday night writing, and late Sunday night too). Still: I'd gotten them all asleep a little early than the normal quote-bedtime-end quote. That should do it, right?

I found out how wrong I was when I woke up at "7:51" a.m. this morning, nine minutes before Truman's final bell rings. It's only a half-mile away, but when I tried to wake him I was resoundingly unsuccessful. I barely managed to get Everett ready by the time his transportation arrived at "8:15"; we were just late, late, late with Truman, and as I walked him into the cafeteria at "8:50" for breakfast, I said that I guessed we were early for the old, dear, departed time!

Continue reading "#EndDaylightSavings Time?" »

Will future city leaders make Portland a truly family-friendly city?

February 28, 2012

Forum Thumbnail - 1Guest Post by Erin Barone: When you hear the words family-friendly, what comes to mind? Changing tables in bathrooms? Play areas in coffee shops? Tolerant wait staff?

I know that I, for one, am very thankful for the little things that make parents’ lives easier. I know the joys of a clean place to change a diaper. I’ve silently blessed the restaurant owner who brought my toddler pizza dough to play with so my husband and I could actually talk for three minutes straight. I’ve spent untold hours at OMSI feeling lucky that there’s a fun, educational, indoor place for my kids to run around in during Portland’s rainy winters. I rode my bike to work while pregnant and safely toted two kids around behind it thanks to the great network of bike routes and the (mostly) bike-savvy drivers we have in this city. And I’ve watched my kids learn about bugs and trees and birds in our amazing parks through the city’s summer education programs.

Continue reading "Will future city leaders make Portland a truly family-friendly city?" »

At Risk: the Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) Program

February 07, 2011

Many of us use daycare outside the home for our children.  Some of us need assistance to be able to afford that care.  The Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) program helps low-income families pay for daycare so that they can continue to work. 

ERDC helps approximately 20,000 Oregon families every year pay for child care for approximately 35,000 children each year.

(Here's a great policy paper (*pdf) with some stories about mamas & papas who need this program.) 

Our state is facing a $3.5 billion shortfall, and legislators have to choose where funding cuts will be made.  This program has already been cut; participation is limited to 10,000 families.  The program could be cut even further or - even worse! - cut completely.  Families rely on this assistance.  Without help to pay for daycare, some of us working mamas and papas may no longer be able to afford daycare.  Cutting the program will mean lost jobs for those who work at these daycares.

To let legislators know just how important this program is for the state, there is a rally planned for Wednesday, 12 noon, outside the Capitol Steps.  Details here.  Consider joining in or even sending in a letter of support would help.

Reminder: The Mother PAC launch party is Friday 10.15

October 07, 2010

Mother-PAC-Logo Election season is upon us, so the time is right to talk politics.  Mom politics.  So join The Mother PAC, and its many mama supporters, to celebrate its launch right into the thick of Oregon politics - exactly where we need them!  

You'll hear from Moms Rising co-founder and Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner (she's the keynote speaker), meet other local moms interested in family-friendly public and workplace policies, and - of course - support The Mother PAC. 

What, exactly, is The Mother PAC? 

Continue reading "Reminder: The Mother PAC launch party is Friday 10.15" »

The Mother PAC: A new kind of political action in Oregon

September 08, 2010

Mother-PAC-Logo If you're a mom, whether you work in the house or outside of it, taking care of kids or for pay elsewhere (or all of the above!), you've likely felt the rub between work and family somewhere along the line.  We've sure talked about it on Activistas!  Some of us have even participated in local discussion groups about "The Economics of Motherhood."  And the mainstream press is all over it

Shoot, with motherhood being the single biggest predictor of poverty in old age in the US, and the wage gap between mothers and women without children growing wider than the one between men and women, this is an issue whose time has not only come, it is (no pun intended) long overdue.

Tired (so tired) of waiting for change...

Continue reading "The Mother PAC: A new kind of political action in Oregon" »

Our garage sale rocked it: Thank you!

August 16, 2010

6a00e5523e840d8834011571a5bb2a970b-200wi Thank you.  To every one of you who took the time to donate your cast-offs to our sale, and to those who shopped it, and to those extra special types who did both, or who volunteered your home as a drop/store spot and worked the sale. 

All together, we raised $3,000 for Family Forward Oregon.  That's exactly TWICE what we raised last year.  We rocked it, mamas!

If you're not familiar with Family Forward, allow us to introduce you.  See, in 2007 Activistas was conceived as a part of urbanMamas - another child, sort of.  It brought mothers together who care deeply about how our country's public policies are failing families.  A few of them decided to kick it up a notch and created a non-profit organization called Family Forward Oregon.  Perfect name since their entire plan is to move families forward in, yup, Oregon. 

Continue reading "Our garage sale rocked it: Thank you!" »

2nd annual garage sale right around the corner

July 28, 2010

Our 2nd annual Activistas/urbanMamas community garage sale fundraiser (what a mouthful) is right around the corner, so mark your calendars for Friday August 13th and Saturday August 14th from 9 to 4 PM.  What makes this work so beautifully is YOUR cast-offs.  Because that's what we sell!

We're accepting donations of anything and everything (not just kid stuff) as long as it's not in grim condition.  You can drop it off at one of our homes before the sale, or bring it the day of and "drop and shop."  Whatever works for you.

Last year we raised $1,500 and donated it ALL to Family Forward Oregon.  Our goal this year?  Double that.  So whether you drop or shop (or bake!), we hope you'll be a part of a wonderful community event to support a non-profit that's working hard to support Oregon families.

Details here.

Email us to coordinate a donation or sign up to work a shift (it's fun!).

Save the date...and your stuff for the 2nd annual uM/Activistas garage sale!

June 29, 2010

DSCN0298 We did it last year (see photo, right) and we're doin' it again in 2010. Mark your calendar for the 2nd annual urbanMamas / Activistas community garage sale! 

It's a fundraiser for Family Forward Oregon, so, please, don't take that load to Goodwill!  Save it for us, instead.

How it works:

You donate all that stuff you just don't need anymore, and we sell it to folks who do.  100% of the proceeds will be donated to Family Forward Oregon, a year-old Oregon non-profit (run by Pdx mamas) that is working to build a family-friendly economy in Oregon that fully supports the work of child-raising and family caregiving without jeopardizing economic security. 

Garage sale details:

  • When?  Fri & Sat, August 13 & 14, 9 AM - 4 PM
    Where?  NE 47th & Siskiyou, 2 blocks S of NE Fremont in Pdx
  • What: Your donated baby/kid and non-kid stuff for sale  
  • Why?  To support an amazing new org that is working hard to benefit all Oregon families; in this "economic climate," this is an effective, barn raising approach to fundraising.
  • Help! You can donate stuff (save it till August or drop it at one of our drop houses sooner - email us at activistas@gmail.com and we'll find one near you), work the sale, or bake for the inevitable kid-run lemonade stand (or all of the above!)
  • Questions?  Leave a comment here and we'll reply, or get in touch directly: activistas@gmail.com

This is just a heads up so you can plan to donate, bake and/or shop.  And of course, help us spread the word in the meantime.  As the date nears we'll provide more details.  

Activistas are thinking about change in the New Year

December 27, 2009

ActA Badge 2 All this time off has us blogging overtime (when we're not writing late holiday cards or cleaning up after the visiting tazmanian devil 1-year old, that is).  Here are a few recent topics to get your inner activist in shape for 2010 (it may be the only part of me that's in shape!):

Activistas has a new (and fabulous, if I do say so myself) Facebook page; stay current by joining us there.

Activistas on working fathers, green cleaning @ school, childhood hunger, and so much more

December 10, 2009

ActA Badge 2 It's so cold and dark out we've lots of time to brood, thus much musing over on Activistas.  We're talking about:

  • Sharing what we have to end childhood hunger.  The holidays are here and that often means cookies, cocktail parties and special meals with friends and family. For me, the holidays have always had a food connection with my family traditions and I look forward to sharing those with my children as they grow. But, for many families....
  • Gloria Steinem talks paid sick days in NYCOn November 17, A Better Balance, a NY-based legal team fighting to give American workers the time and flexibility they need to care for their families (right on), joined Gloria Steinem (remember her? she's still at it!) and a good many activists on the steps of City Hall in New York City to support paid sick leave for all New Yorkers, which the city council is currently considering. 
  • Crawling for chemical policy reform - yes, crawlingI've lived in Portland for 8 years now and not once made it to Washington Square Mall (probably because Bob's Red Mill is closer to Clackamas). But tomorrow there's good reason to hit the freeway and head west.  See, I've l-o-n-g been wound up about toxic chemicals
  • Help a homeless family into housing this winter.  Our goal is to raise a total of $2,500, the cost of assisting a homeless family into permanent housing through JOIN, a local nonprofit that helps get homeless families and individuals off the streets and into permanent housing.  Metro Parent is very generously matching $1,250 in donations, and Activistas will match $100. 


Activistas on: health care, workplace policy, safe cosmetics, yada yada

October 30, 2009

ActA Badge 2 After a week or two of muttering "OMG we have no time to write anything for Activistas," we found some time (at, uh, 1 AM!).  These days (er, nights) we're talking about:

  • 11.4.09 is Women's Day of Action for Health Care Reform.  You've probably seen the slogan "Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition."  Of course, it IS.  Right?  Been denied health care because you had gestational diabetes?  Pay higher premiums because you had a C-section?  If not you, then likely some mama friend or other has.
  • Will a Senate bill contain a public option? After lots of work making one bill out of two (from the HELP and Finance committees, respectively), Senate majority leader Harry Reid said this week that a Senate version of health care reform will include a public option.  Good news!   Not to be ungrateful, but... 
  • Ms. Magazine has 5 ideas to make our lives way better.  Ms. calls it paycheck feminism.  I don't care what they call it.  I'm just glad that so many people are talking about it.   Here's a favorite blurb from the Ms. article, which argues that with women nearing 50% of the workplace, it's time to rethink the government policies that were designed for a (wildly) different time...
  • Join The Campaign for Safe CosmeticsHere's a fun fact:  How many chemicals do you think have been banned from cosmetics in the European Union?  1,100!  How many in the good 'ol United States?  9.  That's right.  Nine!
  • Mothers ought to have equal rights, right?  I had lunch with Valerie Young earlier this week.  She pays close attention to the policy and politics of the issues that affect us mothers in the nation's capital.  She's like the eyes and ears of mothers everywhere - in DC.  Right where we need her!
  • Let's choose, but let's do it together.   When I had my first child, I quickly realized that my "choice" to work or not work was seriously constrained by economic and cultural forces that were well beyond my control.  Last week, a new census report confirmed what I and so many others learned the hard way...

Got an issue that you're all riled up about?  There are plenty to go around.  If you're dying to share it, send your guest post to us at activistas [dot] gmail [dot] com.  We'll happily post it (unless it's wildly off topic or profane, that is).    

PS - Family Forward Oregon has a Facebook page as of about 2 days ago.  Join them to discuss and share all there is to say about creating (right) a Family Forward Oregon. 

Activistas are talking about...

September 26, 2009

ActA Badge 2

Lots to talk about, apparently, and we didn't even get to it all.

  • Need some flexibility at work?  Get the toolkit.  Many of us have longed for greater workplace flexibility since giving birth.  Some of us have it (lucky!), some of us don't.  If you don't (or you want more), here's a terrific resource to help you get it. 
  • Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: What's Going On?  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is asking people about their personal care products. Like....  How many do you use?  Daily?  Which ones?  Any idea what's in them?  
  • The Families and Work Institute says... Sick Days are Healthy.  Surprised that employees who have access to paid sick days are healthier?  Of course not.  But always good to have some data to go with your argument. 
  • NWEI's Eco-Challenge: Are you in?  There are many things I’d like to be better at, especially when it comes to leading a more sustainable life.  Like…. eating less dairy, driving less, buying less plastic, and biking more, to name a few.  You?  And while I hate to admit it, I also sometimes need a little push (no!) to take the next step. 
  • Do we need a shorter work week?  How would our lives be different if the official work week was 30 or 35 hours instead of 40? What would it be like if 40 hours really meant 40 hours -- not 50 or more, as it has come to mean for so many people? Not three part-time jobs adding up to 60 hours but offering no benefits?
  • People are talkin' about women in politics  My, my.  Not that this awesome, tragic, historical (and histarical) video is surprising or anything. But what are we doing about this [lack of women in politics]? Hopefully not just sitting around eating our itty bitty sandwiches being simple minded little fools. Maybe more of us should go and get elected?
  • Then don't get pregnant.  A little while ago I reprinted a Letter to the Editor in The O that resonated with me – it was about the cost of having a baby in the context of health care reform.  Not surprisingly, there was a follow-up to it recommending that the letter’s author take more personal responsibility - never mind that fully 51% of pregnancies are unplanned (why?  uh, s-e-x last time I checked). 
  • Stand for Children wants more lottery $ for public schools.  Call me naive, but I've never thought state governments should be in the lottery business (especially when the slope is slippery and states ponder subsidizing drinks and re-allowing smoking to boost "sales").  That said, I also appreciate and regularly benefit from many a lottery-funded project (like state parks).  And don't know if I would like a no-lottery-funds state budget.  But I digress. 

Activistas are talking about...

September 08, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Must be the back-to-school mood, or something, because Activistas is picking up, covering topics from green schools to health care reform and back.  Some recent ones you might find interesting - including a garage sale report out:

  • 28 green moms talk about green schools.   I follow green mom bloggers for work.  So when they banded together to create the Green Moms Carnival, I was pretty happy.  Every month they pick a topic, all write about it, and (best of all) post it in one place.  There's little I love more than convenience, so this pleases me greatly.
  • CA moms are just saying no to BPA.  Yes, there are BPA-free baby bottles.  No, they’re not cheap or available in every neighborhood.  And you’re right, your ‘to-do’ list should not include getting a degree in toxicology, deciphering cryptic labels, or spending hours (that you likely don’t have) researching and hunting down the safest products.
  • Garage sale update: $1,500 ain't all bad.  We did it!  We collected, we sorted, we priced, we schlepped, we sold, we donated. And, importantly, we earned!  $1,500 total - $150 of which we gave to Cafe au Play, which generously shared their high-traffic location with us on sale day. 
  • Sick and wrong.  I recently read an article in Rolling Stone Magazine (of all places) that gives a pretty good summary of health care reform and the mess we're now in.  Here's how it starts...and trust me, you want to keep reading:
  • Tell the city: We need a loo @ Jameson Square: At first glance, adding a toilet to a public park might not seem like a news-worthy topic.  But if you've ever tried to play at Jamison Square with your kids and they needed to use the bathroom, you know that it's a problem.  No public bathrooms means parents have to buy something at a local business to use their facilities or worse, kids are using trees, neighboring condo's yards, etc. as outdoor toilets.

And, of course, a whole lot more.  Check it out.

Activistas in August

August 22, 2009

ActA Badge 2Maybe it's the garage sale on Saturday, or the health care debate, or the effort to ban BPA in California.  Or, to be perfectly honest, after a little summer vacay we're itchin' to DO something, make some changes, protest!  Whatever the reason, we're feeling active over on Activistas this month, and have been talking about:

  • PPS community care day on Saturday, 8.29.  Every year community volunteers spruce up Portland Public Schools (PPS) all over town right before school reopens in the fall  - with your help!  This year, volunteers are gathering from 9 till noon on Saturday, August 29th to beautify our more than 80 schools.
  • Heck no!  We won't pump in the potty. A couple months ago we highlighted the the 2009 Breastfeeding Promotion Act.  We tip our breastpumps to our very own Senator Jeff Merkeley for championing this cause and introducing this act that will give moms all across the country the right to work and pump.
  • Let's talk to our US Senators about health care reform.  Who else is gonna tell them what we think?  We, along with other members of MomsRising (because - of course - we're members too), are meeting with Senator Jeff Merkley's staff to discuss what we think families need from health care reform.  Join us on Friday, 8.28!!
  • What happened to healthy camp snacks?  My son joined one of his best friends at summer day camp a couple weeks this year for the first time, to help fill the gap between school years. We were instructed to bring a lunch, water bottle and sunscreen which all seemed appropriate for a full day away from home.
  • Activistas featured in Ms. Magazine!  We're featured in an article in this month's Ms. Magazine about political mom blogs.  You can read an excerpt of the article here - or pick up the magazine for the full version.

And last but not least, if you're a solid writer and a parent activist and have it in you to publicly take a stand on the issues we cover (toxics, education, healthcare, work-family policy, breastfeeding, yada yada), get in touch.  We love guest authors. 

urbanMamas garage sale is *next* Satuday 8/22

August 13, 2009

490624619_7cf971aa8d We're gearing up for a great urbanMamas multi-family garage and bake sale fundraiser next Saturday from 9 to 3 in the parking lot of the future Cafe au Play on SE Division.  And we're happily getting great donations from all over Portland - thank you! 

Bake.  Donate.  Shop.  Wanna help?  Got stuff to donate?  Love to bake brownies?  Excellent.  Help us raise the big bucks for Family Forward Oregon by donating, shopping and baking for the sale.  Donations of stuff and baked goods happily accepted during the sale.

Email activistas [at] gmail [dot] com, and we'll find a convenient way to get them from you.  Sale details here

Dying to know more about Family Forward Oregon?  It's all here  - and all good.

See you next Saturday!

[Thanks to colros & Fickr CC for the image]

Health care & your family's work set-up: Is it "working"?

August 08, 2009

2782154119_6b87c03ecf-1 I'm one of the lucky ones who has chosen  - and gotten - paid work that provides health insurance.  Good health insurance (a relative term, to be sure, in this country).  But my partner isn't; he works for himself.  Which, BTW, is a terrifically flexible parenting set-up.  But as the sole health-insurance winner in our family of (now) four, the provision of this treasured resource has dominated every. single. one. of my employment decisions as a mother.  Not exactly how I'd imagined pursuing a career. 

I bring this all up not just because of the explosive events occurring around the country right now related to national health care reform, or even the impressive health care series that a Portland mama is writing over on Activistas, but because I wonder, as fellow Portland parents, how much your family's employment decisions are driven by access to health care? 

While I am truly thrilled (which is in itself ridiculous) to have health care for my entire family through my work, I regret that the type and amount of work I do is driven by access to health care.  We tried me working P/T with no health care and, while it was wonderful time-wise, it was perfectly dreadful vis-a-vis everything else: it was complicated, expensive, different plans for adults and kids, and - importantly - one child denied (yikes).  No thanks, not again, not this mama.

Of course, "in this economy" it feels crazy to complain about any of this, honestly - I definitely get that.  Yet, because health care reform is very much on the table, it seems relevant.  I, for one, don't think access to health care should drive people's employment choices - parents or not.  But untangling that historical link ain't gonna happen this year.

What employment decisions has your family made to access health care?  Are they working?  Are you happy with them?  Or do you feel a bit trapped by it all, like I do?  Or maybe you've found an excellent end-run that the rest of us should know about?  If so, I'm all ears.  This work-family balance thing is hard enough, without forcing my hand so I can take my kids to the doctor and prepare for unforseen illnesses without bankrupting my family. 

It's a big topic, this health care reform.  Big enough to scare even an incorrigable activist away.  But when I think about it in terms of my family (and therefore all families), it seems important enough to dive right in.

[photo thansk to flickr CC & superhua]

Activistas: Summer Conversations

July 30, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Even though my main preoccupation at the moment is how to perfectly position the fan on my bed to maximize cooling and, until this week, I was busier picking berries than being an activist, there are still a few things to share from Activistas (after a wee vacation from it all).  Here are some:

  • Portland says "yes we do" to volunteering.  We already knew that Portlanders like to be involved and help out their neighbors.  We 've got thriving non-profit organizations, neighborhood groups and grassroots movements to suit every opinion.  But now we've got evidence and it's official -- Portland is #2 in volunteering!
  • How do you create an eco-healthy home? If you're wondering what, exactly, you need to do to get the toxins out of your home, you're invited to join Representative Wu (1st Congressional district) for two hours of practical information and tips from the experts - you'll learn about the health effects associated with household toxic exposures and how to minimize them. 
  • Save the date - and your stuff - we're having a garage sale.  If you didn't hear the news over on urbanMamas, get out yer calendar - and don't take that load to Goodwill.  Because on Saturday, 8.22 we're holding a multi-family urbanMamas garage sale
  • Thank you, Salem, for allowing me to pay for full-day kindergarten.  No really, I'm serious.  While I once griped that I am paying (yes paying) for public school (what would Thomas Jefferson think?), I am now relieved that I am allowed to pay for public school.  Why?
  • Health Care Reform Series (Part 1 - What's healthy got to do with it? & Part 2 - Obama).  If you're like me, your inbox is flooded with messages imploring you to support federal health care reform.  The question is, what's actually going on?  I'm not so sure.
  • Pregnant & parenting students: Know your rights.  Thanks to one of our favorite organizations, the National Women's Law Center, you can get the full scoop on Title IX and the civil rights it guarantees for pregnant and parenting students.

Are you being an activist this summer?  Following an issue closely?  Are you taking action online - or off?  Or just staying cool in the heat wave - like me.

Activistas summertime playdate: All about Family Forward Oregon

July 23, 2009

2920445623_bea16a846f_m About this time last year a bunch of us (and our kids, natch) got together to chat about any and all things Activistas, and we're gonna do it again this summer.  But this time we have a slight agenda (in addition to the chance to yak about workplace and public policies that are and aren't working for your family): the founders of Family Forward Oregon are going to tell us about this new organization.  What inspired them?  What are the plans?  What issues will they tackle - and how?  How can you be involved

Where: Posie's Cafe @ 8209 N. Denver Avenue (get a map)
When: Friday, July 24th from 9:30 to 11:30 AM
What: Meet fellow Activistas & learn about Family Forward Oregon

Hope to see you - and the kids - there. 

[thanks to limaoscarjuliet on FlickrCC for the perfect pic]

urbanMamas talk Housing & Parks with Nick Fish

July 14, 2009

3605804627_ca3aef479a_m Way back in Spring 2008, we met with city council candidates to talk about the city's policies for families.  We even hosted a mayoral forum to raise consciousness about family issues and hear what candidates were planning to make Portland a family forward city. 

You helped us to create a casual list of priorities that we called "the mamagenda."  We have not forgotten!  Some of the items on that list remain important to us, like: smoke-free parks; affordable, near-work child care; quality after-school programs; support for walking & biking to schools; healthy school lunches at PPS; paid family leave for city employees, and the list (of course) goes on.  Some of these issues have seen progress, others not so much.  It's been a year since all that talk and action.  What's on your list now?  Has it changed?  Is it the same? 

A few urbanMamas have the opportunity to sit down with Commissioner Nick Fish later this week to discuss ways he may be able to help us further a mamagenda.  Commish FIsh (heh!  We just had to ...  it rhymes!) oversees the Portland Housing Bureau and Portland Parks & Recreation.  Are there issues within these two realms that are on the forefront for you and your families?

[Thx to Derek Coetzee & FLickr CC for the perfect city hall image]

Family Forward Oregon: It's Here

July 04, 2009

6a00e5523e840d8834011571a5bb2a970b-200wi Did you know that motherhood is the single greatest predictor of poverty in old age?  Or that the wage gap between mothers and childless women is now greater than the gap between men and women?  Startling facts that, to me, show a gap between what we say about valuing the work of child-raising and actually valuing it. 

The idea of valuing parents and caregiving is what prompted a few Activistas to kick it up a notch!  So, we're excited to announce the creation of a new, local nonprofit called Family Forward Oregon.  Their mission?  "Inspiring workplaces, communities and policies that value families.

Family Forward Oregon begins with the basic premise that our workplace and government policies lag far behind the reality in which most families live.  Namely, policies are still built on the assumption that one parent is home full-time with kids.  Obviously this doesn't account for all the co-parenting, single-parenting, and extended family parenting that really goes on.  It also doesn't account for the fact that in most families both parents work outside the home.  And it definitely doesn't account for the fact that most of us (parents and non-parents alike) desperately want some work/family balance.

It's time to value the work of caring for each other.  It's time to end the economic insecurity associated with motherhood.  It's time to develop communities where families can thrive. 

Family Forward Oregon will work to bring our workplaces, communities, and policies forward.  They are creating a movement - and asking you to join them. 

Get involved.  They will be presenting their ideas and soliciting your feedback on a family forward agenda at next week's Social Innovation Forum (hosted by Springboard Innovation). 

Your feedback is essential to creating change for all Oregon's families.  Please come and tell us what you think about where we need to go from here! 

Join us to shape this movement:

Social Innovation Forum on Family Forward Oregon
When: July 8th, 2009 6-9 pm (light dinner provided)
Where: Urban Grind NE (NE 22nd & Oregon St)

Activistas: What's going on these days?

May 01, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Been over to Activistas lately?  We've been talking and acting, acting and talking again over there.  Here's the short & sweet which, honestly, is about all any of us have time for!  Enjoy, and jump in - we'd love to hear your opinions on the topics we're discussing.  Such as....

Should Family Leave be Paid? Listen up & weigh in on OPB

April 15, 2009

PPL_five_finalized1_circleboarder_with_text Where will you be from 9 till 10 A.M. this Thursday morning?  Hopefully listening to OPB's Think Out Loud show on paid family leave.  Our moment is here, mamas.  Whether you'll be in your car, at your desk, or in the sandbox, this is a big one.  The question they're asking is: Should family leave be paid?  Uh, yeah.

Here's how they describe the show - and the issue:

Should workers receive paid family leave to care for a newborn or a sick relative? It's a question being debated in the Oregon Legislature, which last week heard testimony on a bill that would create a state insurance program to accomplish just that. Under the proposal, workers at companies with 25 or more employees would be assessed a two cent per hour payroll tax for a state fund which would then provide $300 a week in paid leave for full-time employees up to six weeks. Part-time workers would receive pro-rated benefits. (Similar legislation narrowly failed in the state Senate in 2007.)

Currently, workers who meet specified criteria are generally eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave under state law (a period which can be extended under certain conditions), but paid leave is not mandatory.

This isn't just an issue in Oregon. In the nation's capitol, a bill is pending in Congress that would create a paid family and medical leave insurance program, and other legislation is under consideration which would provide some paid leave for federal workers.

Supporters of paid family leave like Regan Gray of Children First For Oregon call the bill "life happening insurance." Meanwhile, detractors, such as J.L. Wilson, a business lobbyist with Associated Oregon Industries say the bill is "government at its worst." He worries that the program will be unsustainable and lead to further taxes on workers or businesses and will be unfair to those who don't need such leave.

Participate!  There are a bunch of ways to help our campaign during this show: Tell your friends and family about it, post a comment on the show's blog - they use it for questions during the show, call in and share your story or opine. Opining, of course, is always good.

Activistas: Spring Conversations

April 03, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Even though it might seem like all we talk about over on Activistas is paid family leave, I promise we're more than that.  In the past week or so we've watched a few videos - including a short "awareness raising" web video that won an award -  and talked about one other fave  - toxics.  It's like this:

Children See, Children Do: A hard video to forget.  I came across this powerful video because it won a 2008 award for best awareness-raising video.  Wow.  Tough, powerful message.  Especially for us parents who try to do it right, strive to be good role models, but don't always pass with flying colors.  The power in our hands to shape a generation is so real.

Seeking parents for video short on toxics: Speak Up!  Are you riled up about all the toxic chemicals in consumer products (like I am)? Wish our laws were stronger?  Willing to speak up about it?   If you answered 'yes' to these questions, you might be perfect for the short web videos we're making to support stronger federal chemical policies, including the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act.   

Another hard to forget video: Waddya think?  This home-made video was made by an amazing green blogger in Michigan who writes a lot about toxics and children's health - and what you can do about it personally and politically. 

Businesses for paid family leave?  You bet. A whole lotta parents support paid family leave.  That we know.  But businesses?  Yes, it turns out, them too. Take Sattie, a Portland mom and business owner who sees the issue from both angles.

Contaminated formula + contaminated water = contaminated baby: I'd love to feed my kids knowing that the food and water I give them are safe. You? But I can't. Why? Because the safeguards in this country are so weak that there's rocket fuel in infant formula. I mean, how bad can it get?

Paid family leave hearing in Salem: Your body needed.   If you've been reading Activistas for more than, like, a day, you know all about Parents for Paid Leave and our effort to pass a bill in Oregon this legislative session. 

And, of course, there's more.  Always more.  What are you getting active about these days?

Paid family leave: Five ways to help

March 27, 2009

PPL_five_finalized1_circleboarder So we're getting down to the wire, which is both exciting and nervewracking.  Exciting because this could actually happen - how cool would that be?  But it might not, which is a serious bummer. 

To make our very best effort to create a paid family leave insurance program in Oregon, we need all the help we can get in the next few weeks.  There are 5 key actions you can take  - will one (or two!!!) work for you? 

  1. Email your state legislators and urge them to support paid family leave!  Children's First for Oregon created this simple e-mail action to make it as e-a-s-y as possible for us hassled and harried parents.  Simply click here and you're good to go.  Easy as pie but very important.
  2. Join us in Salem on Wednesday, April 8th @ 2:30 PM for the bill's Senate committee hearing.  We need to pack the room to show our support.  It really matters  - and bringing the kids is an excellent idea.  We'll have ours there!  You can RSVP here, and if you want to coordinate rides, email Andrea at info@parentsforpaidleave.org. 
  3. We need more businesses to speak up and support this bill.  Do you own one?  Do you know someone who does that you can ask?  You can watch and share this video of an Oregon mom and business owner (and urbanMama!) over on Activistas.
  4. We need men to testify!  Mamas, mamas, everywhere.  The experts are women, the legislators are women, so we need a few good men!  Any dads out there who wished they had more leave, or who watched their partners struggle with too little?  Or who worked so many hours to cover their partner's lost income they never even saw the baby?  If that's you or someone you know, we want to hear from you - soon!  Get in touch with Parents for Paid Leave at: info@parentsforpaidleave.org.
  5. Share a supportive quote that we can share with key legislators: why do you support paid family leave?  Send it to: quotes@parentsorpaidleave.org. 

We're close, but close isn't gonna cut it.  Your help couldn't be more important.

Activistas: What's going on?

March 24, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Always lots to rant and change, you know?  Here's what we've been ranting and plotting change about in March:

  • Campaign for Safe Cosmetics issues toxic tub report.  So I'm not too happy that our bubble bath might contain formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane.  Not happy at all.  I'm not surprised, either.  Neither chemical is good for you - in fact, both are probable carcinogens - and both can be easily removed from these products.
  • And, last but not least, Parents for Paid Leave wants you to know that there will soon be a hearing in Salem on the proposed Oregon paid family leave insurance program.  We need to pack the hearing room!  Bring your kids!  Tell your friends! Carpool to Salem! The tentative date is Wednesday 4/3 @ 3 PM.  Ideal?  Of course not.  But neither is unpaid family leave.  Be there, mamas.  Your presence will speak volumes. 

This week on Activistas

March 08, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Seems like a lot of things need fixing these days (what's new?), so we've been busy trying to fix them.  Jump in if you, too, think something needs fixing.  Here are but a few to choose from:

  • Paid family leave in Oregon: A chance to learn & act.  Parents for Paid Leave is hosting two family-friendly, casual events this coming weekend.  We'll watch a short documentary about Portland parents working for paid leave, call and write our legislators, and get free professional pics of you & the kids for our grassroots postcard campaign.

The exciting thing about all this is there's a lot happening to improve the public policies that affect family life in the U.S.  And the more of us that are involved, the more improvement we're likely to see.  No time like the present!

Activistas: What's going on?

February 27, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Lots to discuss and some important action opportunities over on Activistas this week.  Including the downtown coffee hour next Wednesday, March 4th from 10 to 11 AM.  Hope you can join us!  Some recent topics...

  • Email us your family pics to support paid family leave.  We've got this plan.  And we hope you'll help - 'cause without you, the plan can't work.  It's like this:  We're making photo postcards to send to our state legislators, to show them who we are, and how very many Oregonians there are who support paid family leave.
  • Attend a house party for paid family leave.  There's one in Eugene on Saturday 3/7 and another in Clackamas on Sunday 3/8 - and more in the works.  If you can't attend or that's not your neighorhood, spread the word.  The e-vites are open so anyone can invite friends & family.  The idea is to learn about the bill and our grassroots campaign - then contact your state legislator.
  • Protect us from our peanut butterWe wish we were Mumfred the Magician and could make this nasty peanut recall disappear.  As everyone knows by now, the FDA has recalled hundreds of products containing peanut butter from the Georgia-based Peanut Corporation of America.

Paid family leave: It's in the news

February 18, 2009

PPL_five_finalized1_circleboarder Letters to the editor, Blue Oregon, The Oregonian.  Paid family leave is in the news and open for public discussion!  So chime in -  the more support people show the better.  I submitted a Letter to the Editor in response to Susan Nielsen's piece this past Sunday, and it was printed today.  I wonder if any of you feel like this?

As Oregon parents who have experienced unpaid family leave twice, we know first hand the challenges it presents.  We know how hard it can be to set aside enough money while pregnant or planning to be.  We recall parenting alone because our partner was working hard to replace our income, missing important family time at home.  We returned to work with no sick or vacation time because we had exhausted it all to afford three months of parental leave.  We lamented my first post-partum paycheck, which was greatly reduced by repaying health insurance premiums incurred while not earning.  And our hearts were heavy from leaving our babies with a practical stranger because we couldn't afford to miss another paycheck. 

Just about every Oregonian you'll meet has a family member to care for.  Let's make sure they don't have to choose between their family and their job. 

Activistas: The Latest

February 12, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Hey good news: there are more Activistas these days so we're busier.  And able to write about and tackle more issues.  Like, for example, these:

Parents for Paid Leave: Join Us this Saturday, 2.14.  So you probably noticed that the legislature's in session in Salem.  And maybe you heard that the Oregon Women's Health & Wellness Alliance announced its legislative agenda last week - with paid family leave on the list!  So we're talkin' any day now.  Are you ready?

Send a message to Salem with your reject plastics.  A year or so ago we delivered bags of recalled toys to our Congressional delegation. And then voila they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which went into effect yesterday.

Turn Portland's Vision into Action: Add the parent perspective.  As parents, most of us feel deeply invested in the future of our community because our kids ARE the future, and the future of this community is the future our kids will either enjoy or suffer.  But did you know that our city has a bold collective vision for the future?  Do you want to be part of making this vision a reality for your children? 

Farm to School does PDX.  We've written more than once about school food.  Seems everyone's got an opinion. And why not, it is what our kids eat, right?   So if you're really into this issue, you're in luck, because the mother of all conferences is comin' to town - March 19-21, 2009.  

Stimulus is for families, too.  Let's Pass It!  No doubt you've heard a great deal in the past couple weeks about the economic recovery package working its way through Congress.  With so much money at stake and so many people in need, it can be overwhelming to sort through the information and the spin. 

What will Michelle do for work-family policy?  I was reading an article on the First Lady's policy agenda and how it's shaping up, and came across this list that a bunch of women's workplace advocates would like to see her tackle. 

And so much more.  Got an issue you want to see covered?  Want to submit a guest post on an issue near and dear to your heart?  Get in touch.  We're all ears.

Rally it up in Salem, 02.16.2009

February 04, 2009

We aren't the only mamas thinking about going to the kids rally down in Salem in a couple of weeks.  Several mamas have emailed us to let us know they're interested in supporting this event.  One mama emails:

Last night I learned that, based on the most recent economic forecast, Portland Public School District could face shortfalls of $20 for this year and $70 million over the next biennium ($35 million per year).  That means $20 million would have to be cut from this school year! To put that number in perspective, consider this: $1 million buys 11.5 teaching jobs and $1.2 million buys one school day in PPS.  

Another mama says:

I think we all are passionate about raising happy, healthy children. I was struck by some recent statistics that indicate the poor state of education in Oregon: did you know that Oregon ranks 42nd in the nation for K-12 share of total state spending, 49th in length of school year, 50th in average Elementary class size, and 40th in 4th Grade reading scores?

The most recent e-bulletin from Portland Public School district reads "To be straightforward, the situation is worsening. Despite past cuts and our efforts to manage resources responsibly, we face the likelihood of major budget reductions."  There is talk about making cuts to the current school year.  BUT, there are funds that could potentially come PPS's way via the federal economic recovery plan, which could fund PPS renovations and programs at Title I schools (where levels of low-income students are high).

The North Clackamas School District alone is looking at a 7% cut for the rest of this year and at 13% cut next year. The cuts translate into an even shorter school year.  Programming for arts, music and physical education will fall by the wayside.

The global economy is dire, and funding for our precious resources - public schools - is at risk.  What can we do?  To start, we can let state legislators know that funding for our schools is crucial.  Stand for Children, along with several other organizations, has organized a rally in Salem on Presidents Day.  It's a no-school day for kids, and it seems like a great way to bring our kids to our state capital and get involved with our legislation, on the state level.  The agenda: to let our legislators know how much we care about schools and services, even in an economic downturn.  We know lots of mamas and papas and kids from our neighborhood and schools who are going.

One mama writes:

Quite simply, our kids need us.  If we mamas don't speak up for our children, who will? Please log on to www.stand.org/or/rally and register to attend the Presidents Day Rally. 

Can you and will you go?  Buses are being organized now, just hit the above link for more info!  Get on the bus!

Activistas: The Latest

January 24, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Now that the state legislature's in session, we've got more to do than just talk about policy change.  We're getting involved and hope you will, too.  There are two bills we're especially tracking this session: paid family leave and the children's safer product act.  Here's a bunch of recent posts on Activistas to keep you in the loop:

We hope you'll wonder over and see what we're talking about and doing - and get active on the issues that matter to you and your family.   

What's Going on at Activistas?

January 07, 2009

ActA Badge 2 Lots, as is sometimes the case.  Here's a quick summary of what's on our minds so far in '09:

What's on yours?