Last year with Chichico…

Remember when the internet was ablaze with memes and opinions on how 2016 was the worst year ever?  We do.  And there was a lot that was absolutely terrible.  At the same time it was another year full of people power, incredible acts of collective resistance and glimmers of healing and hope that we can carry with us and expand as we continue to trudge into 2017.  Not to mention all of the giggles, games and goofiness that our volunteers got to experience in the hundreds of hours that we spent providing free childcare to grassroots orgs & efforts in Chicago fighting for racial, economic, and gender justice.  

The quick snapshot?  In 2016, the all-volunteer crew of the Chicago Childcare Collective trained over 30 new volunteers, provided childcare at over 60 meetings, events, actions & marches in Chicago all across the city (check out this map!).  We helped create 2 new radical coloring books, produced a new game zine, and this puppet video to get us to Detroit for the Allied Media Conference.

We wanted to share some highlights from 2016 with the Chicago Childcare Collective, to let folks know what we got up to, and to remind our extended fam & communities of how powerful we are.   (If reading this makes you think of ways we could partner, or gets you excited about joining – drop us a line at chichildcareco [at] gmail.com)

JANUARY:

We released “Color Me Rising” – our second coloring book and first collaboration with the newly formed For The People Artist Collective!  The release party was a bumpin’ intergenerational event, with smalls coloring on the floor and the walls!  We also helped get over 1000 radical, Black liberation inspired coloring books distributed!

FEBRUARY:

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A fabulous educator and activist, Jennifer Viets, joined our monthly meeting for a skillshare in large group games to play during childcare.  The special feature was how to play with this giant rubber stretchy band!!  It was our best-attended meeting of the year, and we learned a lot of good tips and got to practice together.

 

MARCH:

In addition to holding down childcare at the Teachers for Social Justice retreat, a #BreathingRoom event, a Chicago Freedom School training, and more – we got started on our new Game Zine and started thinking through guidelines for how we show up to support at marches & direct actions  – since we were getting more requests like this.

APRIL:

We participated in the April 1st General Strike organized by CTU.  We had a kid/baby bloc and stuck it out through the rain and terrible weather.  Some extra fab features were the giant red balloon that helped us find each other, a new banner, and a home-made rope to hold onto each other and not get too lost in the sea of people wearing red.  

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**The police were VERY careless, and nearly ran over one of the strollers with our crew at the end of the march, when rushing to arrest protesters approaching LSD.  We were VERY upset (but not surprised) that they prioritized protecting business as usual, at the expense of the safety of small children in the area. **

Then…we supported a direct action disrupting the NFL Draft led by Assata’s Daughters on April 30th as part of the campaign to #RememberRekia.  Chichico members were on site supporting a mother with small children so that she could participate as a live-streamer, and were honored to be a part of this effort.  

Towards the end of the month we hung out with some smalls at Women & Children First while our friends China Martens & Mai’a Williams did a reading from their new book “Revolutionary Mothering.”

MAY:

In May we supported a QTPOC Herbalist gathering, an art party with Jose Juan’s family in Sanctuary in Hyde Park, and started fundraising to get ourselves to the Allied Media Conference in Detroit with THIS PUPPET VIDEO.

JUNE:

We attended our 6th Allied Media Conference as a collective, and supported the kids’ track of workshops alongside the childcare space throughout the 4 day gathering.  

Later that month, we were so excited that the young people of Assata’s Daughters and Organized Communities Against Deportations came together to host their first event as the Radical Kid Collective!!!  They collected children’s books by Black & POC authors and created a Pop Up Library.  Our volunteers helped collect books for their drive, and lead a Puppet Making workshop at the event.

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**Fun craft tip**If you take an old stuffed animal, cut it open in the bottom, and pull out the stuffing, it’s pretty easy and fun to turn it into a DIY puppet!

And at the very end of the month, we partnered with Rainbow Families on a swelteringly hot Saturday to provide a kid/family centered space during the Chicago Dyke March.  Super melty face paint and water balloons were both big hits.  

JULY:

A July highlight was supporting the Roots & Remedies Conference that met in Chicago.

AUGUST:

The Intergalactic Conspiracy of Childcare Collectives – of which we’re a part – released this resource for Talking to Kids about Police Brutality.  Check it out and feel free to contribute as well!  They included our coloring book in the section containing activities.  

SEPTEMBER:

img_4111The occupation of Freedom Square lead by the #LetUsBreathe Collective which lasted well over a month was a main feature of our work in August and September.  We helped gather donations of toys and arts & craft supplies, set up a tent and lead activities with some of the children there, and turned out at least a dozen volunteers to support at various times throughout the 24/7 occupation.  

OCTOBER:

We partnered with First Defense Legal Aid for the first time, at an event centered on getting more legal support for minors.  Did you know that less than .2% of minors under the age of 18 have representation in the first 72 hours after an arrest in Chicago?!

NOVEMBER:

Our biggest event of the year took place on Saturday 11/19 – the TSJ Curriculum Fair!  A dozen volunteers helped us care for over 25 kids over the course of the day, when people educators and students gathered from all across the city to talk about Defunding Policing & Funding Schools and Communities.  

After the harrowing election results in mid-November we supported several emergency post election events and community conversations, including Mijente’s event on organizing across struggles, and a Rainbow Families info-session on second parent adoption in Illinois.  

DECEMBER:

After another successful new volunteer training, we hosted a huge brunch for our Volunteers! In addition to spending a snowy afternoon eating good food and getting to know each other better as ppl committed to intergenerational care work, everyone got new screen-printed t-shirts, and re-filled their childcare supply bags with donated toys and craft supplies!   

—–

As we move into 2017, we hope more and more people around the country continue to heed the call to scale up and build new grassroots mutual aid efforts to protect & defend our communities during a Trump administration.  We hope that this recap can give a picture into what’s possible when just a few people come together and share of time & energy to help build our collective capacity to resist racist attacks, militarization, and austerity and support the leadership of those most directly impacted by the harmful policies coming our way.  

Here’s to building intergenerational conspiracies for collective resistance & beyond!

Chichico

CaLL For SUPPLIES DONATIONS!

~*~Hello family/friends of the Chicago Childcare Collective~*~

We have been blossoming, expanding the branches of this ever-growing tree of a collective! In recent times, we have had quite a few volunteers join us to participate in childcare. ChiChiCo supplies every volunteer with a BAG of fun time goodies to bring along to the events, meetings, conferences, and organizing endeavors we attend. During our childcare sessions we bring this bag along in the hopes that all the activist kiddos we have the pleasure of meeting and spending time with are not only entertained, but also in a state of creativity and excitement. In these bags we include:

-Art Supplies (Crayons, markers, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, clue sticks, glitter, popsicle sticks, ETC!)

-Picture and Reading Books (With a loving, social justice edge)

-Games (Puzzles, board games, UNO, a deck of cards, you get the picture!)

-Balls

-Stuffed Animals

-Coloring books

-Jump rope

-YOU NAME IT

YAY! ANY donation at all we will be using to put together more Childcare bags so that every one of our volunteers arrives at their meeting or event with awesome and lovely entertainment and creative projects for our activist youngsters.

To donate, please drop off supplies at the American Friends Service Committee office, where we have a box in the lobby! That’s at 637 S. Dearborn Ave, 3rd floor in the South Loop.  If that’s really impossible for ya, email us at ChiChildcareCo@gmail.com and we will arrange a pick up of your supplies donation.

With love, In solidarity, Kindly, and Gratefully,

The Chicago Childcare Collective ❤

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Digging and painting…to liberate a house!

We painted fence posts. We dug holes in the dirt.  We ate grapes off the vine and stayed warm with Maria Dolores’ delicious homemade pozole.  We threw frisbees and played on swings.  Quite simply, we spent the day in community with our neighbors at the liberated house on Ridge Ave in Rogers Park on Saturday, September 13th.

digging!

digging! painting the fence!painting!

For the past two years this home has been a site of community meetings and retreats, and a safer space for a family with young kids.  Now there are garden beds, where fresh vegetables will be grown and distributed in the area.  Just last week they showed a screening of the film ‘Which Way Home’ for community members.

Next week they go back to court to fight eviction, and are up against one of the biggest financial institutions in the United States.

Our partners at Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction (CUAFE) are fighting for the property to be donated to a community land trust.  They want to keep this home in the hands of the community; Bank of America (with the help of the Cook County Sherif’s Department) wants to kick out the family who lives in it and force the house to sit empty.

The Calvillo Ortiz family.

community builders and housing liberators.

This community of housing liberators bring to light important questions that get at the heart of capitalism’s nonsensery.  Are houses for people or for banks?  Should a property sit empty to amass wealth for a few people far away, or be used to provide shelter and build community for the people who live and work near and in it?

Emiliano Zapata said, “the land belongs to those who work it.” CUAFE tries to live that philosophy.

Their recent court appearance shed light on the way that the courts exist to support the status quo power and property relations, not the interests of everyday people.  When speaking of their struggles to get a meeting with the bank, and their desire to fight this eviction, one of the family members was repeatedly chastised by the judge for saying the word “we” instead of “I.”  A community member posted on Facebook a powerful response to the scene, saying:

“Kudos to him for insisting that people should not be treated as evictable. kudos to everyone for standing up with him in a place where they are given no voice, because a community cannot be recognized as having a home in a court of property law. you all bring dignity and a sense of weird sanity to this hellish place. i am so amazed by your power, tenacity and grace.”

Community Supporters at last Court Appearance.

a community against an eviction.  banner says “House in Resistance / Land and Liberty”

Volunteers with the Chicago Childcare Collective show up to events like the garden party last weekend to make sure parents can organize for a better Chicago and kids can play.   We have partnered with CUAFE to fight evictions and help reclaim houses for communities (instead of banks) since the summer of 2012.  Look out for upcoming announcements and ways to defend the house.  La tierra es de quien la trabaja!

Kids rocking in an epic swing with a Chichico volunteer.

kids rocking in an epic swing with a Chichico volunteer.

hey, there. here’s an update about some ChiChiCo stuffs..!

Hello, hello. This is Isaac. I’ve been a member of the Chicago Childcare Collective since arriving in Chicago in early February. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to be engaged in a new city, to work in solidarity with some of the incredible community organizing that folks are leading and participating here in Chicago, and spend time with some rad volunteers and rad kids. In this blog post I’m gonna be sharing some of what ChiChiCo has been up to of late and some of our plans looking forward.

We’re really excited about the training for new volunteers that we held this past Saturday, 4/26! We’ve recently done some outreach for new volunteers and the training on the 26th was in part a result of the nice response we’ve seen so far, as well as the steady trickle of interest that comes from word-of-mouth, the internet, etc. We hope to do some more outreach in the future, perhaps, as needed based on the childcare requests we receive. We’ve also talked a little bit about the possibility that we could provide more childcare in solidarity with community orgs and projects in the city that match up with our mission, through developing relationships and building new partnerships. We’re so grateful for our current partnerships with Communities United Against Foreclosures and Evictions, Blocks Together, and Teachers for Social Justice, and the work each of these groups is doing.

Some of the projects that we are currently or have recently been working on are an article in AREA Chicago, a new zine, the second session of the “C is for Civil Rights” Book Club, AMC (Allied Media Conference) 2014, a RadicalColoringBook, and a Teachers for Social Justice (TSJ) Inquiry to Action Group on Community Care.

One of the first things I got to be a part of when I started working with ChiChiCo was a new zine to give to trainees at our February 22nd training. It’s a pretty basic resource meant to offer some background about the collective, some practical tips and insights on providing childcare, and some ideas about bringing transformative justice values into childcare. We borrowed big time from resources created by folks from the awesome Kidz City Baltimore and Bay Area Childcare Collective, respectively, fellow-sister-member-teammate groups in the Intergalactic Conspiracy of Childcare Collectives! We still have hopes to go back and spruce this zine up a bit with some more color, games, and overall fun-ness.

We also included an article written by some core ChiChiCo members that was featured in the latest issue of AREA Chicago. You can see deets about the issue, titled/themed “Childhoods,” here!! We included this article to provide some  history, grounding, and vision of ChiChiCo.

I don’t want to spoil the article for anyone, and encourage you to check it out! But here’s a teaser of the article headings to provide a sense of what’s in store:

 

~Roots~   ~ICCC~   ~Values~   ~Identity~   ~SecondGeneration~   ~Transition~   ~Challenges~   ~Future~

 

At the end of March, we kicked off this Spring’s “C is for Civil Rights” Book Club, the second session of a joint project between ChiChiCo and the Chicago Freedom School. This session is focusing broadly on Latin@ social movements, and we have one more meeting left. You can find more info about this Spring’s session, pictures and curriculum from last Fall’s session, and even sign up to participate or volunteer for our last book club meeting on 5/4 heeeeeeeere, if you wanna! We generally gather round for a read-aloud of a book about a Latin@ social justice issue (or issues), with an emphasis on the centering of empowered, active young people, and finish with an art project related to the story, with some fun lil exercises/activities/snack-munching throughout! It’s a pretty wonderful time. You can also find a super much more comprehensive and worthwhile article on the book club in the AREA issue (theme alert).

Another big topic of conversation at collective meetings right now is about the Allied Media Conference (AMC) in June. We’ve been doing a fundraiser for kids and parents to get to the AMC, which you can check out here (this is a link to etsy, in case you need convincing that it’s worth clicking!). We are also gearing up for the AMC in other ways, like planning transportation – from trains to bikes to cars (but mostly bikes), preparing for workshops, and getting ready to start fundraising for ChiChiCo members’ own trips. We’ll try to keep you posted on all these things!

We’re just wrapping up a Chicago Radical Coloring Book, and it has been so awesome to get to see this project being carried out and assembled! You can see the original call for entries below, from 10/21/13. We’re so grateful for the submissions we’ve gotten and can’t wait to share them with the world. We’re finishing up all the last touches and are so excited to send it off for printing! This is a project that folks at ChiChiCo, and also those submitting entries, have been really beyond jazzed about, and you can read a little more about it and see some coloring pages in the last issue of AREA! Stay tuned for an update about purchasing a book at a sliding scale, and where to find the free PDF’s once they are posted online! (Guess where else you can find an article and some sample pages for coloring? AREA #14, actually, if you can believe it. I promise I’m not even getting paid for this promo.)

 

In the meantime check out this piece of the spread:

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We also recently finished up an Inquiry to Action Group sponsored by Teachers for Social Justice and led by a couple of ChiChiCo members, Joan and Jake. J&J organized a group called Community Care, in which we met weekly and discussed, often based on shared readings, ideas about care and how individuals and communities can for each other and them/our selves – especially in a societal context in which care work is severely devalued and marginalized. Some of the biggest ideas we engaged with throughout the 8 weeks were around defining – and not defining – community care; accessibility; care work and its relationship to (the context of) capitalism, racism, patriarchy, and other systems of oppression; the myriad ways that care can be practiced and look; scarcity and abundance.

We’ve started the laying the groundwork for putting together a Community Care zine, and are looking forward to how that unfolds. We are hoping to finalize a call for entries in the next couple of weeks and trying to use the zine as a forum for highlighting some of the many wonderful and super wide-ranging ways that folks are doing the work of community care already, to spark thinking and conversation around the topic of community care, serve as a resource for folks who want to learn more or become more engaged with this work, and hopefully offer some potential for collaboration or network building if that’s where folks want to take it. Stay tuned for more about the call!

I think that about wraps it up for me! Thanks for reading : ). I hope you’re well.

C is for Civil Rights Book Club – 2013 and Beyond!

*Sign up a child for spring 2014 sessions of the book club now*

@ c-isforcivilrights.weebly.com

101_0146*Following pictures are from the 1st session of fall 2013 when we read Freedom School, YES!*

Jacob’s Reflection on the C is for Civil Rights Book Club

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Police, & jails came up as subjects at the very first session.  During the snack break, a couple kids started collaborating on a drawing.  My personal experience with one of the kids is that every time he’s given the chance to draw there’s complex systems at work in his drawings — often cops, guns, fast cars, police stations, helicopters, etc.  So I was already interested in discussing what he was dealing with in his drawings.  He told me about how the cops were after some people who were bad.  I tried to ask “why are they bad?”, but the conversation ended abruptly.  The kids around noticed the uncomfortable silence and Stefon, an 8 year old assistant teacher, quickly changed the subject.

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Of course, it’s possible that no matter how I responded that it was not the time, place or I was not the person to engage in such a conversation.  Though I saw this as an opportunity to reflect on deeply ingrained roles as part of ongoing practice to be reexamined again when possible.  I write some of my reflections here.

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My initial thought while reflecting was that if I was open to relating as a cohort instead of an authority figure this might open up dialogue instead of shutting it down.  Though I am not a peer and my adulthood now effects the very reasons I am coming to the situation. What I believe happened is while I was trying to be a teacher and ask critical questions I ended up alienating him from further conversation.  It’s possible my critical questions inadvertently left him with the impression that I was being judgmental when he was simply channeling his experience of the world around him.

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What if I talked about my personal experience instead?  I encountered the police before and some of my friends were targeted, arrested and imprisoned by police. My personal experience might shine light on experiences often not spotlighted in the media. Though this leaves out the question of race, since I’m white and the kids I was talking to are black.  As I mentioned before, it’s possible he was not comfortable sharing with me personally.  That is, a white person without a trusted relationship built.  This makes me want to step back my role of leadership in the book club and facilitate sharing (though not tokenizing) perhaps by making space for Black and Latino folks currently working on these issues so important to the struggle.

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After talking about this instance with people, a friend suggested that I “Be genuine/yourself.  Believe your experience is valid while not taking up all the space, which [in and of itself] is modeling.   Also, repeat key words or phrases or say “tell me more” because asking questions may be interpreted as trying to assert control over the conversation.”  From this, I plan to be more intentional in actively listening to children, modeling the act of critical reflection and, finally, sharing personal stories when appropriate.

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Look for an upcoming article in the next issue of AREA Chicago.  Due out MARCH 2014

Also, please sign up to volunteer for spring sessions of the book club @ c-isforcivilrights.weebly.com

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*Above picture from a week later when we read about Ruby Bridges*

Children show an intuitive and acute understanding and awareness of the power dynamic imbalances built into our society.  These imbalances are on all levels of society and make kids dependent on a legal guardian or two without necessary community support, on experts and authority figures they aren’t allowed to disagree with, on a school district they don’t control, etc.  Meanwhile, those in power are counting the heads of young children and estimating profit (through pharmaceuticals, fast food, toys, privatizing schools, etc.). Thus we need to be proactive to prepare children so they learn ways to fight back inside and outside a system that is failing them. Though this also needs to be sustained learning & part of long term transformation of social relationships.  So that is why the C is for Civil Rights book club is replicable, so we can all be a part of a movement that actively centers children and their experiences.

Design a page for a Chicago-based Radical Coloring Book!

Artists, Illustrators, Conspirators, and Pencil-wielders!this is an open call for submissions!

The Chicago Childcare Collective, with the help of AREA Chicago, is looking for YOU to collaborate with us in creating a Chicago-based Radical Coloring Book!

We need artists to design individual pages for us!  We want to highlight the on the on-the-ground organizing that’s going on in Chicago (and places close-by).  We’re excited about featuring work that we’ve supported as a collective over the past 5 years. That includes education justice, migrant justice, folks fighting the school to prison pipeline, restorative and transformative justice, mental health movement, home liberations, eviction blockades, anti-militarism, food justice, and queer and trans liberation.

We’re also really excited about what folks are doing with the anti-coloring book series, and will welcome designs that encourage and foster creativity, rather than strict obedience to line-filling-in.

Our Vision:

The Chicago Childcare Collective (ChiChiCo) is a group of volunteers who support the participation of parents, especially mothers, in racial and economic justice work. The collective matches volunteers with community organizations across the city to have fun with kids while their parents/caregivers participate in and lead organizing efforts to defend their rights and build a better Chicago.

Inspired by the fabulous work of our friends and co-conspirators in the Bay Area, we want to create a coloring book that we can use with kiddos and youngsters when we’re doing childcare.  Just imagine what we could do with a community-created coloring book that highlights the amazing organizing and movement building work going on in this city!!!!  Coloring in images of striking CTU teachers, the 3-day Walk to Crete, the baby bloc at the NATO protest, and home liberators…  all while teaching the next generation of activists that coloring outside the lines is okay too.

chichico pic

Format:

Most image files will work (pdf, jpg, tiff) and submissions should be 8.5” x 11”.  (300 dpi minimum).  Be sure to leave space at the bottom for a caption, or add your own to the page. We’ll also take originals if scanning is an issue.  Just e-mail us to coordinate a drop-off…

How to submit:

First – get in touch with us about what you want to design.  We’d like to represent a wide range of the fierce organizing work going on in Chicago, and it’ll take some coordination to do that.  Then – draw!  illustrate!  scan!  and send it to chichildcareco@gmail.com by the deadlines below.

Rolling Deadlines:  

Deadline 1: December 15 – for possible inclusion in AREA Chicago’s Issue #14 Children

Deadline 2: March 15 – for our first edition of the ChiChiCo Coloring Book.

What you get in return:

A big huge shoutout and thank you in the coloring book and a whole bunch of love, respect, and magical appreciation from the volunteers of Chichico.  And warm fuzzy feelings, of course, knowing that you’re helping foster politicized childcare as we build an intergenerational movement for collective liberation!

AMC 2013 Picture Report-Back

Welcome!

Welcome to AMC 2013

 

@ 2013 ICCC Network Gathering

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@ Stories without Borders: Self-Mapping

Musical Chairs of Colonization (DJ, the group sharing resources, Gilad enjoying all the chairs he “earned”)

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Debrief (Kids talk about how they experienced the game) & Body Map (Head, Heart & Beyond)

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@ Lunch Love: Caucus for Parents & Child Caregivers

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@ Breaking the Big Box

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@ the Dress Up Party!  An All-Ages Fashion Lab

Paper Doll Making

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& Potato/Creative Printing

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@ Beat Club!  A Community Driven Music Lab

Esai plays a video of himself into the microphone as Barrett adds effects to the audio.

Esai plays a video of himself into the microphone as Barrett adds effects to the audio.

 

Stretch, Float, Fly @ Superpower Yoga!

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Fun and Fabulous Farm Fieldtrip @ Feed ’em Freedom

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Kids create their own magical card decks @ Intro Alternative Reality with Magical Card Decks

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@ City Dreams! Youth Zine Workshop (http://poczineproject.tumblr.com/post/54953049070/poc-zine-project-at-allied-media-conference-pt-3-of)

City Dreamz

 

@ Future Landscapes (http://shocast.tumblr.com/)

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Collage-ing

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Posing

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THE END

We can make our own – gendertastic coloring books for love and liberation!

When you add gluesticks, coloring book pages, and clever queers – what do you get?  Your very own gendertastic coloring book party!

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On June 26th, fellow chichi-conspirators and I attended a “Make your own gendertastic coloring book” event at Powell’s books on Lincoln.  In the words of the event’s organizers, “Because so much media does not include Trans, Queer & Feminist characters and ideas, we’ll create our own. Using found images, we will transform these images into subversive new coloring books. Cut-n-paste with real live glue sticks & change the direction of pop culture. No longer will there be a shocking lack of narratives for gender outlaws. It’s like spending an evening in a summer camp arts & crafts cabin for unicorns.”  And that it was.

Sitting on the floor with some of my favorite queers in town, remixing the pages of traditional coloring books, was both fun and empowering. Much the same way that we can culture jam billboards and advertisements, we can empower ourselves and the kiddos we share time with to create more body-positive, queer-friendly and all around fabulous coloring book pages.  Not only was it pretty easy to do – it was fun and dare I say exciting!

When my neighbor on the floor remixed this one, I gave a cheer!  All those frustrating patronizing sexist and hetero-normative fairy tales put on blast with a simple tagline:

"This princess doesn't need a knight to save her"

“This princess doesn’t need a knight in shining armour to save her.”

 

Or this one!

"Let's defeat street harassment!"

“Let’s defeat street harassment!”

My chichiconspirator Jacob and I made pages on a similar theme.

Jacob’s feminist hulk character smashed a prison in order to build a better world together!

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Feminist Hulk smashes a prison!

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So we can build a better world together!

"Our feelings and our dreams are powerful…Together we can break free of all kinds of boxes."

“Our feelings and our dreams are powerful…Together we can break free of all kinds of boxes.”

 

With some help from friends, I managed to pull off this page…  I just couldn’t leave the cutout of the kid sitting in a jail cell all alone and unaddressed on the table of coloring book scraps.

All in all – it was a fun evening.  We learned a clever tactic that I hope more fabulous queerbos and childcarers will borrow and steal and use.  With a gluestick and our beautiful minds, we can subvert the system and spread messages of love and liberation far and wide.

cheers,

debbie

 

P.S. – How great would it be if ChiChiCo hosted a gendertastic coloring book party sometime this summer or fall?!  Would you attend?