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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
**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.”
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.
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.
**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.
A July highlight was supporting the Roots & Remedies Conference that met in Chicago.
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.
The 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.
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?!
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.
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!