Thursday, August 23, 2007

Parenting as a Green Anarchist

I consider myself to be a pirate in some contemporary sense of the word. This is the lens through which I try to view our world. I am a nice pirate, where others rape and pillage I salvage and sow; where others sack and burn I liberate and grow. I pirate software, vegetables, herbs, bulk food aisles at corporate grocery stores, garbage, books, clothes, thrift stores, free boxes. I find homes for books lost on these high seas of a culture that, for the most part, doesn't read. I steal from the rich and give to the poor whenever possible. I try to be free in the fullest sense of the word and dream always of furthering that freedom.

I live with my twin three year old daughters on an old 250 acre farm outside of Shelton, Washington at the inner-most tip of Puget Sound. I try to live as a Green Rebel and a Pirate in this commodified world of disposable consumables. Does this mean I live a zero-sum harmonious existence with my local ecosystem, feeding wild animals by hand and growing or scavenging all my food while refusing to pay taxes and stockpiling an enormous underground arms cache of sustainably gathered weapons of creation? Well... not yet.

So I try instead to let these simple ideas bleed into my everyday interactions with nature and with the individuals around me. I try to be anti-authoritarian with my children for the most part, but every parent raises their voice or demands some sort of obedience from their kids, because that is the world we live in, try as we might to escape it. But I have become acutely aware of what a collaborative process parenting is and, as surely as I am raising two beautiful, intelligent, gentle girls in this crazy world, they are raising and molding a new kind of parent in me. And these new kinds of people we are helping each other foster and create and assemble from old bones will be the same people faced with solving the growing problems of tomorrow and bridging our polarized communities with what common ground we have: our children and our desire for them to be healthy and survive.

I vaguely recall mulling over possible titles for my fatherhood blog before settling on Pirate Papa: An Anarcho-Green Journal of D.(o) I.(t) Y.(ourself) Parenting. The ones I remember are: Running with Scissors , Don't Tell Mommy, and Hip-Pop. When I use words like 'Anarcho-Green' I am attempting to bend accepted norms by sheer use of language, I am attempting to lure in folks who are curious about these ideologies (even while I am obviously alienating whole other groups), I am attempting to extract everything I deem to be of value to contemporary parenting from both movements and synergize it into a harmonious, sustainable whole systems anti-corporate naturally organic approach to parenting and child-rearing in this day and age.

I relate 'Anarchism' to parenting in several very simple ways: I firmly believe that large-scale industrial capitalism is inherently bad for babies; I think all children are inherently anarchists and that these qualities need to be nurtured and respected rather than repressed; I advocate a refusal to follow accepted norms (without massive research) as applied to my children's diet, medicine, entertainment, education, etc.; I think that families are best served and children best reared by as much economic and political freedom as possible. I believe in creative problem solving, involving children in political activism, and being as anti-corporate, anti-capitalist and anti-standard as possible. I believe we need localized communities operating on a face-to-face basis in equilibrium with each other and their surroundings without official hierarchies and centralized establishments to arbitrate and rule our lives. We have learned from this system of coercion, capitalism, domination and patriarchy that it does not work, does not jive with the natural human spirit or bodily rhythms. Now it’s time to try something else.

I relate 'Green' to parenting thusly: I see today's generic diet and monocropped culture as definitely deadly to the kids and mothers and fathers of the future (that's all of us); I see lowering the ecological footprint of today's typical American family as a fundamental first step to saving tomorrow's children, as well as maximizing our own limited time here on the planet; I believe that, as a species, we require a healthy chunk of re-wilding in order to return to some sustainable balance with nature as well as with our own collective psyche; I believe that a resurgence to THE LOCAL for food and medical needs for our families and elderly and children will best sustain our communities and revitalize our economies with the inherently unique culture granted them by place.

If we don’t want a world full of standardized testing and rulers and competition then we need children who can live outside the box and be the most unique individuals they can be. If that is what they want to do. And I think it will be. If we want a world without bars on its windows then, more than ever, will we need children who are free.

Further Reading:

This essay was first published by Tomas in Rad Dad #7, July/August 2007.


Activist Mommy said...

*applause from the cheap seats*

linda said...

I love reading your blog. Having unschooled a now 20 year old daughter all these years it is soul satisfying to read through your journey about all your efforts and your amazing girls. I also received your zine awhile back now and we have it in our radical lending library space at in the parenting section. Peace.

Sara said...

I relate to that bit about intending/attempting to parent non-coercively but pulling authority sometimes because of the culture we live in, and also about the mutual "raising" between me and my daughters. I think they help me more than anything else to recognize the blinders to true freedom of personality, and they certainly keep my authoritarian inclinations in check.

I sometimes get the presumptuous criticism that parenting non-coercively translates to letting my kids run into the street. However, I can reassure those critics that I do bully my children in this regard. I suspect that if I didn't bully them in incidences such as staying close to me in public, they'd probably have already been crushed under the tires of a vehicle. I rarely even see other kids out in public, so I don't feel surprised when drivers don't watch for them.

MaGreen said...

right on, sky.

hope alls well.

Joy said...

Thank you. To me, parenting feels like an internship in humanity-where both my child and I regularly exchange roles as student and teacher. The lesson my son continues to teach me, is that raising a child requires crazy amounts of time and energy, but very little stuff. At, my co-author and I share our thrifty green adventures in the hopes that our blogs can empower other parents to reduce, recycle and simplify.

willem said...

i am hopeful for the idea that i can expend my energies building a new world with my family, (large and small,) and fight the old one only when forced to. there is so much discovery in this perception of the world; some of it uncomfortable as i sit with some old and useless, but tenacious ways of thinking. even in my fourth anarchist decade.