Bringing RC to a Local Fathers’ Organization

The Fathering Circle is a wide-world grassroots community of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA) fathers who are supporting each other as fathers. We are primarily working class, Black, and Latino, with a smaller number of white fathers who are mostly Jewish. Over the past year we’ve had bi-weekly fathers’ support groups, play days with our children, and family gatherings that include our parenting partners and spouses. The arts have been an effective and accessible tool for communicating our work and building relationships among us.

About fifty fathers have participated, and a core group of twenty fathers are most active. Mothers are also involved as advisors, artistic collaborators, and family members.

We’ve introduced many RC ideas and tools, including the links among men’s, women’s, young people’s, and parents’ liberation; mini-sessions; support-groups; and some family work.

THE FATHERING FESTIVAL

The Fathering Festival was a two-day wide-world event produced by the Fathering Circle to share what we’ve been doing with a wide audience in a visible public venue. It included a dance with nine of us and our children performing to stories (on a soundtrack) of our struggling to overcome men’s oppression as it shows in our parenting. We also screened a short documentary film chronicling our work over the last year, offered arts workshops for young people, and held a forum that included other fathers’ organizations in the city.

Fela Barclift (the Regional Reference Person for North Brooklyn, New York, USA) and Chuck Esser (the International Commonality Reference Person for Family Work) led a workshop called “Fathers and Families—Parenting as a Force for Liberation—an Introduction to the Tools of Re-evaluation Counseling.” Marya Axner (the International Liberation Reference Person for Parents) led a listening project. And RC literature was available at no cost.

The festival was a big success for the Fathering Circle. We had chances to do public speaking and perform. We were also on a panel in which we showed how much we enjoy our relationships with one another as men and as fathers, how we count on [depend on] and learn from each other as we build relationships with each other’s children, and our commitment to ending sexism starting in our own families.

There was an RC delegation that guided families toward events and childcare, offered support groups for fathers and mothers, and played with the young people. What we know in RC about listening, respect, human liberation, and connection shone through in their interactions. The Fathering Circle dads clearly liked them and are eager for more contact with RCers and with RC tools.

Initially the RC delegation’s main goal was to bring large numbers of people into the RC Community, but we learned that the festival was a good opportunity to bring RC to the Fathering Circle. We appreciated and supported the goals, strengths, and cohesiveness of the Fathering Circle rather than asking its members to come to us. This is clearly different from requiring people to assimilate in order to join an existing RC Community.

BRINGING RC TO OUR LOCAL TOWNS AND CITIES

Many Co-Counselors have been learning how to bring RC to the wide world, especially to people targeted by racism, working-class people, and young people. Delegations of United to End Racism, No Limits for Women, and Sustaining All Life have done this at national and international conferences. How can we do it in our local towns and cities? Here in Philadelphia we are planning additional ways to bring family work and other parts of Co-Counseling to the Fathering Circle. There is much to figure out, like how to activate our Region’s resource in a sustainable way. I need to figure out how to play multiple roles in the Fathering Circle and as an RC leader, support the development of my co-leaders, and keep the project working well for my own family.

I suspect that we are more able than we know to bring the essence of RC to people in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and organizations—that by coming to know us, people are getting lots of information and a picture of relationships that they are eager for.

I have sometimes fallen into thinking of my own wide-world efforts as a diluted and somehow less important “naturalized RC” rather than as seeds that can grow into new kinds of rigorous RC Communities. I’d like to hear others’ experiences in bringing RC into parts of their lives that seem separate from RC.

Our short documentary film about the Fathering Circle can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeFVGV_jHW0&feature=youtube.

Billy Yalowitz

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

(Present Time 191, April 2018)


Last modified: 2019-05-21 23:38:37+00