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Family Gathering

Earlier this month, I attended the fourth Family Gathering of the Rosenberg Fund for Children (RFC). Although the RFC’s primary mission is to provide grants for the educational and emotional needs of the children of targeted activists, we’ve also held eight “Gatherings” for our beneficiaries. Carry it Forward Gatherings bring together 18 to 24 year-olds, and Family Gatherings are for targeted activist families with school-age children. The three-day programs are loaded with expressive arts workshops, facilitated discussions, and informal fun.

In general, these events have been emotionally intense and very successful at lessening isolation and fostering connection. This weekend was no exception. Activist families came from all over the country and from many different social change movements to share their stories and their concerns about parenting, and to realize that they are not alone.

This year’s Gathering was also an important milestone for me. While I had a lot of help from our staff and Board, I was the principle producer of our first six Gatherings. I co-produced the seventh event in 2011 with my daughter, Jenn, who was then the RFC Grantmaking Coordinator. By the time this year’s Gathering took place, I’d been retired as the Executive Director for almost a year. While Elli and I led a “politics and parenting” workshop for the adults, and Jenn and I facilitated the “tell your story” session for them, I played no part in its overall planning.

I am very proud of the organizing job done by Jenn as Executive Director and Julie, who has taken over as Grantmaking Coordinator. I should also mention the special support we received from Board Member Nina Lessin-Joseph. I think it was the best run Gathering we’ve had. That doesn’t mean it didn’t have its exciting moments (like the bat flying around the common room on Friday evening), but it was mostly smooth – although exhausting – sailing.

It helped that we had a terrific group of peer leaders and participants. We benefited from having families join us from multi-generational activist communities, which helped facilitate the rapid development of powerful bonds among all involved. Amazing bonding has been a feature at all these events, but I’ve never witnessed such 100% cohesion before.

This Gathering was such an affirmation of what the RFC seeks to accomplish. To have the power of multi-generational political communities demonstrated so clearly, so soon after handing off the leadership of the RFC project to the next generation was, for me, the icing on the cake.  Read More 
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