M.A.R.CH. began as an interest group of diverse organizations and community members who first gathered in January 2016. The objective was to create a solution to the childcare need in the movement community, beginning with the childcare need of Fight for $15 workers. Among us were organizers from Fight for $15, Healthy and Free Tennessee, CoreAlign, Memphis Single Parents Network, Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, Center for Research on Women, Cooperative Memphis, H.O.P.E. Women and other members of the community. Together, we formed a collective that aims to sustain movement work and build a healthier support community that respects, values, and shares caregiving work.
We are a project of Cooperative Memphis, a grassroots initiative fiscally sponsored by the non-profit organization, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. We have a small team of Core Members that meets bi-weekly and operate through collective decision-making. Core Members communicate with local organizations, recruit and train new volunteers, fundraise, and coordinate childcare. In addition to the Core, we have a team of Childcare Volunteers, and together they form the Childcare Collective that provides free childcare at events and meetings. Secondly, M.A.R.CH. is committed to building a Childcare Cooperative for parents and caregivers in the movement community. The Childcare Cooperative is non-hierarchal system of support, resource-sharing, and mutual aid run by its members. Lastly, M.A.R.CH. is part of the ICCC (Intergalactic Conspiracy of Childcare Collectives), a network of childcare collectives spread across North America who gather annually at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit.
Our vision is a Memphis where anyone, parents, caregivers and their children, can participate in social justice work. We envision child care as a radical act of solidarity that sustains work for social change in the Mid-South.
M.A.R.CH. partners with community organizations to provide free volunteer childcare for activist meetings and community events.
Often, there are no intentional family inclusive movement spaces and many spaces discourage participation of children and their caregivers. M.A.R.CH. aims to lead the conversation and promote radically engaging, compassionate, safe, and gentle child care. By supporting activists, working parents and organizers with childcare needs, we seek to center people who would otherwise play a peripheral role in our community. Additionally, M.A.R.CH. advocates for the comprehensive availability of resources to build a world that supports the unique needs of parents, caregivers and children. Movements for justice cannot be successful until all people are invited to bring their full selves into the work.
Patriarchal culture de-prioritizes the expertise, labor, and leadership of caregivers- especially low-income, immigrant, and/or single mothers of color. M.A.R.CH. values the contributions and wisdom of these often excluded folks and practices and advocates for/that:
- Nurturing and care work is for everyone and everyone is capable of learning to do it!
- Accessible childcare on all levels (financial, cultural, non-exclusionary).
- Childcare as a practice of collective responsibility, community support, mutual aid, and sustainable resource-sharing.
- Creating a non-judgmental and safe space for children that is gentle, nurturing, and compassionate.
- Creative, fun, socially engaging, empowering, loving, and playful child care.
- Anti-oppressive processes including a commitment to anti-racist, feminist, and intersectional thought and practices.
- Inter-generational engagement, co-learning, and liberation.
- Consent and respect for children’s capacity to make decisions over their bodies.
- Empowering children to make age-appropriate choices in how they play and learn, including ways that may challenge gender norms.
- Respecting individual family parenting practices.
- Cultural competency and sensitivity to other childrearing approaches.
- Open-sharing of our knowledge and resources with our communities.
- The inclusion of children in public spaces and social justice demonstrations. We believe in and value children’s ability to understand and challenge oppression.
- The recognition and dignity for the vast diversity of family structures.
- Affirming participation and leadership of LGBTQ parents and community members and safe care space for LGBTQ children and youth.
- A focus on healing, rather than depending on punitive models to resolve conflict.