As this year winds to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about community. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been solo with my kiddos while my husband is in New Zealand, finally getting to see where his little brother has lived and taught for six years. This change in our routine has reminded me how important it is to lean on community. Friends and neighbors have been helping with school pick-up and drop-off, taking my kids for playdates, bringing meals, and just stopping by to hang out.
Building community feels good. Last week, PAT held a winter celebration potluck to bring together teachers, students, and families, and to mark our hard work during this wild year. In my classroom, community looks like third graders forming a “Supporting Our Unsheltered Neighbors Club” and collecting warm socks and blankets for BeaconPDX’s winter drive. In our Sunnyside neighborhood, it looks like a neighbor collecting household items for the many resettled Afghan families who are starting over in Portland. If you have items to contribute to either of these efforts, please drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll connect you. We can do so much when we do it together.
In my classroom we have been holding our annual reading of Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence, a Japanese American author who we hosted at Sunnyside and Richmond last year. Students learn about Mochitsuki, the ceremony for making mochi, and Japanese American traditions at the beginning of a new year. Earlier this month, I took my own kids to the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) holiday party, where we decorated cookies, got to meet an Asian Santa, and felt the joy of being with—wait for it—community.
Campaign-wise, I’ve started setting aside a chunk of each week to do “call time,” which has been a surprisingly fun, only kind-of awkward way to connect with friends and catch them up on the City Council race. I am enjoying Oregon Labor Candidate School (teachers also sometimes go to school!), and I’m preparing a mini presentation on the PATCO strike of 1981 for my cohort. I was accepted into the next Emerge campaign school cohort, and will start that in January.
In other news, like families all over Portland, I tried, and failed, to get my kids into Rec and Park swim lessons. I also took my kids to Great Wolf Lodge, aka Vegas for children, which was possibly the most fun they’ve ever had. Then yesterday I stayed home with my youngest, who was sick, and thought a lot about what it means to support families. I thought about parents who work, whether out at jobs, or at home taking care of kids and elders. I thought about grandparents and aunties and neighbors who step up when needed. I can’t wait to get to work next year supporting families and building community in Portland.
I’m wishing you a peaceful, joyful holiday season. Let’s get together in the new year.
[image: Members of the Portland JACL board take a photo with Santa Claus at the holiday party. Photo by Rich Iwasaki.]