By Alison Atkinson and Anna Chudnovsky
By this point in the Vancouver election campaign, we hope you've heard of OneCity. But what you might not have heard of is the OneCity Kids Club (OCKC). It's a grassroots, member-driven parallel organization.
Its members range in age from 2 to 12, and they're mostly the kids of OneCity's candidates and organizers (and they welcome new members). They're a little less concerned with politics and a little more concerned with repurposing office supplies. And they came up with the name themselves.
OCKC exists because OneCity is a feminist organization. Many of our central organizers and our most active volunteers are parents. We don't just provide childcare at big events, we bring our kids to meetings and we let new people know that they can, too.
Sometimes it's distracting, but it's more important that we hear from voices that might not otherwise be represented, like parents with childcare responsibilities. Making political spaces inclusive of children is a way to bring more women into politics.
Since women still bear a disproportionate share of childcare work, creating child-friendly spaces enhances their involvement (along with longer-term solutions like universal childcare and a transformation of gender roles, of course!). It has some other positive effects, too: the presence of our family lives in our politics makes us do better politics.
Our values have always been at the heart of our organizing. We started OneCity because we wanted to do politics differently: in a way that was relational, inclusive, and kind. We believe that our politics follow those values.
If you believe in inclusion, and kindness, you fight for a city where every neighbourhood is for everyone, and for policies that reduce the wealth divide. You fight for secure, affordable housing and good wages. OneCity works to bring people together. How we do politics, and our political values, are inseparable.
Why does this matter in Vancouver in 2018?
We know that women are being forced to make hard choices between groceries and bus tickets so that their kids can attend the same school after their family has been priced out of a neighbourhood. We know that single parents are struggling to pay rent in a one-bedroom basement apartment, so that their children can live close to a park. We know that there is lead in the drinking water in some public schools, and that it’s unfair to expect our children to wait two minutes for the pipes to clear. We can do better.
We believe that how we organize matters and that by creating a diverse team we change the questions that we ask in order to find solutions. And through our team, we have found solutions like the land-value capture tax, and a tax on homes valued at over $4 million that could help fund the building of 25,000 nonmarket housing units over five years.
We have spoken with families who are afraid to access schools because of immigration status, and our school trustees will make sure those children are able to get an education through our Sanctuary Schools policy. Our school trustees will also fight to increase child care spaces for preschool and school-age children on public school lands.
We believe this work can happen within a political system in which all participants are valued for their whole, complex lives. We believe that call extends to all candidates, but especially to women and nonbinary candidates, young candidates, queer candidates, candidates with disabilities, and candidates who are people of colour. When people bring their identities, their backgrounds, and the barriers they’ve faced to politics, they fight for other people who are vulnerable. They seek to understand other perspectives.
We are so proud of our team this election: Jennifer Reddy, Erica Jaaf, Brandon Yan, Carrie Bercic, and Christine Boyle. Of our five candidates, four are women, and one is a queer man. Two are people of colour, and two are the parents of young or school-age children. All are relatively new to politics—they’re called to run because they believe they have a contribution to make. All are exceptional candidates and exceptional people, and they’ve come to OneCity because of the way we do politics.
It doesn’t stop there, our campaign team and our committee chairs are women. A feminist approach is about more than putting women in positions of power. It’s also about foregrounding politics that challenge existing social, economic, and political inequities.
Recently, someone referred to us as a “feminist municipal party”. We couldn’t be prouder to be identified this way. Feminism has taught us how to fight, and an inclusive organizing structure has created skills for collaborating.
We encourage you to explore our platform and to drop by our campaign office. The OneCity Kids Club is ready to welcome more members.