Food Fights, Life, Death, and M/otherhood

Letter from the Founder: Martha Joy Rose

I’ll admit, I am mostly an observer on social media. Hanging back, commenting occasionally, and mostly tuning in when it seems interesting friend-wise, geographically or plant/food-wise. My kids send me weird stuff all the time from here and occasionally I get lost in the weirdness.

Recently, there has been an outcry in the broader social media community and in the news regarding a plethora of topics having to do with mothers. 

I’ve been immersed in the world of M/otherhood for a very long time as a scholar, a family person, and a museum curator. I think a lot more could be done, with our group here at the museum, and in our new Membership Community to collectively empower us.

For today I would just like to put it out there, that the formula crisis- or I should say the ‘lack’ of infant formula crisis is a reflection on how we treat those to procreate in general in America.

I want to avoid any hot responses or trolling type of things and just generally assert that for the population that makes humankind viable (mothers), for better or worse, who live in a country with no Social Security benefits for their time at home, an ongoing non-equitable pay situation, and a lack of federally mandated parental leave, the formula crisis is just another tip of the iceberg (among many other things). For many this is a life and death situation that begins with birth and ends, in the case of many, with death. I am specifically noting the fact that the US has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed nation.

Now I recognize that social media is often a place to vent and occasionally to also problem solve with positive suggestions. Advocating that women should simply breast-feed is not really in tune with everybody’s reality. There are a myriad of reasons for this, so I would be in favor of those with experience, sharing their strength and hope. 

For example, the New York Milk Bank has been working for years to distribute donated breast milk. Another recent news story I stumbled on suggested that mother’s milk may soon be able to be grown in a lab (?), and when my kids were infants I sometimes supplemented with a homegrown mixture of powdered goats milk, carrot juice and molasses (the recipe can still be found online), though I am not advocating with for a specific solution as the founder of MOM, but rather raising the bar on visibility of those with experience in this area.

MOM’s own Journal of Mother Studies, too has been a really interesting source of shared scholarship on the subject. Catherine Ma wrote a piece on breastfeeding exposure and results for JourMS in 2016 and in 2017, Shannon K. Carter and Beatriz Reyes-Foster wrote the piece Peer Breast Milk Sharing as Resistance to Patriarchal Control about the informal network of mothers who do share milk between cohorts.

Tonight, May 22nd from 7-8:30PM, MOM shares 90 minutes with filmmaker and scholar Bonnie Silvestri online on Zoom: her film addresses American family policy among other things. The screening and talk back are free. The best way to participate is to sign up at our Community and then RSVP to join us for the 34 minute film, followed by open discussion.

Before, I sign off today, I also want to share the work of one fierce, feminist advocate Jul who created the banner for this blog and also creates awesome items which we’ve added to our store onsite at the MOM Art Annex, because, well, because every little bit helps. We need the next generation of women artists, leaders, moms, and advocates to rise. Here is Jul, in her own words:

My name is Jul and I am the artist and owner of Jul Uncensored—a Shop and Podcast centered around body positivity, sex education and social issues! I sell art, pussy pillows, badass t-shirts, funny feminist finds, and so much more in order to create awareness, spread positivity, and maybe even make people smile and laugh! The majority of the goods sold are made with up/cycled, reused, repurposed materials in order to cut down on environmental waste. You can follow me on my journey on my socials @jul_uncensored or on my website: http://www.juluncensored.com

For me personally, and for the Museum and our members collectively, whatever we can do to spread the good word, create collaborations and to encourage community, is a win-win. At least we’re not suffering alone, and who knows – we just might find solutions if we work together?!

What are your thoughts and how might we collaboratively move ahead to support each other and to solve these kinds of problems? Hope you can join us for the film tonight. Here’s the link again. Once you join the FREE community, you will have access to the event ‘Funnel of Dreams’. It would be awesome to see you there. Because, really – Motherhood IS one fuck of a journey!

Join Us in Welcoming Mom’s Newest Interns: Kasia Nowacki and Mary Noah

We are pleased to welcome Kasia Nowacki as a new team member. Kasia attended Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and holds her Master’s Degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University. Kasia’s passion is Leadership Development which she pursues through her work with the Center for Creative Leadership and teaching a Winter Term course, Leadership and Self Discovery Practicum, at Eckerd College. Throughout the last several months with MOM, Kasia has been navigating relationships with local universities with the aim of making the study of m/otherhood more accessible and more widely known. She is also leveraging her expertise in online curriculum content to build out online course content for MOM while acting as the liaison to local schools and universities. 

– Also New to MOM this Summer –

We are pleased to welcome Mary Noah as one of our summer interns. She will be working on a wide range of projects with MOM over the course of the next few months. She is a current undergraduate student in Moorhead, Minnesota, and has strong roots in the midwest. Mary has experience working in and with nonprofits like Hope Blooms (Fargo, ND) and the Smith-Lemli-Opitz Foundation (international). In her free time, she spends time at the lakes in Minnesota, plays beer league hockey during the winter, and loves attending live theatre productions. She is looking forward to working with MOM on a comprehensive social media campaign, podcast creation, and experimenting with some grant writing remotely from Long Island, NY through August.

Passionate about topics related to m/otherhood? Reproductive identities? Art? HERstory? Mothers Making Art? Mothers in Academia? Women and Gender Studies? Lifelong students can follow the Museum of Motherhood here, join our new ONLINE COMMUNITY, and we appreciate any and all support? Be sure to follow us on social media and check out our virtual storefront for merchandise!

If you have any inquiries regarding getting involved with MOM or are interested in being part of our Living Board, you can find out information about what being a board member entails under our About tab or clicking the link HERE: Living Museum Annual Volunteers – Join Us! – MUSEUM OF MOTHERHOOD (mommuseum.org)

Funnel of Dreams Film Screening Online May 22

With the goal of sparking conversations around the topic of caregivers, breadwinners, and family policy, film director Bonnie Silvestri hosts an online film screening and post-film talkback.

The film Funnel of Dreams follows Silvestri, her husband, and their child on a quest to understand the United Kingdom’s policies for families. These policies include paid parental leave, childcare services, and the children’s right to play. 

This way of life is often featured in academic presentations about Scandinavian countries, but in this film the Silvestris investigate how paid family leave affects families in the United Kingdom while they spend time together.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, we wanted to think about our work/home life paradigm and how we might improve things for a better future,” says Bonnie. “In our film, we dive into the history of motherhood, the struggle for women’s rights, and the issues related to family leave in the lives of working parents.”

Bonnie continues “When we became parents, we were surprised to learn that the United States is the only industrialized nation not providing paid family leave.” 

She explains, “We wanted to learn more about a country with a robust framework for new parents. Our short documentary film explores our personal experience with our young daughter living overseas along with interviews with parents, policymakers, and other experts.” 

The film was an official selection of the Through Women’s Eyes International Film FestivalSocial and Economic Justice Festival, and the International Social Change Film Festival among others.

For over a decade Bonnie has taught courses including Women and the Law at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and won the 2015 Graham-Frey Civic Award from the Florida Campus Compact for outstanding contributions to the development of civic learning and engagement in sustaining participatory democracy.

Funnel of Dreams is 34 minutes in length and will be screened in our Zoom room (LINK IS HERE/ JOIN AND RSVP) at the MOM Community site on Sunday May 22. The film will be screened first with a discussion to follow for a total of 90 minutes beginning at 7PM and ending at 8:30PM EST. Hope you can join us!

#MOMmuseum #WomenMadeFilms #Families #Motherhood #MomsRising #MuseumofMotherhood #FunnelOfDreams #BonnieSilvestri #Motherhood #PaidLeave #AmericanValues #FamilyLeave #MOM #JoinMama #Civics #WomenAndLaw #Women

Why MOM, Why Now, Why You?

As April comes to a close and May begins in earnest, many of us are wondering what’s next? What’s next in our world, our lives, our finances, and our families. Spring has sprung but so have droughts, war, recession worries, and post-pandemic (or mid-pandemic) realities. One thing is for sure, we can only focus on the things within our control. That means looking around at your family, your friends, and your neighborhood and leading the way, the best way you can.

For teachers, this may mean balancing changing protocols in classrooms. For some mothers, this has meant spending time with strangers screaming in parking lots. For many, survival is just a day away.

In my experience, lurching forward with faltering footwork, leaves me staggering towards an unknown destination. When I feel like quitting, that often means some kind of relief is in sight. After months of lockdown, the personal management of grief, frustration, and fear, this new turn of the season brings hopeful possibilities.

The MOM Art Annex in Florida has seen signs of unprecedented growth. Perhaps this is because of a growing collective concern by some that basic liberties are under siege: book banning, women’s reproductive health access, and the rights of LGBTQ+, have sent some spinning in the direction of social changes spaces like ours. Or, perhaps it’s the years of hard work by so many that are finally coalescing in real MOMentum?

We presented our proposal to the local Historic Kenwood Association a few weeks ago and followed up with meetings with our councilman Richie Floyd. To that end, his solid advice was “advocacy” is all. So we created an ally document for interested friends to sign. Then, we created a petition [Link] that states MOM deserves her own space in the sun. We have spent months reworking some of our original internal document language to make sure inclusivity is front and center. Several new volunteers have joined us as well as a few part time staff persons. The Journal of Mother Studies will accept submissions through May 2022 and then go into the editorial process. We gratefully welcome Nicole Musselman (USF) as lead editor and are excited to welcome a new intern as an editorial assistant beginning June. This is all awesome stuff.

So, won’t you consider growing with us? Mother’s Day is next week. CLICK ON ANY OF THE FOLLOWING LINKS TO Celebrate a M/other you love by making a donation and putting her name on our Tribute Wall online. Support our fundraiser for the Mother Tree acquisition. Read our letter and sign our Ally form. Consider joining our team. Our Executive Fundraising Board is still seeking new members and we welcome those from all backgrounds and skillsets.

Oh, and yeah – HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ! (Everyday is M/other’s Day). We L<3VE YOU, we love peace, we love our planet, and we’d like to see every human being valued in an equitable and sustainable world. Hang in there. Because we are all connected, because m/otherhood is otherhood, and because if there are more of us spreading light, rather than hate, more of us creating access than obstacles, and more people acting out of respect than entitled aggression – towards each other and our planet- then we just might make it! Let kindness be the currency of our lives.

Martha Joy Rose

Museum Director Martha Joy Rose presenting to the Historic Kenwood Association March 2022