Friday, August 26, 2016

Family Representation

I recently submitted the following letter for consideration to some decision makers:

“What does a San Franciscan get for his fifth birthday?

“A new home in the suburbs.”

You’ve heard the joke. Everyone has. It could be depressing. I feel a little depressed thinking about it as my child just started kindergarten and many of her friends’ families prepare for The Move. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I don’t think it has to be like this. San Francisco has world class public transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, many excellent schools, museums and cultural institutions on par with the world’s best. Shouldn’t it be easier for families with children to stay?

The Move happens for lots of reasons. The costs of housing and childcare are often mentioned, but another huge one is that the transportation system (and the associated democratic process for planning it) could do a better job of meeting the needs of children, people traveling with children, and pregnant women.

San Francisco can be a family-friendly city, and you have the power to make it so. Last year, a group of us gave a talk at SPUR “Can Families Get Around in San Francisco?” (Tuesday, May 26, 2015). After which, the Transit Riders Union had the foresight to create the Families Working Group. But we’re not sure it’s the right mechanism to have the most opportunity to improve the City’s transportation system for children. So, I’m writing to you now to ask you to help us. How do you think families with children can have a stronger voice in the democratic process? Here are a few ideas we came up with:
  • All public meetings should take place between 5 and 7 pm, with a defined end time, and provide childcare on site (like PTA meetings currently do).
  • Survey responses and thoughtful letters should have a larger impact on public decision making. (Sidenote: I can’t tell you have many times I have written a long thoughtful letter only to receive a response that I should attend a meeting which I cannot attend because I have a young child.)
  •  All CACs should include member representatives who are parents with children of a variety of ages.
  • SFMTA (and BART) could create a Families CAC along the lines of the Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC). We have a draft proposal for this available upon request.
  • The Department of Children, Youth and Their Families could create a Task Force with the SFMTA.
What ideas do you have? We look forward to discussing the possibilities with you. Thank you for your thoughtful attention to this critically important issue.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed by Lauren Child

This is another super creative one, and it has great collage artwork. My daughter loves it. Our bedtime rituals don't involve quite as many wild animals as this book, but otherwise the resemblance is remarkable.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck

A little girl wants a giraffe for her birthday. Her family members belong to various professions, and she tries the methods of those professions to request the giraffe. The books includes some fun vocabulary. But ultimately, all she had to say was "please". So, it's totally unrealistic.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont

The title of this one is pretty self-explanatory. The book continues to outline everything the little girl likes about herself, and in my opinion, that's always a place for that sort of thing. I also like that she has crazy hair.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

This books is a celebration of how families come in all forms. The cover of the copy we got from the library calls it a "Modern Classic", and I see it first came out in 1989. I guess I just sort of wish there were also books called "Heather has a mom and a dad" or "Heather has a grandma" -- but that's just the contrarian in me. I like the honesty in this book -- one kid has a dad, a step father, and shared custody, another has two dads. What matters in a family is that people love each other.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Little Night by Yuyi Morales

You know how you wish you could write a book that was just simply beautiful? Well,  Yuyi Morales wrote that book! It's a simple bedtime ritual with a touch of magic between the mom and her girl.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan

Children's book about the love of night time, as, sadly, many of our children do. Little owl visits some friends and tries to visit others, and then finally falls asleep just before dawn with his mom.