Remember the Neighborhood potlucks that were stuctured in such a way that, while paying lip service to community-building, were actually not very inclusive? Remember the email that I sent to the Valerie, the director of our Community Center that is sponsoring the potlucks? Well, here is the response I got back. Unedited.

Hi Trista,

Thanks for sharing your concerns. Valerie and I have discussed this, and she has asked me to respond to you. We fully understand where you are coming from and appreciate your feedback. Here at the Community Center it is difficult, (if not impossible!) to meet everyone’s needs with each program. As it is currently set up, the Neighborhood Potlucks meet a certain need for adult programming. We would also like to offer a potluck that meets the needs of families! In order to be able to do so, we would need a volunteer willing to be the captain of the family potluck. We would like to offer you the opportunity to volunteer in this capacity if you are interested and able.

The “Potluck for Parents” would be managed the same way that the Adult Potlucks are managed, but this one would be inclusive of children. That way anyone signing up for the Potluck for Parents would know in advance that children are welcome at each Potluck and will have the responsibility of knowing that if they host, children will be in their home and if they attend, children will be present. We can start with one potluck for the Wasatch Front, and if it grows we can begin to separate into neighborhoods with this one as well. I have put a call out to our affiliate program, Gay and Lesbian Parents of Utah to see if they would like to be involved in this. I do not know if you are already a member of that group: but they get together once a month for activities. Their calendar is on line at www.glbtccu.org/GLPU.

Hopefully in this way we can try to met the needs of both adults without children and those with children, and expand the programs offered through the Center. Please let me know if you would be interested in doing this. I would love to chat with you in person, so please give me a call, or send me your phone number. Thanks Trista!

Ok. Where to start. First of all, I had no idea that in the larger gay community children are something equivalent to a virulently infectious disease; something that must be surrounded by quarantine signs WARNING: CHILDREN! And something that would require additional responsibility from the host. I know that when I take my child to someone else's house, I bear the responsibility of making certain that she is safe and behaves. And yes, I know she's only 6 months old, but when our friends with older children came to our (childless) house, they made certain that their child didn't break our things, or fall down stairs. In fact, though certainly not a universal behavior, MOST parents I am acquainted with take responsibility for their children when at people's houses.

Beyond that, this response shows me clearly that they didn't read my letter to them very clearly or they would have understood that 1) I am already an active member of the Gay and Lesbian Parents of Utah and 2) A "Parents Potluck" is not at all what I was asking them to create. I was asking them to stand by their own words of inclusiveness and make it so that all members of the GLBTQ community actually were welcome at the neighborhood potlucks that claim to welcome them. I feel that this response brushes aside my concerns, disregards what I actually had to say, and pushes responsibilty back upon me to comply with their rigid ideals. If I do not accept their offer of chartering a "parents potluck" then I look like one of those complainers who refuses to step up to the plate and work towards a solution. If I agree to help I will be contributing my scarce energy and free time toward something that I find insulting (the seperation of families from "family") while at the same time validating their artificial division and the hypocracy that hides it.

Am I wrong about this? Am I crazy? Am I expecting too much from our community center? What would you say in response to this? I am going to respond, I just need to calm down first so I don't hurl epithets around. Oh, and I am NOT going to agree to charter a "Parents Potluck". I would charter one that was set up so that EVERYONE felt welcome and EVERYONE knew that they could come, not just parents. But not this. The way this sounds to me is that only parents would want to be around children, so only parents would be interested in coming to this, so only parents will be targeted and invited. But I could be overreacting. Am I? Are children really that bad?

I guess I'm just disappointed because I thought our community center was interested in serving the needs of everyone in the community as best they could and trying to bring the community together as a whole, instead of creating and reinforcing divisions. I had expectations I shouldn't have.

Oh, PS. Last April I applied for the Director of Youth Progams at the center. I made it up to the last cut and then was not chosen in favor of someone who had been volunteering with the youth for many months. That is as it should be. I believe very strongly that if someone is a volunteer in a program and a permanent position becomes available then the volunteer should get first shot at that position. But I wonder if they're thinking that I'm causing problems because of sour grapes.

Posted by Trista @ 8:21 AM

Read or Post a Comment

Eek!! Children!
I understand not inviting children to some things. But instead of saying there is a family potluck and a parents potluck... they really should reword to a family potluck and an adults only potluck. I think that the simple change of language would probably soothe feelings.
You should tell them that. Maybe they'll change it. Besides, I am sure there are people at the family one that wonder where the hell all the kids are! And it would be a shame for the families with kids to be shoved off and families WITHOUT kids not be able to attend the kid party.

Posted by Blogger Estelle @ 8:57 AM #

I agree that it is not very inclusive. Also, it seems to send the message that people with children are only interested in meeting other people with children. I will admit that I need to increase my social circle to include more families but that is not going to negate the relationships I have and seek with those who are childless.

It drives me nuts when people think that just because we have children we are no longer capable or desirous of relationships with people without children. Sometimes I don't want to talk about potty training and tantrums KWIM?

Posted by Blogger Jennifer @ 9:25 AM #

Maybe if you're "Captain of the Family Potluck" you can steal that name? I agree with Estelle. They should call the adult's potluck the "Adult's Potluck," and the potluck for parents the "Family Potluck." Then the adult's only idea would be clear, and people could attend the family one whether or not they had children(ahem, families).

I'm thinking that if you were captain, you could invite childless adults. The problem, though, might be that those people don't have time to go to two potlucks every month; so, they might have to pick one, diminishing attendence at both.

It's really annoying that they ignored the (not so) underlying conerns of your e-mail. But maybe you if you work with them, you can fix some of these things over time. This does, of course, again, require you to be the bigger person. When does it end?:) And, they might see what a great person you are and hire YOU next time a positions comes open, since you've been volunteering . . . . On the other hand, you might butt heads about your differing visions for the project and the whole "being a bigger person" could blow up in your face. At the very least, you could re-write the mission statement for the potlucks, though.

Really, though, when your wrote potluck over and over, potluck potluck potluck, did you find it to be absolutely hilarious? Giggle, giggle.

Oh, and I absolutely love the: "Valerie and I have discussed this, and she has asked me to respond to you." Like you're a responsibility and she drew the short straw. I assume you initially wrote to Valerie? Otherwise, that creates a really terrible tone with which to begin this letter!!!

Posted by Anonymous lauri @ 9:39 AM #

Oh, ugh!

Posted by Blogger Jen @ 10:01 AM #

Oh, ugh!

Posted by Blogger Jen @ 10:01 AM #

Trista, She totally did not get you. You wanted a potluck with everyone. I totally feel your frustation. Keep venting

Posted by Blogger Catherine @ 10:53 AM #

i think you should definitely take up these issues with her in person (or over the phone, as long as it's a real dialogue). Your concerns are totally valid, and she may not even realize how absurd what she's saying is. Good luck...

Posted by Blogger Amanda @ 2:04 PM #

Jeez. So if I lived there, I couldn't come to the same potluck you went to because it says it's for parents and I'm not a parent! Right? Ugh ugh... If I were in charge (yeah right) there'd be two potlucks a month and one would be in the evening and it would be for adults and the other would be in the late afternoon and it wouldn't be "parents" or "family" (because especially as a *single* adult I tend to feel excluded when stuff is labeled as "family") but it would just be an "open potluck."

NOT THAT HARD. If you can wrap your little brain around the fact that maybe sometimes people don't have kids, not because they can't stand to be around them, but just because they don't have kids.

Doh. Also, I just got the worst word verification ever: zmvpfuhx. Zmvpfuhx! Zmvpfuhx! Potluck!

Posted by Blogger Anne @ 2:44 PM #

Yes, open potluck is better.

Posted by Anonymous lauri @ 4:04 PM #

The word "potluck" makes me *think* of children, to be perfectly honest. It's not a gay bar night. It's a potluck. I think they are being just plain weird.

Posted by Blogger Lo @ 5:14 PM #

BLEH! I hate this whole thing. Get out of Utah already! BLEH BLEH!

Oh. Excuse me. I had a kneejerk reaction.

Kneejerk is almost as funny a word as potluck!

There is nothing I hate more than when I take the time to write to someone and then they clearly don't read what I wrote and instead just run along with their own crazy ideas and respond to me in an asinine way.

This email makes these people look like dolts. Your email CLEARLY stated that you were trying to NOT get divided up into parents and non-parents. They are morons.

Now, I think we all know that if this were me dealing with this shit, I would be LONG GONE from the table and no longer interested in sharing any sort of food with anyone even remotely related to this organization. But I think we also all know that I am a raving bitch. Therefore, I will say that you need to reply to them in a mature and calm manner, pointing out what you said originally and, if possible, making them feel like the morons they are.

And I am glad to see you say you will not be captaining any goddamned family potlucks.


Posted by Blogger ms.bri @ 5:49 PM #

wait. children aren't virulent infectious diseases?

i must reassess my worldview.


you know i love you and julia.

but have not been covering this potluck debacle sufficiently to make a substantive comment. so i make a candy-ass one instead.

still love me?


Posted by Blogger breather @ 6:15 PM #

Maybe if you talk to her in person, you can say you'd like to be involved and enthusiastically suggest another title- "Parents Potluck" is exactly what you weren't going for. Family or Open Potluck or maybe an entirely different, snazzy title. And make sure you can have access to the list of all the non-parents signed up for the adults-only putlucks so that you can meet them- that would be the point, after all. Maybe a touch of pointedness when you tell her you wrote in your original letter that you are already involved in GLPU and want families with and without children to get together, too. Good luck! -Kate-

Posted by Blogger starevelina @ 4:27 PM #
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