Love, Dare, Grow: El Cerrito Families Part 2
For part two of my series of interviews with El Cerrito families, I interviewed a mom with children who are grown about her ideas of family. Nancy Donovan is an event planner at Berkeley Law, a mom and a writer. She loves to cook, read, travel and think about & discuss social justice issues. Her mottos are: "Let Art Help You" and "Do Some Good, Have Some Fun."
Say three things about yourself and one about each other family member.
I am creative, curious and engaged with life. My oldest daughter is currently a college student majoring in community studies. My younger daughter is a seeker.
Who is family?
Family is anyone I invite into my inner circle to love, know and be in meaningful relationship with. Family is also a refuge, a place to be completely myself. Family is my ancestors, my siblings, my aunties, my daughters, my girlfriends and everyone in my tribe.
How do you know?
I know who my family is because I have made a practice of creating a family of choice. The requirements to be family include a willingness to be truly seen and the discipline to do the work of relationship.
What is unique about your family?
We are a family in transition. We are literally moving house soon. Claire is in college, Tala just graduated high school. We are all on our way to our “next” while being in the “present” as much as we can. We are a bi-racial family. We have privilege and we have work to do.
What do you think is the same about your family and other families?
Struggle. The current climate in our world has many people on edge. We are struggling and also offering support to ourselves and each other.
Why is family important to you?
Family is the place where I feel safe, supported and loved. Love is the complicated bliss of shared space & shared lives. It’s not without effort. Parents are not saints, nor are children; we are all trying to do our best. Most of the time. Family is an important place of rest, when done well.
What does your family support you to do that you might not otherwise be able to do?
Be creative, be honest, have fun.
What does home mean to you?
Home is the place where I can cook, relax, dance and make art. Home is a place of beauty and sanctuary. Home means that I am safe. Home is a place to do the laundry, to dream and to rest.
Home is a place to have dinner parties, tea parties, long conversations with teenagers and elders and children. To play with the new kitty, Bean.
What does home look like to you?
Colorful and clean(ish.) Comfy pillows and blankets and places to sit and dream. Art supplies, paper, colored pencils, pens, paint. An active kitchen. Art on the walls. Pictures of us on the refrigerator.
What is it like for a family making a home in this place?
El Cerrito is a welcoming place for families, in my experience. Our block has a block party every year, we know each other and help each other. We have built community together. And, although the east bay has lots of diversity, we don’t have a lot of racial diversity on our block.
What are your dreams for your family?
Freedom, safety and the ability to always have a home base. I dream that my family can accomplish goals, be loving & be of service to the community. I dream that my family will ‘do some good, and have some fun’ every day.
What about your fears for your family?
Climate change, economic inequality and racism all concern me relative to my family, and for the global family. Will children born today have good prospects for long and healthy lives? Life is fraught and fragile and also magical. How to live in the world amidst fear and peril is a challenge.
What kind of support do families here need?
Families need education, parks, clean water, libraries, grocery stores, places of worship. Families need to feel safe and welcomed into schools and other public spaces.
What’s your best family story?
Tala was about 4 years old and she was hiding. She thought it was a game, and she didn’t come out when we shouted for her to please come out. We thought she had run off. A police car happened to be driving down the block and we got the police involved in the search. It didn’t take long to find her. Fortunately. A small moment of terror turned to great relief.