By Kate Cagle
Amid the fruits and vegetables and flowers, children at Sunday’s Main Street Farmer’s Market will have a chance to learn a unique skill.
Volunteers with Parenting for Change will be teaching the Japanese art of Furoshiki, a gift-wrapping technique that utilizes cloth wrap and tied in elaborate knots. Instead of rolls of red and green paper that end up in the recycling bin on Christmas morning, the fabric can be used again and again for years to come. But beside the gifts, story time and music, organizers also plan to fold in conversations about race.
“I think now is a really important time to talk about race and all different kinds of levels of oppression,” organizer Shuli Lotan said. Parenting for Change is a loose collection of parents and educators who want to help families create an open dialogue. Lotan first got involved with the topic through AWARE-LA, the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere. Now she wants to help other parents talk to their kids.
“We were raised in a generation where color blindness was the way to go. Where we don’t talk about race,” Lotan said. She says that traditional approach leaves lingering questions for children who are exposed to headlines about controversial police shootings and protests.
Although, Lotan added, not all families can avoid the topic.
“Families of color in our group have expressed that it’s a daily conversation (for them). They have to have those conversations for safety and how their kids might be viewed because of their skin color.”
It’s a tricky topic, which is why Parenting for Change will hand out brochures and other resources that can help guide dinner table conversations.
“It’s about having conversations and forming relationships and giving people some skills and a community so they know they’re not alone in this effort,” Lotan said.
The booth will be in the “community event” section of the farmer’s market near clothing tents, musical performances and other arts and crafts booths. In 2014, the City Council asked the market to move toward animal-free children’s activities amid protests over a popular pony ride attraction.
Since that meeting, market managers have searched for other activities that will draw families back week after week. Last year they launched the Main Street Entertainment and Education Pilot Program.
“Overall people have their favorite activities,” said market manager Jodi Low. “Steve’s Drawing Machines is one of the most popular. Kids are actually asking their parents to come to the market to use the machines.”
This will be Parenting for Change’s second booth at the Main Street Farmer’s Market. Low added that the core purpose of the booth is to provide activities to encourage family attendance at the market.
Lotan hopes children and parents will walk away with a better understanding of how to reach out to others who may need additional support in the community.
“It’s an ongoing conversation and there’s no right or wrong way to do it,” Lotan said.
The Santa Monica Main Street Certified Farmer’s Market goes from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday at 2640 Main Street.