A Family Center in Santa Fe


For years, I dreamed of a family center in Santa Fe. I realized long ago that it wasn’t enough to print inspiring articles in Mothering magazine. People also needed to see each other. We need the confirmation and reassurance of others who share our values. We need this especially in today’s world where there is so much diversity of opinion.

I wanted to have a family center in our Mothering office in Santa Fe but we never had the resources to fully develop it. I often talked with Abby Bordner of the Birthing Tree Cooperative about doing something together and she has finally realized our dream.

Last Saturday I participated in the Grand Opening of the Birthing Tree Resource Center, which is located in a beautiful, old adobe house here in Santa Fe, One room is devoted to the FamJam  classes led by Devi Borton. FamJam is a registered Music Together center that offers music classes that parents and children take together. The idea is that all children are musical, not just a select few, and that by experiencing music classes together, parents and children share a common language.

The entrance to the Birthing Tree Resource Center

In another room of the Birthing Tree Resource Center is a room where a therapist offers art therapy for children. A third room is a classroom for the Birthing Tree Cooperative. And, in the hallway connecting all three rooms with the kitchen and the bathroom, is the Mothering Lending Library.

The Mothering Lending Library in the background of the community classroom

The Mothering Lending Library began in the seventies with my own personal library, with books I eagerly ordered from the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) Bookcenter run by Lynn Moen from 1964 to 1980. In 1980 Lynn opened the Birth & Life Bookstore, which she ran until 1993 and where she offered the best of available books on pregnancy, birth and health for parents and professionals. These were the pre-internet days and I poured over the dense black and white catalog every month when it came in the mail.

My personal library grew into the Mothering library as we added the books we got for review over the years. We had three categories of books: the ones we put in our library, the ones we gave to the public library and the ones we threw away. When we moved to a smaller office in 1997 I planned to give the library itself away but I started to cry when I packed up the books so I stored them instead.

Eventually we moved to a bigger office again and installed our library in a room where parents could check out books and meet with one another. When we had to close our office for good in May, it was perfect timing for the Birthing Tree Cooperative, which had just rented the new space. It felt good to donate the library to the Birthing Tree Resource Center and when I came into the space on Saturday and saw the books so nicely displayed and parents checking them out, I had to cry again, this time in gratitude that the library had found the right home.

The Birthing Tree Resource Center is a good model for others towns. Over the years I have been inspired by Natural Resources in San Francisco, the Mother’s Support Network in Sacramento, the Upper Breastside in New York City and other places where parents can meet, take classes, check out books and buy essential products. The challenge with these centers had always been funding so what’s nice about the coop model of the Birthing Tree Resource Center is that it’s made the center more affordable and thus more possible.

I’d love to hear about what’s going on in your town. If you’d like to meet like-minded parents, check out our Finding Your Tribe Forum. The forum was inspired by an article about two moms who helped each other cook and clean every day that we ran years ago in Mothering. The members of our Finding Your Tribe Forum also meet in real time for picnics, camping trips and get-togethers. We’ve always been about community at Mothering. If you haven’t already, please join us.

 

Peggy O’Mara  (101 Posts)

Peggy O’Mara founded Mothering.com in 1995 and is currently its editor-in chief. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has lectured and conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League International, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four.

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