The Sandbox Revolution: Raising Kids for a Just World Answers Big Parenting Questions

Detroit moms, writers and activists use their experiences to address parent's biggest questions in 2021 in this new book.

In those long sleepless nights with newborns, I found myself exhausted, lonely and often scared. Climate crisis had begun. Racism and white supremacy permeate through the fabric of our lives. I ached; what does this mean for how I parent these kids I love?

I went in search of others holding these questions and had the gift of weaving stories into a book called The Sandbox Revolution: Raising Kids for a Just World. This anthology offers a diversity of voices and experiences about topics that include education, money, anti-racism, resistance, spirituality, disability justice and earth care.

A few of the contributors are from metro Detroit. Here is a glimpse of the wisdom they’ve offered us all.

Janice Fialka is a storyteller and disability rights activist. Her mothering work is wide as she lays love and encouragement upon community and movement everywhere she goes.

“Not long ago, Micah was flying from Chicago to Detroit by himself. Just before landing, the plane experienced strong turbulence and Micah’s fear escalated. What he decided to do remains one of the most moving reminders of how best to live. He turned to the person sitting next to him and said, ‘I’m kind of nervous. Could I hold your hand?’ And he did.

“That’s the kind of world I want to live in: one that values interdependence, connection and vulnerability. When we invite support from others, we are telling them that they matter. I want to live in a world in which help is asked for and given freely without guilt, pity or scorekeeping but with a generosity of spirit that comes with the knowledge that we need one another.”

Michelle Martinez is a brilliant and powerful warrior for environmental justice. She spends her days looking right into the face of death while also holding gentle, joyful space for her children.

“I show my older child which plants to eat… Purslane, lamb’s quarters, dandelions, purple dead nettle. I tell them that the plants breathe and take care of us. I let them know that trees are silent and ask us to be the same so we can hear them talking; If you listen closely to the trees, they tell us to be calm.

“We turn the compost, and I tell them everything goes back to the earth. Even us, even me one day too, yes… I show my children the seeds in the watermelon and cantaloupe and how we save them. The foods they eat are few now, but the underpinnings of how we cultivate are there: how we survive and what we can do to reciprocate a loving relationship with the earth by knowing each of her great beings.”

Marcia Lee and en sawyer are farmers, healers, restorative justice practitioners, mushroom growers, and builders. They breathe community by their very presence

“In these days when capitalism and white supremacy push an inhospitable, hostile system, destruction and suffering seem ever more present. At times I am fraught with fear and guilt about bringing another human into this world… Perhaps community is how we choose life in the certainty of death. Perhaps as we heal, we heal others. As we parent, we are parented. As we give, we are given. Perhaps that is enough.”

I even had the gift of inviting my own father, Bill Wylie-Kellermann, to write a chapter. He is a writer, pastor and activist in Detroit.

“To stand on the side of justice often means that we have to take some risks. Some of these are modest. Others momentous. None are easy. They can be fraught with angst, uncertainty, second guessing. We worry about our kids. But we also worry about what they will learn if we don’t act.”

I am so grateful he took those risks. I am so grateful for each of these parents — for their courage, their imaginations, and their vulnerable invitations for us to walk alongside carrying our own questions and dreams. We are not alone.

Lydia Wylie-Kellermann is the editor of Geez magazine and of The Sandbox Revolution: Raising Kids for a Just World.

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