cover image How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community

How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community

Mia Birdsong. Hachette Go, $16.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-58005-807-0

Activist Birdsong illuminates in her insightful debut how one can build a chosen family and support system. Examples of how people help others, enact social justice, and make community members feel safe form the core of Birdsong’s testament to community power outside mainstream institutions. For Birdsong, poor and marginalized groups that have had to create their own systems of support and joy can serve as examples for those seeking new pathways of connection. Of particular note are the stories of Homefulness, an organization that organizes cohousing arrangements for “houseless” mothers, and People’s Kitchen Collective, which puts on “events that center the experiences, social movements, and food of people of color.” The author also highlights the importance of community using her own experience of hosting open-invitation weekly dinners and accumulating a collection of unrelated “aunties.” “Toxic individualism” (the “demand that we prove our worth by being productive members of society”) is critiqued for leading to burnout and the isolation of individuals and nuclear families, and an entire chapter is dedicated to self-care—which Birdsong contrasts with “self-soothing” (things that provide comfort and distraction but little meaning)—including advice to start a “freedom circle” based around sharing stories and potluck dining. Birdsong’s invigorating work will appeal to readers looking to more fully engage their community. (June)