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I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Callie Jayne

Parent Callie Jayne of Rise Up Kingston combines activism with motherhood

Callie Jayne is a Hudson Valley Parent

It's hard to wrap one's head around the fact that Callie Jayne of Rise Up Kingston and mother of 12- and 6-year-old daughters, Liliana and Althea, as well as a regular presence on Radio Kingston, has only been in the Hudson Valley for four years, and in Kingston, it's been less than that.

"We'd been in Connecticut, where my husband and I first got to know each other when we were ten," she said. "Following grad school, I found myself having a crisis, not being able to afford the Fairfield County I grew up in. I had a great childhood friend living in High Falls and we went over for Micah Blumenthal's Day One Walk. (After that, I) expanded my job search to the Hudson Valley, realizing it was a really great area, and cheaper than where we were."

Jayne and her family moved when she got a job at Citizen Action, at first to Accord and then into the City of Kingston. Once settled there, she found herself facing the election of 2016, which spurred her into action.

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"I quit my job on a Thursday," she said of her motivation to enage on another level. "I wanted more time with family, anyway, but I also saw there was a chance to really do something. My husband was very supportive, so some friends and I started talking to people, pinning our ideas to the walls of my kitchen, and then the rest of my home. One day I'll write a book on how not to start a non-profit."

Everything came together with the formation of Rise Up Kingston, a non-profit Jayne leads that's dedicated to fighting racism and oppression, The group began  over discussions about a spate of police brutality issues in Kingston. Jayne had met a woman whose daughter had been assaulted and started working out ways to address other issues, other dreams.

She pulled together a board of directors, fleshed out the new organization's mission and values.

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"We started reflecting the world we wanted to see here," said Jayne of the new endeavor. "We also made sure to build a working environment where one could work on a movement alongside one's families."

Funding started at a grassroots level with foundations such as Sparkplug, Ben & Jerry's and Novo eventually providing the group with an extra balance.

Best, Jayne added, has been how Rise Up Kingston has allowed her to parent with the organization. After all, the group's work involves both kids and families.

"It's allowed my daughters to see what's involved in an active life," Jayne said. "My oldest daughter, Liliana, has been very outspoken for a while-opting out of tests, not standing for the Pledge (of Allegiance)-but she's also very smart and at a certain point realized how some of her teachers were pushing back and how her being outspoken might start working against her grades. She has begun to temper her activism."

Jayne said her youngest, Althea, grew up campaigning from a carrier on her mother's back.

"It's great to see how they're navigating life," she said. "They understand the importance of being involved."

For Jayne, the complex mix of family and activism connects to the importance of watching how things are organized in real time. It's about strategizing, about direct action, but also knowing what are wins along the way," she said, including political shifts in Kingston, new reforms, a growing concentration on bettering the area's housing mix.

"I'm raising kids that I like," she said. "We take the time to do a lot of fun stuff together as a family. We work hard, we play hard."

"There's a lot of work to do, a lot of world that needs fixing," she said. "But as Mister Rogers always said, look for the helpers. It's building."

 Paul Smart is a father who writes for a variety of publications in the Hudson Valley.

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