Monday, March 14, 2011


It seems to be a commonplace that having one’s first child means crossing a threshold, from entertaining a relatively abstract interest in the longer-term fate of the world, to being genetically invested, having skin in the game, so to speak.

I don’t have any children yet myself, but over the past few years, as various relatives and friends a few years my senior have begun nesting in earnest, I am increasingly intrigued by a key tension inherent in becoming a parent. On the one hand, there is a sense in which a new parent’s focus narrows as their child’s well being assumes paramount importance; on the other hand, that same well being depends ultimately and inescapably on the state of the wider world the youngster inherits.

So I thought it could be interesting to provide a way for people with very young children to be prompted to cast their thoughts forward to a specific date in which their child has a concrete stake. This would be a gesture towards reconciling parental concern, responsibility and love for their offspring, with a commensurate interest in the bigger picture.

In the photo above is Andrew, born 6 July 02010. Other things being equal, he should graduate high school in the (Northern Hemisphere) Spring of ‘28. Thus he sports the inaugural ‘Class of 2028’ onesie, lovingly, if incompetently, decorated by me, at his parents’ baby shower last June.

This may be a meme worth spreading. So, get your ‘Class of 02028’ and 'Class of 02029' paraphernalia here at the Futurewear Cafepress shop. I'll donate any proceeds to The Long Now Foundation.

Update (16mar11): In line with Long Now convention, the designs on sale now use five digit dates.  Also, 'Class of 02027' has been added, enabling the current generation of toddlers to take advantage of this exceptionally wonderful line of merchandise. Cheers, Zander.

Note: Of course, a precisely correct prediction is not the point, but it's not a bad idea to think about it. So, a baby born today would most likely be 'Class of 02029' in the U.S. (a calculator to help the confused). In Australia, where the calendar year is in sync with the school year, you'd add 17 or 18, depending on your state's convention, to the year of birth.

(Thanks Sara, Mike and Andrew!)


amoeda said...

Cute and thoughtful. Of course, university bookstores have long sold similar products to visiting alumni parents and grandparents as a way of reinforcing the idea that your alma mater is a) eternal and b) your highest hope for the baby's future, whatever happens. Given the rising applicant numbers at those universities, I find that premise more anxiety-provoking than anything else, so I prefer your version ;).

Stuart Candy said...

Hey Andrea, thanks for your comment. I wasn't aware of any precedents when I did this, but it makes sense that something similar would be used in that way, too. And yes, it does take on some creepy overtones with the promotional agenda. It'd be interesting if you wouldn't mind pointing us towards whatever specific example(s) you can recall.

Rebecca said...

HI Stuart,

First time posting to your blog. I'm delighted to read about non-parents involved in the discussion of creativity and family life!

Anyone interested in learning more about this should be sure to check out BROODWORK at

and on facebook at

BROODWORK is a multi-faceted project implementing work that furthers the fundamental inquiry of the relationship between creative practice and family life. Founders Iris Anna Regn and Rebecca Niederlander explore the unspoken community of creative practioners whose work found an unexpected perspectival shift after becoming parents. Regn and Niederlander invented the word BROODWORK to name this output.

BROODWORK is a non-hierarchical sensibility, contextualizing the heady optimism of an investment in the future with exacting honesty and humility.

BROODWORK assumes that all creative practitioners find themselves at crossroads throughout their life. How these situations are navigated often stimulates some of the most profound work. Parenthood is not everyone's path, however navigating the integration of the personal and the profession is a universal.

We are always looking for new ideas and new participants for the many exhibitions, events, and writing projects we handle.

Yours warmly,

Iris said...

hi stuart,
not as nice as yours but you get the idea:

Stuart Candy said...

Iris, thanks for tracking down that example. Rebecca and Iris both: great to have you stop by! Broodwork is opening up a fascinating area for discussion, and its integrative sensibility, in contrast to the practice of keeping family and creative work separate, appeals to me a lot. Do keep us informed as things unfold, and if you'd like to explore possible ways to get more futures into the mix, by all means get in touch.

Bronwyn X said...

I've been thinking related thoughts lately. When our daughter was a baby, I felt like I could pretty much protect her from most of the world's harms by, say, avoiding putting certain things on her skin or controlling what kind of toys she played with.

Now that she's 3, the focus is wider. And I have very limited control over the perils of cultural paradigms being thrust into her little brain. Princess culture and oversexualization, for example. Nothing new under the sun -- I know I'm not the only one to experience this, but it's odd nonetheless.

Stuart Candy said...

I imagine it must be really hard for a parent not to be super protective, where aspects of the culture are out of alignment with what they want their child to experience.

I recently read an amazing book by Jonathan Safran Foer called Eating Animals. It's an investigation, both journalistic and philosophical, into the meat industry and the ethics of supporting it through an omnivorous diet. The work was motivated, he says at the start, by having his first child. "This story didn't begin as a book. I simply wanted to know -- for myself and for my family -- what meat is. I wanted to know as concretely as possible. ... Through my efforts as a parent, I came face-to-face with realities that as a citizen I couldn't ignore, and as a writer I couldn't keep to myself." (p. 12)

It's interesting to me how parenting seems to bring those values into sharper relief. As Foer says, "Feeding my child is not like feeding myself: it matters more." (p. 11)