All Chapels for All Women

As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing, “Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses.”

As we come marching, marching, we battle, too, for men –
For they are women’s children and we mother them again.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes –
Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses.

Vekllei people have a right to organise in their work. This principle is expressed in the structure of the economy, in which cooperative enterprises form company ballots that go on to inform commercial and industrial practice. Collections of individual trade unions may form bureaus, massive monopolies of organised workplaces cooperating and competing under the bizarre structure of the Vekllei moneyless economy. These are expressions of a mobilised democratic workforce which sustain the country in their self-interest, and are a defining characteristic of the Floral Period.

Organisation also exists outside the workplace. Their negotiations occur with the municipal and state authorities, and are a common means by which groups of people express their grievances and strengthen each other. The most well-known of these are Vekllei’s Chapel system — the unionisation of local women.

Chapels are localised by community. Tzipora was at first very sceptical of the Chapels, which had offered her membership upon her arrival in Vekllei. You have to understand, Tzipora was in a crisis of inferiority at this time, and considered the ingratitude of the ungovernable female organisers to be naïve and entitled. She was convinced otherwise by Ayn, who was a moderate and carefully-spoken person.

“You want to integrate in Vekllei, don’t you?” She asked Tzipora. “This is what integration looks like; the Chapels are an expression of our democracy. A means of support and celebration; to have people know and care for you. There is no political commitment.”

Tzipora found Chapel meetings to be friendly and informal, characterised by shared meals and conversations of joys and grievances. Local Chapel № 23 was a social club of individuals made strong by their trust in each other. Tzipora sat silently at the end of the Chapel hall, an old concrete building with a flat roof built after the war. It had the appearance of a midcentury church. She ate her bread and sausage with her fingers and listened to the women talk amongst themselves. Children ran around, playing chasings. It was not like any place she’d been before.

Well-wishes to all this International Women’s Day

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