Perhaps the only reason why I still have a facebook account is access to the hyper local community resources. At some point, Facebook became the new craigslist, and I am probably late to the realization which only hit me after becoming a parent, and a mutual friend suggesting I look at the latest listing on the MoC Exchange for a really good deal on a complete cloth diaper package. My face went blank and I had no idea what she was trying to tell me, and I now realize that many others are in the same boat. I’ve known that “Buy nothing” and “Everything is free” groups exist, but I had no idea that there are still people actively posting personal details about their lives online. It seemed so foreign to me unless you were an instagram influencer or marketing person, I didn’t think anyone did that anymore, but I was so wrong! I have (sort of) become one of those people, and I’ll write more about it at the end.
Before I get into the list of groups and my hot takes on them, I just want to acknowledge that I feel as an AFC member and volunteer, the direct “competition” to this organization is actually free facebook groups. AFC charges an annual fee, explicitly don’t have a facebook group (not enough volunteers to moderate, and facebook group moderation is awful), but there are so many ways to connect and try to build community in these groups that it is worth creating a facebook account for (at least of this writing in 11/2023). There is a *very* strong, very active moms of camberville community which I recommend new parents join. It has so many benefits and cohesion more than I’ve seen in any online group. There are also limitations for trying to run a group like this on facebook. A primarily online group means it’s hard to translate online relationships to in person relationships. As you might also guess from the name, the geolocation of cambridge and somerville is not Arlington, though as its original members’ geography has “creeped” north as somerville and cambridge residents moved. It does make it harder to find a local pod of parents and wonderful in-person events, and I think that is really the sweet spot I hope AFC fills (as well as the ton of work we put into child care options searching). Arlington does not have the same kind of funding that Cambridge does for fancy things like universal pre-K, so all of our nice things come from sweat-equity. We also don’t have a sweet grant writer to get us awesome things like the medford family network (also another gem of a resource).
Facebook groups “for stuff” - usually used, sometimes free, also where you can offload things after you don’t need them anymore, so every 2 weeks in that first year
Everything is Free Arlington - very active and community feel. People use literal citrus fruit limes “for scale” when posting the images of things they’re giving away. Members here are persnickety if you direct message a posting right away or not, so read the posts.
Buy Nothing Arlington/Lexington - less active, but also less snark
Curb Alert Arlington 02474-02476 - mostly cross posts from free on curb postings from the first group.
MoC+ Kids & Maternity Exchange - either you or your partner must be a member of a cohorted numbered MoC group to join. That’s the only requirement, but this is worth doing because of how focused and hyper local the kids gear is here.
MoC Group Buys - a new group that’s eligibility requirements is that you are in the Moc+ exchange (so also a + group since it’s gender inclusive). The history behind this is a wonder member of MoC would annually organize a direct from farmer maple syrup buy (with access to a type of maple syrup not easily bought retail. I think it’s the grade C). This year, the organizer created an off shoot group to organize not just maple syrup but for any other members to collective go in together on any kind of group buy for bulk discounts.
Arlington Closet Sharers - mostly for the older kiddos, but has a lot of used kid gear local to arlington. I think this probably predated arlington joining the MoC-verse.
Support & Special Interest Groups
Cargo Bikes of Camberville - a lot of arlington residents are in this group, and it is very family focused since the primary riders of cargo bikes are often families with littles (before they can grow up to be their own cyclist). This community organizes a lot of test ride events, a bike bus in cambridge (so jealous), and even group buys for winterizing bikes.
Bay State Babywearers Social Group - less active than other support groups, but caregivers all over MA with littles often post photos here to get help on “fit checks” for various carriers. They try to do a monthly meet up where they bring their lending library of many forms of baby carriers, and also are a supportive community of helping you learn how to baby wear and get comfortable doing solo back carries. Great place for recommendations on gear that may fit your body type or baby’s temperament. Seasonally they also do a buy sell trade (abbreviated B/S/T) thread
AFC working moms group - I know I kind of lied saying AFC doesn’t have a facebook group. This is technically an AFC facebook group. Only the organizers of the meet up and I post in it to announce the next in person meet up. There’s also a google group if you prefer email. Despite joining AFC for two things (this meet up and to help other families find childcare resources), I actually don’t think it’s necessary to join if you’re already in the google group.
Parents of Camberville 2020-2023 - This clearly caps off at 2023, so won’t be relevant for ever, but is gender inclusive and opened up to arlington lately. It’s not as active as its cohort group, but is fantastic when you are looking for recommendations of a parent with kids slightly older (ie looking for a preschool) or younger (i am expecting again, and i don’t remember what’s actually important in those dark days of newborn haze) than you might be able to answer. It’s also great for co-parenting and general parenting questions.
MoC Stay at Home Parents - also welcome to dads, but i am not a stay at home parent so i can’t review this group. It’s also not clear if they’ve opened up to arlington. Just thought it would be good to list. I hope more stay at home parents join AFC and do more local meet ups and play groups in town. Unclear if you need to be a member of the MoC cohort group to join
WoC of MoC - A place to share a wealth of thoughts around raising biracial and non-white kids, finding language meet ups, and discussing a lot of experiences. Does require MoC membership in a cohort group to join.
Arlington Parents Group - great for posting older kids and public school / summer camp questions. The real reason you want to join now is to find that pet sitter / high school baby sitter / other families looking for nanny shares and nannies referrals from families who are aging out. Though after AFC’s childcare options night, we were thinking of hosting a members only spreadsheet of which families are looking for nanny share partners.
The MoC-Verse expanded & explained
Moms of Camberville (cambridge + somerville) is like a bunch of digital nomad tribes. This started from a group that was number 0.0 in 2010 (at least what I can gather from the master list of MoC subgroups), and eventually the organization fell on school year to cohort families into who would be your kid’s classmates. Since MoC 1.0 & MoC 1.1 in Fall 2013, there have been 10 iterations of this group number. Only 1.0 had a cap on its first membership group and branched off to 1.1, but hypothetically any of the other groups could decide to do that too. Loosely (and there isn’t really a single group that decides rules), every MoC group is governed by its admins and members deciding on the geography, how bendy the gender exclusivity is, and in same sex couples if both partners are welcome. These support groups are 100% worth joining if you qualify. It’s almost akin to the reddit bumper monthly groups, but has the added benefit of being hyper local. I’ve never seen so many people use social media to be seen, heard, and supported in this way. It can sometimes be a little bit of an echo chamber, but in the thrawls of night weaning, sometimes what you need is the void to scream back at you. This is really the pinnacle of a grass roots community, and if facebook ever starts charging or goes away, it will be so heartbreaking to lose this resource.
The Moms of Camberville actually has even more special interest groups that span all age ranges and I just stopped at a few in the earlier section because there’s too many to list (one for finance, one for careers, one for house stuff, one for vacations, etc). There is a google doc floating around with a list of all of them, but I’m not going to share it publicly. If you’re a member, you can ask me :)
There is always the can of worms of, why do these groups exclusively exclude male partners (but only sometimes, maybe if you’re both male?) etc. Asking that question will arrive at a pile of complicated feelings, so be forewarned. Like with any large organization, cohesion, identity, creating a sense of belonging are all integral, and this particular corner of facebook group has been built around a LOT of labor people identifying as moms have put in to keep both their buy/sell/trade MoC+ exchange group active and honest, as well as fostering a sense of community that is safe. The history of a lot of these moms in post partum opening up about their most sensitive feels and physical changes also makes a re-opening of these groups very sensitive. Also if our volunteer make up at AFC says anything, this is largely true even at AFC. Female identifying volunteers outnumber our male ones 10:1 (spoilers we only have about 10 volunteers….)
Final notes on MoC, I’m just trying to share what I’ve seen in a non-biased way. I love this groups, it's actually where I've found a lot of community, but I do feel like there is an important void for AFC to fill. I spend a lot of time volunteering here because I think my experiences and struggles as an arlington resident looking for child care can be broadly shared by a wide range of people (caregivers of all shapes, kinds, and sizes). I hope more people engage in AFC to build a community that can compliment the great resources already available to MoC.
At AFC we don’t post very much on our blog (our website traffic seems to be directly solely at our event sign ups, but we don’t actually pay for SEO and i haven’t had time to look into it, so I can’t actually tell you), but I thought as the resident webmaster, I’d throw out into publicly and in my own voice and not as an AFC volunteer or representative of the organization some helpful information as I find it on this website. Another volunteer has graciously picked up writing our newsletter, and in my day job, I’m mostly looking at code, spreadsheets, and numbers, and I certainly don’t get enough creative writing in. So, dear reader, I hope you enjoy or at least find helpful some of this content I’m writing up on my sick day from what feels like the millionth bug my 18m toddler has so generously brought home from daycare. Maybe this post will get taken down if the other members object, or maybe I’ll write another one.