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Fri Jul 18, 2014, 09:39 AM

 

Hope in the Village

I had a really interesting day on Wednesday, and decided to write about it. Of course, two days later and will all Hell breaking loose, the idea of writing a hopeful story seems preposterous...but maybe a little of this is what we need.

Anyway, here it is.



(Image: Bob Jagendorf, Two kids
via Shutterstock; Edited: EL / TO)


Hope in the Village
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Friday 18 July 2014

(snip)

The town square of Nelson, New Hampshire, a few miles north of me, is no bigger than a minute. It does not have a single traffic light, and is defined by the perfect white New England edifice of the Nelson Congregational Church. GPS systems do not work in Nelson; the "You have arrived at your destination" announcement always comes when you're still driving through the deep woods, 100 yards from where you're trying to get to. On one sprawling piece of property there is a lovely farmhouse, and behind it sits a large barn guarded by a floppy yet friendly Basset hound. That barn was my destination, for within, The Game of Village was being played.

The Game of Village is a day-camp for children between the ages of ten and fourteen (9-year-olds are sometimes invited, if they prove themselves to be sharp enough to keep up with the curriculum) that takes place all over the country and in several parts of Europe. It is a five-week community-building exercise in which the kids create small anthropomorphic versions of themselves out of dowels and yarn called "Peeps." The Peeps purchase "Homesteads," build little houses on their patch of land, and engage in commerce with their neighbors. There is a bank, a store, a working radio station, and a newspaper, and each Peep (and their kid) take shifts running them.

(snip)

Most importantly, however, there is also government, which is where I came in. A dear family friend sends her daughter to this camp (she's one of the sharp 9-year-olds they invited), and convinced one of the adults running the camp (called "Commissioners" to invite me to give a talk. The timing, as it turned out, was perfect. Initially, the kids had chosen Anarchy as their form of government, but that was quickly overthrown by a small cadre of campers who manage to institute an Oligarchy. The bank was promptly looted by an oligarch Peep (does life imitate camp, or does camp imitate life?), and several of the other campers began an insurgency to dump the Oligarchy in favor of Democracy.

When I arrived, the children were arrayed across the main workroom, engaged in various projects. Some were repairing damaged Peeps, others were working their shifts at the bank and the store, and still others were debating the relative merits of their preferred form of government. It was a loose, friendly environment created, with little obvious influence from the adults, by what was clearly a very special group of kids. After I was introduced to each table, everyone gathered in a circle in the next room to hear what I had to say.

(snip)

The news was still terrible when I got home - and has grown worse by orders of magnitude since Wednesday - but a few miles north of me, glowing like a coal in the night, a bunch of kids are immersed in the practice of community and good government. They are engaged, learning how to express themselves, learning how to work together, learning how to be real and effective citizens. They will carry those experiences with them into adulthood, and improve their world. Coals like that are glowing, as we speak, all across these United States, thanks to the Game of Village.

That, right there, is hope.

The rest: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/25020-william-rivers-pitt-hope-in-the-village

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Hope in the Village (Original post)
WilliamPitt Jul 2014 OP
WilliamPitt Jul 2014 #1
WilliamPitt Jul 2014 #2
herding cats Jul 2014 #3
bigtree Jul 2014 #4
WillyT Jul 2014 #5
Crewleader Jul 2014 #6
RobertEarl Jul 2014 #7
DinahMoeHum Jul 2014 #8

Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Fri Jul 18, 2014, 10:54 AM

1. Up

 

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Fri Jul 18, 2014, 09:08 PM

2. Just for the fuck of it

 

Kick.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Fri Jul 18, 2014, 09:20 PM

3. A lot of people are too distracted for a message of hope right now.

Personally, I needed it. Greatly. I thought you did well with those children, or they did well for you. Six of one and a half dozen of the other as the case may be. I know it did me well to read of your encounter, so there's that.

An added bonus for mentioning Charles Moore. My heart aches when I think of him and how little attention his sacrifice received. I give you a nod of respect for thinking of him.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Fri Jul 18, 2014, 09:29 PM

4. first they came for carbon dioxide and no one stood up . . .

. . . cool program. it's hard for me to imagine the depth of understanding these children have - not so surprising, I guess, given all of the almost instant access this generation has to information.

What strikes me about your description of these children's experience was the degree that their personal responsibility for their parcel made them open to questions (and answers) about options and scenarios. Maybe there's something that we've lost in our own sense of 'ownership' of our government; of our communities. The more we invest ourselves in questions about the outcomes of actions, the more responsibility we usually assume. There's a lesson in this for us; not just these children, I think.

Thanks for sharing this. Rec.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Fri Jul 18, 2014, 09:38 PM

5. HUGE K & R !!! - Thank You !!! - Hey Will...

 

When I was teaching 8th Grade back in the '80s...

We'd play a "New Age Game" called something like... "Win As Much As You Can !!!"

It was definitely interesting to watch...

The rules of the game had to do with the buying and selling of businesses and stock...

And the kids learned a rudimentary lesson on that.

But the game was rigged... in a good way...

Never said... yet discovered later... the only way you could win, was by cooperation.

I forget the details... but the looks on the student's faces when they thought they had conquered the world, only to find that they had lost...

The game was "Win As Much As You Can!!!" - And you could only do that by cooperating.

There was one team... one year... that immediately got it.

They cruised to victory... blowing everybody's minds...

I wonder what they are doing these days.





Oh... And K & R !!!


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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 12:12 AM

6. Thank You William

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 02:09 AM

7. Ayup

 

Let there always be hope.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Sat Jul 19, 2014, 11:51 AM

8. Kickety kick-kick, kick kick.

Thanks, I really needed to read this.

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