In defense of Mystery
When we started this session, each child chose a sit spot for themselves, a special spot to return to a few times a week where they can be still and observe the world around them. I also have a sit spot on our new campus, which I visit every morning before school. It's been one of my favorite parts of the school rhythm so far, a place of healing and nourishment. When I told the kids about my sit spot, I also told them that if they looked in my nature journal, they might find some clues to its location. Yesterday, a small group of kids took on the mission of trying to find it. Within twenty minutes, they were certain they had found the exact spot. But I wouldn't tell them whether or not they were correct. Of course, they wanted to know why not, so while I was sitting at my spot this morning I composed this explanation, which I read to them:
"Why am I not going to tell you if you found my sit spot? If I told you, it would no longer be a mystery. It would become a fact. Facts are bright and shiny, with sharp edges, like little jewels. When you get one, it's exciting for a little while. You're proud of it, you put it somewhere special and like to look at it, you show it off to your friends. But after a while, once you've seen it a hundred times, it loses its luster; it's not exciting anymore. It fades into the background.
A mystery, on the other hand, is big, spacious, alive, full of hidden corners and unexpected surprises. Every time you come back to it, there is something new to discover. It never gets old, because it's always changing. It never looks the same way twice. A mystery keeps on teaching you, as long as you are willing to let it remain a mystery.
But be careful! Because as soon as you decide that you know the answer, as soon as you reach out to pluck that shiny, jewel-bright fact from the dark wall of mystery's cave, the mystery collapses, and all you have left is the fact, always the same, never changing, a thousand others like it, no more to learn. Knowing is exciting for a moment, but not knowing can feed your soul for a lifetime. Or maybe more, I don't know. Do you?"
Shortly afterward, one child asked another "hey, you want us to show you where Gabo's sit spot is?". "No," the second child responded, bemused, and perhaps mildly reproachful, "then it wouldn't be a mystery anymore".
In other news, here's the amazing and hilarious minutes from Kids' Council on Monday:
Kids’ Council 04.12.21
April 12th 2021
Kids--Forest, Gaia, Irsa, Luca, Luuk, Max, Meira, Oakley, Ramona, Stone, Willow
Adults--Gabriel (facilitator), Liz (minutes)
Agenda (60 minutes)
10- What is Kids’ Council?
15- Discussion: Young Adult Membership at Earthaven
15- Discussion: Work Party Projects Planning
10- Brainstorm: Future Agenda Items
-Mousey: We have a new school pet named Bunjum. Bunjum is a very small mouse.
-Quite a bit of Poison Ivy in the Forest Garden. Let’s all be careful and make sure we can all recognize PI. Even if you think you’re not allergic, please avoid it. Please carefully take a look around your sit spot. You could get it on others, your parents, your clothes, etc. Can we get stuff to pull it up safely? Yes, probably. Need to check in with parents.
-I’m excited about my birthday.
-2 baby guinea pigs born the night before last. Naming in process.
What is Kids’ Council?
-Kids’ Council is where we talk about stuff
-Kids’ Council is like grown up council, but with kids. We talk about kid stuff, not boring old adult stuff.
-Kids’ Council is a way to communicate without getting angry and stuff
-What might we talk about?
School pet, planting plants, projects, concerns, etc.
-Kids Council is an opportunity for us to talk about things that matter to the kids--things we want to do at school or outside of school--talk about projects, plan projects, work out disagreements or conflicts, to help things go better, to help understand each other, a place for us to talk about what we want to talk about.
Discussion: Young Adult Membership at Earthaven
-This was introduced at Adult Council yesterday. Will there be a different membership category at Earthaven for young adults?
-Background: Membership at EH is a way for people to say they want to be here, to be accepted here, to take on rights and responsibilities of being here. One thing is paying fees and leaps. Some of you all have earned and used leaps. When you’re an adult here you have to do a certain amount of leaps.
-Is there an age that you have to be to start paying leaps? Good question, we’re working it out. There was a teen leap requirement experiment. In process of being re-evaluated.
-Do you have thoughts about membership--what it might look for you or teens as you get older? Or do you have questions about membership?
-How young/old should people start turning in leaps? 18, 14 (½ leaps), Depends--if someone moved into somewhere, they should pay full leaps if they are living outside their parents’ house. And at 14 I would say paying ½ leaps even if you live in the same house as your parent(s). But then would you stay in your house till you’re 30? I think it should be a certain age---maybe 20 or 21 or 18? I say 18--I don’t know just a good #. I like 20 because it gives us more time to stock up--so we’re more ready, have time for adjustments, and actually have some means of consistently gaining leaps, understand and be ready. I think 20 because then, as you’re a teenager you have ½ leaps (but I thought 20 was legal age). Actually I think full leaps should start at legal adult age.
-How many leaps do you have to pay? 4 leaps per week (actually 16/month) for new folks. 3 per week (12/month) for living here after 1st year here (when cash dues go up). New folks have 2 weeks before owing so they can adjust--maybe we’ll have an adjustment period for youth too?
-What if someone moves here and they don’t have leaps--how do they pay? They have to start making them when they get here. Also can pay cash instead of leaps.
-If we have a lot of time not paying leaps, then all of a sudden we’ll need leaps and we may not be ready. I’m already starting to collect leaps so that when I’m a teen I’ll be more prepared.
-My dad is paying me money for childcare. I’ll probably start doing leaps instead.
Dues and Fees: idea is that it costs money/labor to maintain and create all the things we have here that we use--buildings, roads, bridges, electrical systems, minute taking, website, answering the public--jobs, materials that benefit everyone--and everyone pays. Also if you have a car, you have to pay for roads to help maintain roads.
-I don’t want to buy a car.
-What about a bike? (Is there a fee for bikes that use roads?)
Should teens/young adults pay anything?
-If you have a car, you should pay.
-Nothing should be in a boat.
-No cash dues for teens please--I am about to be a teen and I would have no way to pay--would be extremely hard to earn money as a teen. Clarification: I don’t think anyone is suggesting teens should pay cash.
If you were born at Earthaven, grew up here all your life, then become an adult and become a full member of EH--do you have to pay capital contribution or In Kind contribution?
-What if you weren’t born at Earthaven? I think it should be the same whether you were born here or moved here as a kid--doesn’t make sense why you should pay less if you were born here.
-What if you don’t want to be a provisional member? Is it possible to live here without being a member? Can’t build a house. But can you live in the house you grew up in?
-If you become a member, you can build a house and own property, with a few more steps.
-Clarifying: You have to become a Provisional Member before becoming a member? Yes.
-I don’t get it because my dad built a house before he became a member--He built a trailer (moveable)
-Wasn’t that in a special stage when things were all wonky and stuff? Yes
-What about if you’re not a member yet and you inherit a house? I think you should just own the house and property you grew up on. Good question. We can talk more about that later.
-How many leaps when you’re a full member? You have a lifetime leap requirement.
-What if you move away when you’re still a member? Depends.
-Can you still own land and a house even if you’re in Alaska? Yes, but you have to keep paying dues and fees to maintain membership.
-What about leaps when you’re in Alaska? Still owe toward lifetime.
Time is Up, and we will talk more about this.
Discussion: Work Project Planning
-We’re here in the Forest Garden, and there are things we’ve been asked to do by the community, and there are some things we want to do.
List of Items we know about (requests from community):
-Pathway Improvements (started)
-Piling brush to burn (started)
-Junk Clean Up
-Stacking brush on contour on north slope
-Hydrant Post Repair
-pooper art display
-bookshelves in office
-signs for waste buckets
-curtain/curtain rod for pooper
Other Project Ideas brainstorming today:
-more signs where you can or can’t go (boundaries, welcome, pooper, “Welcome to Pooper”, Welcome at Bridge, pooper occupied, beware of black snake at pooper, other dangers)
-Make trellises (wineberries)
-Museum to put finished work (like crafts, cool nature things)
-Write some music
-Grading the Classroom
What are the Priorities? This is more work than we can do at once, so what do we do first?
-trash if the dumpster will go away
-honeysuckle in garden beds because it will keep growing and be bigger and harder to pull up
-bamboo in the garden beds for same reason above
What would be exciting?
-grading the classroom
Time is Up, we’ll talk more about this later.
Brainstorm: Future Agenda Items
Whatever we feel like talking about at the time (Keep it Open)
Concerns about animals
Brandon and Griffin’s chick
More talking about Young Adult Membership
Museum with bones and other things about animals (tracks)
Replacing, rebuilding, recreating Hut Hamlet Playground
Tunnel Slide into Swimming Pool
Invention that can do something interesting
Dairy Delivery Cart 2.0
Human Powered School Shuttle