Posted by: Khepera | Thursday, 19 June 2008

The Garden of Community


Under many guises, nearly all of us have expressed concerns over what grows in our communities. If we follow the plant and farming metaphor, we can see that a great deal of this growth is a function of what is seeded, the nature of the ‘soil’, and how these various ‘plants’ are nurtured and cultivated to their relative states of fruit &/or flowering.

This is especially true of our children. Growing up, both of my parents were school teachers. Though he was relatively handy around the house, my father could barely change his oil, much less give his care a basic tune-up. In high school, my best friend’s father was a mechanic for the city for 30 years. Through my friend, I was introduced to drag racing, the joy of wrenching on cars, and can now do most repairs on a car.

My friend, Michael, and I were students in the same curriculum at our school — aerospace technology. Our home room teacher was a retired Air Force colonel. But this was our only exposure to aviation. Had Michael’s father been an aircraft mechanic, allowing us to be exposed to airplane engines & working on aircraft instead of cars, we would likely have had our pilot licenses sooner than our driver’s license.

The point here is that our minds were ‘fertile ground’, and we were ‘plants’ which grew, blossomed and bore fruit in large part as a function of what we were exposed to — significantly by our parents. My father was deep into African history and esoteric study, so I had a very early foundation in this, which Michael did not. My parents chose to take those AAA triptik 2 1/2 week drive cross country trips in the summer, camping out, in the car mostly. Largely as a result of those trips to Grand Canyon, Yellowstone & Sequoia national parks, I am now a backpacker, and I try to get into the wilderness every chance I get.

These examples are but a few of what we should keep in mind when we ask ourselves why our children are not more ‘engaged’.

Though nearly all my parents friends were teachers & professionals, none were business people or owned their own business. It is not readily discussed, but the simple truth of the matter is that neither law nor government run this country. It runs on the rules, premises and power of business. The sooner one learns this, the sooner one begins to apply this, the more swift & assured their material success will be. Growing up poor and rural, my mother thought education was the cure-all, and that everything else should be sacrificed for that. Growing up poor and urban, my father new the meaning of ‘hustle’, and understood the criticality of a young person learning early the link between effort, money, and what one could get with that money. Put those together and you have an equation for value. Until one learns this, money is just *stuff* you get to get what you want. My mother would not allow me to have any job, beyond shoveling snow, until I was almost out of high school. Therein lies the story of a stunted crop of ‘enterprise’.

This is key because you can have all the good traits of ‘hard work’, determination’, ‘creativity’, ‘integrity’ and the like, but if you don’t combine these with a sensibility of the marketplace — of the dynamic process of exchanging one’s efforts & good works for gain — then one may well labor, exceptionally, in obscurity for years, wondering why know one knows what you have accomplished. This ‘marketplace factor’, this premise of entrepreneurship is at the core of the economic model we live in. Yeah, capitalism has its issues, and they are several, but it is presently the only game in town. While there may be several avenues & methods of engaging it, there are also many which already exist, and simply need to be leveraged.

As long as we — and our children — our entire community for that matter, remain focused on *jobs* as being the cliché pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we will remain awash in a tide of disappointment. We are essentially dressing our children for football, then sending them out to play fastbreak basketball. The old mainstays of lemonade stands, grass cutting and newspaper boys may seem outdated, and some are. But the premise of experiencing the victory and achievement which economic success produces instills lessons which will live for a lifetime.

Let us be clear that this is not about a social idiom or ism — *white* versus others. If we were the founders of civilization, then we were also the founders of commerce, business, the marketplace. The style and method may have been a bit different, but one learns that once you get in the game. Billiards, basketball, cards, dominoes — all are played just a little differently from one place to another, sometimes only by a distance of blocks. But you don’t discover these nuances until you get in the game.

We must also keep in mind that this dynamic process hones and cultivates several crucial skills — self-confidence, communication(listening & speaking), counting & math, learning to read people, etc. Many of these skills are difficult to teach in school, &/or the schools do not provide the visceral engagement the marketplace dynamic does, or the tangible rewards.

When we turn to our garden of children — the actual translation of ‘kindergarten — and enquire after what harvest there is to see, we must first look in the mirror and ask ourselves to what extent have we fulfilled our responsibilities of cultivation, nurturing and exposure, so they may have a clear and direct sense of what possibilities exist, so that the sparks of experience can ignite their imaginations, and launch them off the couch, from in front of th TV, and into action.

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Responses

  1. […] money news blog – Just another WordPress weblog wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt Under many guises, nearly all of us have expressed concerns over what grows in our communities. If we follow the plant and farming metaphor, we can see that a great deal of this growth is a function of what is seeded, the nature of the ’soil’, and how these various ‘plants’ are nurtured and cultivated to their relative states of fruit &/or flowering. This is especially true of our children. Growing up, both of my parents were school teachers. Though he was relatively handy around the hous […]


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