I’ve heard from many parents who dream of planting their children in community.
Like them, maybe you too have raised your head and looked around and seen nothing but fragments of a village, shards of a tribe, threads of an ancestral tapestry. You think at times of moving your family to where community seems more alive.
This seeing is not your vision of an elusive elsewhere. It may be your call to become a craftsman, a weaver, a mapmaker, an archaelogist, a neighbor, a villager of the place in which you now find yourself.
Follow the faint trail through the woods to the clearing where elders, parents, children, friends are gathered around the warmth of a shared longing for togetherness.
These are a few of the possible signposts and skills that will lead you there.
- Find the existing hubs–Where do these erstwhile villagers gather? What tasks, activities, possibilitites draw them together? Where are they today? Some places to look include Waldorf schools, an outdoor program, a parent group for homeschoolers, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, dance class or your local yoga center.
- Reach for the low hanging fruits–Who else around you is ready to weave? Someone who also sees what you see. Who else is ready to carry this longing towards a becoming? You’re looking for somene who also feels the bewilderment beneath the anger, the grief beneath the bewilderment, the love beneath the grief.
- Seek diversity–The village is guilded–keep an eye out for people with disparate gifts and bring them together in a social ecology that thrives through diversity. Call in the musicians and visionaries, the elders and anchors, the space holders and facilitators, the nature nerds, the musicians, the ancestral trackers and storytellers, the survivalists and permaculturists.
- Root it in family–Community asks that we’re willing to extend our families and acknowledge kinship. Take time to consider your family values, the traditions you honor, and the culture you wish to extend and deepen. Make sure the community you seek to create aligns with your core values.
- Call in the triad–We can’t do it alone. It starts with conversation, a coming together of a few embers. Sit by the fire with no more than two other weavers. This is your seed pod, a triad of local visionaries who hear the call of the ancestors. Soul activists who are willing to act for the sake of our children, and those yet to come.
- Stay with it through conflict–Conflicts are the inevitable gifts of deepening relationships. Decide early on how you wish to resolve misunderstandings, hold differences, and grow from your disagreements.
- Lay a foundation–There are conversations we rarely have, and questions we may not explore with our friends or neighbors. Yet they are foundational to the process of seeding community. What makes you come alive? What hurts and saddens you? What do you want for your children? What shared values can you agree on?
- Celebrate the seasons–Nature is not an ideology. You can’t debate the winter solstice or the spring equinox. And so the seasonal shifts are wonderful invitations to gather in recurring celebration to honor the circularity of our lives.
- Start small–Set a low threshold for your gatherings, and make it easy for other families to say yes to your invitations. Light the grill and gather around a pot-luck. Meet up at the beach for a playful afternoon of shared discoveries. Set up a net and have a volley-ball tournament.
- Honor the long arch–You will likely not see the community of your dreams emerge in a year or two. But don’t let that blind you to what you have. A community of three is a good thing. Tend it’s growth through your enjoyment of it. Trust in time, and celebrate all the surprises that emerge and accumulate through your staying put, staying with.
There is so much more, of course. But these are all good places to begin, if you wish to plant your child in community right where you live.
Along the way it helps to remember, as Peter Block says, that every time we gather, we model the world we wish to create.