Thursday, June 28, 2012

pondering wild goose: sustainable communities

The Wild Goose schedule works like this - every hour there are up to 8 things going on at one time, at various venues throughout the property.  Inevitably, there are time slots where nothing grabs you and others where you desperately want to be in two places at once.

Wild Goose kids' tent
Friday, following morning prayer, I dropped Aaron & Sarah off at the kids' tent (which, by the way, was awesome!) then had a long conversation with a young woman who works with people who have autism.  Her point of view gave me hope that faith communities are beginning to "get" the absolute necessity of embracing neurodiversity.  Our talk meant that I walked into the session on Sustainable Communities a bit late.

I was stand-off-ish about this session.  I live in a big house in the suburbs; I'm not Shane Claibourne by any stretch of the imagination.  But Tom Sine and Matt Pritchard weren't asking us to leave their tent and "sell all we have to the poor" (not immediately, anyway).  They took turns describing various intentional communities in existence right now across the country, which I found interesting.

My scattered notes:

look up "peace church theology" (Mennonites)

the future is changing - re-imagine an economy more festive & celebrated that costs less

school loans & house in suburbs grossly high percentage income, keep us from doing good we long to do in world

book The New Conspirators 

nothing in scripture says work 40 hours a week invented in Denmark 50 years ago - look up

cross race, class, culture, intergenerational

mustard seed village - look up

you can live together without living off each other

if you can't sell your house open it up to community, transitional people/families, etc

series on NPR family matters - look up

So... what?  Here's where I've come to, so far, as I reflect on what I learned.

I do want to look up the various terms and books listed above.  I feel ill informed on this topic and it overwhelms me, somewhat, like I'm in a class I missed the prerequisites for ... but I am genuinely interested.  As a family of 6, it's not realistic for us to consider any major changes, but I do want us to be open to inviting others into our home. I believe that will happen more over the years, but frankly, right now, the one we have welcomed is still adjusting in many ways, so I feel no pressure to make any sudden changes, that way.  The one point I do want to take action on is figuring out the garden thing - either planting fruit bushes in our own yard, or joining in a community garden at a separate, nearby site.  This is something I know nothing about, but I have green-thumbed friends. It's time to learn.

What I really took away from this session has more to do with how we advise the kids, as they are growing up and planning their futures. Right now they are 13, 11, 10, and 8 - middle school is here, high school right around the corner.  What will their goals look like?  Are school loans worth it? Is college the only option, or even the best option, for all kids?  Will they follow their passions or accept a job that "pays well"?  Must the two be mutually exclusive?  As they enter adulthood, how can they make conscious choices that ensure they remain free - free to live lives that both make them happy, and do the most good in this world?

I came away with a fresh sense that kids approaching college and adulthood have options, many of them radically counter-cultural.  Some look at the future with doom and gloom because the unsustainable bubble of Western prosperity is bursting, but we need not view things that way.  I am hopeful that the next generation can avoid the trappings and mistakes ours has made - that they can be much, much happier with less.  If so, they will be better for it, and so will the world.

I can't say what the future looks like for my kids and their families, but I'm excited for them....  I really am.

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