In their inspiring book, Walk Out Walk On, Deborah Frieze and Meg Wheatley take their readers on a journey across the world, engaging with various groups of people working together to build agency where there isn’t any and growing self-reliant communities that defy stereotypes. So many of their stories are reminiscent of the work that I am doing with the South Philly Food Co-op and The Edcamp Foundation. Both organizations are focused around building relationships and growing self-reliant communities.
I’m only a little over halfway through the book, but I already have a long list of quotes that are reminiscent of much of the work I have been doing over the last couple of years. It is refreshing to read about people working together to make their community stronger and the stories and reflections from the individuals in these communities sound familiar and resonate deeply with me. Here are a few of the quotes that stuck out and the connections I have made to them with my own work. Since I am reading it on my Kindle, I have included location numbers instead of page numbers for the selections.
We’ll observe how their experiments move horizontally, scaling across villages and nations, trans-locally, as many diverse people learn from their discoveries and are inspired to try their own. (location 233)
This is exactly how the edcamp movement has grown. It is also how co-operatives grow, with communities popping up around an idea, building something from the ground up, and then sharing their journey with others so that they can begin their own journey.
What I’ve come to realize is what we must do is share. We know that we have everything we need; we just have to take the time to discover it. (location 1697)
Anyone who is involved in a learning community like a PLN or PLC or has attended an edcamp knows this is true. Part of the beauty of these communities is that they are full of knowledge, and this knowledge is not hoarded, it is shared with anyone who asks. This path toward discovery takes time, spans many conversations and often months. It takes time to build trusting relationships that lead to this discovery, but once they are formed, they last a lifetime.
Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks to the very essence of being human…This means they are generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate. They share what they have. It also means that my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in theirs. We belong in a bundle of life. (location 1334)
After so many years talking about Linux and open source technologies, I never knew what the word Ubuntu actually meant. Now that I do, it has become one of my favorite words. It encompasses nearly all of the work that I do in education and with the food co-op.
Dana is a Sanskrit term meaning “generosity” or “giving” without any expectation of return. It’s a way of being in the world that flips self-interest on its head. (location 2303)
This is another word with no direct translation into the English language, but it is the backbone of healthy communities, and it is the life-blood of the co-operative movement.
Much of what inspires me in these stories is the way that people solve their own problems using only the resources they already have. There is so much to be learned from these experiences, especially in the current education climate of slashed budgets and the de-professionalization of the teaching profession.
I am hoping that the work I have been doing is part of a larger, global movement by people to self-organize and take ownership over their communities.