takesavillageHillary Clinton borrowed her 1996 book title from a centuries-old Igbo African proverb, "Ora na azu nwa."  The Igbo people name their children "Nwa ora" which means child of the community.  I have been a co-owner of this community since the mid 1990s, and I raised five children here.  During this entire time, I had the great fortune of being a stay-at-home mom, so I had many wonderful and unique opportunities to get to know the children of this "village."  Growing up in this community has been a great experience for MY children and for so MANY more, and so this blog is about sharing some stories and some ideas that we can use to strengthen and enrich the lives and futures of our chidren, as a village.

lamppostI received this in an email today from one of our owners and thought it was worth posting (with their permission and with the names removed, of course):

"Outside my window today, I saw two pre-teens kicking a soccer ball at one of the lamp posts (actually one was kicking and the other was serving as lookout and cheering him on).  They were diligently making it their goal to knock the light fixture off the top, and they kept trying for some time, stopping only when cars drove past.  After a few tries, they succeeded to knock the fixture loose but not bring it all they way to the ground.  I thought they would stop at that point but they continued, and I thought, “THAT is exactly the kind of stuff I did as a kid NEVER thinking about the natural consequences of my actions.” 

So, I walked outside and went over and gave them a gentle nudge.  I told them that it looked like they were having fun, and the last thing I want to do us ruin anybody’s fun.  However, as an adult, if I decided to have fun in this manner, should I be successful at damaging the light, I would at the very least go to the front office and offer to pay for my damages.  I told them that before they threw or kicked the ball one more time, they must first decide if they are willing to accept the consequences of their actions.  I left, and watched them as they hung around the lamp post for awhile, deciding what to do next.  They watched me walk into my house and then stared at my windows to decide if was still looking at them.  Then, finally, they left, probably unhappy that I had managed to take all of the FUN out it by asking them to be accountable."

As a child, I remember that some of my life's greatest lessons came from grandparents, neighbors, teachers and sometimes even strangers.  The same lesson might not stick if delivered by a parent, because of the natural authoritative tension between teens and parents.  Really, I don't know of a single parent ANYWHERE who wouldn't welcome a neighbor having a friendly chat with their children about being responsible, so when you see one of our kids goofing off in ways that might be destructive or hurtful, talk to them, and share your hard-earned adult perspective with them.

harry_potterThis year's 2011 Board of Director's election was kind of interesting.  On one hand, our outgoing president was someone who was born and raised and who lived his entire life in this community, and he was replaced on the board by a new resident who was also raised in this community.  Our new board member, during the Q&A session before the election, said that now that she has her own children, she wanted for them the same wonderful experiences she had growing up here, and so she offered to serve in order to help make this community all that it can be for them and for ALL of our children. 

Both the the outgoing president and the new incoming board member joined the leadership of this community for the same reason -- because they love what we gave them growing up here, and because of it, they had a clear vision and a memory of what life CAN be like at Concord Village.

So, the next time you look at that scraggly kid who you are sure is up to no good, remember, if we treat them with dignity and love and respect, well then, they just might grow up and become an integral part of building this community into all that it can be.