Sunday, August 24, 2008

Witness






I graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which will not open for business next month after 156 years. Don't get me started. One summer in the self-centered sixties, students and faculty at Antioch, boys, girls, poets, playwrights, and physicists got together and built an amphitheater on campus with bags of cement, construction blocks, wheelbarrows, and shovels. Maybe you saw the movie Witness and remember the Barn Raising and thought just for a moment there might be something special about being Amish. Or maybe you live in Pine Lake, Georgia. Last Saturday, in an outpouring of communitas, private citizens of Pine Lake built a new playground for its children, with equipment provided by Kaboom, the culmination of a lengthy organizational and fund raising effort. Handy Ann and Andy assembled and shoveled and hauled. Cooks provided good eats. At the end of the day, participants resembled the shift-change at the coal mine. Look at some of these great pictures, and read some of these experiences and observations:

It took the mind a few beats to take it all in: the masses of intensely motivated people hard at their tasks, the piles and stacks of materials, the seemingly unending number of separate projects and respective teams all working apace toward the mutually hoped for outcome. The sign-in table was located, t-shirt and bandana procured and soon the mind became focused and a workng part of one of the production teams, hard at work on assembling apparatus. Memories of Santa nights past (place tab A into tab B, etc) accompanied the translation of assembly instructions. Work. Good work done together with neighbors and friends. The day wore on as did the old muscles. Most of all, at the ending ceremony, there was a palpable sense of the joy in community. Our community. Place. Who we are. It was a beautiful moment which further defined the lives we live together.--Jonny Hibbert

I sit here in awe, just awe, of all that was accomplished today. I am simply amazed. I know that there were months of planning and fundraising and then a very hectic month of finalizing and revising plans, but the effort today just astounded me. This was not a small, core group, this was a huge part of the village out on the beach for an amazing playground-raising. My kids are in your debt. The future kids of Pine Lake are in your debt. What a truly amazing gift you have given us!

I cannot adequately express my gratitude to all the volunteers. Please, stop me and tell me your playground story. What you learned, who you met, what you think.--Gwyneth

In an enterprise culminating in a 200+ volunteer one-day-only Build,
it's impossible to name all the "unsung heroes," if such a
melodramatic phrase is even apt. Regardless, there is one resident
that I'd like to name: Jonny Coe. In my mind, he represents what
happens when adults figure out how to play well with others.
Eighteen people helped Jonny make the new site happen, not including
the grading professionals he hired to match the necessary specs, not
including the day and a half he took of from work to oversee the site....
In the end, Pine Lake has a playground that is scenic and
partly shaded and an uninterrupted stretch of beach. In no way
do I intend to minimize the efforts of Beth, Kris, Allison,
Miranda, and JJ for conceiving and executing this amazing result. I
thank them and I thank all the core volunteers that spent months
making this happen. I know they will continue to be thanked.--Melanie


Photos for Pine Lake Witness provided by Gwyneth.

Photos by Gwyneth

Photos by Jonny Hibbert

Photos by Kevin Liske

Photos by Lawrence Andrade

Video by Rob Butera

Witness by adding your comments.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill, I am proud to share the spelling of my given name with the great "Jonny" Coe. Thanks for bringing the lost art of journalism to us, your readers.
Jonny Hibbert

MELANIE said...

In an enterprise culminating in a 200+ volunteer one-day-only Build,
it's impossible to name all the "unsung heroes," if such a
melodramatic phrase is even apt. Regardless, there is one resident
that I'd like to name: Jonny Coe. In my mind, he represents what
happens when adults figure out how to play well with others.

The original playground site, located dead-center of the beach, was
arrived at by a series of decisions, circumstances, inexperience with
a project of this kind, and a tremendous amount of work. Even though
very few residents were happy with the location, it seemed like a
done deal---with only eleven days left before the Build and zero
dollars to spare.

Jonny Coe came before city council August eleventh with a list of
forty names supporting the relocation of the site, a strategy to get
it done well before Build Day, and the money (from his own pocket) to
finance the move. He also framed the real discussion, which was never
pro- and anti- playground or figuring out whether or not the ball got
dropped: it was very simply that bisecting and resurfacing the center
of the beach wasn't the best outcome.

Eighteen people helped Jonny make the new site happen, not including
the grading professionals he hired to match the necessary specs, not
including the day and a half he took of from work to oversee the site
relocation and to help make sure the ramp and walkway was properly
graded. In the end, Pine Lake has a playground that is scenic and
partly shaded and an uninterrupted stretch of beach.

In no way do I intend to minimize the efforts of Beth, Kris, Allison,
Miranda, and JJ for conceiving and executing this amazing result. I
thank them and I thank all the core volunteers that spent months
making this happen. I know they will continue to be thanked.

Let's include Jonny Coe in the praise, and let's use the example he
set as we continue to improve life in this city.

Professor Staff said...

Not to beat a drum, but I agree as well!

Jonny's actions and how he and the Playground Committee worked out a solution that was accepted by all and pulled off in a week was nothing short of miraculous. I was very skeptical that the ideas proposed at the city council meeting a week before the build could be pulled off, but they were. It was a great example of civil discourse and face-to-face compromise and problem solving -- something that simply does not work via email!

I also hope that the excellent communication and project management skills of Kris and others on the playground committee can now find new venues for their energy and skills, whether it be PLAIN, City Council, etc. Personally, I'd like to remodel the beach house ...

-- Rob Butera

 

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