community, festivals & education (was Re: tesccrier digest: March 27, 2005)

Hirsh Diamant recently posted something to TESCCRIER about which I
found myself thinking a great deal. I have moved my response to
TESCTALK, since that forum is intended for more conversational topics.
I responded privately to Hirsh, but wanted, in part on Hirsh’s
suggestion, to post something to the forums.

On Mar 28, 2005, at 12:00 AM, Tesc Community Announcements digest wrote:

> From: “Diamant, Hirsh”
> Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 16:31:44 -0800
> Dear friends and colleagues,
> Learning about and celebrating seasonal festivals could be a valuable
> part of a liberal arts curriculum. The benefits of that would include
> learning about other cultures, embracing diversity, creating community
> on campus, connecting our programs with the larger off-campus
> community,
> and grounding in nature and changes of the seasons. Some of these ideas
> I have presented at the recent Evening and Weekend Studies faculty
> symposium. One of the suggestions from this symposium was to start
> planning for such events early on, hence the reason for this email.

I am a graduate of TESC, currently working on a masters at Antioch in
Seattle. One component of my program is a real-world change project
which acts in reciprocal conjunction with my thesis – action and
theory. I have an abiding interest in community and dialogue and was
part of Patrick Hill’s last iteration of Power and Limitations of
Dialogue. I have also been involved with groups in the Olympia
community that develop seasonal, public rituals, such as the most
recent spring equinox at the longhouse.

I mention all of this because I have been thinking about Hirsh
Diamant’s posting for the last several days. I have been imagining an
ethnographic, participatory action-based research project that develops
ways for the Olympia community to find out about itself and the world
around it. I was thinking about how so many sub-communities exist on
campus but do not cross-connect. For example, there was a recent
posting to the online forums that suggested that TESC was a secular
campus and any belief system was nonsense, when, I recall, there are 3
active campus christian groups, not to mention others paths or the
individual affiliations of the TESC community with various ritual
systems, and systems of marking the passage of time through metaphor
and mythic structures. There seems to be a complex matrix of ignorance
about what these sub-communities and the community as a whole knows
about itself.

This matrix includes not just the traditions and cultures of the
community, but also disconnects between the activist groups that do not
appear to communicate with each other. Further, while I was a student
at TESC I noticed that so many wonderful programs were building
communities which end up being temporary to themselves and invisible to
the other communities at TESC.

I imagined over the last couple of days a project that was developed to
help the TESC community, and perhaps even the whole Olympia community,
know more about itself and various, diverse beliefs and cultures
through marking the seasons, and developing an asset-based community
development research project to show the complexity of the community in
relation to the groups with which the community was affiliated and the
marks that each of these groups and individuals make on their own
seasonal calendars.

Suffice it to say, that I would love to hear more about the
presentation Hirsh Diamant made, and would be interested in talking
about various ideas for projects around these topics. Is there interest
in being involved in some project like the one I have described, or in
related projects that might have similarities? Would there be interest
in getting together and talking? If so, you might send me an e-mail
with your thoughts and schedule in the next week or two.