Let’s Make Community, One Conversation at a Time
Call to Action: Let’s Make Community, One Conversation at a Time
You know it when you see it.
At the end of the day, a gaggle of middle schoolers is washing cars outside Childpeace. It is a fundraiser for the 8th grade Montessori Model United Nations trip to New York City, but the crew are a mix of MMUN students, other 8th graders, and 7th graders. Driven by an undifferentiated spirit of generosity and the pure fun that the combination of water and bubbles promises, they are lathering up cars at lightning speed, surrounded by proud parents and awed customers. The riot is not just a fundraiser, but a community knitting themselves closer together in pursuing a common goal, higher and better than any individual could entertain.
Any Childpeace parent can testify to the light in their child’s eyes when they report on a project, a social event, or a witty exchange they participated in. They know Childpeace is a special place to go to school, because it’s a community of passionate minds, busy hands, and genuine social connection. As parents consistently have said: I wish I could go to school here!
Well, you are a member of this community, and today, we extend an invitation to you—dear Families, Guides and Assistants, Staff, Board, and School Leadership—one that comes from the heart and speaks directly to a need we all have: to feel a deep sense of belonging.
At Childpeace, belonging is centered on our shared purpose to hold and challenge our children as they more and more become themselves. The psychologist Abraham Maslow called it self-actualization. Looking beyond the benefits for the individual, Maria Montessori recognized the revolutionary potential of education to make a better world when children are free to fully be themselves and work in accord with their passions and at their own pace.
We all are the makers of this place. And the stronger the connection we feel with one another, the more Childpeace becomes the space of authenticity, empathy, and patience we want our children to thrive in.
The idea behind this invitation is not ours alone. Peter Block in his book Community: The Structure of Belonging argues that the primary tool to create structures of belonging is direct communication. He suggests six conversations to leverage community-building: Possibility, Ownership, Dissent, Commitment, Gratitudes, and Gifts. Powerful questions, he says, open up spaces for connection precisely across the many differences we so often feel are dividers.
This year, we at Childpeace are connecting and building community, through conversations. But we will not just talk; here are the central questions that drive us from conversation to community action:
- What is the new conversation we want to have? Language matters: asking personal, powerful questions makes us feel alive, invested, and future-oriented in the conversation.
- Who do we want in the room? Let’s gather in a diversity of groups and focus on gifts (capacities, expertise, resources we bring) to build our community in deliberate steps.
- What can we do? By coming together voluntarily, we can solve problems ourselves and co-create places of belonging.
In the spirit of this invitation, here are the gatherings for conversation and service we envision:
- Guides and administrative staff will meet to talk about Ownership this fall and about Dissent and Commitment in the spring.
- Guides and Assistants will contemplate Possibilities and Gratitudes on two separate occasions in level meetings.
- The leadership of the School will reflect on their role in the organization and explore questions of Hospitality and how Physical Space shapes community.
- The entire School community is invited to explore Ownership and Possibility, Dissent and Commitment on two separate occasions, tied into whole-school service projects and community celebrations.
- The Childpeace staff will come together to revisit the Gift conversation we started the school year with and also engage in a second story exchange on in-service days.
We have an ambitious plan and it will need all of us to say, “I love this place, and I know that our community, like all good things, needs explicit care to thrive. Count me in!” Please sign up here to help make the plan come alive. We’ll be in touch.
Please look for particulars in the Buzz. We can’t wait to get started!
It's 3:05. Eight Metro students are sitting opposite each other at two tables for our final Ethics Bowl practice match. Some are leaning forward intently, one is looking for a pencil, one is reaching over to poke a friend with a piece of paper. One student pulls out a meat stick from his backpack and begins to eat it.