Villages don't become special places overnight. A village, and its people must slowly grow together, and, like plants or families, need the right conditions to do this. It is not usually major events that make a village great; instead, a series of many small cumulative events enable people to work together and get to know and appreciate each other.
In our case the key guiding principles are as follows: 1)Have a rough idea of what your goal is (make your village a better place?). 2) Have some rough measure of what this means (lots of activities, people getting to know each other better). 3) Be able to recognize serendipitous opportunities when they come along. 4) Be able to take advantage of the opportunity to move towards your goal. 5) Be positive. There's too much to do to waste your time being negative. In the words of Martin Luther King "Dont hate-It's too great a burden to bear". Finally the most important principle is to 6)Have fun. If you and the people you are working with are not having fun, you're doing something wrong!
There are some who believe that careful planning of major events is the key to success and that this kind of activity must be done through organizations that use draconian methods and deprivation. While there is certainly a place for large scale thinking (building community halls, indoor rinks, etc.),I think that in many cases the opposite is true. Too many major events end up with burned-out bitter people (why aren't others helping?) and that is the antithesis of a village poet's goal. Small spontaneously happenings will in the end yield greater results for the effort. Even in the case of major events, they should be broken up into small events that are pleasurable in themselves. Moreover, in a world in which we are forced to do so many unpleasant things to get a dollar in our pocket, the opportunity to do something for our village family can be viewed as a pleasure. Therefore, our attitude is one of enjoying the work we do and being grateful that not too many people are involved, for this would take the fun away. Along these same lines, make sure to articulate the deserved respect and admiration for the work that other people do. A corollary to this is if anybody starts slave driving others in the name of the cause, the slave-driver should be reprimanded and, if necessary, moved aside so that some one more positive can take their place. Another important maxim is that Village Poets can succeed in doing anything they wish for their Village, so long as they let others take the credit for a job well done. Remember, in community building, it's not what you do that's important, it's the way that you do it.
Having said this the next most important thing is to prepare to take advantage of serendipitous moments. This means that you must always be building a network of friends in the village that want to help out. (This is of course fun, because you are getting to meet new people).
Another important point is that a Village Poet doesn't always have some of the many skills that are needed to make things happen. As a result some of the most important people in your network are those who have skills which are complimentary to yours and the others in your network. Now, having this network doesn't mean that you don't have to be mobilized when serendipitous moments arise. People need to be encouraged to do things that are not part of their normal, and in many cases mind-numbing, routine. Remember, when you call them, you are not asking them to make a sacrifice, you are generously giving them the opportunity to share in the fun. If you do things right they will be grateful to you for allowing them to participate. A corollary to this is that getting newcomers involved is very important, even if it is a bit more time-consuming: be sure they get to make new friends while working on the project. This is good for both the old timers and the newcomers.
There are many more tactics and strategies that we use in our activities but this will give you some idea of the kind of work that Village Poets do.
|Poetry Introduction/3 fun poems/2 somber poems/A wistful poem|
Tactics and Organization
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