This year’s annual Celebration of Education was a delightful event for the 105 adults and children at Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage in Tumacácori, Arizona, and our 50 guests. On that balmy, bright September day we first gathered in one of our landscaped vignettes tucked between the community dining area and pool yard for a scrumptious picnic lunch of organic vegetables, grains, and goat cheese from our Avalon Organic Gardens. Through seasonal community-immersion activities, the children had participated in providing that lunch by being part of the animal husbandry team and being part of the team that planted, cared for, and harvested the edible plants in the gardens.
After a lively conversation-filled lunch, we all moved to the outdoor stage area and enjoyed an hour of our community children performing song, dance, drama, and poetry reading with the backdrop of ducks and other water birds landing on the pond behind the open-air stage. We parents (and all of us adults feel parental towards our community children) proudly witnessed the performances, with moments when every adult eye was teary as well as moments of hearty laughter.
Then we moved indoors to a large atrium where we walked among the varied displays of several months' accumulation of work done by the children in our community school, interacting with each child who hosted his or her own display table. We viewed science and math projects, illustrated books, short stories, plays and poetry, jewelry, clothing, games, sculptures, masks, drawings, and social studies presentations that were created by the children, ranging in ages 3 to 16. Small groups of individuals took breaks to have herbal tea and desserts prepared by some of the older children, visiting with each other before continuing to peruse the colorful and interesting children’s displays.
As the late afternoon moved into the soft colors of dusk, many of the community members and several of the guests wandered outside to take walks or cluster in various sitting areas to visit and watch the gentle onset of evening, with, of course, children present.
The whole long afternoon encircled the children of our intentional community, dedicated to honoring and recognizing their many accomplishments and simply enjoying their company. No one needed to rush off anywhere, except a few of the guests. No football games were being watched that Sunday afternoon. The adults’ hearts were full of love and pride for the children, and the children’s hearts were full with a sense of security and belonging as they experienced this circle of love.
Though this day may have seemed extraordinary to most people in the dominant culture of scattered, hurried, and harried lifestyles, it was a day very similar to many of our days here in Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage in the borderlands of southern Arizona. By deliberate choice and in contrast to the mainstream of technology-pulsed Western civilization—pumping behind the drive for “more” and “faster”—our agrarian days usually are rich and round, filled with purposeful work, meaningful relationships, and conversations of substance. Every aspect of our living is interconnected with our spiritual foundation, thus we do not feel as if our lives are compartmentalized. There is a sense of harmony and sychronicity in our daily, moment-to-moment living—allowing room to flow within divine pattern. And our children grow up with that.
This article was previously published in Southern Child
-Niánn Emerson Chase