My 8th Grade Community Service Project Introduction:
Before I began my 8th grade community service project, I thought about what community service is. I realized that it depends on how you define community. I relate community mostly to the community that I am around everyday, my school. Since I can remember, community service has been a part of my family’s values and a guiding principle of the school I attend. I have attended the same school for over ten years, a school that has grown to 12 acres with an expansive organic garden, a pond, and farm animals. I am the second from the youngest in my family, and our family has been a part of this Waldorf community for 17 years. We have built buildings and planted gardens and cared for animals. We cheerfully volunteered to work weekends and evenings at the school regularly. Beauty and service has always been a part of our community work at Desert Marigold School. When I was a younger child, gnomes and fairies on the campus performed random acts of kindness and beauty; and beautiful festivals and performances celebrated all that was good in the natural world such as the changing of the seasons, holidays, and friendship. We accepted this as an absolute truth and believed that this was the way that the world really is.
As we got older, we became more aware of the communities beyond our campus gardens and gentle curriculum. We found out that the world is not always a place where kindness and beauty are an everyday expectation. I also started to notice that our little school community had grown. There was so much to do on the campus that new people joined our community who did not have the benefit of experiencing what I did. They did not know the tricky gnomes whose mischievous deeds needed fixing or cleaning up; or spirited fairies that magically transformed little spaces into beautiful nature tables and natural works of art. It seemed that there were not enough volunteers or staff to get everything done; there is just too much to do. Many things do not seem as beautiful now that I am older. I guess I am more jaded in my perceptions, as the magic of fairies and gnomes have faded somewhat from my sight, although I can still occasionally see glimmers of it in the kindergarten yard.
My older sister also had a similar view to mine. She wanted to do something to help make the campus more beautiful too. We came up with a plan to anonymously make the community more beautiful through random acts of community kindness and beauty. That is when I decided that my community service project would be in service to beautifying the school, in functional ways, and hopefully appease the few remaining fairies and gnomes and other elemental beings that may still reside at our school. We selected two campus projects, that we worked on together. We designed the projects and got permission from the administration to do them. We painted the boy’s and girl’s bathrooms on the lower grades yard first. We used the celestial sun and moon representation on the doors, artfully designed by my sister. I selected a third project to beautify the campus and to bring imagination and magic near the early childhood yard. A tree near the entrance of the early childhood yard was sick and needed to be cut down. The young children were upset by the loss of this tree, and the stump left was a sad reminder to them of the living tree that stood at the entrance to their yard. I decided to convert this tree stump into a planter and fairy house, for visiting fairies to stop by and have a little snack. I put little windows in the bark house so that the children can peak in to the little fairy kitchen as they walk by. Even though hand-chiseling the tree stump took many hours, it was well worth the evening and weekend time to heal a wound in our natural environment at our school. I hope my story inspires other potential RAKtivists to consider doing random acts of kindness and beauty at their school.