By Maaianne Knuth
I read recently in a beautiful book by Jay Griffith (Wild – An Elemental Journey) about how in the councils of many native tribes there is a practice of speaking for the other. One tribe arrived to new lands, in which wolves were plentiful, and they decided to ensure that they would honour the original inhabitants of this land, by ensuring that someone would always advocate for the rights of Wolf in their councils. Before a council the question would be asked – ‘Who Will Speak for Wolf?’
It reminded me of what we are playing with at Kufunda, also inspired by a native american tribe. To have a council of the generations. In it there are five circles, that meet on their own and then bring their wisdom back to the whole:
- There is the circle of the 0-13 year olds, these are the Learners
- There is the circle of the 14-26 year olds, these are the Seekers
- There is the circle of the 27-39 year olds these are the Apprentices
- There is the circle of the 40-52 year olds these are the Teachers
- There is the circle of the 53 – Up these are the Elders
From this basic model, which a friend of the village Carole shared with us last year, came the idea to host three times a year an intergenerational council, where each village member’s voice could be heard, and where space was created for the different ages to find and express their unique voice.
Our first one was this December past. At first we had a very complex design. Complex when you consider the participation of 6 year olds. And so we simplified, simplified, simplified until what was left was a simple process that turned out to be incredibly rich. We only designed the first day, wanting to work with emergence. And knowing the overall themes: Day 1: Appreciation of What Is, Day 2: Dreaming What Can Be
Day one began with collective dance (fun!), then a walk-about walking the land together to really see what is here, what is new, what is in need of attention. What a gift it was to walk together. In looking and seeing we were actually in a process of Loving this Land, of Loving the place we Live. I think the land and the place felt seen, felt honoured, felt acknowledged.
After this in our generational circles we drew and shared those things we most appreciate and love about this place – inspired from our walk.
Open space before lunch allowed some to prepare our meal, others to play maths games with Lucy, others to prepare for the next day. After lunch the generational circles continued with a verbal expression of what the painting had been – What is it here, that we love? We shared it in a fishbowl, with people from each circle present as speakers.
By the end of the day everyone was alight. So simple, so profound. The children were integrated, the land was present, the atmosphere was of delight. Here we are. This is who we are. And this is what we love about ourselves and our community.
The power of giving each circle its space and voice was amazing to me. The youngest organising themselves and really engaging. The texture and gift of each generation becoming so clear to us all.
The second day followed a similar pattern. It was hosted by several young people who stepped up during the open space to volunteer to design and host day two. There was collective time to explore our dreams and also generational time. The sharing at the end was in song and dance.
The power of dreaming from a place of appreciation is one we have discovered earlier in 2013, perhaps actually since our inception. This gathering was a reminder of this.
But back to my first question – Who Will Speak for Wolf?
Reading this piece about speaking for Wolf, or the Trees, or the Salmon…. I thought perhaps this is what comes next. Perhaps we add, even if it is a broad broad category – a council voice that will speak for the Land.
Who will speak for the Land? Who will speak for Wolf.
What a beautiful expansion of something that already feels very expanded. In December it feels like we continued a journey from 25 people with formal roles at Kufunda more deeply into becoming an alive village of 84 people of all ages who all feel they belong, in some way or another.
I will speak for Wolf
Yes, I will speak for Wolf