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All Hands On Deck
The school grounds on a sunny day
***

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

My girlfriend teaches weaving and carpentry at the Waldorf School in Atotonilco. Last Monday, I had agreed to drop her off there. The plan was that I would harvest some tomatoes from the school's garden, do my yoga in that bucolic setting, eat my breakfast (packed for the occasion) and come back into town, all the time accompanied by the dog.

However, when we arrived, a little before 9am, we were informed, even before I parked the car, that the property was going to flood. We had been informed, before we set out, that our usual route, the back way into Atotonilco, was already flooded, and so we came through town. After a month of heavy rain the reservoirs in Dolores, some 20 miles upstream, unable to hold any more water, had been opened.

Farther along, but not much farther along, the road, we could see the waters already spanning that back way in. It seemed to me that I could see the tide inching its way towards us.

The Sanctuary on a sunny day
***

Across the way, behind a long, solid stone and concrete wall, the flood was already high and swirling around two houses. It was kept back from expanding in our direction by the impermeable bulk of the roadside wall.

The decision was made to dismiss school. The dismissal notice, sent to the parents over WhatsApp, included a plea for all able hands to come and help move things to higher ground.

I was swept up into the effort, delegated to the garden, elevating plants and other valuables inside the greenhouse according to my girlfriend's instructions while she harvested the mostly cherry tomatoes. Then I made two trips with the wheelbarrow, carrying away tools and other things we did not want to float away or be buried under mud.

The teachers were all at work preparing the school's two large and one small buildings for the flood. The parental response was swift and impressive. A lot of these parents work remotely and/or independently and are able to come and go more or less as they please. The choice between staying seated in front of their computer or going to save their kid's school from the flood was really no contest.

The school on a sunny day
***

Thirty to forty adult people and a dozen kids worked for four hours, with a few coming and going, efficiently emptying out the lower levels of the school. Some smaller things were put on high shelves where there were such. But the vast bulk of everything, desks, tables, computers, supplies of all sorts and a lot more were moved up 20 stairs to the second floor of the main classroom building. It was good, in an ancient, hormonally-based way, to see the community rise to the occasion, everyone pitching in to avoid disaster. It felt important to be a part of it.

Incidentally, I and a mother of the school were the only two non-Latinos participating in the grand schlep, both of us hailing from the States.

I was by far the oldest schlepper, and, of all the men, the smallest. Consequently, I assumed the privilege of bringing things to the base of the stairs and leaving them there for someone younger and stronger to bring up. I did make a dozen or so trips upstairs, but couldn't manage the same eagerness as my younger compatriots.

Twenty-two years ago, during the summer of 1999, I worked with a crew of five much younger men clearing "the meadow" on a parcel of land, 150 mostly wooded acres, I bought up on a mountainside, up in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. The work was mostly cutting trees that had grown up in the meadow, then dragging them, piling them up into what came to be enormous heaps. After being dragged to the heap, the cut tree needed to be stood back up, then elevated, balancing the cut butt-end in both hands. Then, as it was made to lean in that direction, the tree had to be tossed up onto the heap. We cut the smaller, "shitty" trees that had grown up in abundance, leaving the small number of trees, which were beautiful and full-bodied.

We all lived down the mountain a bit on the adjacent ex-commune, now land trust. There at dinner one evening someone made fun of how skinny I was. The crew leader leapt to my defense, "Yes, but every one of those sinews is a steel cable."

I have to admit that I've lost some umph that I had in those bygone days. Last Monday, there, among those many younger bodies, I made up somewhat for that lack of physical endurance by advocating the use of wheel-barrows. Most people, including those working beside me at the school, are unfamiliar with the device.

A wheel-barrow greatly reduces the expenditure of force needed to move things, eliminating the effort usually needed to keep whatever it is you are carrying elevated off the ground. All your strength can focus on moving the things laterally, propelling it forward. And once you get that load moving, at least on level ground, it rolls along practically by itself. If you can carry one board without a wheel-barrow, then you can carry six or seven boards the same distance balanced on a wheel-barrow. The trick being to keep your load balanced.

I'm happy to report that at the height of our activity all four of the school's wheel-barrows were in use, carrying desks, tables, stacks of chairs, boxes and more. The Aztecs accomplished their feats of building without the horse or the wheel. We didn't have horses last Monday, but we had wheels.

At some point, watermelon was served, brought around for the workers to eat on their way. There was much comradery, esprit du corps.

At some point, watermelon was served, brought around for the workers to eat on their way. There was much comradery, esprit du corps.

If the alert, the call for all hands on deck, had been made a couple of hours later, it wouldn't have gone through. That's because, last Monday, as you might remember, WhatsApp, the school's communication network, failed along with its sister platforms, Facebook and Instagram world-wide. Much of the traffic, normally running on those three platforms, switching to Zoom and Telegram, caused those two platforms to also go down for a while.

Someone rightly observed that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I can attest that when you are promoting a new community-based social network, as I am, everything seems like an example of how our society has devolved.

Big tech platforms promote a hyper-commercialized, hyper-competitive version of society. It's called social networking, but it's nothing our parents or grandparents would recognize as socializing. It's nothing like the real life community of parents and teachers who bonded together to save the school's resources from damage and loss.

Before the internet, you really had to search to learn something in depth. You had to go to a library, bookstore, lecture or find someone who knew. In the early days of the internet we were still searching out various websites, bookmarking and visiting those to get our information. Now, Facebook or Twitter or news.Yahoo's algorithms deliver right to our social network newsfeeds what it believes will best keep us glued to our screens.

The Artificial Intelligence creates passivity, the expectation that everything will be done for us. We stop being actors. We choose a username, pick a password and voila. Again, nothing like the team of responders at the school last Monday.

My project, Lokkal, uses the internet to build local community. A digital town square, it brings people together, promoting events and activities in the real world. Lokkal is a platform of neighborhoods and communities, towns and cities, creating a calmer, more empathic online social network, a platform that facilitates community communication and participation.

No one is going to do it for us. No one is going to deliver us out of this mess. The waters are rising. This is the alert. All hands on deck.

Please consider giving at the Go Fund Me link below.

**************

Dr David and his merry band believe that the new expanded Lokkal will change the world, city by city, starting here in San Miguel.

Please consider supporting a more empathic internet and a more equitable world:

Go Fund Me -
Digital Town Square:
Building Community & Economy

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