A Playground for Walker

Parents of students attending Charlottesville City Schools would like to support our community in building a playground for WalkerIf you are interested in getting involved, including taking a survey to provide student and parent feedback, please sign up to receive updates by emailing christa@communitywell.com.

Currently, Walker Upper Elementary School does not have a playground. Instead, it has a basketball court, a four square section of the court, and a soccer field (which is often unusable due to wear and tear from weekend soccer games). This is problematic, as it limits the options students have for critically important physical movement during the day. In a 2018 study by Oregon State University, researchers found that one of the contributors to quality recess experiences for students was “plenty of choices of play equipment and games.”

During a school project that engaged all sixth-graders at Walker in fall 2018, students identified a playground as one of the top things they wanted for their school.

The lack of a Walker playground is particularly unfortunate because it is at this upper elementary divide that economic and racial disparities in Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) become even more pronounced, per public data. Walker has the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students of any CCS school, and its percentage of students of color is higher than the citywide average, as well. We want for all students to have access to adequate spaces to play.

In conversations with community stakeholders over the last year, several key parties have expressed interest in supporting a playground for Walker. This includes local nonprofits; Walker’s principal, Dr. Adam Hastings; and CCS School Board members Juandiego Wade and Lisa Larson-Torres, in addition to CCS parents.

A Playground for Walker is being considered as a possible topic for this fall’s Participatory Budgeting at Walker, a design thinking and democratic process to determine creative, student-driven solutions to the question, “How might we improve the school experience at Walker?” Through this innovative approach, students would be part of the process of deciding what a playground at Walker should include. The final designs and equipment, as informed by students, may include innovative playscapes outside of traditional playground structures.

Thank you for taking time to learn more about A Playground for Walker!

If you have questions or would like to be added to a mailing list to receive updates on how you can be involved, please email Christa Bennett at christa@communitywell.com.

The Waiting Place

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I’ve been thinking a lot this week about Glennon Doyle‘s quote, “First the pain, then the waiting, then the rising.” I’m in a period of waiting, and I have to keep reminding my self that the rising always follows the waiting. It really does.
I’m also listening to Jason Isbell’s song, Something to Love, “May you find something you love/ Something to do when you feel like giving up.” I think the something can be profound – like my babies, who absolutely have saved me from giving up – but also a small, every day thing. Like I recently found the most amazing lounge pants from Gap. They’re so soft, and they have pockets, and they’re not too long on my short legs.
Glennon also says that we cannot rescue each other from the pain and waiting. They are sacred, and they are ours, and we should not try to snatch them from each other. Instead, she says, “All we can do is offer relief from this fear: I am all alone. That’s the one fear you can alleviate.”
So here I am, waiting in my Gap joggers, and if you are in pain or waiting too, you’re not alone. Life is hard, sometimes hard down to our bones, hard in a way that changes us. And we are not alone. I see you, and as long as someone sees you, you are not lost.

The First Christa

When I was in college, the president of my university gave a speech that made a lasting impression on me, about how we make choices, and that limits the other choices we can make. I appreciated it because it was really thoughtful and honest, like he was preparing us for adulthood: “You’re going to have to make choices. That’s great! How lucky you are to have choices! When you do make those choices, there are other choices that will no longer be available to you. That’s called growing up.”

I’m in my late 30s now, and I’ve made a lot of choices. With that has come the bittersweetness of knowing (or wondering if) there are things that aren’t available to me anymore. It is bitter in the sense of grieving the loss of things that I thought might be – but aren’t. It is sweet because I have received what I wanted most.

Last night, Mike came home from dinner with a colleague we had both known in CA. He said that she had asked how I was doing, and that he had told her, “She’s busy being the first Christa.”

The first Christa! Ha!! There remain many fewer “first” or “youngest ever” opportunities for me. But Mike sees that I am trying to very carefully create a life that reflects my deepest values and to be the best mother I can be to Emma and Maggie, who have never had any mother ever before. I am trying to not waste a drop of this one wild and precious life.

Being named the first Christa is the best birthday gift I received this week.

And you are the first you! Congratulations!!! You must be so proud. ❤️

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22 year old me in Cambridge, England. It’s one of my favorites, as it was taken at a time when I was trying very hard to become the first Christa.

Patriarchy

This past week has been a stunning display of patriarchy in America. Like many people, I’ve felt personally sucker punched by its acute audacity and cruelty. At the same time, I’ve been thinking about things like the nearly 500 immigrant and refugee children who are still separated from their parents – a stain on our conscience from which we should never recover.

The most accurate description of patriarchy is not men vs. women. It is those with power vs. those with less or without. This is one of the reasons that my upbringing in the Christian faith was the original force behind my deep commitment to push back on patriarchy. Jesus said the first will be last and the last will be first. Jesus sided with those with less power.

When we resist patriarchy, we do so for women, and for our babies, including all the babies in tent cities in Texas and those separated from their mothers and fathers, because all children are our children. We do so for the differently abled and those without access to living wage jobs. We do so for all those with less power.

In her book Memories of God, Roberti Bondi wrote that for the ancient Christian teachers, “humility was about slipping underneath the whole hierarchical social web of judgments by which we limit ourselves and one another in order to love and act fearlessly with power and authority.”

We slip out from patriarchy, we claim power through acts of love, and with that power we bend the arc of the moral universe to justice.

I Believe Dr. Ford

I lit a candle for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford this morning. 

Two Scriptures come to mind today: “The world does not know you, but I know you.”

We know you, Dr. Ford. Your sisters, daughters, mothers, those with less power but with truth – we know you, and we see you. You tell our ancient story. Of bearing, of surviving.

The second is one of my favorites: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

Whatever happens today, Dr. Ford, I pray that your heart is strengthened by the witness of millions of women. I know truth and love and grace will win and heal; I pray that they win in your lifetime. I pray that you see, if not today, then tomorrow, the justice your truth secures. If not for you, then for our daughters or for our granddaughters.

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” (Muriel Rukeyser)

There’s a broken immigration system and then there’s tearing children from parents. We can fix one NOW.

The US’ immigration system has been broken for a long time. Good people can disagree on how to fix it. Personally, I will always promote welcoming the stranger. However, I’ve studied immigration policy, and I know there are a variety of factors to be considered – including, yes, the safety and livelihoods of the people already living in a country – when creating policy, so that it is hopefully done in a way that does the most good for the most people. We can disagree on the best way to do that.

But even when we disagree on other immigration issues, we can agree that we must do all we can to not separate children from their parents, a new policy of the US government. Laura Bush says it well in her recent article in the Washington Post:

I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.

Please call your congressperson and senators and ask them to sign onto the Keep Families Together Act. Or, if you don’t like how that bill is written, ask them to sponsor their own bill. Ask them to make sure children are not separated from their parents. NOW – not in 6 months or 6 years or whenever our government can finally get it together to fix our overall immigration system. And remember, even families seeking asylum – which means they are *not* coming illegally; asylum is a legal right – are being separated.

Find your representative’s number here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Find your senators’ numbers here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

This article links to several organizations that are supporting separated families, if you would like to make a donation: https://mashable.com/2018/06/18/child-separation-immigration-charities-donate/#PR1QwOwooqqd