Where shall I begin? Once again I never cease to be amazed by this group of kids! Their capacity for civics is phenomenal. I have been meaning to have town meeting for many weeks, today I bit the bullet and did it, with out any warning to the homesteaders that it would be coming. We began class by establishing an agenda. This was quick. Three items were up for discussion: Meeting penalties, form of government, and jobs (creating a business). The first 15 to 20 minutes of class were spent on penalties. Ideas for behavior and discipline were offered:
- time out chair
- three strikes with fines, then go in the hall
- drown peep in the river
- burn offending peep
- 1st strike- warning
- 2nd strike- fine of an undetermined amount (homesteaders decided that this should be left to the moderator's discretion based on the severity of the offense [whisper, talking, interrupting])
- 3rd strike- homesteader is removed to the hallway, fined (an undetermined amount), and exiled from the next meeting.
Government was up next. Ideas were offered:
- not a free state- direct democracy
- wait until peeps are settled in town to choose government
- rule with tyranny- force, not choice; no vote; inconsistent government; taxes; anyone could take over; homesteaders might quit
- senate with impeachment (like star wars)
- democracy with a few leaders, oligarchy, board of selectmen
When called to a vote, a senate government won with nine votes. I am not really sure what this means. There was a bit of talk about Star Wars... so I guess "like that"? Tyranny and monarchy each received zero votes.
At this point the meeting began to deteriorate.... it was moved to end the meeting. This motion failed. Disciplinary actions were taken (by the moderator) against a handful of disruptive homesteaders. We began the discussion about jobs. "We need more!" "How are we supposed to make money?" One homesteaders suggested that you could be an architect or a builder, since some homesteaders are daunted by these tasks. Another suggested that we should have a police force. Another suggested that we have a jail. Rolph interrupted to remind everyone that Tiny Town does not have laws to enforce. "Well, we'll hire police and build a jail and then we'll make laws!" We got a bit off topic. "We should have fines and loss of trading post privileges, not a jail." It was moved to end the meeting again... once again the motion failed. One homesteader reached the third strike threshold. He then went beyond so we revisited this topic. What happens after three strikes? "A really BIG (though still undetermined) fine!"
Around this time the bell rang.
The greatest lesson I think that can be taken from today is the homesteaders need for respect. The first item they came up with for the agenda was to have consequences for poor behavior during town meeting. It is a high priority to these kids that they have a voice. Today's meeting was entirely homesteader driven. Rolph only spoke up twice, once about the lack of laws and once when a homesteaders began to rant and rave about select peeps and how they are not elected and they would change all of the time. I merely revealed what a select board actually is. To which the homesteader replied, "Oh, that's how it works around here.?", as though it is very different where he is from (this makes me smile!). These kids did a fabulous job.
Next week: back to building!