This blog follows mine and Rolph's journey playing the Game of Village with a group of fifth, sixth and seventh graders at Marlborough School. The Game of Village at Marlborough School is sponsored by the Marlborough School District Endowment Fund (www.msdef.org)
Over last week's vacation Vera wrote a letter to the peeps of TinyTown. It was distributed among the residents with the hope that it might help them solve their eminent domain crisis. The letter is as follows:
To the peeps (and homesteaders) of Tinytown
April 17, 2012
I am Vera, the old
lady peep who visited you last week, the day Rolph said he was taking over the
town by eminent domain. I have visited
quite a few peep villages in my life and my human is on the
board of directors of The Game of Village, Inc. I am surprised and a little worried to
notice how very separate and independent the peeps are in Tinytown. Of course self reliance is good and
important. Peeps need to work hard and take care of themselves. What worries me is that your community is
suddenly in a crisis and doesn't seem ready for it.
The crisis is
caused by bad leadership. You all have
trusted Rolph and now he has betrayed you!
He claims the whole town and plans to sell it at a big profit to
himself. This would make all the rest
of you peeps homeless and maybe be the end of Village for the year. I saw you asking yourselves “what can we
do?”, and some of you had good suggestions that Tuesday April 10. The peeps were not in agreement however, and
didn't want to or weren't able to listen to each other or decide anything. One thing I do know is that good group
decisions can only come when everybody agrees (or almost everybody). Plus, orderly meetings and patient listening
are needed to get to agreement.
Are all of you
peeps going to let one peep steal everything from you because he is in a position
of political power? Can't you all agree
that peeps, like “The People” of the United States of America,
may not be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without
due process of law”? How about
prohibiting the taking of private property for public use without just
compensation”? Those quotes are in the
Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Can't you work together enough to stop Rolph, perhaps by calling on a
higher authority for legal support? You
can talk to your teachers, your parents, me (Vera), even your own sense of
justice (group conscience), and then take action. What can you do? First make sure there is written law, then
arrest the criminal for breaking the law.
Try his case fairly and take back what is properly yours. A trial would be one time to practice
orderliness since a disorderly trial is a mistrial. A trial, like any group meeting, works best
if it is brief and decisive (you need an impartial judge or jury). Expressing opinions and arguing with great
passion can be productive, but a courtroom can’t have peeps getting out of
control. At least in that formal setting
peeps must respect each other, their laws, and the need for order. Otherwise they can lose everything.
There isn't much
time left in the school year, and I don't know what goals Tinytown has. I hope there will be some public event so
us older peeps and some younger ones can visit and meet you all and get
entertained. How about a peep circus or
something? Call me if you want to @
847-3227 and leave a message with your number. I will call you back.
Needless to say, Rolph was very nervous about going to Village today. Would he be arrested? All of the homesteaders met outside under the pavilion. An informal meeting was called to order, as there were no materials to use to continue working on houses. It seemed the only thing left for the TinyTownies to do would be to find a solution for keeping their land. "We should kill Rolph" "We should send Rolph to outer space in one of those rockets" "We should form a government and make some laws to protect us"
Fortunately for Rolph he is likable! Many homesteaders came to his defense when it was suggested he be killed or sent to the moon. Disco Dave got up and gave a presentation about having a president... I think. It was hard to tell what he was ranting about as he paced back and forth through the middle of the crowd. Whatever it was, it seemed important! Ultimately it was established that we should elect a president to make laws to protect the town. Six peeps stood up to meet the challenge and gave campaign speeches. Some of the speeches were pretty clean while others slung a LOT of mud! The vote narrowed our options to Bob and Fred. Bob took eleven votes and was declared the winner. Fred, with three votes was declared vice president. Fred then did a bit of talking about making laws, but failed to make any. Rolph tried to keep them on track by asking what their solution was and what laws actually protect them. One peep suggested that they pass a law to protect the wildlife of TinyTown and hence cannot be flooded. This went no where. The steady tangent revolved around a law that would make a federal takeover illegal without the signatures of the all of the residents of the town. This is a good law... however, as Rolph reminded them, they have not fulfilled the terms of the contract signed in September to receive the deeds for their land. The vice president then asked for an extension of three weeks to fulfill these conditions. Rolph asked what was in it for him? He was then promised quite a lot of manure. This is when Rolph stopped paying attention to anything else. Fortunately for the residents of TinyTown, Rolph is rather simple and has a major weakness! The new law will become legal as soon as the TinyTownies receive the deeds to their land.
It looks like we will have class next week. We will continue outside building houses and improving land.
We were joined this morning by Michael Iselin and his peep Vera. I was concerned after last week that these homesteaders really needed something BIG to happen to Tiny Town to bring them together and get them to actually make some decisions on their own. I played with the idea of sending an oil pipeline through the town... but this idea was half baked and not really realistic. After discussing the problem with others, Rolph decided to sell the town to a power company to make way for a new hydro-electric project (a dam!). When homesteaders arrived this morning they had this on their tables:
One or two read it immediately and asked me what was going on. Rolph answered that he had sold the town. Many of the kids continued business as usual, so Rolph and Vera wandered around asking homesteaders if they had read the proclamation. Some kids said they couldn't read it, it was written in a very tricky font. Others formed small groups trying to read and understand its meaning together. One homesteader began wandering around the room chanting about standing up against the project and coming together. "Join PAST: peeps against seizing towns!" Another homesteader kept yelling, "Emergency town meeting!!" Rolph continued around asking, "Why bother to keep working on houses when there is no where to put them?" and saying, "Oh, I like that house it will be perfect for my hogs when I take your house to settle your debt with the Federal Bank." Some homesteaders asked Rolph why he sold the town. He let them know that he received 930meeps for it. The homesteaders were incredulous. "That's all you got!!"
After a while the kids managed to get organized and held an emergency meeting regarding the proclamation and what to do about it. The meeting was run by Hunter and moderated by Ostar.
"We should protest!"
"We should have a sit in!"
"We should build a rocket and send all of the peeps to space!"
"We should elect a president to fix this, vote for me!"
"We should settle somewhere else."
"We should build in the trees."
"Maybe it's a code, what do all of the highlighted letters mean?"
"Everyone, bring me as many two liter bottles as you can and I will build a three or four stage rocket to send them to space!"
"But we won't be able to go with them!"
"Maybe we should get collateral loans?!"
"Maybe we could pool our money and buy it back."
Through the course of much speculation, some false, Rolph asked the kids if they had read the entire proclamation, specifically paragraph two. The homesteaders read it together and realized that they have until May 1 to come up with a solution. This helped to focus their conversation a bit, but not much. Toward the end of our time the seventh graders began to get interested, even though they are pretty sure nothing is really going to happen. It will be interesting to see what solutions they come up with.
The newspaper published a new edition today... the newspaper editor seems sadly uninformed about what is going on in town. Perhaps he thinks that whatever he reports will become what is really happening?
Next week we have no school and hence no Village. The following week we are making our transition to our outdoor classroom.
I can't believe we are already at week 28! Our days are numbered and we have SO much left to do, or not. We had town meeting today to further discuss the senator idea of government. We began with an announcement that the meeting was for peeps, not kids... please use your peep when speaking. Our agenda consisted of senators and businesses/jobs. It was suggested that peeps be limited to only speaking four times during the meeting to help things run more quickly. This was seconded (in thirded and fourthed...) "THERE ARE NO THIRDS!" shouts the moderator. The measure fails. The meeting is called to order at 8:24am. Bob comes up and presents his ideas about senators:
3 peeps from any grade
1 peep for each grade, representing 5 peeps each
1 representative from each grade
Disco Dave has an idea, " I know this may sound crazy... Make everyone a senator, then there's higher things than senators, president- senate- reps... different levels of power."
Moved to vote
"Each grade can talk with the whole council, then the '3' will make the final decision." "Hey, I have an idea, we could just have three grades separate as groups to make decisions, then send a rep."
"Which one would be like the senators from Star Wars?"
"We could just have no government" "We cannot get rid of the FED"
separate grades to vote (1 rep /grade)
3 total people
1 peep representing five peeps
1 peep from each grade
leveled power with a president
"I move to reconsider"
"Some people voted three times"
"In history women were not allowed to vote, we could just do that"
Disco Dave gets up again to tell us more about his idea, "The President was a side track of leveled power, there would be President and then dot dot dot dot dot, and then peeps. Leveled power is sort of like a pyramid." He then draws a block pyramid on the board with the President at the top, followed by three senators, followed by five representatives, followed by everyone else.
"The FED would still be above the president"
"All in favor of redoing this entire vote?" 11 yays, 3 nays
Re vote results:
Leveled power wins- we now have a pyramid scheme government.
"RECONSIDER!" only 4 are for another re vote.
Disco Dave tries to present again. Morton moves, "Cut out the representative level, we don't have enough people for that." This passes 12 to 5.
Disco Dave, "No we aren't, this was my idea..."
"Do you have to be of a specific financial standing to run?"
"You just need enough money for a campaign- or pass out 'Vote for me' papers- because I did in fact invent this..."
This is when the bell rang. In an exit poll, half of the kids want to continue this next week, while the other half want to get back to building. During the meeting one peep suggested that not everyone should have to participate in the meeting. Rolph informed them that this is why we are bothering to have this discussion: to figure out who will be making decisions for our community. The peeps of Tiny Town do not know how lucky they are that Rolph is such a simpleton, it sure would be nice if he got it together and forced some very undesirable federal laws and taxes on this town. Something to brainstorm for next week.