Life pushes back against a story that excludes it. ~Margaret Wheatley
What we need now are specialists of the impossible. ~ Theodore Roethke
Dear Springhouse community,
The Springhouse vision is to live in a world where all life thrives. This is the North Star that inspires us, keeps us focused, and fuels our determination. Our mission is to practice the Sourced Design principles of taking care of vulnerability, cultivating personhood, building beloved community, learning from the Earth, and loving and serving others.
We live in a world that, as a whole, seems very far from this vision and from these principles. Even though we seem far from it, some of us wake up and realize that for the world to be a more vital and just place, the way we live needs to change. It has to get pretty uncomfortable for many of us to get to this point. When one person chooses to live in a way that takes care of life, over time, this causes a ripple effect in the systems they are a part of. We need support to live in a new way–we need practices that foster vitality, a regular place to practice over time, people to practice with, and mentorship from those we trust.
Living in a way that aligns more deeply with Life is not for the faint of heart. Our habits keep us in our comfort zone, minimizing change wherever possible. Many of us are struggling with addiction and harmful behaviors. The world we live in is designed to distract and pull us away from ourselves. Creating new habits to live stronger is very difficult. If our new way of life is to survive, we must learn how to take care of the vulnerability that comes with the choice to live in a new way by learning how to be present to it.
Even though most of us have not had this experience, school can be a place where we learn how to live in ways that take better care of life. Education can be how we learn to do that together. Developing new habits is vulnerable. School can be a place where that vulnerability is taken care of by providing a regular place to practice, a community to practice with, and mentorship from those we trust. I have mentored many young people and adults over the past thirty years. and almost all of them speak to a need for a place, a community, and a mentor to practice new ways with. Without these, new habits are not very likely to form. Springhouse offers what is needed when it comes to these things, but disrupting the status quo and forming new habits is difficult; dangerous even. Change is not popular. People, money, and understanding do not come toward us easily, and outcomes are not immediate or quick. Its vision and mission make Springhouse very vulnerable; especially in the world of education and schooling that has looked a certain way for centuries.
To live in a world where all life thrives, we will need to change the way we live; some more than others. Though change is hard, many people have shown us how to do hard things. We thankfully have examples of people who have made sacrifices to live stronger as a whole. For me, my Dad was one of those people. As I was doing some lineage research recently, I found something that I have not been able to find–an article about my Dad’s accident in 1960. As I searched the Detroit Free Press, I saw a headline come up, “Arm was caught in door”, and I knew it was the story about my Dad. It read: “John, then a ninth-grader at University of Detroit High School, was thrown under the rear wheels of the bus. He sustained a fractured pelvis, internal injuries and crippling injuries to his left hip and knee.” At the age of 14 my Dad was paralyzed, told he would never have children, and lived with debilitating effects including chronic physical pain until he died far too young at age 56. Though he had some support, he dug deep, and ultimately found what he needed within himself.
Right after the accident, my Dad was not motivated to change by what was ahead of him. In fact what he was told by the doctors was devastating, not inspiring. He did not know he would walk again. He did not know he would get married and have three children. One of the great miracles of my Dad’s life was my birth. I was his first child born on September 28, 1970, ten years exactly from the day of his terrible accident. He would always say September 28th was the worst and best day of his life. He did not know any of this was to come when he laid in a hospital bed for months, wondering what would become of him.
I am sure there were many days that my Dad imagined the worst. I have heard the stories of his father being by his side through the grueling work of walking again. I was told that he was deeply motivated by the book, It’s Good to Be Alive, by Roy Campanella; the catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers who suffered a terrible car accident in the late 50s and was paralyzed as a result. He found inspiration where he needed to but ultimately, his determination to do everything he could to live in a new way, was a choice. A month before he died, he told me that when he was in that rehab center as a teen, he would say to himself over and over again, “I am going to walk again.” With a lot of hard work, and by some miracle that none of us will ever understand, he did.
We take the Springhouse vision seriously. We know that if we are ever to live in a world that thrives, we have to do hard things; one of them being changing the way we live to align more with Life. School can be the place where we learn how to do hard things. Education can be how we learn to navigate the joy and difficulty of living in ways most of us haven’t learned. Many of us have not learned to sing, to dance, have hard conversations, and to learn and strategize in service to a healthier world. We need a place to practice those ways so they can become habits; so that we can live in a thriving world. At our regular morning meeting this week, almost every hand went up when I asked the teens, “Who has a hard time forming new habits to take better care of yourself?” Just being at Springhouse day after day gives these young people, and all of us, a chance to actually create new habits to lead us to a world where all thrive.
Just because we haven’t seen something yet, does not mean it is not possible. My Dad knew that, Roy Campanella knew that, and many, many others have known that; including myself. A regular place to practice new ways, with a community and with mentorship to support us, can help us develop new habits that take care of Life in and around us. Springhouse is committed to being a place where we come together and move toward a vision that we can’t yet see–a world where all life thrives; a world where we are all free. We don’t have to see it fully to believe it. We have faith in the vision and we commit to serving it.
We know this work is needed, and we have faith that as long as it is and we do the best we can, this work will be supported. Springhouse does not charge for any of our offerings; we receive contributions from people as they participate. We need the support of grants and fundraisers like the one we are in the middle of now to continue this work that is difficult, and unpopular. We hope to raise 35K this December. To those of you who have contributed already to this campaign, we thank you. Please consider giving to this place that works toward a vision that seems impossible. Know that we will use the resources you allocate to us wisely.
With love and determination,