One of the best non-running aspects of being a runner is the slower exposure to the communities in which I live. A choice to make a turn in my running route has often brought me into knowing hidden gems of the towns and cities where I live and run.
Such a thing happened today when I stopped to turn around and head back home at a pavilion of a park along my route. There, I saw the box pictured below. A closer look told the box’s story.
Something like this should be in every park in every town across the country. What’s more, there should probably be two levels of boxes right on top of one another. The upper box with books for adults and the lower box with books for children.
Imagine an initiative of elementary schools throughout a community to create these boxes for every park they were near, to stock the boxes, rotate the books, and track the history of the project.
Not only would such a project bring literacy to community common spaces, they would act as signposts as well. Signposts alerting the community to the fact that local schools see themselves as part of a larger ecosystem as well as signposts tethering schools to the community and helping students understand a small act of civic engagement.
As soon as I typed this, I also started conceiving concerns around such an initiative. First among them was the defacement of the boxes. This is a reason to move forward with such an idea, not turn away from it. If the boxes are defaced, it presents true challenges of citizenship for the students involved and for the entire community. Raising such issues to the proper public officials again establishes channels of visibility between schools and the community.
These may be difficult problems to navigate, but I’d rather have students rising through our schools who have experience solving these problems than have students who were sheltered from addressing difficult community issues. It’s a question of citizenship.
Thanks, Friends of Martin Acres.