A community largely defined by its excellent school system kicked off another academic year with little heed paid to a one sentence entry in the police blotter which noted twenty-four local kids were arrested last week at a house party for underage possession of alcohol.
A community largely defined by its excellent school system kicked off another academic year with little heed paid to a one sentence entry in the police blotter which noted twenty-four local kids were arrested last week at a house party for underage possession of alcohol. Some students purportedly accessed an empty house in the city and threw themselves an unchaperoned party which resulted in the arrests and school disciplinary action being taken against several of the kids. The event should be pause-worthy in a community which often dives so deep on vicious detail it misses the point.
What does the arrest of the equivalent of nearly one-sixth of one of our graduating classes actually say about our community? What messages are we sending to kids about behaviors which we know introduce adult-sized risk into their lives and the lives of all of us who are connected to the children in our community?
Experience tells me community reaction will run the gamut. Some will see humor. Some will be dismissive. Some will recall with fondness stories of their own oat sowing. Some will blame the cops. Some will dispute details. Some will be outraged at the behavior. Some will frown on any public discussion of the matter. So on and so forth.
The adults in our very active community spend countless hours playing local inside baseball. We constantly fight and (sometimes) makeup with each other over day-to-day community policy; arguing publically, loudly, using profanity, citing examples of past behavior, analogy, mysteriously calculated mathematical formulas, and ice cold logic. The purpose of which, almost always, is to skewer our opponents, sway the shy unwashed middle roaders, and irrefutably prove, once and for all, that we are the real champions of doing right for the school children in our community.
An endlessly fascinating exercise. The question remains, however, how much of this relentless adult championing is actually building a sense of community among our young people?
In almost ten years of public commentary on the state of our community, every sentence still begins with a silent thought – “please do not let me be that guy today.” The guy who polishes the thin veneer of a closed dead community where only certain behaviors, certain points of view, certain language, certain people, are tolerated. The idea is to broaden the acceptable boundaries of what defines a progressive community, even by challenging and aggravating, to increase the probability that we will ultimately be successful in our little city experiment.
The house party incident becomes, then, reflection of our larger community.
How successful are we in building a community, at least a community larger than a group of squabbling adults, when our children have the sense they can throw, unnoticed, a large unsupervised party in an abandoned house in one of our quietest neighborhoods? How successful are we in building community when so many of our young people would make the decision to attend a party which put themselves and/or others in an at-risk situation?
It seems like a discussion worth having.
Michael Gardner is a quixotic citizen and founder of the Blueweeds community blog.