Community and our Collective Responsibility

‘The Big Society ‘…

‘We are all in this together’…

‘It takes a village to raise a child’…

It Takes an Entire Village to Raise a Child by George Miller

It Takes an Entire Village to Raise a Child by George Miller

These phrases bring to mind an ideal way we might interact with each other to create a happy society that takes collective responsibility for the care of others.  But times, as always, are changing. Increasingly we live in places with high concentrations of people in urban centres where this communal emphasis seems harder to maintain. The village is no longer the stable set of relationships it might have been 50 years ago when people knew each other and cultural codes were developed through familiarity.  People shared lifestyles, cultures and cultural activities that brought the village together. This is not to idealise village life but rather to highlight grassroots collective responsibility.

At Tribe of Doris (Doris) we create a village even if only for 5 days. We say this in the sense that we eat together, learn together, dance together, create our own world together and look after each other and the children all at the same time.  Through ceremonies and shared cultural activities, we set the tone for the space. Many have been a part of this community for many years. Naturally, we get know each other and it can be that that pleasure is shared once a year on the field or that those friendships continue to flourish in the outside world too.

We encourage and welcome anyone who has never come before to join us.  In fact, we actively encourage people from all walks of life to join us. We make a special effort to make our gatherings accessible. So we have an interesting mix of people on site, all cared for by the team of stewards, crew and the event management team. It’s an ambitious ideal but it relies on each participant taking their place and responsibility in this rich tapestry.

The diversity of our community strengthens it and the multigenerational relationships that are nurtured are central to this. Children, parents and grandparents play and learn together. They say that it takes a village to bring up children. Lots of streams of inspiration, learning and opportunities enrich and expand us. This can be a difficult balance to strike when so many different cultural sensitivities come into play. If you’ve just come to dance, should you be responsible for someone else’s children?  Strictly speaking, that is not the idea,  but we do encourage everyone to recognise the place of community and care for all especially the children.

Creating this sort of village is an evolving process and we really value the input of the ‘villagers’ in helping Doris to develop ways to be inclusive, responsive and hold high ideals of togetherness whilst being practical and realistic. For example, we hold the principle of the Children’s Fire which is a pledge to protect the next 7 generations of human beings. The inspirational Tim Mac Macartney from Embercombe will be joining us at the Summer School 2018 to talk about the Children’s Fire.

When you buy a ticket or come and work with us at Doris you are entering a village that encourages all members to; engage with each other respectfully, communicate rather than hold back; to communicate your needs and to embrace the challenge this brings with it;  to have a greater sense of collective responsibility than you might normally have; to be part of a brilliant gathering that is inclusive and interested in each others cultures and way; speaking kindly, feeding interests, sharing moments  of learning together and building relationships with people. This is the offer we make and support you in.  Where else in this country can you do this on such a big scale and in such a fun way? Chatting in the shower queue, round the fire, after the exhausting dance workshop, preparing for the performance, chilling next to each other in the campsite and most importantly sharing the opening and closing ceremonies together.

How do we all engage with the issues that arise from this beautiful ambition and mix of peoples at the Summer School?

We see it as a cascading set of principles and actions.

Doris takes ultimate responsibility for initiating the village and sets out clearly to all participants what the overarching ideals are.

Parents and carers are aware of their responsibilities for their children and monitor them on site as they adjust the wonderful sense of freedom available for children to experience.

We aim to build a strong support network for any issues that may arise

Let us know your thoughts – what is the loss of communal living? How do we respect each other’s boundaries? What ideas do you have for the summer school?

Dive a little deeper:

Vital Village: Development of Rural Areas as a Challenge for Cultural Policy By Wolfgang Schneider, Beate Kegler, Daniela Koß, (eds./Hg.)

In the Absence of the Village, Mothers Struggle Most

The Children’s Fire with Tim Mac Macartney

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