As I am typing this, the area is blocked and locked in with 27 inches of snow which blew in and over during a twenty-four hour stretch. Now the sun is shining, there is a blue sky, and beneath it I know that there is a group of parents taking turns to shovel out the school. They will pile the snow on top of other piles of snow. They will reclaim the lot, the sidewalks, clearing the way for all of us to go back to school even as the County is struggling to reclaim the roads.
I am not there to see it, personally, and yet I know it is happening. This is trust. This is community.
Our school has been around for almost 75 years. Each year, a cycle begins again, one that is built on trust -- the trust that the committee members will organize, step up, and do their part to keep the day-to-day operations of the school going. While the committee work ensures that the house is ready for the children, the parents' commitment to co-oping, their caring and supporting children who are not their own children is the wellspring for everything else.
It is with that same spirit, built on trust and caring for other people's children, that brings us the tradition of a Legacy Gift. Each year, the outgoing Tracks class rallies and gifts something to the school. These are usually gifts that are inspired by the play and interests of the children or things that we as parents and teachers have learned over the course of a year scaffolding the children. Now, the most important part of this story is that the gift is given at the end of these children's school year, not at a mid-point or when we think of what would make a meaningful contribution. These gifts, like two sets of Froebel's sticks and curves or two Gange tops, are inspired by the children, but are used by other children who will be attending school the following year and in the future.
It is the close association and appreciation that grows that engenders this idea of future caring, of future growth. This is what happens when a parent shovels the walk for other feet to walk on.
Last year, the parents decided to gift a set of "Pudar" as they are called in Iceland, but since these are "unobtainium" here in the States, the parents also had to commit to sewing the set themselves. This Legacy Gift is truly a pay-it-forward -- the children who inspired the gift are now half their way through their kindergarten year!
These cushions are the best of everything you remember about sofa cushion fort/den-building. The children from that Tracks year took on den building like it was a mission, I tell you. They began by simply piling up stacks of branches and sticks and by the end of the year had fine-tuned their building skills to create brick or ice walls, pod racers, and rocketships, all grand structures. It made perfect sense that these children's Legacy Gift would be used for building.
The cushions complement the unit and hollow blocks. The foam is cut in matched and measured sets of squares, triangles, and rectangles and are covered in a soft corduroy fabric which holds the cushions in place while building. Zippers allow for the covers to be taken off and washed. The colors are so perfectly Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School-like!
They were brought to us last Wednesday and proof of a material well-chosen, did not need any introduction!
Below are three photos of the cushions that inspired this project. If you would like to learn more about the materials in Iceland, please visit the blog post, Materials.