This new Video, "Hunters’ Island / Farmers’ Island" is the Pilot

for a Dissertation Production Project,

entitled "PlaySpace Islands: Cultivating Imagination in Childhood."

"This Pilot presents the groundwork for a creative, hands-on approach to Cultivating Imagination in Childhood. PlaySpace Islands is a living "Theatre of the Imagination," designed to invite children to co-create the kinds of imaginal fields they need for exploring possible Worlds."

"In this Pilot we focus on one specific aspect of the "PlaySpace Islands" Project — Hunters' & Farmers' Islands — which demonstrates one way that Imagination provides us a portal for engaging with children, investigating together the deeper meanings of ADD / ADHD in their world-making, and with them, inquiring into what it may yet mean to be authentically human..."

Hunters' Island / Farmers' Island: Children & World-making

Thom Hartmann’s Hunter/Farmer theory provides an engaging metaphor for exploring with our children "a sometimes confusing, labyrinthine world." We need to listen to our children: we need their sense of wonder, their fresh eyes and their curious minds; we need their authentic, open hearts to help us imagine together a viable future for the World.

For as Thom Hartmann has cautioned us: "Our children may be called upon to substantially reinvent our culture by changing our core assumptions about what is real... and true... and meaningful."

"The goal of this Video Pilot is that it will engage like-minded hearts…" When you view this video Pilot, you will be invited to consider your participation in or support of the "PlaySpace Islands" Project, through:
— coordinating a group of children to participate in "PlaySpace Islands:" an Experiential Learning Project, designed to work creatively with the challenges of our "ADD / ADHD" children; or,
— providing funding or expertise toward production of a 1/2 hour or hour program on the "PlaySpace Islands" Project for public television, for parenting / educational benefit.

To order the Hunters’ Island / Farmers’ Island Video
...or its companion audio CD, "Imagine..."

For more information about the concepts behind the video, read further.
Or, click here to jump to Thom Hartmann's web site.

To see the Recommended Reading List for the
Imaginary Islands Project, click here.

To learn more about Precious Child Enterprises, click here.

Reflections on the "Imaginary Islands"
Video Pilot / PlaySpace Project

Anne S. Perrah

It helps me to remember that what I am doing with my "Imaginary Islands" Project and the PlaySpace Experience is to playfully provide children with learning experiences and opportunities for imaginal engagement such that they become differently oriented and differently storied from children taught in our culture's customary ways alone.

The PlaySpace Experience is designed to honor the innate intelligence of childhood. It encompasses children's capacity for play and imaginal thinking, their tendency to approach living situations with freshness and vigor, their sense of wonder and compassionate engagement with Nature, and their capacity for creativity and nonlinear conflict resolution. It embraces their intense search for meaning, and, certainly, celebrates their capacity for aliveness and joy, their innate ability to appreciate and value life itself. I believe — and attempt in my work to honor — the principle that every child is the universe newly engaged in knowing itself into being.

It has been said in many languages and cultures, expressed in so many ways, that we all know "our children are our future." Yet, judging by much of the adult behavior on this planet, it would appear as if humanity were willing to settle for a "have now, want later" pattern that is likely to leave a nonviable future for our children.

The "PlaySpace Archipelago" which I have imagined into being is intended as an enchanting place for children (of all ages!), and a place where learning can become "re-enchanted." In the book The Re-Enchantment of Learning Sam Crowell explains that "Reenchantment is a recognition that brings 'self' and our relationships with Earth back into focus... regaining a sense of connection and seeing that we are all part of a greater whole. Real learning... affects our whole being." Sam’s question becomes, "How can real learning help us transcend our old notions of who we are and lead us to the edge of possibility?"

As Thom Hartmann declares in his profound and insightful book, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, "Our children may be called upon to substantially reinvent our culture by changing our core assumptions about what is real and true and meaningful." It is my hope and my intention that the children's imaginal experiences in "PlaySpace " will better prepare them to continue to think in ways in which we human adults are even now being called upon to think and respond as never before.

It is imperative that we listen to and learn from our children: we need their fresh eyes and their open hearts to help us imagine together a viable future for the World.

"Since the imagination arises from the child's contact with nature,

each child is a born ecologist. Thus: save the children

to save the imagination to save the planet."

— James Hillman

quoted from The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood, a book by Edith Cobb

 To see the Recommended Reading List for the
Imaginary Islands Project, click here.

Further Reflections on the
Imaginary Islands Video Pilot Project

Let us write a new Story of our journey to wholeness,

A new Story expressed in our art,

shared in our songs, and lived in our lives;

a new Story of a new beginning.

— Sam Crowell

If you believe as I do that the children of today need new Stories, need to hear and learn new Stories, the kind that can support a viable future for the planet, then we must ask what part Imagination's Childhood plays in providing those deeply needed Stories for our children and our future...

Perhaps the greatest challenge for a person whose conscious intention is to live and to serve life in integrity is to state anything with absolute certainty. As an educator attempting to share my experience of the children I have served for over thirty years, I sometimes feel that it borders on hubris to try and pin down just what children may be or mean. The closest that I have come to it is to approach my work from principles, and those principles being the most encompassing and universal that I have found in a lifetime of searching. Stated most simply, the core of this approach is to observe the child before us; discern the needs of this child; and, serve those needs. In short, we are directed to "follow the child."

These are principles which were "un-concealed" by an Italian physician through a profound commitment to learn about children from the children themselves, and to trust what the children have taught us and continue to teach us. And what is most affirming, these principles, though developed and taught a century ago, are being re-"discovered" in our time through the developments of modern science and technology. In essence, we are again being asked to look at the child, to follow the child. The principles of which I speak are those developed by Dr. Maria Montessori.

The key questions in life, for me, are, "Who are you?" and, "What do you want?" They encompass the questions why are you here, where are you going, who do you serve, who do you trust, what do you mean, what does any one of us mean — in one phrase, what are we making our life mean? Because we do — we are the meaning-makers of our world.

Our stories, the ones we learn and then tell ourselves, the ones we buy into and the ones we believe in — these stories most assuredly are shaping our experience. And the accumulative stories of billions of people is shaping the planet's story — it is our planet's story!

For a long time I have been fascinated by the question of how children discern or decide what it means to be a human being. In light of this inquiry, when I came upon Thom Hartmann's insightful theory on ADD, I got very excited, because what I heard in this brilliant move was how Story and imagination are at work here, shaping, literally, the myth of the planet. This may be the ultimate story that humankind has dreamed up so far. I laughed with a kind of sad recognition to recall the folk myth from my Midwestern background, the Hatfields and the McCoys, the idea inside their story being that the two "sides" had been feuding so long that they no longer remembered what they were actually fighting over. They didn't really understand how the originating split had come about, but they were so committed to the Story that they were still killing each other over it.

Now take that feuding notion, and look at any number of "hot spots" in the world today, from street gangs to civil wars to nuclear posturing between countries, and you recognize this same "us" versus "them" stance. Another significant point that Thom makes, which ties in here, is that in Maslow's hierarchy of needs he may have missed an essential element. Beyond safety and even survival, as Thom says, what is apparent in much of the behavior we are seeing today, in adults and the children alike, is the demonstration of the "extremes" we will go to for the experience of "aliveness." We will literally risk everything for it.

I think that sometimes this need for aliveness takes on the look, feel and sound of the need to be right: defense of a belief. Yet, I suspect that part of our being alive is what we’ve come to mean to ourselves, to identify with, so that a perceived attack on what one believes is experienced as a threat to one's aliveness in some way. This bears up in the challenge of therapy to get a client to imagine a story that would serve life better than the one he or she has believed up until now, even one that has proven to be painful and aliveness-threatening. No cheese down that tunnel... yet?

This need for aliveness — what if we could get it from looking together in a profoundly important direction, rather than the usual way of opposing each other? What if — together — we could get behind what is likely the most important Story ever told: the Story that will tell how we learned to live together just in time to keep ourselves from being wiped off the Planet as a bad idea...?

One thing is certain. To change the direction of the myth of an entire planet of human beings, at least two things are required: one is to begin with and include the children, and the second is to bring about a wake-up call of massive proportions, a paradigm shift that is sufficiently encompassing to break up the dense fog we've been living inside of and let us clearly see that we are all on the same space ship Earth together...

The Story of the hunters and the farmers is a wonderful, powerful place to work from with children, because it is story of universal needs of humanity, but not only of humankind, but ultimately of the ecological balance requisite to a viable future. It is a Story worth telling, that "whenever we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." If we begin to tell our children and ourselves the large ecological truth, that there is no "away," that there are no "other" people, there is no "them," there is only us, more-than-human life, here together, and if we keep telling this Story convincingly, with all of our imagination and our hopefulness and our passion, at some point I believe we will live it into being, and it will become not history, but a livng Story of the Community of Life.

What way of story-making might best serve our children in their process of meaning-making for their lives? How can we best serve our children in their search for meaning? How will they decide to answer the questions, "Who am I? What do I want? What does it mean to be a human being?" These are the kinds of questions we will explore together with our children as the "Imaginary Islands" Project continues to expand…