Monday, August 29, 2011


Saturday afternoon was the gala "Welcome to the Class of 2015" Prindlepalooza out at the Prindle Institute: a chance for freshmen and others to come visit us for an afternoon and immerse themselves in our wonderful world. I had no part in organizing the event, except for joyfully helping to wrap fifty Hershey bars in special Prindlepalooza wrappers (the kind of job I adore) to give out as scavenger hunt prizes. So I had the chance to attend just as a most happy guest.

At first I was a most nervous guest. This was the first-ever Prindlepalooza. An enormous amount of thought, energy, and love had gone into the plans for the event. We were going to show two documentaries: No Impact Man (about one man's crusade to spend a year having zero net negative environmental impact from his life), and Waiting for Superman (about America's failed public school system). We were going to have yoga, meditation, a terrific band (the violinist is a Prindle intern who is also a student in my Rousseau class), popcorn, snowcones, giveaways of Prindle combination-pen-and-highlighters and Prindle sticky notes - oh, and all those specially wrapped candy bars. What if nobody came? After all, the story of an author's life is attending events where nobody comes. At one o'clock I thought maybe this would be yet another of those events.

Then: the bus arrived from campus. Was anyone on the bus? Yes! And as the afternoon progressed, full bus after bus kept arriving.

It was a perfect afternoon. I watched both movies - both were intensely thought-provoking. That no-impact guy: why didn't he turn off his stove as well as his fridge, huh? And why did he get rid of his TV but not his computer, huh? And why did I, and many others, feel like poking holes in his story rather than letting myself be inspired by it? Waiting for Superman: are teachers' unions really the villains here? What other factors seem to be equally important as explanations of the persistent poor performance of inner city schools? Both films reflect the Prindle's mission to ask messy and important questions rather than prescribing perfectly packaged answers.

I wish I had had time to try yoga, too - maybe I would have liked it? Probably not - I've never liked any physical activity all that much, but maybe it's yoga that I've been waiting for all my life? I wish I had had more time to sit outside with the students who weren't watching the films or doing yoga, and just listen to the band on that cool sunny afternoon and talk together about what really matters.

The good thing is that I'll have the rest of the year to experience all the opportunities that the Prindle has to offer. I'll even have a chance to create some of those opportunities to offer to others.

And right now I think I'll go see if there are any leftover Prindle candy bars, and if they're available for the taking.

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