Recycling City: bringing forth a more just and honorable society

Dear Boxerwood Friends,

Not long ago, I had the privilege of running a year-long Recycling Club at a local elementary school. The school had received a significant 3-year federal award to provide free afterschool tutoring and enrichment for any child wishing to participate. Almost half the school enrolled. The Boxerwood Recycling Club was one of many clubs, and we had a zesty group of children who returned week after week to collect, sort, process —and, as sideline, reclaim as treasure what others had casually tossed aside.

We turned a lot of trash into treasure that year, but what I remember best was the mutiny. By year’s end, the children had amassed a trove of materials primed for transformation (thank you, custodians, for looking the other way). One afternoon, two 10 year-old twin brothers convinced the Club to work together to build something spectacular: a 100% green city rising from the ruins of cast-off stuff.

The sign reads: Leaders of Recycling City: President: Frisky (their multi-colored lion made out of flip flops, left of sign) Superintendent of Schools: Victoria Governor: Mekhi Vice-President:Dylan Senator: Malik Mayor: Elise

Forget the weekly recycling and data-gathering: building “Recycling City” was it. I stepped back. I watched the kids sort out who was going to build what. How they were going to make a water tower out of a Mr. Pibb bottle and hot air balloon from straws, a Pringle’s container, and that deflated pink balloon. I watched them discuss laws and draft a constitution.  Most of all, I watched Malik, Mekhi, Dylan, and friends create something out of nothing and in the process build themselves.

I don’t need to explain more: you can see everything you need to know about this project and its creators in the photos. And by now you know why at this supremely important time in our nation’s history, I am telling you this story.

What is Boxerwood’s role in bringing forth a more just and honorable society? Our role is small, yet valuable. We use environmental learning as a way to create conditions where all local children–whatever their family income, race, background, or ability–have an opportunity to rise and flourish: to feel their innate capacity to become the kind of people the world needs. Right here and right now.

There are many ways to build that sense of capability.  And tragically, for our society, there are also many ways to crush it. Many families in our area confront multiple societal challenges. Three out of every four children attending the school in this story, for example, are eligible for free or reduced lunch. As part of the Boxerwood family, I want you to know that when you support Boxerwood, you are also supporting our ever-growing efforts to tackle these inequities.

Boxerwood’s commitment to serving all local children remains steadfast, as does our effort to address conditions that prevent our collective flourishing. Yes, Boxerwood helped that school secure its three year grant, but more importantly, we kept showing up. Your support makes that possible.  Let’s double-down on building that better world, together.