“Feed a man a fish and his hunger will be sated …….
…… Teach a man to fish and he will never know hunger again.”
Joe and Aaron
But what if his hunger is to explore, to grow, and to expand the shorelines of his world? You might lend him your boat so he could sail away to investigate the opposite shore. But if you teach him to build a boat, his craft could ferry him to possibilities well beyond the horizon.
The fish/fishing parable speaks of empowerment through transmitted wisdom. At first glance, the beneficiary appears only to be he who hungers. But can the teacher not also feel a hunger? If it is true that one who gives also receives, then passing down knowledge acquired through years of experience fulfills an equally compelling need of the teacher.
Let’s unpack this proposition viewing through a real time lens …….
As in the previous years, a small cadre of seasoned New Hampshire craftsmen assembled to begin a project guiding local teens in building a seaworthy vessel from scratch. The team was from Eastman, a small lakeside community. It proudly lists a skiff and mahogany kayak in its growing fleet. This year’s project, code named - Whatever Floats Your Boat, was a Kaholo 14 stand up paddle board. The design would produce a handsome craft not only capable of spiriting its navigator from one shore to the next, but also to shores yet to be envisioned. With camera in hand, I was privileged to be in the room where it happened for every step of the construction, witnessing the ‘give and take’ which emerged between the teens and their mentors. All reaped unheralded rewards from the generation to generation synergy. The experience was a form of déja vue all over again.
John, Chief of Operations with David
Back in the Sixty’s, folk legends Peter, Paul, and Mary helped shape the vision of many young minds with ideals messaged in the trio’s lyrics and songs. Today, although not writing music or lyrics but whistling while they worked, John, Roger, Frank ….. and Mary taught the essentials of boat building to a new generation. During winter and spring school vacation weeks they worked alongside their charges, a select crew from Eastman’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), a team which also has several Eastman improvement projects in landscaping and construction to its credit. While building the Kaholo 14, mentors instilled the importance of patience, problem solving, precision, attention to detail, and more to the mission at hand. They transmitted knowledge amassed during their lifetime experiences.
All older adults like these mentors have gradually built their own reservoirs of knowledge. With active career years mostly in the rear view mirror, sharing talents for the benefit of their communities is a common thread for their next life stage, their encores. Partnering on projects with area youth is a feature of life in Eastman. The community, tucked within Grantham, NH - town of three thousand, was singled out as a 2016 USA Best Intergenerational Community. The honor was a shared one. The other recipient was Milwaukee, a city in command of vastly greater human resources and funds.
on the level - Nick and Anna
Now back to the boat and learning to fish.
In June when completed and on display for the community to see, the Kaholo 14 was raffled off. As you might imagine, the lucky winner was ecstatic; but there was another winner - ticket proceeds were channeled into the next boat building project. That one will provide another opportunity for Eastmanite mentors to give back. Like this year’s YCCers, the next Whatever Floats Your Boat crew will surely also glean newfound skills and knowledge. In the process they’ll be empowered to sate their hungers for exploration then confidently sail into their next life stage. No doubt about it, boat building in Eastman is a win-win.
photo credit Ellen Chandler
To view the full essay of images and text for Phase I and Phase II of construction, click on the following links:
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all images other than the one noted ©David Greenfield