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Practically one-half of the children of America The Rural School Grounds
are being educated in rural schools—hence the
importance of making the school and its grounds a real social center. Not one per cent of rural school grounds, said Prof. Arthur Cowell, of the State College, Pennsylvania, have sufficient space, there being not more than fifteen square feet per pupil. The great majority of buildings and grounds are poorly planned with complete disregard for their use for recreational and social purposes. The desirability of providing at the schools, games, lectures, picnics and fairs was stressed and of having, if possible, a grove of trees which may be used as a picnic ground to which adults will come. The importance of the school as a center for the social life of the community cannot, it is felt, be over-emphasized.
Mr. Lorado Taft, the sculptor, so well known Art in the Open Country
to Community Service workers who have at
tended the training school at Chicago, pointed out the necessity for developing in a child from his earliest years an appreciation of the beautiful. To this end Mr. Taft advocated that the school child shall be taught to use his hands. "Nothing is more pathetic," said Mr. Taft, "than that people shall live in a world of beauty without seeing it.” Every rural community has something of value that will make it interesting to itself. The important thing is that people shall be made to open their eyes to the particular manifestation of beauty which their town has.
Mr. Taft advocated a community house for every rural community which shall be the social center of the town. “Every town can have such a building" said Mr. Taft, "if it wants it badly enough.” He cited the example of Brimfield, Illinois, a community of 500 people which has erected a $30,000 house. Eighty per cent of the stock has been taken by the farmers.
Every town should have community drama and pageantry, so important a channel for self expression and there should be an art gallery, however unpretentious, in every rural community. To make this possible, in Illinois a committee has been organized made up of people most enthusiastic about art-one member from each town. This committee is getting together traveling exhibits of pictures and prints which may be sent to towns and villages at a cost not to exceed $5. These exhibits may be
housed in community buildings, libraries, town halls, schools or other places centrally located. The committee will also work for better art teaching in the school and will stimulate competition through such means as the offering of prizes for Kodak pictures which will get people to see the chief beauty in their own communities.
Dr. Kenyon Butterfield, President of the MasImportance of
sachusetts Agricultural College, as President Spiritual Values
of the American Country Life Association pointed out some of the important factors in rural life, and the purposes and trend of the movement.
“The world needs a new spirit more than it needs a new economic system. If you want a successful agriculture,” Dr. Butterfield said, "You must have a better community.” The possession of wealth by farmers does not mean that rural communities will be better. The human elements in rural life do not take care of themselves and more attention must be given spiritual values. We cannot think entirely in economic terms, important as that is. The means and goals are concerned with problems of home, of education and of being satisfied with the life of the country. Danish high school students were taught art and music and Danish history and when enthused with these ideals they were taught methods of agriculture.
A very large proportion of negroes, it was The Negro and
brought out in the address of President Moton Rural Life
of Tuskegee, are located on farms and there are certain principles which should be urged in connection with their problems.
The negro farmer should be encouraged to own his farm and should be given an opportunity to cultivate with profit. Farm life must be surrounded with the advantages which will make life attractive and recreation should be provided. Methods of education must be improved and federal appropriations made available. The importance of the church should be emphasized and ministers who are competent to lead trained in social life. The Social Aims
Mr. William P. Everts, of the New England of the Coopera
Educational Committee of the Cooperative tive Movement
League of America, pointed out that there had been an encouraging development in rural districts of cooperative buying and selling. This was confirmed by Mr. Brunner of the Interchurch World Movement, who stated that the rural surveys of that body show the cooperative movement springing up in a most interesting manner through the efforts and planning of the farmers themselves in many rural districts.
Mr. Everts stated that two years ago there were only 800 communities having some form of the cooperative movement. Today there are at least 3,000.: An interesting experiment in cooperative housing is now being worked out in Boston where 28 units have joined in forming a housing and building association and the first house to be erected under this plan is nearing completion. This form of producers' cooperation will result in a reduction of 337/3% in the cost.
The Clarke County Ohio Red Cross OrganizaTypes of Rural Community
tion-an experiment in rural community orOrganization
ganization, largely related to the recreational life of the county, which is being worked out by the Clarke County Chapter of the American Red Cross, was described by Mr. R. C. Agne, who is rural community organizer for the County.
In October 1919 the County Chapter of the Red Cross, an unusually strong group who had been particularly active during the war, finding itself with a large sum of money remaining from the war work and eager because of the keen interest of the members, to "carry on,” determined to try to work out an experiment in rural organization based on the greatest needs in a number of rural communities. Two communities were first set up as demonstration stations and in working out the experiment the "natural" community was considered.
Method of Organization.—The method of organization was, briefly, as follows: A group of citizens was called together in each community by the Red Cross chairman. A community gettogether meeting was held, in preparation for which a list of families was invited who would ordinarily come together for parties of various kinds. The invitations were sent out unsigned in order to arouse the interest of the people. The program of this meeting consisted of one-half hour of community singing, a one hour program of motion pictures, consisting of a travelogue and some other more or less educational features, and ending with a comedy. This was followed by a forum in which the question, "What Is the Matter with Our Town" was discussed. Open discussion was encouraged. Refreshments were served.
As a result of the first meeting a "steering" committee was selected by the audience, which was representative of all community interests. An organization called a Community Club was invariably suggested; a sample constitution was drawn up, a nominating committee chosen and plans made for a second community meeting at which reports were given and a social program put on. Subsequently, such social meetings were held once a month, together with a business meeting.
The committees in general created to carry on the worknot all of these operating in one comn.initv—are as follows: Program Committee; Improvement Committee; Library Committee; Health Committee; Athletics Committee; Music Committee; Literary Committee; Boys' Work Committee; Girls' Work Committee; Lyceum Course Committee; Religious Education Committee; Exhibit Committee and School Committee.
Results.-Fifteen or sixteen communities have been organized in the county into Community Clubs and in each one something very positive and definite has been done. Christmas celebrations have been held; abandoned churches, an old schoolhouse and a jail have been turned into community centers; playgrounds have been established; roads have been improved and in one town a lighting system has been installed.
As a result of the community experiments an informal county organization has naturally grown up. A county conference was held with representatives from all Community Clubs. County baseball teams of men have been organized, the communities providing the time and place to play, usually Saturday afternoon or Sunday. Leagues of basketball and other games have been formed. There is a Music Association meeting at Springfield, the largest center, and a county picnic has been held at which various community club activities were demonstrated.
There are funds enough on hand, Mr. Agne stated, to carry on the work for approximately another year. It is hoped that at the end of that time the clubs may be brought to a basis of self-support or funds will be available from a county-wide community chest.
Other agencies have cooperated, it was stated, and found
their place in the general scheme. The County Young Woman's Christian Association worker, for example, is working with the Red Cross community organizer. Some opposition, it was pointed out, by a member of the conference present who is familiar with the situation, has arisen because of the limited control of the work. Fundamental A great deal of attention was given at the conPrinciples of
ference to the question of rural organization Rural Organization and the fundamental principles involved. The question of the rural psychology involved in rural organization was discussed by Prof. Ernest R. Groves of Boston University, who emphasized the desirability, in many instances, of substituting the “latent" leader for the "established" leader who is always be found in all communities and who is not always socially minded. For such a “latent" leader opportunity for self assertion should
should be provided and the element of self assertion made to minister to the good of all the people. Here the church and the school have a large opportunity. Organization of country life should first of all emphasize the fact that in everything it ministers to the children and that parental interests must not be separated from those of the children.
In rural organization, Miss Mabel Carney, of Teachers College, pointed out, the county should be the supervising unit, the community the local unit and for practical purposes the rural community, according to Miss Carney's definition, is the group of farms served by the same trade center. It must be large enough to answer the fundamental needs of life. The program may be organized by experts coming from outside the community but must be endorsed and accepted by the community itself and all members must share in the work. Activities should be based on the most urgently felt needs. The realization of needs will lead to cooperation. When people are set to work on something they really want to do, there develops a natural federation. The mere cleaning of the school in one community brought about federation. It will soon be realized, however, that the idea must be fixed through a community council, committee or some such organization, and this will lead to a request for service. The discovery of conditions which such service involves points the way to the formulation of a workable community program.