« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
day nine churches voted unanimously in favor of our cause; petitions from many sources were sent to the board; the newspapers presented our case daily, and finally after ten days of this bombardment the board could hold out no longer, and reported that Civic Hall would be opened at once.
Action taken by the board provides for the free use of the hall to groups, organizations or persons, for social, educational and recreational purposes, when permisison of the board is obtained and no admission is charged. This means that the hall is now open at all times, heated, lighted and otherwise made comfortable to serve the people. It also means the employment by the city of a director in charge of the hall and an appropriation by the city to meet this expense and the added expense for the upkeep of the hall.
Marion has won another victory. The hall is being used every day and every evening. The action of the Board of Works is in popular favor with the people. Civic Hall is no longer a white elephant.
What 1500 People Have Accomplished
A bakery, a restaurant, a meat market and grocery store, a pool room and two apartment houses of their own-this is what the Finnish Cooperative Trading Association of Brooklyn, N. Y., with its 1500 members has accomplished in four years. It was just four years ago that they began to organize their society, every member buying as many $5.00 shares as he could afford and subscribing every cent he could in addition to swell a loan fund.
The Finnish cooperators began their attack on the high cost of living by building an apartment house which provides light, modern five-room apartments at the moderate rental of $26 a month. Just as soon as they could afford to, they built another apartment house like unto the first and next door to it. It was about a year and a half ago that ground was broken in the same block for the $96,000 building which houses the Association's other business ventures, and on last May day 2,000 people gathered to celebrate its completion. Every part of this building is as white and shining as if it had been taken right out of a Spot
less Town advertisement and set down in Brooklyn without being touched by a speck of dust in transit. It is the scene of bustling activity, too. Two eight-hour shifts of workers are employed in the bakery and four trucks are kept busy delivering not only in Brooklyn but in New York and even in New Jersey.
The food in the restaurant bears witness to what cooperation can do fresh eggs and bacon for thirty-five cents, a cup of coffee for five cents! Doesn't it sound like the dear departed days before the war? And if you eat there regularly you get weekly meal tickets at a reduction! To trade at the market is an education in buying pure food-only the best quality of meat and groceries being carried, no frozen meat, no cold storage meat or eggs, and everything spotlessly clean and scrupulously under glass. The big light pool room on the top floor is well patronized and, like the stores and restaurant, is open not simply to cooperators but to everyone who wishes to take advantage of it. Of course, members of the society get back a larger percentage of the profits when dividends are paid, however.
Nor does this little group of coperators devote itself exclusively to business; they are well aware of the value of play. Old and young, they get together in a hall two blocks below the store for lectures, entertainments and dances. Successful economic cooperation seems to lead to very much the same kind of "everybody neighbors" spirit that Community Service is fostering.
The Janitor Speaks
At the first meeting of the citizens of a district in a Pennsylvania community in which year round recreation has recently been inaugurated, the President of the School Board and other citizens discussed what they felt would be the values of the wider use of school buildings as recreation centers. Some of those present were a little skeptical but said they were open to conviction. Finally the janitor rose from the back of the room and said:
"I am not the President of the School Board, I am only the janitor, but I want to say that I believe I have been closer to this here game than what the President of the School Board is.
It was me who put in the first pipe for equipment for the playground at the Moravian Track for Miss Williams. I was surrounded by four nationalities and the biggest squabbling you ever heard. I wondered if the pipe would stay in over night! When I watch Miss Williams handle the whole thing I want to tell you I would not take her job for $10,000 a year! I have seen that there playground change from a rowdy district into an orderly one. Then you take this here community center and the district where I myself live. The first night the young people came into this building wild; I thought there would not be any schoolhouse left. They tried to unscrew the bubble fountain. Such energy I never saw! The eighth night they walked in so quiet, you would not know them. It was marvelous! I did not have to lock any of the classroom doors. I know what order means in a school building, and I am here to tell the citizens and the President of the School Board that the recreation evening people pass in and out better than the school children do now.
"This here Bull Frog Alley gang of young men that was so busy unscrewing the bubble fountains and taking off the plates of the electric lights say that they had never seen a basket ball floor and they had never played anything. You ought to see them now sitting round and playing checkers and the bubble fountains as safe as they be in church. We have an attendance between 200 and 250 every Saturday night.
"And I want to say one thing more, I come here not only as the janitor, but as a citizen. Now I play three or four musical instruments and they have started a community orchestra, and I want to tell you just as a citizen in the orchestra, I find that this here experiment of keeping the school doors open in the evening is a pretty good proposition."
The Spread of the Community Service Spirit
Up in the hills about thirty-five miles from Portland is a little rural postoffice at Trenholme where forty or more families receive their mail. Not far from there is a logging camp employing more than 300 men.
Not long ago a young girl who had been connected with the groups of young women organized by Community Service in Portland, consented to become postmistress of the little office
in the hills in order to save the rather desperate situation which threatened to rob the district of mail service. This girl, possessing a real vision of community service, felt the need of a common interest for the little community aside from the unceasing toil of daily living, the need of a common joy and the development of a companionship even greater than that existing in cities where there is at least the human touch of daily intercourse.
She found that one day was like any other; that the daily routine of work continued even on Sundays; and so she writes: "I have preached community service from the minute I arrived and I want to know if I have the authority to start community service up here. Everyone is interested."
And now the postoffice promises to become the community center; the office proper is to be moved into one corner; a piano is to be donated; several young men in the vicinity have offered to paint the interior of the office and the postmistress is to be community organizer, song leader and recreational director all in one. Picnic Sunday programs and dances to include the men in the logging camp are already being planned and the advent of the loyal new postmistress imbued with the spirit of service promises to work a real transformation in lives hitherto deprived of the joy of playing together.
Community Service in Small Towns
A very encouraging feature of Community Service lies in the way in which people in small communities catching the spirit of Community Service are contributing personal service to make possible a richer play life for the entire community.
The community organizer of Bellingham, Washington, who is visiting the small towns adjacent to Bellingham talking Community Service, tells the story of a small town of about 500 population. At a community meeting it was decided that the school system needed a play shed but the people at the meeting considered the cost of such a building prohibitive. The community organizer asked how much lumber would be needed to erect a building 50 by 90 feet with a packed dirt floor for all sorts of games at recess and after school. When it was announced that 15,000 feet of lumber and 18,000 shin
gles would be necessary he suggested that a call be made upon one of the prominent mill men and the needs laid before. him. This was done with a result that the mill owner said he would give 9000 feet if the people could get the rest of the lumber from the other mill. The proprietor of the second mill said that his lumber was just as good as his rival's and gladly gave the remainder.
The owner of the shingle mill near town who was next approached said on learning of the gift of lumber that it would be too bad to have all that good lumber spoiled so he would give a roof.
Some of the townspeople got together and did all the hauling of material. The nails were given free.
Notice was sent out through the school children that there would be a community meeting on a certain day to which every man was invited to bring his saw, hammer and square. About 50 men responded. The women of the community appeared about supper time with chicken pies and other good things to eat and a real community picnic followed.
In this way the building was finished without cost to the community. Next came the question of lighting. The manager of the Stone-Webster plant who was interviewed said he would be glad to furnish men to wire the building and also to provide the light. In a very short time the building was ready for occupancy.
At a community meeting in another small town it was decided to use the high school for boys' work. One man started the ball rolling by giving $400 for equipment. Another man matched this while others increased the amount with smaller sums. Then the community organizer suggested that if they had any real love for boys in them they would plan to give one night a week to boys' work. A doctor with a large practice was the first volunteer and others followed his example in pledging their services.
As One Family*
About two months ago the San Mateo County Welfare Committee secured the services of Miss Caroline Fiedler to assist in
*Courtesy of San Francisco Community Service Recreation League