Dear Person Who is Looking at the Mural:
The following letter was written collaboratively by the 8 and 9 year old children who attend Opal School. They have designed and painted a mural as a gift to those who will play on the school playground for years to come. This year, these children took leadership for the redesign and rebuild of their playground. Here is what they’d like you to know:
How do you feel? Is something special in there? Try to figure out where it is. If you look closely at the mural, you might find a story or a truth. I know. I’ll tell you. Community. It is playful and joyful. There is a lot of community – even you– that is there.
Our mural is a balanced composition of friendship, kindness, love, contrast, curiosity, care, happiness, flexibility, and beauty. Those are the keys to community. In the mural, endless knots of community, interdependence, and balance are represented in the hands, fire, water and trees.
Everything is needed. A real community is always balanced, but it also always has contrasts. Everywhere there is at least a little bit of fire, and a little bit of water and that can form balance. The fire and water show everything people go through. Communities have good and bad and ups and downs. If everybody was always nice, it would be as fragile as a spider web because when something went wrong, it could break and nobody would know how to put it back together.
All of us who worked on the mural had to give up some of our ideas to let others fit in. If we all got our ideas, or if only one of us had ideas, our mural would either be too “heavy” or too “light.” We had to practice trust, flexibility, openness and caring to make our mural for you, and to help design the playground. We let go of our ideas so that other ideas could come in, and in the end, it created an image that has a lot of meaning. When a system has interdependence, it is in balance. The mural is trying to show how people have the power to decide – like if you decide to put away the materials or not. You are responsible to care!
You see interdependence in the heart, people and trees. Interdependence is when two things need each other to survive. It’s complicated, too, like the endless knot of a community. Kids and grown ups need to know that we have life cycles to keep us balanced. You belong here. No one hates. It’s a world of balance. When there is balance, everyone can rely on and trust each other and the planet. It cares for us and we care for it. That’s interdependence. We learned that working together always makes something good in the end even if it is hard.
Everything isn’t always perfect, but you can try to make it good. If there is a conflict, remember that you are loved, but so are they. We are all loved. If we were not then we would not be here. Love isn’t just about marrying, but also just by saying, “I like your shirt!” and if you mean it, it is love. The mural is a tiny thing, but it will make the world a better place. You too can take a tiny spark and make it into a worldwide awesome experiment.
The mural’s message is that we did this together and we needed all of us. When you look at the mural, you might reflect on balance, community, or this message. You might think about a question: Where would the world be without a problem or a question? Please spread this thinking of community into the world.
You belong here. We may not know you, but we know you will make the community more beautiful. You are loved. Whether in preschool or 5th grade, you can play here. If you are a teacher, you can have a break. Play a game with your class. Here are a few tips:
Make new friends but keep the old
Show your gift
Create new ideas
We hope you’ll join us next week at Symposium to see the finished mural in person, and to play and reflect with us on how we want to be together in this world.