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Can kids build and contribute to their community? The answer is yes, but only if they’re actually in their community. This half to one hour webinar will walk (snark) through the strategies we’ve had success with for getting kids independently out into their communities, and what’s happened as a result. The hurdles we encountered included both preparing kids to move around and engage on their own, as well as preparing the community to accept their presence. Our—the kids and their facilitators—strategy was to prepare young kids to get around their communities on their own using the local public transit system and walkways. Successful methods included ‘kite along’, ‘walk ahead’, ‘sit ahead’, and ‘bus/train ahead’. These methods resulted in the kids moving around independently in the community, building social networks that knit the adults in their lives together. They also resulted in the kids marching in two strikes, one with local hotel workers and another with the Oakland Teachers Union. After a few slides detailing the strategies and results, the rest of the workshop will be an open forum for participants to discuss the challenges and advantages of making space for kids in communities.

About the Presenter:

Hamilton Carter lives in San Francisco, and is the unschooling dad of 3 kids aged 11, 9, and 7 years old. Some, however, might say he’s just lazy. Early on in (before) his parenting journey (actually), Hamilton knew there were two things he couldn’t handle: strollers and driving kids everywhere. To that end—and inspired by the baby wearing moms of Boulder, CO—he bought his first wrap before the first kid was born. He was hooked instantly. He could throw a bottle in one pocket, a few diapers in another, hook a changing cloth through his back belt loop, plop the baby into the wrap and be on his way. “You’ll see how wrong you are once that kid starts to walk,” They said. “You’ll want a stroller then,” They said. But, when the kid could walk, Hamilton deployed the next step in his lazy plan. He popped the kid out of the wrap, down onto the ground to walk with him. Sure he had to plop them back in when they got tired, sure he had to warn them about traffic over and over, but you know what? He never touched a stroller and the kid was … Free! Public transit was the next lazy step. There were … things … there as well. Just ’cause a kid can walk doesn’t mean they’re tall enough to mount a bus on their own, or quick enough (at first anyway) to hop off before the bus door catches them, but they learn.

And now? Hamilton’s lazy plans have come to fruition. The kids get themselves to camps, classes, or just downtown to meet him for lunch on their own. The kids travel with him to LA for work where, for example, they use public transit to get themselves to Union Station, meeting him after work to see an author talk. In short, Hamilton is living his lazy dream. And other things happened too. Things Hamilton never really planned for. He knows more people in his neighborhood and his city than he ever dreamed: people introduce themselves to him because they’ve already met the kids. He’s also got a better city because the kids have volunteered their time to advocate for restored bus routes at transit board meetings; they’ve marched in strikes for hotel workers and teachers; they volunteer to greet people at library events.

Hamilton sums all this up in a single phrase: “Laziness Pays.”

You can find Hamilton on Twitter (@thord_ee_r) or check out his blog here.