Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Charleston's "First Day Festival" promotes commitment to and involvement in education

First Day Festival
Wade Spees, Charleston Post and Courier (SC). 1000s showed up for the First Day Festival on Sunday at Liberty Square. The City of Charleston and the Charleston County School District co-sponsored this event on the Sunday predating the opening of the new school year.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about K-12 education, and the necessity of rebuilding the entire community's capacity and desire to learn. I discussed this a few months ago in recounting the example of successful schools in particularly impoverished parts of Brazil. The most successful schools had the families co-sign family learning contracts along with their children, with "requirements" to stay involved and connected to their child's learning in school. (See "Involving the community in school improvement" and "A thought or two on public assets and public schools.")

The article in today's Charleston Post and Courier, "First Day Festival hot, very festive: Freebie tents laden with school supplies," discusses the third annual First Day Festival which aims "to encourage community involvement in children's education, said Charleston County School District Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. "We encourage it year-round, but this is the big kick-off."

The event had more than 70 freebie booths frequented by thousands of visitors. Children and a few adults played soccer and baseball in a large grassy area. An inflatable jumping booth was well used, and some children sought a break from the heat in a water fountain beneath a towering American flag. A band played cool music on this extremely hot day. There was even a guy in a Piggly Wiggly pig costume giving out school supplies under the relentless sun....

Mayor Joe Riley, posted under a festival tent, smiled and waved at children, busying himself with other festival volunteers passing out water, school supplies and bags of goodies. Several large tanks pumped cold cupfuls of water for thirsty people. Despite the heat, almost everybody was smiling as though they were having a really cool time. Perhaps gearing up for the first day of school has that effect on some people.
Holding events like this communicate the importance of education in and to the community.

High-level task forces aren't going to change the broader community environment that either supports or opposes learning.

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