Every summer, The Island School welcomes a group of talented and motivated educators to their annual Teachers Conference. One of our attendees from this past summer, Mark Dewart, a science teacher at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, shared some beautiful remarks at morning circle one morning: "Reading "The Rediscovery of North America.” and being at the Island School leaves me thinking that we not only need to "rediscover" North America but we also need to “reinhabit” the continent. All of the teachers here come from communities that have thousands of inhabitants but how many of these inhabitants are living sustainably and joyfully in our home towns? There are currently 7 billion people on the planet with another 2 billion on the way before our students reach our age. We aren’t even close to figuring out how we are going to do this. How do we build communities that are sustainable and joyful to live in AND protect the wild places we have seen this week and the beings that live there? The important work of “rediscovery” leads to the important work of “reinhabitation.”
At the Island School we experienced first-hand what it looks and feels like to live in a joyful and sustainable community . We were comfortable and well-fed by food, energy and water producing systems that ran off of massive amounts of cleverness and ingenuity rather than tons of coal and barrels of oil. We spent a week on an island where, in the last 500 years, the people have had everything thrown at them from recurring hurricanes to the calamities of guns, germs and steel that the voyages of “discovery” brought to this part of the world. In the people living on these islands, around the hydroponic and tilapia tanks or in the ocean creatures we saw or held, all week we have felt the drumbeat of the universe beating strongly in Bahamaland. As we return to our home communities, like propagules falling from a mangrove tree, that drumbeat will animate our efforts to help our students and communities "rediscover" and “reinhabit” North America and the planet. "