Dale McGowan, National Director of Ethical Education
Stony Point, New York in the gorgeous Hudson River Valley was the site of the annual Ethical Education Conference and Family Weekend November 6-8. AEU kids and parents joined EE teachers and directors from across the country for a weekend devoted to a single theme: how our individual Ethical Education programs can become more connected and mutually supportive.
The metaphor for the gathering was barn-raising—an inspired solution to a very real problem in early American farm communities. Every family in a given community needed a barn for their livelihood, but building an entire barn was beyond the abilities of one family. So the whole community would come together to raise one strong barn after another, doing collectively what each family could only dream of accomplishing.
Too often we toil in isolation, hammering feverishly on our own programs in our individual Societies, often re-inventing the wheel, while the talent and ideas we need to flourish and grow are readily available in another Society. The goal of the weekend was to move the EE program closer to the barn-raising model, learning to more effectively match needs and offerings throughout the Ethical movement.
To this end, the conference was built more around brainstorming and discussion than structured presentations. A spirit of cooperation and a desire to help—and a willingness to be helped—permeated the event.
But it wasn’t all seriousness and hard work! Evening bonfires, storytelling, joke sharing, and a children’s talent show helped to bring us together as friends and family united for a common purpose—building a better Ethical Education program and helping to grow the Ethical movement into a greater cultural presence.
We hope to see you all next year in Stony Point!