Open School facilitators watered our roots

Open School facilitators watered our roots
Carlos Abler  
Among my favorite memories are the outside speakers that were brought in. The diversity of perspectives I encountered reflected an ethics of diversity and inclusion that are a gold standard of ethics in action for those debating these matters today. And the stature of these individuals reflected an ethic of taking children seriously as players on life’s stage.
Open School is where I’m met Marv Davidoff. He handed me a cluster bomb so I could feel materially what it was like. So I could really grasp beyond conceptual abstraction what these devices of horror were.  This led to me standing with the community at Honeywell project protests, and many other political functions. Not long ago I was at his memorial. And just last week in at my friend Bill Tilton’s house, that contains the ashes of this sainted man. I learned of Bill in this next story.
Open School is where I met Don Olson. One of the Minnesota 8, who threw viet Nam draft records into the Mississippi so as to interfere with the US policy of sending off our young ones to die and murder for capital. Don has become a lifelong acquaintance. I just gave him a bottle of wine two months ago. Through Don, I learned of his co-conspirator Bill Tilton who has become a lifelong friend. I just made him dinner last week.  What a blessing to not only have my life enriched at that time but to develop relationships that have spanned no a near 40-year arc of time.
Open School is where I got into a debate with Charles Melby, a former Air Force general about the role of the Air Force in various  CIA-driven atrocities. In a particularly heated moment (I was heated he was calm), I called BS on his argument about Jimmy Carter‘s CIA reforms. My argument was theatrically backed up by a copy of Philip Agee’s White Paper White Wash which I happen to have had in my locker which I ran and grabbed so I could wave it in his face while blathering about Carter era atrocities in Iran. Later, in the letter he sent back to Linda Reiss (Buzzy) thanking her for inviting him to speak,  he called out my name and said that I would have a fine future in government or international relations. For a scrappy Frogtown kid at risk of never believing I had the privilege or legitimacy to have a consequential influence and professional society, this was an utterly profound validation. Today in fact I sit on the managing board of the UN-sponsored NGO focused on the global applications of technologies to sustainability. He wasn’t wrong.
Open School is where I’m at Mulford Q. Sibley. What a miracle to speak with this man. I still have the mimeographed copy of an article he wrote and gave to me personally there, just I asked him a question about his personal relationship with communism. What an amazing experience to meet this gentle, reflective, and wise teacher. Who gave infinite time, patience, and care to listen to and engage with us.
Open School is where I had the opportunity to get in front of a microphone and publicly interrogate Senator Rudy Boschwitz about his perspective on nuclear arms. I received a round of applause from the audience for the question I asked. This is a profound experience for a young child to have. To believe that they can occupy a position on the societal stage and engage with power. To be power. It was also at this event where later I shook Rudy Bosch with his hand. And I asked him why he supported the Panama Canal treaty. I learned nothing from his answer because he refused to answer. But the murderous look he gave me, was also early learning for me to learn how to beware of the powerful.
Open School is where I met Meriden Lesueur who has continued to be a great inspiration.
Open School Is where I met poet Kevin O’Rourke, who became a life-long friend. And I met him in Dhann Polnau’s Life of Art Class. I brought cookies to the BAKE SALE! whereby we scraped together the $30.72 to give to him in a plastic freezer bag. It was amazing that kids could teach classes. Open School gave me the opportunity to teach two. One was Comic Book Making, which I taught with Mike Scott, my advisor, and class sponsor. The other was Music and Change, taught with Pablo Jones (The Artist Formerly Known As Paul Reighard), and Randy Hawkins (still by the same name).
There are so many stories like this for me and many others. I am forever grateful and continue to be blessed by these experiences both in how they enriched me as a person and then leading to vital relationships that still persist to this very day.
Back then I was too much of an angry boy who did not trust adults, and so I am sure that great people like Linda Reiss, Mike Scott, and Lenny Augustine, didn’t feel the love from me at the time. But I hope they can feel it now. Even though I still do not trust adults notwithstanding the fact that I am classified as one.
Whatever successes we enjoy today, we owe a lot to the efforts of Open School facilitators who watered our roots. Thanks to them, my roots are deep, strong, and life-bearing. From my soul, thank you.