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Find Out More, Session 16: The Gift Of Community

In "Wonderful Welcome," a Tapestry of Faith program

Barn-raising

See photographs of a barn-raising in Texas on the Homestead Craft and Children's Fair website. Another barn-raising, this one to build an historic "Texas dance hall"-style barn on a family-owned flower farm, is also pictured online.

Picture Books about Barn-raisings and Community Dancing

Raising Yoder's Barn, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bernie Fuchs (New York: Little, Brown, 1998, 2002), tells about an Amish community's reconstruction of one family's barn. Barn Raising by Craig Brown (Greenwillow, 2002) also tells of an Amish family's barn-raising from a young boy's point of view. Another picture book Let Us Raise a Barn by Robin Lind ( Hope Springs , VA: Hope Springs Press, 2006) tells the story of a Virginia barn-raising, and describes the roles volunteers take, such as prayer master or supply master. The dedication reads:

To all the wonderful friends and neighbors who responded to our invitation to come raise a barn — and helped build community in the process.

The book, Noah's Square Dance, written by Rick Walton and illustrated by Thor Wickstrom (New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1995), portrays the animals on the ark doing square dance steps to Noah's calls.

Community Playgrounds

This story in this session is inspired by a true story, reported in the New York Times on May 10, 1987, about a Manhattan community that joined together to build a neighborhood playground designed by local schoolchildren. The article "On West Side ,an Urban Barn-raising," is by Joseph Giovannini. Find out how children, adults, faith communities, sponsors and consultants came together in central Pennsylvania to build Possibility Place , a fully accessible community playground. The Manhattan playground and Possibility Place were both engineered by Leathers and Associates, an Ithaca, New York consulting firm that specializes in community playgrounds.

Contra Dancing / Barn Dancing / Square Dancing for Children

Square dancing is a rural American tradition that can be enjoyed by children as young as five and six — although, small children are safer dancing in groups their own age. More and more states now include square dancing in young children's physical education curricula. Children practice listening to and following instructions, experience appropriate ways to be physical in a social situation and learn to apply a variety of shape, direction, and mathematical terms (circle, right, left, front, back). In fact, the square dance is the official dance of at least two states (Arkansas and Washington ). In many areas there are square dance clubs that hold dances with live musicians and a caller; there are many gay and lesbian square dance groups. Recorded square dance music with caller's cues can be purchased online. Vic and Debbie Ceder's Square Dance Resource Net is a good place to begin research. You can also find square dance DVDs for purchase on the centralhome.com website.

Contra dancing — also called barn dancing — is related to square dancing and is a good choice for a community-wide, intergenerational gathering. Learn more about contra dancing from the website of the Santa Barbara Country Dance Society's "What Is Contra Dance?" page and the website of a New England band, the Contra Banditos.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

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