Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Small notepads and markers
Preparation for Activity
- Make sure participants have appropriate outerwear so the group can go outside regardless of the weather.
- Plan a short walk from your congregation's building that offers participants the chance to notice boundaries such as walls, fences, and gates as well as places where nature crosses those boundaries (for example, a large tree with a canopy that extends well beyond its trunk). Make sure the route is accessible for all participants.
- Secure parental permission to take children out of the congregational building. Make preparations to safeguard participants with outdoor allergies.
Description of Activity
Tell the group they will take a short, outdoor walk to notice what kinds of things people try to own and what kinds of things we share. Invite participants to put on outerwear, as needed, and walk together.
Optional: Distribute notebooks and pencils, and ask participants to record the boundaries and shared resources they notice. Allow them to write lists, make sketches or simply tally their sightings of fences, walls, other boundaries and boundary crossings. Keeping records can focus participants' attention and aid the post-walk discussion about what everyone saw. Or, you may decide to have participants verbally announce what they see and invite just a few volunteers to make notes.
As you walk, ask participants to name ways people show they own pieces of land. Expect answers about built boundaries such as walls and gates. Ask the group to also look for natural boundaries, such as a hill or a river that separates two parcels of land or two towns.
Invite the group to observe what kinds of life do not adhere to these human boundaries. For example, animals such as birds, squirrels or other animals ignore fences. Plants grow up and over walls. You may see a stream, puddle or other water on the ground that runs across several properties.
Bring the group back to the indoor space. Ask participants to call out the boundaries they saw. Then, give each participant a chance to offer an observation of a boundary-crosser. You might say:
In many places, people try to own parts of the world, especially land, and they often mark this ownership with boundaries, to separate it off from other people. What are some examples that we saw today of animals, plants, land formation or water that do not recognize these boundaries?
Allow participants to share. If no one mentions clouds, air or rain as something that cannot be fenced in, point this out.
Say, in closing:
Just as people cannot own the air that we breathe, water belongs to all of us.
Including All Participants
Tailor the outdoor walk to participants' needs around mobility, vision or attention. Choose an accessible route that invites all participants to observe evidence of land ownership and boundary crossing.