Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rules of the Club

These rules, adopted in 1869, are still in force, although many of the formalities are no longer observed.  In particular the "two cubes" blackball rule is no longer observed — new members are accepted by consensus following discussion.

Rules of the Monday Evening Club, Pittsfield, Mass. 1869

I.  This Club shall consist of not more than twenty members.

II. Members shall be elected by secret ballot, by balls and cubes; two cubes shall reject.  Every member shall vote upon proposals.  No person who has been rejected as a member of the Club, under this rule, shall be eligible for membership during six months next succeeding his rejection, and shall not be balloted for as a member during that period.

III.  The Officers of the Club shall be a Chairman, Secretary, and an Executive Committee of three.
The Chairman for the time being shall be the member at whose house the session is held.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Father Knows Best: The Railroad Street Youth Project

Presented to the Club by Erik Bruun on December 14, 2009

1. Still Learning

The topic of this paper is the Railroad Street Youth Project of Great Barrington, Massachuetts, the youth empowerment organization that I have devoted more passion and energy than any other enterprise in my life other than parenting. As the title implies, the meaning is about fatherhood, something I learned a lot about in my role at RR Street. As my 16-year-old daughter is only too eager to tell me, fathers don't know best. In fact, according to her, we know virtually nothing at all. This, however, does not stop her from turning to me for support on an almost daily basis.

My experience is that as fathers we are called upon to know what is right and carry ourselves in certainty, but in reality our job is to prepare our children to trust their own judgments even in the face of our own doubts. In short, this paper is about love.

It comes from the place of having two teenage children who are starting to experience life’s joys, pains and disappointments as they embark upon independence. It also comes from a place of watching young people with virtually no credentials or privileges accomplish greatness that I would have never predicted through courage and determination. To leap to the conclusion, I am still learning and I imagine I always will be.

2. Why Don’t You Ask the Kids?

Ten years ago this fall community leaders and adults formed the South Berkshire Heroin Task Force to confront the increasingly visible and dangerous problem of drug addiction and substance abuse in downtown Great Barrington. Over the previous year, more than a dozen young people in South County died of drug overdoses, suicide, and alcohol-related car accidents. Many people were understandably freaked out. They gathered on a regular basis to try and do something about it. Amanda Root was one of those people.