It's been a busy week in the towns of W (Waterville and Wolf Woods). Here are some highlights:
Wolf Woods Worries
Rumors flew through the wood shop on Friday morning -- those who had stayed to the bitter end of the town meeting had given themselves three votes a piece, taken away the voting rights of other peeps and given themselves $300. What could be done? Nobody who wasn't there had a vote. They were now voiceless, powerless. Outraged peeps convened -- shouldn't there be a law against this kind of thing? Wait...there was a law that said that all peeps were equal. Didn't something that gave some peeps more votes violate that law. Could you write a law that violated another law? A petition was started to have an emergency town meeting in the afternoon...what would happen? (Sorry to leave a cliff hanger, I was not privy to the afternoon meeting!)
Sometimes, from a teaching perspective, waiting for things to happen in Village can be agonizing. However, the wait is often worth it. Sure. We could talk to students about the importance of equal rights. We could suggest laws for them to pass. We could provide a model of government for them to copy. But laws and governments are organically developed. They arise when the needs of people (or peeps) are not being met.
It was only when the dangers of "government by those with enough stamina to stay in a meeting until everyone else leaves" became evident, that students understand that a governmental system might be necessary. They didn't want to stay in meeting forever (as direct democracy necessitates) but they didn't want to leave decisions up to those who were self-interested enough to stick around in meeting until everyone had left in order to pass laws that benefited them alone. A representative democracy, in which people choose individuals who will make good decisions in their place might be one solution. Maybe a group who makes a promise to think about the town first when they make decisions. Maybe they'll elect a single individual to consider all proposals and make decisions for the town. Some towns create elaborate systems of committees of randomly chosen citizens led by elected judges who made decisions based on a hierarchy of rights.
What type of government they design is secondary. What they realize from having lived it is that people make decisions in governments and the means by which they make those decisions is important.
Waterville had passed a law allowing peeps to leave meeting that was very similar to Wolf Woods's. However, at Thursday's meeting, they proposed that a president be chosen by simple majority in a run-off election. That president would be in charge of running town meetings and would be able to veto town decisions. The veto could be over-ridden by a 75% majority. If the president wasn't present, the meeting could be run by the vice-president (runner up in the election.) In a controversial move, the election was to be held immediately (with only those still in meeting having a vote). They voted, a president took over the meeting and life continued.
The Waterville politicos who stay in meeting voted themselves $200 the first day others left. Since then (after having listened to the outraged cries of their town mates) they have made decisions that are very town-focused. No individuals are really voting themselves benefits. Perhaps because of this restraint, the town didn't react very much when they found out that a minority of people had chosen a president for them (the president did not need to be in the meeting to be nominated.) We'll see if the peace continues.
Nothing can come into the economy of Village without being paid for. Most of the materials that students use can be purchased in the store. Sometimes, however, students want to bring supplies from home to use in the game. In order to do so, the item must come through customs. Citizens declare their items on a custom form and the federal government determines how much it will cost to bring the item through customs.
If an item has been processed by someone outside of village it is subject to a tariff because the federal government wants to encourage invention and creation. A Playmobil bicycle, for example, might be $1000 woofies to bring in -- 1/5 of the worth of a Wolf Woods peep. It's a luxury few feel they need (especially when they can take a Peep U. class on bicycle making). Material that has not been processed by people outside of village comes through customs at the cost it would be in the store.
Food items can be challenging to price. A brownie 1 human inch by 3/4 human inch is equivalent to a pan of peep brownies -- and a pan of brownies costs about $4 in raw materials. A fair profit would put that small for a human nibble at $7-8. Would you pay that for a brownie? Giant, hot tub sized cups, are often brought from home to hold smoothies or root beer floats. Of course, if they were hot tubs, they would be worth $500 or more -- but who is going to pay that for a float? And the volume of liquid they hold? Well, that would be 10-20 peep 2 liters! That's about $20 per human serving.
Peep Weekly Hits the Newstands
We had indoor land time on Friday because of the rain but it didn't dampen enthusiasm for "Peep Weekly: The Scoop on Peeps." Subscribers were treated to a first issue (in human and peep sizes) full of news and advertisements. Articles included news about a rash of lost eyes, results of the land rush, house design, and the record price paid for a cake at a recent peep auction. (The cake had been made in a peep university class on Cake Decorating led by John Ochiato.)
Two more editions are planned, including one that you will be able to buy at mini-fair. Many thanks to Josie Rawson for overseeing the peep press and running regular Peep Weekly staff meetings to bring the paper to life.
Parade of Peeps
A tradition was born on Friday when the peeps paraded at All School Gathering. Each one climbed up to a very high stage (24 human inches!) and introduced him or herself to the whole school. Younger children were fascinated and came up for a closer look at the end of the parade.