What usually happens when someone thinks of building on a piece of land? He looks for the best site - where the grass is most beautiful, the trees most healthy, the slope of the land most even, the view most lovely, the soil most fertile - and that is just where he decides to put his house.
People always say to themselves, well, of course, we can always start another garden, build another trellis, put in another gravel path, put new crocuses in the new lawn, and the lizards will find some other pile of stones. But it just is not so.These simple things take years to grow - it isn’t all that easy to create them, just by wanting to. And every time we disturb one of these precious details, it may take twenty years, a lifetime even, before some comparable details grow again from our small daily acts.
If we always build on that part of the land which is most healthy, we can be virtually certain that a great deal of the land will always be less than healthy. If we want the land to be healthy all over - all of it - then we must do the opposite. We must treat every new act of building as an opportunity to mend some rent in the existing cloth; each act of building gives us the chance to make one of the ugliest and least healthy parts of the environment more healthy - as for those parts which are already healthy and beautiful - they of course need no attention. And in fact, we must discipline ourselves most strictly to leave them alone,so that our energy actually goes to the places which need it.
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”—John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail.
This summer, my son Noah and I discovered DIY and fell in love. So far, he’s earned 11 skills, with many more to come!
In the process of earning his Data Visionary badge, Noah created a public transportation survey that went viral! He was featured on the Huffington Post and retweeted by people like Om Malik and Tim O’Reilly. Over 1,000 people took his survey.
Noah was invited to tour SurveyMonkey and give a presentation on his survey! We showed the team DIY.org and how much Noah has been inspired to do since he got started on the site.
We just love how DIY teaches kids that they can learn skills—like data analysis!—that would normally be considered too “big” for kids. Watching him manipulate his survey results, I was, frankly, a little awed. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the summer.
Since he discovered DIY, Noah has baked scones, written and performed his own song, made a video about surface tension, edited a photo of himself to look like a zombie, and, yes, run a Brown Bag lunch presentation for a room full of adult data professionals. He has done so many more things than we would ever have thought possible at his age — and there are dozens of skills left to learn!