Charley’s World Episode Thirty-Five

It had been five years now since Natty began the transformation of the community by knocking on Charley’s door. Tonight promised to be special. When Sandra began to write oral histories, little did anyone know of how those stories would go viral.

The stories were originally published on a website called NewSelf. Then the stories became mentioned on popular social media sites. Sandra had been careful to disguise the identities of those who were featured in the stories. There was a growing fascination with how people were able to transform themselves.

The interest in the personal stories led to national interest in how a community could transform itself into a NewSelf. Major publications came to the community to see for themselves the transformation that had occurred. Some of the highlights of those stories were captured on the walls of the Learning Center.

  • “This is a place where a favorite greeting is what did you learn this week?”
  • “Everyone seems to enjoy learning and then teaching others.”
  • “The divisions that plague much of our society don’t seem to exist here.”
  • “This may be the last place where student-athlete really is true.”
  • “There is strong faith here, but it’s a faith built on sharing, not telling.”                            

All of the interest in the community was being spotlighted tonight with the unveiling of a documentary narrated by one of America’s most beloved actors. The documentary was being shown at the local football stadium so that the entire community could attend. There were no tuxedos or fancy gowns. People just came as they would dress normally.

What was remarkable about the crowd was that they sat with people they learned with. There were no artificial seating arrangements. As Charley looked out at the crowd, he remembered how Sam and Bea had developed a bond by learning together. These bonds had now brought the community together.

As the community watched the documentary, you could sense an obvious pride. The applause at the end was deafening.

The evening concluded with a special announcement. Mayor Sam introduced Carolyn Archer, CEO of one of America’s most innovative companies.

“I’m here tonight to applaud what every one of you has accomplished in your lives. This is the kind of community where I want to be. As you know, most of our nation’s advanced technology depends upon the availability of rare earth minerals. Up to now, we’ve had to turn to countries that are not friendly to us to get the materials we need.”

“We have found a source of these materials right here. That coal waste impoundment which many of you consider to be blight on your community will become the source of America’s future.”

“I am announcing today that we will be building a prototype manufacturing facility in this community to turn rare earth minerals into new technology products. We are picking this location because of the learning focus of what you have built here. We need employees who can learn what is needed to develop our future technologies.”

“If these prototypes are successful, then we will build production facilities near here or in other parts of your state where we can obtain the materials we need.  What we learn here will shape the future of this entire state. I have to tell you that I was greatly influenced by Mayor Sam’s own learning journey. But it was that special relationship that he and Bea developed that told me that this was a very special place.”

Charley was stunned. He looked upward thinking that Anne and Betsey must be proud. He didn’t realize how much more exciting the future would become.

* * *

“It shouldn’t matter how slowly a child learns as long as we are encouraging them not to stop.” – Robert John Meehan (educator)