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paul wheaton
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We have had a lot of people express an interest in coming here under something resembling our brand new "gappers" stuff - and they wish to bring kids.

Part of me wants to say "we don't have that aspect quite figured out yet - maybe in a year or two." At the same time, by brother has his family here and is keen on there being more families here.

We have had kids come by and it was awful. And we've had kids come by and it was lovely.

Next, for every gapper that is here, let us suppose that they use 10 units of resources per day. And they provide 10 units of forward velocity to what we are doing. Based on all of my experiences for all time, one gapper with one child will consume 20 units of resources and together they will provide 4 units of forward velocity. There will be variations, of course. And I suspect everybody reading this will be certain that their example is a variation where they consume less and provide more.

We have a long thread about our experiences so far: http://www.permies.com/t/26881/labs/kids

I guess the thing to do with this thread is figure out a way for this to work. Mostly because Tim so VERY much wants there to be more families here. Well, families that he likes. Surely there is a way for this to all work out.


 
Len Ovens
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paul wheaton wrote:
Next, for every gapper that is here, let us suppose that they use 10 units of resources per day. And they provide 10 units of forward velocity to what we are doing. Based on all of my experiences for all time, one gapper with one child will consume 20 units of resources and together they will provide 4 units of forward velocity. There will be variations, of course. And I suspect everybody reading this will be certain that their example is a variation where they consume less and provide more.


You are correct That people with kids will give less or to put it another way they should. Here is my reasoning. If parents do not give enough energy to their kids, then I think those kids will be a problem later. The biggest test case for this might be "PKs" (preachers kids) who rate amongst the highest trouble cases I know. Even if they remain easy to get along with and help out, often they seem to walk away from whatever life style the parents hold dear at the age of majority. Because of the goals (as I see) them of this project (world domination?) that of starting a new generation in the right way, alienating our children is not acceptable in my opinion.

So you may be right about the project not being quite ready for more kids. On the other hand... as part of the goals of this project is to start a new generation of permies, maybe some of that time taken away from various front line projects to raise children in the permie culture (permieculture?) still forms part of the projects long term goals. Sometimes it takes a little more time to teach a child how to help than to just do it one's self. The end result though is two sets of hands where there was only half a set before. The thing to look at with any new family is a wish by the whole family to be a part of the project or that it be obvious that both parents have no reservation about their children being a part of the experiment. Both parents need to want their children to grow up to be permies, not just be "OK" with it.

My wife is a nurse and has a saying with medication: "Start small, go slow." It may be time to start looking for one family to add... maybe another in another year as things get figured out. I have said before the I believe the project will not work without children and I still feel that way, but I also understand the realities you are working with there. The first family was special... the second needs to be too.

Just my two cents...
 
Craig Dobbson
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Just one quick thought:

Although they may not be pulling their full weight, what are the elements that a family can bring that other groups cannot? I understand the cost benefit analysis and it totally makes sense. There is something to be said about the non-material elements that a complete family (w/ kids) can bring to the table. Kids are great at doing lots of stuff. One thing they are really good at is helping adults learn better ways of communicating and dealing with stress. As I'm sure you know, kids are sometimes hard to deal with. They do help us become better adults over time. or you go kinda nuts It may be an element that pays for itself in the long run but that might cost you a little productivity up front.
Safety and respect are the two big things right off the bat.

 
Ryan McMullen
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What about limiting the age of the kids?

Most kids are great for being a "go-fer". Go get me this tool, go get some water, go get...

I know when I'm working on a project and the kids want to "help" (mine are 5 & 9), they make great tool holders/fetchers
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I'm reading lovely comments about how children are the future, start small, let them hold tools, etc., though still not quite enough practical tips, IMHO, about how to make kids work in a gapper situation.

As much as I love-love-love my (grown) children, and am forever thankful for the growth, challenges and perspectives that they brought and continue to bring to my life, I want to add that I think children almost always add to the work load.

For those who are raising children, want to be around children, or otherwise enjoy a slower, child-interrupted pace, this doesn't seem like additional work - it is a joy. For me, I've been there, done that; and now I feel like it's my time (my turn?) to do all the many, many things I could not do while spending hours, days and years on parenting things.

Here at wheaton labs, we have experienced adult helpers who have impeded our velocity in a variety of ways. They leave behind messes. They don't pick up or take care of tools. They break tools and equipment. A child who could actually increase our velocity would be rarer still.

Both in terms of gappers, or in terms of residents in other ways, I think the healthiest, safest idea is for parents to trade off watching the kids while others do their gapper or other work. We don't have childproof places here and we have a lot of dangerous equipment, animals, etc. which means supervision is essential, even for older kids. Besides having other parents available for this (which we don't really have at the moment) another question is who provides food for the children when or if they aren't contributing? Does the parent contribute extra labor or money so their kid(s) get fed by Paul? It becomes a bit confusing.



 
kadence blevins
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i think if there are to be gappers with kids then really there will have to be one of two things.. at least the way i am thinking things and from my life experiences..

1) every parent needs to have taught there kids as if they had grown up pioneers. *you gotta do stuff to help but you get plenty of time to play *you have to play safely *not playing safely is most likely going to hurt.. alot.. *follow the rules or you WILL be punished and you will not like it *parents actually have to follow through and punish accordingly
and on and on like this. i grew up on the farm and i have done my share of not playing safe and getting hurt. ask me how many times i have stepped on nails for being where i wasnt supposed to be! we grew up with a gun rack above the tv and we knew darn tootin if we were to touch even the rack we'd have red butts to show for it. at the same time there was times that mom or dad told one of us to grab a saw or gun or bullets/slugs or nails or any other things that we could have gotten hurt on.
i got a pocket knife when i was 9 and if i got in trouble that was one of the things taken away. when i was 11 i got a hatchet and i knew which and where i was allowed to take out small saplings and little trees. and i did.

at the same time i think this is vary rare these days. i think the amount of families that would work for this is very very very few.

2) the parents work out a system so that the parents basically do "shifts" of watching the kids while the rest of the parents are out helping and working.
it can work but the parents have to have raised their kids to listen to other adults when told to and be ok with other parents disciplining their kids. this is somewhat rare i find that most people are very "oh we dont spank our kids" and the kids are banshee terrors until an adult gives em a whippin and lookee there the kid listens.
my dad once got stuck with 15 kids ages 4-10 plus me who was 3 i think at the time. my mom had been babysitting and emergency called in to work. we lived near detroit MI and my dad entertained us all for most of a day in our tiny city front yard looking for four leaf clovers and playing with bugs and throwing away random trash bits.



personally i think families who fit the first part would be great. seems to be how the couple families there are working.
on the other hand i think most people will fit into the second part and will find very quickly that their family fits or it doesnt.
 
Matu Collins
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I think to have it really work you need more infrastructure, inside and out. Fences, designated play areas near work areas, etc.

If caregivers can work at simple tasks while supervising children, that is nice and picks up velocity a bit. Like if there is wool to be carded and spun, handmade wooden items to make and sand and oil, knitting, basketweaving, etc.

I have children and a pretty good infrastructure and I haven't ever taken wwoofers with kids. It's just not worth the added work and feeding.

Perhaps the way to get more kids in the neighborhood would be via deep roots.
 
paul wheaton
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deep roots or shallow roots with kids works.

I like the idea that there are five families grouped together, each with roots. Then they are doing their own thing. And if somebody is participating in another project, the kids can be watched by "the village".

 
Kristie Wheaton
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the village babysitter
village.jpg
[Thumbnail for village.jpg]
 
leah cardwell
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kids are wonderful workers between the ages of eleven and sixteen , maybe not your own, but other peoples kids. I built my cordwood house one summer with pretty much just volunteer kids to help me, they needed hour for school work experience. A couple of ladies helped out off and on but it was the kids and I who did the bulk of it . the youngest kid to put logs in the wall was 5 and the oldest had just turned 16. They did not lose tools,whine, try to push the walls over (like some un named adult males who came by to gawk) they showed up on time and they worked late until they were ready to drop. They finished the summer knowing they could build something from the ground up, boys and girls and they have never forgotten the lesson. It has been 15 years and they still come 'home' to just sit in their house. My grandson is 5 and knows how to operate a cordless drill and helps build things (no saws until he out weighs them is the rule). He can plant and pick beans and pretty much anything else that is asked of him as well as help process. A bit of patience and guidance and it is amazing what they can do. We constantly insult childrens intelligence and abilities and they know it. A place for them would be nice at the lab they might surprise every one with the right teacher.
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Now that we have changed the way we do most things, kids are not the problem they once were. We no longer feed gappers or their kids. Tool burn is nearly eliminated.

In fact, we are now encouraging families with the peanut village project.

http://www.permies.com/t/46445/labs/peanut-village

I'm going to close this thread and direct further questions about gappers with kids to the peanut village project.
 
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