One of the most difficult things to get young people to understand is how long it takes to get anything new done. Kids raised on fast food have little comprehension of how long it actually takes to prepare a hamburger the old-fashioned way.
As I explained to one of our parricides on the phone today, I devoted 15 years to creating a park and trail in Minneapolis. Minneapolis was rich with available resources and the final goal was something few people opposed. A halfway setting for parricides in the middle of nowhere, on the other hand, is a far less popular goal and we must troll the entire world for just a fraction of the resources available in Minneapolis.
Over the past five years I have managed to add 60 acres to Estrella Vista’s footprint—40 acres that were purchased and 20 acres that were donated—and I still have another 2½ years of time-payments before the original 20 acres and adobe house are paid for, making 80 acres total owned by the young people we serve.
With your help, since 2005 we have provided direct support to eleven young people in the forms of expert legal aid, commissary deposits, books and magazines, tuition payments, travel assistance, help with rent, vehicle purchase, etc. We have instigated or been involved with several landmark court cases, and almost everything we have touched has resulted in net gains for the kids involved. At a minimum, we have provided realistic hope in the lives of young people where none existed before.
Over the last 3½ years, the Wandervogel Diary has grown from 577 visitors a month to between 12,632 and 21,209 visitors per month (over three-quarters of a million total), 1,468 posts, and over 5,907 comments. Our network of supporters is truly global, with most readers/donors hailing from the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, and Australia, and new countries being added every day.
Since 2011, we have gotten several major networks to produce/broadcast films about the kids we represent including NBC, ABC, MSNBC, A&E, etc. in the US alone, plus TV-2 and BBC radio (in the UK), RT (Russia Today), and others. Our kids have been featured in print in People and a variety of other magazines and newspapers. (On May 26th, Memorial Day, A&E—and a reader corrects me and says Lifetime Movie Network—will be screening “Murder in Enchanted Hills,” a film about Paul Henry Gingerich, at 9:00 pm eastern time.)
For me, this is major progress, but to a young person who is considering coming out, it may not seem like so very much to show.
Shortly after my last visitor to Estrella Vista got home, he provided the following commentary: “I think there are two distinct visions, 1) supporting the individual kids and their current needs, and 2) supporting the vision of Estrella Vista. Unfortunately, Estrella Vista takes a backseat because of current needs and a bit of near (or short) sightedness of most people involved in support. It will always be the harder sell. Estrella Vista is going to be quite a balancing act for the foreseeable future. Obviously you can’t afford to build before you have a user base, but you can’t wait for someone to show up at your door before starting on development, or at least having a valid Plan Of Action and Milestones.”
A “balancing act.” How right he is. I have thought about it carefully, and the first kid will have to move here with the property as-is to get everything started.
It will take at least one volunteer, hopefully a young pioneer, making a leap of faith and coming out here, despite the fact that we have no well, toilets, or other conveniences that will make this place attractive to much of anyone but me. I could live here forever with things as they are, but most young people have never lived this way (which is something straight out of the 19th century). It will take an extraordinary adventurer, someone with initiative, someone attracted to physical labor, and someone who can be happy with what he brings to this life in his soul alone.
One of the few challenges more daunting than coming to live on this desert is suggested by an ad written by Sir Ernest Shackleton and published in the London newspapers in 1900 before his service as third officer on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery Expedition, 1901–04. Shackleton got over 5,000 inquiries to this ad. I can’t offer an adventure that even remotely approaches an Antarctic trek, but anyone coming here will certainly feel like he’s journeyed to one of the ends of the earth.
Once the young pioneer gets here, he will immediately find that Estrella Vista is without plumbing, and therefore not a “babe magnet.” Moreover, there are few young women in the area. For this reason, I am guessing that one of the first priorities upon arrival will be the construction of an enclosed toilet/shower/dressing room unit, the first of six total.
But I am getting ahead of myself. We are only talking about his making the move; the young pioneer’s arrival is uncertain and a date certain has not been set. Chances are, you will be the first to hear it here because we will probably need your help with gas money to get him from the coast to West Texas.
Groove of the Day