Meeting the Neighbours

 

"The Cobble Hill area is very special. It really hasn't changed much in 100 years. Not many places can say that. It remains rural." Ken Horton (son of the original Horton farm family - settled in 1920's)

Denise Augustine and Kim Ondrik decided that they needed to meet the neighbours of Mill Bay Nature School – to introduce themselves, to invite collaboration, to find out about the history of the neighbourhood.  Their first stop was at Ken Barry’s – Greg Augustine’s second cousin – a man with an astonishing imagination and  zestful creativity inspiriting a gorgeous garden, stunning curated tool collections, and delicious food concoctions.  Did they mention the chickens living in the trailer ?  Ken was delighted to tour them and provided them with goody bags of yummy stuff …

He said that he wasn’t that into little kids, but Kim kinda thought she could change his mind.  The knowledge this man carries is priceless …

They then travelled down the road, past the school to the lovely old green and white farm home across the street with the wide distinctive covered porch.  There they met Carolyn Webb who lives there with her husband Jeremy.  As the daughter of the original farmer, Mr. Horton, she was curious about the re-opening of Mill Bay School.  As a teacher herself, she was curious about the pedagogy of the school and its envisionings.  She wondered if there could have a relationship that benefited her family financially and provided beautiful land for the Mill Bay Nature School children to experience.  Kim said that she was open to grant writing.  Carolyn encouraged Denise and Kim to visit her brother Ken Horton across the street in the white house from the 1940’s.

Denise and Kim knocked on the Horton’s door with mouths full of chicken.  (It was after 8 pm after all.)  They giggled at how much it felt like door-to-door sales.  When Sheelagh Horton opened the door, she immediately recognized them.  She had been at the parent evening a few weeks ago and remembered their faces.  She told them the BBQ was on and invited them in.  Instead, they ended up having a beautiful warm chat on the stoop as Ken joined them.  He shared how his parents had gifted the school district with 10 acres of land for the school up the road (George Bonner Elementary) and then they had many years of disappointing interactions with students, cows, fire, and reactions.  Denise and Kim suggested that this was a new beginning – with Mill Bay’s reopening – an opportunity for a restorative relationship with the Horton’s.  Sheelagh even said that she was excited to help out at the school.  Ken said that he was hopeful.  Both were willing to begin a conversation with John Barry (who owns the forest behind Mill Bay Nature School) so that Kim could continue it and attempt to gain access to the stunning green classroom space.

Ken and Sheelagh said that they wish to be generous neighbours.  Already it is apparent that they are …

Kim finished the conversation by asking if they had a spare barn that she could transform into a home …