This Kid lives in a small Urban Village, one of thousands inside Chicagoland, with millions of other people. Set in the near future, the Kid goes to school in the morning, works in the afternoon, and mingles with neighbors in the evenings. People in the Village meet and get to know one another through repetitive interactions and events.
Traveling is a way of communicating with a shared world as Kid interacts with family, neighbors, other Villages, the countryside, and a global metropolis. A Plaza at street level serves infiniteTransit flyway Rides around the metropolis. Kid’s five-story Village is located 43 stories above ground, and the family lives one floor down from the elevator entrance. A cafe is near the elevator entrance and a classroom is another level down from their home. The top floor of their Village includes a high-tech factory. Huge greenhouses fill the south-facing facade of the building.
Kid pieces together a world view from experiences each day of the week. In seven days, Kid learns about seven boundaries of human activity. We meet Kid on Sunday morning, at home, before an adventure into the city.
I love the smell of bacon in the morning, and today my grandfather will walk me to the beach. Luckily my parents packed lunch for both of us, but I had to clean my room before we left. I was so excited to see the world with LeoPaPa that I spilled on my favorite drawing, which was ruined. Mom said next weekend I can visit her friend’s Village, and make a new drawing. Walking with grandpa is calming, and at the same time, the streets are filled with surprises. At the beach, we swim, we read, he napped while I watched the people, we built a sandcastle and had Spam Musubi from a food cart on the way home.
My grandpa is an old Cherokee, and while we were watching all the different people at the beach, he told me about a battle that goes on inside people. He said:
“Kid, there is a battle between two “wolves” inside us all.
One is Evil.
It is anger, envy, jealousy, doubt, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good.
It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, forgiveness, truth, compassion and faith.”
I thought about it all the way home. Before I went to bed, I asked him
“Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied
“The one you feed.”
Mom makes me eat granola that our friends make in the First Village Above ours. At school today, I have to interview an old lady. Sometimes the stories are boring, but Ms. Tzing... wow. Her life was very hard in a time when people were killing each other in a war. She is younger than my grandfather, and amazingly, she is alive to tell me about it. She had no food, and had no home, for many months. And I found out she lives near us, just two Villages down from ours. Working in the shop in the afternoons, where I clean the kitchen, make tea, and sort shipments seems so easy compared to Ms. Tzing’s life. Dad said we can invite her to play Pétanque by the greenhouse next Saturday. People shouldn’t have to live in war zones.
My parents leave early on Tuesday’s, but I go to the Fourth Village Down, and learn how food changes the way people feel. The teacher is great, and I like learning how to cook breakfast with school-mates. We cook extra food, in returnable containers, and before lunch, we distribute lots of lunch meals to cafes in nearby Villages.
My classmate’s dad takes us on the Living Ride, where we can comfortably read, and then an electric bus gets us to Mr. Jamaal’s Wisconsin dairy farm in 25 minutes. We have to wash and clean the cows, and usually, we get to bring milk home.
Unfortunately, I tried milking the cow without asking Mr. Jamaal, and the cow kicked me really hard. Normally the cows seem so lazy I didn’t expect it. After I was bandaged up, Mr. Jamaal brought us all together and taught us a lot more about how people are like cows and cows are like people. His cows are not zebras, but Zebu’s, and he helps other dairy farmers raise them in Africa.
My parents were surprised to see me bandaged up at dinner, but it was OK since it was the one night of the week we just make a simple meal at home. After dinner, we talked about different times in my parent’s life when they were curious, or not, and how sometimes curiosity can be dangerous.
I like eating at Roberto’s cafe for breakfast. It’s bright by the greenhouse, and he makes energy bars. It’s only one floor away from our house, and i take the stairs by myself. More classmates arrive and then we go to our Reading and Literature session in my Village. Mr. Alessandro asked each one of us to read out loud a portion of the story about a Baron who lived in the trees. Baron had a fight with his sister, climbed up a tree, and lived there for the rest of his life. It sounded so fun, with nice views like we get from our house.
At lunch we always sit together in the Village garden and eat salad from the greenhouse. I started arranging tables for us when a woman walked up to me and said “hey Kid, who said you can move these tables?” I was startled and Mr. Alessandro is friends with the cafe owner. So I said to her “Our class normally sits in a group at this end of the garden on Wednesdays” The woman stared and said “Look you shitty mouthed Kid, you and all your snot-nosed buddies should be in school and that guy should get a real job.” We were stunned; no one had ever seen this person before. Mr. Alessandro walked over saying “This is our literature class. You are welcome to join us. We don’t mean to offend anyone. There are many places to sit, even some quieter places where you can take a phone call.”
The woman angrily knocked over a chair and left. That afternoon I was glad to be harvesting the greens in the garden, pruning the tomato buds, and thinking about living in trees.
We had dinner with our neighbors telling stories about our day. Later that night we gathered down on the Pauseway Plaza with people from other Villages, kids played and the adults talked about developing trust, both online and in our Villages.
Oranges arrive once a week at the plaza outside our building. They come from places all over the world, depending upon the month. With some toast in the morning, I am ready for my math class. Ms. Mirzakhani teaches our online course and helps us to recognize patterns in numbers. She says there is no particular recipe for developing new proofs... It is like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck, you might find a way out. I work diligently to complete my homework while eating lunch at home.
After lunch I look out the window and see so many people in our city, some are rich and some are poor. This is a pattern about math, I can see people and sense the proportion of rich relative to the proportion of poor. Somehow it is a feeling that affects how we interact with each other. After lunch, I slowly take the elevator to the Fifth Village Above where I count and restock items for a company that makes techno-widgets. They are quite valuable, but to me they are just things to count. Many people get off the elevator and I head up the stairs to the factory. A teenager is protesting that the sky is falling. Connecting patterns, I remember the story of Chicken Little, my grandmother read to me. And I just don't really feel, like, in the mood to hear it, and so I just walk on.
Dad makes pancakes on Friday morning, which gives me the energy to dive into my science lessons. Sixty students, teachers, and tutors help us do experiments about our airport. Students are testing all kinds of things like water quality, air quality, etc. My group of seven students and one tutor learn from Mr. Dostoevsky, in the laboratory overlooking the plaza. He is responsible for verifying the cleanliness of the transport system after UV light cleaning. We learn about chemistry and biology and how molecules move, and we have to test the actual transportation system, which is great because we learn about our city. Plus, we get to have lunch at my favorite BBQ place two cities away, which only takes 10 minutes on our new fast Learning Rides.
Mr. Dostoevsky is a quirky guy, he is meticulous in clarifying to us how mythical stories contain partial truths, and simultaneously, how great scientists are open to contradictory evidence. Lately, he has been particularly interested in the new solar particle forcing models in the International Panel on Climate Change. Mr. Dostoevsky seems to think that the sun is changing our climate. He told us about some very expensive laboratory in Europe called CERN, built to find Dark Matter, which they didn’t find. He would love to see us become plasma cosmologists. I don’t know Dark Matter from Pink Matter, so I doubt that is my future, but I love his science lessons.
When a group of students are traveling, we take the Learning Ride, because it is safer for small people than the other Rides. We spend the afternoon at the hospital waiting rooms cleaning or helping with whatever they need. When I’m finished, my parents meet me at the hospital and we go for dinner to mom’s favorite Senegalese restaurant. When we get home, dad and I sit up watching the thunderstorms roll in. From our living room, we can see the tallest building in our city, and another building one city away, getting repeatedly struck by lighting and sparks flying from the antennas. I fall asleep thinking of Mr. Dostoevsky talking about electromagnetism.
Today is busy, so mom and I improvise breakfast with toasted cheese and radishes. We take the Work Ride 15 minutes, just past the airport, and then a 20-minute bike ride to get to Questular Rontok’s Indiana studio where mom spins clay. Today she needs me to help her glaze pots and get them into the kiln. I don’t understand how it works, but mom always lets me glaze one bowl, and when they come out of the kiln, it never looks like what I put in the kiln. While the pots cook, Questular and I begin a shared drawing. An hour later, we have a new drawing to hang in our house.
Mom’s pots must be beautiful because when she sells them at the Indiana Pauseway Plaza, they are gone quickly. Sure enough, they sold, and we go for lunch. Mom tells me at lunch that her Co-op is changing because some people want specialized tools, and other people don’t want to provide the resources to accommodate more tools. Mom tells me when she grew up, there was no opportunity for change on her island because everything was steady, even the weather. She said it was very comfortable with no surprises, yet a little boring. Now living in our Village, she likes the friendly nature of people and the availability of fresh ideas from all over the metropolis.
After lunch we look for a new jacket since mine has shrunk. Mom likes things to look a certain way, so we go to her favorite shop. When we arrive the shopkeeper has a new game where jackets and bags are upgraded and traded. An older friend in my literature class had these cool jackets last winter, and they are designed to last through many cold winters. Mom agreed to get me a new bag since I gained enough trading dot.coins from harvesting greens and washing the cows. Mom decided to take the Play Ride home which is always entertaining. Sure enough, there were people doing cartwheels on the Ride, and we sent them some trading dot.coins too. Later tonight my brother, sister, and I will join our friends in the Village for game night!
Civility is freedom's prerequisite.