This is Episode 12 in the story of the formation, rise and fall of the little education collective that used to exist up here on our mountain. I wrote and posted this account three years ago on my blog and then pulled it off because someone whose name I had not changed, objected. Now I have changed both the name of the little school itself, and the names of everyone who might be negatively impacted, and plan to re-post the story, one episode per day, until all 32 are again on my blog.
The question hangs in the air. Was there no one who stuck up for Imika? Were there no homies? She managed to incur the ire of most of the community, either directly or indirectly, so it makes one wonder if there was no sanctuary for her or for Misha.
That’s where Cory and Carol come into the picture. Imika and Carol were long-time friends, and the ones to whom she turned, when there was no other place to go. Like Imika, they lived up Bell Springs Road, only instead of turning off on Cow Mountain, you went a little way farther on Bell Springs, and then turned off, so there was the fact that Imika had to leave her immediate space when she visited Carol, and that was probably not a bad thing.
I have always admired Cory and Carol for their unwillingness to abandon their friend, even though it became impossible for the two of them to continue on equal footing with the rest of the community. Imika just caused too much personal inconvenience, and therefore was unwelcome wherever anyone from the Bell Springs community might have been present. But she could still count on the loyalty of these two.
I was working with Rob during much of this period, and it was only Rob’s presence that made it feasible for me to spearhead the construction of Cory’s house, in the late eighties. I was a carpenter not a businessman. The same could be said today. Thus it was that Rob designed a home with input from Cory and Carol, and the two of us, along with Dave, the same sterling individual with whom I worked while still at Imika’s, built their home. Not to digress, but the time Dave and I worked together was filled with an incessant prattling about baseball. We are both fanatics of the sport, especially of our own particular teams, he of the Tribe, and I the Giants.
The topics that the two of us could cover in an eight-hour day, defy description. And lo and behold, if we should be so lucky as to be able to listen to a Giants broadcast on the radio (sorry, no Tribe, and no internet to keep track), we would find ourselves in The Church of the Eternal Bleacher, we were that happy.
I cannot explain the cosmic nature of the situation. I was immersed in this web of community angst that centered on Imika and Misha, but extended into every cell of that web, from Cow Mountain, to Blue Rock Ridge, down to the school district office, where Brian Buckley ended up being drawn into the whole morass without even being on the scene.
In an ongoing effort to discredit Bell Springs, Imika had sent him a questionnaire that sought answers to some logistical questions dealing with the written contracts, turned into the district by Bell Springs. Brian addressed the specific questions, and then concluded by writing,
“Finally, Grace, I know the situation between you and the Bell Sptings Education Coop is complex, strained and unpleasant. You have many complaints and allegations ranging from privacy, dogs and harassment to membership in the group. I want to reiterate that while I can empathize with you as another human being, I and the district have no responsibility or power over these areas. You must seek redress elsewhere. Bell Springs is a legal separate entity, and from my vantage point, one that is operating quite well. Most importantly I am satisfied that the district contract program is meeting its requirements and that we are fulfilling our responsibilities to you.
Barring new information in documented form from you, this investigation is completed. I wish you luck and success in resolving the issues that seem to be putting your life in turmoil.”
I thought Brian did a good job with a very challenging situation, and he still managed to convey the feeling that Imika was worthy of empathy. The rest of us could think of many adjectives to apply to our feelings about her, before we would have come up with empathetic.
Not so with Cory and Carol. The remoteness of their spot (all community members lived in remote sites) allowed Imika to visit without encountering others, for the most part, and she was always welcome. I do not remember Cory and Carol being openly castigated for their role in the situation, but I do remember lots of clarifying questions being asked, such as, “What are they doing?” or maybe more likely, “Why are they doing it?”
In the eyes of Cory and Carol, you just didn’t abandon your friends. They were not involved with the school at this time, and I’m not sure they ever were, but they were certainly involved in the community. They recognized that Imika had burned many bridges, but they were still willing to cross the river with her, even though the boat was taking on water. My hat was off to them then, and it is off to them now. In a long and sordid saga, their actions stand out tall. It’s not that others behaved poorly, it’s just that dignity and loyalty are such key components upon which to cling, and I say, “Well-played.”