Blog: March 2011

Walt Whitman spoke to me...
March 28, 2011


Walt Whitman spoke to me the other day; now before you go and call me crazy let me explain.  I was canoeing on the CooperRiver as it flows through Camden, exploring for a future UrbanTrekkers adventure.  This urban river which in mostly hidden and out of sight is thought by many to be severely polluted and unsafe to navigate but I’m not so sure that’s the case and wanted to investigate.  The river reveals an amazing contrast of natural beauty and crumbling manmade monuments of an industrial era long since gone.  On this day the cherry blossoms had popped, fish were jumping and the Cormorants were diving and I was glad to be there.
As we paddled along the banks of the river we passed along side HarleighCemetery where Walt Whitman has rested since 1892.  Whitman, the great poet and essayist, who was a voice for the American experience over one hundred years ago might be sitting up in his self-designed tomb today as I half-smile thinking how ironic the words that he first penned in the 1860’s were for today and my Camden youth….
There was a child went forth everyday; and the first object he look’d upon, that object he became; and that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day or for many year, or stretching cycles of years”


Literary reviewers agree in this poem Whitman expresses his identification of his consciousness with his environment. The continual process of becoming is at the heart of the poem, I couldn’t agree more. I often think of what our students see everyday as they open their doors to an impoverished city and walk their streets of abandonment on their way to our schools and programs.  There seems to be a terrible injustice in it all. 
Next week the UrbanPromiseAcademy and UrbanTrekkers head out on spring break for the mountains of Appalachia and Tennessee.  We’ll be hiking along the Appalachian Trail and rafting the white waters of the NolichuckyRiver. It should be especially beautiful this time of year with Rhododendrons and Azaleas in bloom as we trek through the southern range of Appalachia.  Much more in the image of what Whitman was speaking to in his verse referenced above.
Trips like this help us to reframe the pictures our students see and imagine for their lives and are only made possible through your support…Thanks for being there for us, you keep us believing!
Keep on Trekking!
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