Archive for the ‘Central Park Story – Book Four’ Category:
At the time of first contact, the indigenous cultures were quite different from those of the proto-industrial Christian immigrants. Some of the Northeastern and Southwestern cultures in particular were matrilinear and operated on a more collective basis than Europeans were familiar with. The majority of Indigenous American tribes, for instance, maintained their hunting grounds and agricultural lands for use of the entire tribe, while Europeans at that time had patriarchal cultures and had developed concepts of individual property rights with respect to land that were extremely different from those of indigenous Americans.
These differences in cultures between the established Native Americans and immigrant Europeans make one question whether it made any sense for one to try and assimilate the other.
One of the most beautiful things about our world is the variety of cultures it sustains, and to see a culture disappear, especially by force, is tragic.
I try to raise this point throughout my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, by illustrating that different cultures don’t necessarily have to collide, but can live side by side in harmony…assuming there is respect and restraint exercised on both sides.
.The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by separatist Congregationalists (later referred to as Pilgrims) fleeing from religious persecution by King James of England.
It was signed aboard ship on November 11, 1620 by 41 adult male Pilgrims (out of 101 men, women and children on board).
It reads in part as follows:
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
I have included a reference to this in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, both in recognition of its importance as the first democratic document written in America (by a non-native, that is) and to point out the inherent flaws in the democratic institution that it professes to embody.
In 1849, Frederick Law Olmsted became secretary of an organization of farmers on Staten Island called the Richmond County Agricultural Society, and wrote the following:
“We ask you, then, Fellow Citizens, one and all, to associate in this Society. We entreat you to support it. We believe it will increase the profit of our labor–enhance the value of our lands–throw a garment of beauty around our homes, and above all, and before all, materially promote Moral and Intellectual Improvement–instructing us in the language of Nature, from whose preaching, while we pursue our grateful labors, we shall learn to receive her Fruits as the bounty, and her Beauty as the manifestation of her Creator.”
If you forget that this was written during his tenure on Staten Island as a farmer, and re-read it with his work on Central Park in mind, you can catch a glimpse of the philosophical undercurrent that informed Olmsted throughout his life: he knew that the only way a community, be it a farm or a city like New York, could thrive was to bring the beauty of Nature that is outside of its confines back into its heart for everyone to enjoy.
Such a philosophical undercurrent ran through all of Olmsted’s projects, from Central Park in New York to the preservation of Yosemite Valley in California, and in that sense became his manifesto.
I have tried to bring out this same underlying principle in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, when Christopher attempts to establish a community of his own.