Families and a Sustainable Movement
The discerning reader will have noticed that this conference is unusually enriched with vacation and family-oriented events: bus tours for the whole family (but unattended adults are welcome, too), organized activities for kids, and child care.
Partly, this is just taking advantage of opportunity. Tucson is a popular tourist area -- why not stretch a conference into a vacation? Moreover, some of the tourist attractions are of particular interest to enthusiasts of space -- observatories, Biosphere 2, the air museum and the missile museum, for starters.
Partly, too, the emphasis on kids reflects the intense dedication of Jeannette Jaquish, a member of the conference organizing committee. She's the mother of four, ranging in age from newly teen to pre-teeth. She could tell the world a great deal about being interested in the topics of big people, but forever distracted by the clamor and the needs of little ones. We're going to have child care, you bet! We're betting that there are other parents out there with stressed enthusiasms.
Not that Jeannette wants to dump the kids. She enjoys kids (provided she can have some time with the adults as well), and is an expert at keeping them entertained. Example: some of the children will be enlisted to act in a play. The "Mystery on Mars" event reflects Jeannette's longtime involvement in playwriting and community access TV production.
Above all, though, we're thinking about sustainability of the space movement. Face it, the settlement of space will require a long-term effort. Any such effort must weather bad times, and it must pass the torch between generations. How to do it?
Education? Yes, that's part of it. Late Sunday afternoon, there will be space science, art, technology, and literature contests for the kids, followed by a "Tomorrow's Scientists Awards Ceremony". Adults who want to teach about space may take home some tips from Carol Redfield's talk on Monday morning. And of course, our conference is not the first NSS activity to have concerned itself with education. Watch the NSS website for news of doings such as space camps and shuttle launches.
What we hope to add is osmosis. Let space enthusiasm seep in from happy, remembered surroundings. No need to lecture. Just bring the family to bask in the company of like-minded families, in a context of vacation mixed with chatter, exhibits, and activities about all the right things. As the kids get older, some may come to comprehend and find an interest in the more formal talks.
The space movement is not a religion or a party, but we do have an aim that transcends the moment. On that account, we can learn a thing or two from other long-lived movements. A yearly event that children attend with their parents, if it's a good time, will enter into the formation of their identity -- their associates -- their hopes. This is how we'll pass the torch.
March 15, 2000