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It takes a village...

December 22, 2011

I’ve heard that expression bandied about for years, and being unclear as to its origins, did some research. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) never fails me, and I learned several things pertaining to the adage, including the fact that “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us” is a book published in 1996 by First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton. In it, Clinton presents her vision for the children of America. She focuses on the impact individuals and groups outside the family have, for better or worse, on a child’s well-being.

I recall being inspired by Clinton’s zeal and ability to reach millions with her message. The book’s title is attributed to an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” The saying and its origin as an African proverb were in circulation before it was adopted by Clinton as the source for the title of her book. According to the website, “It originated from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb ‘Ora na azu nwa’ which means it takes the community/village to raise a child. The Igbo’s also name their children ‘Nwa ora’ which means child of the community. Long before the first lady adopted the expression, it was in existence in Africa for centuries, and the saying previously provided the source for the title of a different book, ‘It Takes a Village’ by Jane Cowen-Fletcher, published in 1994.”

Flash forward to Sullivan County, the village in which I reside. I often find myself in awe of the incredible community service that abounds in the Catskills—not just in Sullivan County, but throughout the region. At a holiday party last year, I ran into David Dunlap, who informed me about the holiday magic that he and his wife Corinne (along with scores of elves) had been putting together as a gift for the community throughout the holiday season. Having missed out last year, I was determined to put their vision of Santa’s Village, which took place on Friday and Saturday, December 16 and 17 this year, on my must-see list, and did just that this past weekend.