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  • Writer's picturejodieharburt

Action in Action

I'm telling this as it's an example as to how One person can get stuff done.

Kas Park and Primary/Middle School Story.

Back in the early 2000's I found myself deeply involved in the local school and matters appertaining to children (seeing as I had two kids I now noticed things like the play park and its rusty and lethal state!)

I fund raised, donated my little inheritance from my beloved Nana Doris (Maternal grandmother) and managed to convince the local council to contribute to the complete rebuild of the children's park in the center of our small seaside town.

Around this time the grandfather of a child at the local school asked if there was an "earthquake proof report" for the school; Kas is a grade 1 designated earthquake zone, he was traumatized by the big 1999 quake and we had just suffered a few minor local ones. This single question triggered an 18 month battle from which we emerged victorious with the school finally condemned and evacuated.

I won't elaborate upon the details, but let me say this; I stood alone as I fought this battle. It seems unlikely that the entire community wouldn't rise up in unity to ensure the safety of their own children, (520 kids plus the teaching and administrative staff) however they did not. In a private meeting with the Governor he suggested that I should keep the information that the school was unsound a secret and if I couldn't do so I should have thought about that before being elected chair to the Parents Teachers Association, my shocked reply was that I doubted I had the right to keep such information from the families and teachers and that if I did have a responsibility it was to aid in ensuring the safety of everyone. However, though I did not keep it a secret I also did not use the press or sensationalism to provoke a response from the authorities as I felt sure it would have backfired.

More shocking to me at the time was the fact that many people I knew were apathetic to the situation, they seemed disinterested at my fervour and rarely asked me anything about the progress. (Letters and civil engineering reports were sent to 15 different government offices from the Prime Minister to the local political party representatives and both the local departments and the ministries of education, tourism and urbanization)

I'm simplifying however the basic truth is that those in the government hierarchy were unable to reach beyond their own direct superior while the local population must have felt some how ineffectual regarding something so huge. (After all it was a large state owned building and any thing as radical as school demolition would be considered lodged firmly in the dusty files of bureaucracy thus untouchable by common folks as we)

At a public meeting the next local governor at the time (let's not bother with his name) insinuated that my interest in the matter stemmed from my own intentions for the prime location upon which the school stands, this I ignored, but he also called me an işgüzah; meaning meddlesome, obtrusive; basically a time waster.

To me Time = Life. What is life if it is not a slot of time for us. When we waste or kill time we are effectively taking away a part of our or another's life. Being accused of being obstructive or wasting others time to me is tantamount to having been called a murderer. (And who could have been accused of murder should that building have collapsed upon the children?!) So yes, I was quite angry, but it took one strong talk with myself for my ego to sit down and recall the nice Turkish saying that roughly translates as "the dog barks... the kervan (convoy) keeps walking" and that is what happened. The school was condemned, demolished and a new one built.

I was told that the demolition team had calculated the need for two weeks work to knock the school down but they were shocked to see it crumble to the ground with one mechanical shove. I wish I had a film of that.

The whole ordeal was fascinating as a micro anthropological study and I learnt so much about human nature from it, I was disappointed at times and worried and frustrated but the defining point is in the result.


Sometimes even as a nobody and alone we can make big changes happen.

I don't ask for credit, but I ask sincerely that everyone just does what they feel needs to be done. Even when authority or others create obstacles there are ways. When you see a small thing, a piece of litter on the street, an old lady who needs a hand, any tiny action is a piece of this big puzzle of human collaboration and when you do it you are tipping the scales towards a strong and healthy future.

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