Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fern Forest Peace Park

Todd drove up from Massachusetts to meet Abbey’s bus coming from Montreal. She was taking a hiatus from her third year of law school at McGill to spend two nights with Todd at Fern Forest Treehouse. I was looking forward to meeting them and learning what these two energetic young people are up to.

But that didn’t happen. At least not right off.

Abbey takes her studying seriously. She brought snacks. And books. She was staring final exams in the face and was prepared to study the night away, high up in the maples. Todd is founder, executive director and lead guide of International Peace Park Expeditions, a peace-building operation for college kids designed to “nurture the next generation of leaders for a more peaceful global community,” according to his website. He had preparations to make for the upcoming 16-day expedition at a peace park in the Balkins. He would work into the night next to Abbey.

We’d have to wait until morning to get acquainted with these assiduous guests.

Over eggs (no meat for these food and environment conscious folks), we found that the focus of Todd’s program is on developing programs in outdoor experiential education, similar to a NOLS course, and practical skill training in peace building and conflict resolution, aimed at conflict-plagued youth. Participants can earn college credit for their work, which combines traditional academic learning and outdoor experience. Todd is launching the effort at peace parks in Costa Rica, Panama, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, as well as the Balkans

Abbey is focusing on women’s issues in the law and plans to take the bar in Massachusetts, where Todd is headquartered. I’m awed by the energy and commitment of these two.

On Saturday they took a break and did a little shopping in downtown Bristol. There’s not much to see there, but they don’t demand much. I think they were happy just hanging out together. That evening I suggested they splurge and take in the chocolate buffet at Mary’s, an upscale restaurant at the Inn at Baldwin Creek. The owners, Doug and Linda, always create understated elegance and scrumptious meals featuring localvore. I don’t know where the chocolate comes from, but there was plenty of it. Todd raved about the brulee. The chocolate dipped strawberries endeared Abbey. Chocolate cake, cookies, brownies, and chocolate sauce to dip everything. They deserved it.

We barely heard them come back and didn’t hear them at all when they climbed into the hot tub and let the steam melt the snowflakes as they floated down through the pergola.

The bad news is that they had to leave the next day. The good news is that Todd has already booked two more treehouse nights for this summer. Abbey will be studying for the bar then, and Todd can tell us about his adventures in the Balkans.

In some of his PR, Todd wrote that Nelson Mandela called the International Peace Parks a “concept that can be embraced by all.” Yes. We all should embrace peace. Peace for women as well as for men. Peace for all countries on this stressed out earth. I’m glad Todd and Abbey both think it’s not too late.

No comments: