webs of connection

It is so absolutely weird to be sitting out here at Estrella Vista in my little mud house, miles away from local friends and neighbors, and hundreds and even thousands of miles from family and close friends—connected to the outer world only by a phone/internet line—and yet feeling so close to the people in my life.

The Wandervogel Diary is becoming a social network in its own right. The traffic yesterday was terrific. This blogsite is becoming a touchstone for hundreds, if not thousands, of physically far-flung people who share coherent values. It is becoming a hub of new relationships and friendships.

I can never get used to the wonderful paradox of it—especially of being in love with people I’ve never actually met face-to-face (or even spoken to on the phone). All from out here “in the middle of nowhere.”

Yesterday Paul Henry’s mom sent me his latest school picture, and most of the day his eyes stared at me from the computer screen while I fielded e-mails and phone calls from old friends and wonderful strangers—now new friends—who are volunteering themselves, their networks of friends and contacts to help us protect Paul Henry’s innocence (and maybe even his life).

In the evening, another youth justice advocate sent me these black-and-white pictures of Paul Henry, which provide insight to this child’s personality. The person who sent them said “movie star.” My take was along the lines of “teen idol.”

This is a child who doesn’t even know I exist, and yet it’s strange to consider he’s already a part of my life as if I actually knew him. In time I suppose I eventually will get to know the boy, but right now I am learning about him through the eyes of his parents and attorneys. Later I will get to know him through others who know him. All these new connections in the human web are fascinating.

Because northern Indiana is where I was born and raised, I am tapping into networks of people with whom I have had little contact for forty-five years. I am reconnecting with people who were my parents’ friends, or are the children of my parents’ friends, and who remember my ancestors.

I’m surrounded here in this isolated mud house with pictures of my parents and grandparents as children, and because of this work in Indiana, I have an uncanny sense of connection with them not only over space but through time. People are responding to me so positively, not so much because of me, but because of the family which brought be into the world and raised me. Their being remembered is making things happen in the here-and-now. It is almost as if they are still alive—and they are, I suppose, through me. Dormant connections awakened.

It’s an interesting variation on the concept of “six degrees of separation,” which is the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth. In other words, friend-of-a-friend chains exist which link any two people on Earth in six steps or fewer. With technological advances in communications and travel, our human networks grow larger and span greater distances. Yet, as is so starkly apparent from here where I’m so ultra-aware of the great physical distances between individuals all over the world, the growing density of human networks is making the social distance between us far smaller.

Last week I connected with a couple guys I hadn’t seen since we were children. It was such an odd experience, as sixty-something men, to have had long conversations reminiscing about the valued currency of our childhoods (like toy cars). Having long ago ‘set aside childish things,’ it was like sharing comfort food to have been picking them up again. Webs of memories and old enthusiasms.

It’s gratifying to be putting all these connections to work for Paul Henry’s benefit… in acknowledgment of the values our parents shared when they were alive… a living act of honoring our roots by investing in a boy who needs our help and who will live on, hopefully perpetuating our values, and extending the web of human connections over space and time.

A small part of the universal connectedness…


Groove of the Day

Listen to Joan Osborne performing “Spider Web”


6 Responses to “webs of connection”

  1. January 18, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Very well said. Thank Dan Dailey for offering your time, services and passion to Paul Henry’s support cause. The children may never know us but they know of us as we continue to pray for their safety and well being. We must try to change the system to promote rehabilitation through Jesus Christ before incarceration. No child under 18 deserves to be subjected to further abuse than they are use to.

    God Bless,


  2. January 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Thank you, Dan Dailey for fighting for this kid. No child should be placed in this position no matter the crime. I believe we have lost all common sense and compassion within our judicial system. Sentencing is not supposed to be vengeance. I don’t even know why Pendleton is allowed to remain operational. We need to take responsibility and ownership for what our tax dollars are being used for. Pendleton is a waste of our good hard earned money. It doesn’t give us the positive return on our investment. The resources given to the State of Indiana to rehabilitate youth should be increased to offer more therapeutic counseling and alternative programs. Children learn what they live. I wonder if they offer yoga at Pendleton? Doubtful.

  3. 3 maxsscoutservicesllc
    January 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    It does not surprise me that Dan is finding native Hoosiers to so willing assist Paul Henry and our family. Our family dates back prior to the American Revolution in Maryland and 1892 in South Bend.

    In my travels around 47 states, people in Michiana and Chicago are about as real and genuine as they come. Heck, I’d probably still be in Indiana if I could have found a job with a good living.

    Nevertheless, I remain somewhere between Northern California and Hawai’i “seeking Susan” and genuine people with the Aloha Spirit.

  4. 4 Wolfgang
    January 18, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    To see that happy face of a kid, and then the a picture of a the same kid in (adult) jail clothes, is the most disturbing thing for me. Yes he brought himself into the situation guided by an three year older boy, but how can’t a judge not see the potential in this kid, did he really think an adult prison, even if there is a juvenile program running (but not a young 12 year old kid program) would make him a better citizen when he is out? I don’t believe it, he need kids who are close to his age around him, if you see all the much older inmates, they didn’t fit the need of this young boy, who in my opinion can be easily rehabilitated. I won’t imagine how he would do around those older inmates and fear of course for his safety and mentally health.

  5. 5 Gloria
    January 18, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    And here I was thinking that nobody care, how glad I am that I was wrong. More and more people are spreading the word about Paul and Jordan. Facebook, personal blogs, change org… with links to this blog.
    This gives me hope. 🙂



  6. 6 Stephen
    January 19, 2011 at 1:38 am

    Pendleton is a very hardcore facility-and he will be forced to grow up very quick in order to flourish there. This is the juvenile equivelent of Wabash-and the IDOC in my opinion is showing poor judgment in sending him to Pendleton. Paul is very much a little boy and won’t even be a teen for a few more weeks. This is far too much pressure and stuff to lay on a child his age. As been stated the South Bend facility-would be a great fit for Paul. The 3rd boy in this equation flourished at that facility, and I have heard nothing but good things about the place from people who would know.

    Paul’s case has touched me deeply and I will be keeping a very close eye on this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: