“A Letter to Randy and Kimberly on the Occasion of the Closing of the Pasadena Peace and Justice Academy,” by Ched Myers

Note: Today I received this email from Randy Christopher and Kimberly Medendorp (above): “When the Pasadena Peace & Justice Academy was conceived back in 2008 it was an experiment in hope. Since opening our doors in September, 2009, the experiment has been, in our estimation, an enormous success – a success in every way except one.  We have not been successful in enrolling students to the school.  Based on our projected enrollment of returning students and new students who have made a commitment, we will not have the revenue necessary to further sustain the school.  At this time the board of directors has voted unanimously to suspend operations for the school at the end of May, 2015.  You have both supported and sacrificed to help the school – especially Elaine, our champion of Restorative Justice and Peace & Justice Coordinator extraordinaire!  We hope you can join us at our Graduation and P&JA Closing Ceremony on Saturday, May 23, 5:00 pm…”
Dear Randy and Kimberly:
Words can’t express how sad this news makes us. 
When I think of what will no longer be at PAJA, these lines from Will Campbell’s eulogy come to mind: 
What the Giver gave so freely, we now return.Without apology for the grudge.We will long harbor and nourish the grudge.Not against the Giver.But against this day and its foolishness.   (Glad River)
It’s just stupid that your magnificent pedagogy cannot be sustained.
Yet when I think of what has been, I have no doubt that every single hour and dollar and calorie you both gave so passionately and sacrificially to that experiment was profoundly worth the considerable cost to you.  To use the metaphor of a small farm in a world ruled by factory food production, the reason you won’t be able to work that piece of land anymore is not because you cultivated wrongly, or because your small plot didn’t yield great fruit, or because the produce wasn’t needed (especially that)–but simply because the political economy of small farming worked against you at every turn, as did the dysfunctional culture of alienation from the land.  You did the right thing, fought a good fight, and now leave behind the soil of holistic education richer and more fertile. 
As someone who has bet my life on small, alternative expressions of the gospel which have never “flourished” in the conventional sense, and who at age 60 is still scratching just to make ends meet, I still think such efforts represent the best party in town.  And you sustained that party at PAJA for more years than anyone could have bet on.  The lives you shaped are shaped permanently.  And all of our imaginations are deeper because of PAJA’s legacy of faith and creativity and sheer pedagogic courage.
Your experiment was a magnificent success by every gospel measure.  And I commend and thank you for what you have done, and know that seeds of change that will yet sprout from it, seen and unseen.   We love you. 
In Easter faith,  Ched