AUGUST 12, 1943
NEW YORK, Wednesday—I was very much interested yesterday in finding out just what was being carried on in the school at Edgecomb Avenue and 164th Street, which is open to the children during the afternoons for one month.
One group told me that they were studying electricity, and how to make minor repairs at home. Others were learning how to make use of scrap material in making rough furniture or small repairs in their own homes. Another is working on a play. They have enlisted the help of some members of the American Theatre Wing and someday will give their play for the community. A group is getting out a community paper, which must be a little difficult to accomplish in New York City, but the small boy who faced me and asked me questions, seemed not at all daunted. I am sure he has his area well covered.
These youngsters are doing a pioneering job—actually getting together in New York City to find out whether they can do something for their community. They define their community in small enough terms to make it an area within its vast surroundings. The idea is evidently interesting other people, for a representative from OCD came up to me and said they would try to find something for some of the youngsters to do. Someone else represented a music group which was interested in helping. So, if you have a good idea, you are apt to find people who will rally around to help you carry it out.
I happened to notice a little item in the paper not long ago, in which one of our most noted educators stated that in Great Britain postwar social and economic programs are actually down in detail, but they are a little uncertain about them, because they have not been able to discover whether the British plans are really more reliable than ours would be. They could only represent the ideas of a few groups, and the plans for this postwar period must represent more than a few groups in Great Britain and in the United States.
They must represent the idea of the Russian people, the Chinese people and many other people, who are going to be a part of the United Nations. Sometimes, I think that the postwar plans for this war will take a long time in formulation. There may have to be a considerable period in which the needs of human beings for daily living will be the first essential. The second may be the provision of materials and methods by which people can regain their economic independence. Everything else may have to wait.