“Philosophy In & By the Community”: Merlin & Helena Community Members featured in Vernon Press Anthology

Vernon Press

“Philosophy In & By the Community”

Intentional Disruption: Expanding Access to Philosophy (Vernon Press, 2021)

A 2021 Vernon Press anthology series edited by Stephen Kekoa Miller featuring eight chapters about doing philosophy in innovative ways, both in the schools and the community at large. In our chapter, “Philosophy In & By the Community,” we explore how Merlin CCC — with the help & support of community — has taken shape in interesting, delightful, and unexpected ways.  In the process, we discuss our approach to philosophy, the kind of work we do, and some of its characteristics…as well as the significance & beauty of community & place.

(Use code CFC53318FF71 at checkout for a 24% discount)

“Marisa Diaz-Waian opens her inspiring personal story (“Philosophy In & By the Community”) with an account of the trauma of losing her father.  Living in Montana, Diaz-Waian offers a magnificent account of starting and expanding her philosophy program, “Merlin.”  Perhaps named for a wizard in the King Arthur legends, Merlin creates its own magical experiences for the people in her community.  One of the most powerful sections in her essay is her extended metaphor of doing philosophy as gardening.  I have never read such an entrancing and spot-on account of why philosophy is both difficult and exhilarating.  In many ways, the central part of Diaz-Waian’s essay captures what every contributor to this volume knows: that philosophy as an activity — rather than a study — creates opportunities for people to come together and form communities, not necessarily of homogenous thinking, but rather of shared diverse view points and excitement in the project of living a life.  Implementing a spice metaphor, she traces how her Community Philosophy programming addresses the four areas of space, action, people and philosophy itself.  Beyond this imaginative and riveting account of what philosophical inquiry can offer a community, she then proceeds to provide some concrete examples from among her programs: doing philosophy with children, philosophy walks/hikes, and array of seasons activities from hayrides to other celebratory events.  Finally, she shares some benefits but also real challenges she has faced and stresses how important “place” is in designing any program.  The community in which you live, both the community of persons and the natural/urban world around you, shapes how and why you will want to invite philosophy into the lives of people.  This offers a theme echoed in many of the essays in this volume: adapt models to work for your situation and do not be afraid to try new things.” — Wendy C. Turgeon

(In “Foreward” to Intentional Disruption: Expanding Access to Philosophy, vii)



Thank you to Roberta Israeloff for your encouragement, guidance and keen eye; to Stephen Kekoa Miller for your editorial support and amazing display of patience, and; to all those who have (and continue) to shape Merlin in such delightful ways.

– Marisa Diaz-Waian

(Use code CFC53318FF71 at checkout for a 24% discount)

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