Activism means one is ACTIVE. Nimble, energetic, progressing, vital, vigorous, getting things done.

When Elsie Ripley Clapp answered John Dewey’s request and took on the Directorship of the New Deal Arthurdale Community School, she went in prepared to quite literally get her hands dirty.

There was no school building. For that matter, there was no Arthurdale Community. It was a buckwheat farm owned by Mr. Arthur which was about to be plowed under and converted into a FDR Hot Political Potato.

Critics came climbing out of the woodwork complaining that the Resettlement Administration was nothing more than thinly-disguised socialism/communism/collectivism.

A Living New Deal

The Arthurdale school and its Homestead were what we might call today a Pop-Up. An instant Emergency Relief effort on a massive scale. “Destitute or low-income families from rural and urban areas would be transferred to newly-built towns. Their employment would address the converging catastrophes of soil erosion, stream pollution, seacoast erosion, reforestation, forestation, and flooding. The government would make loans to finance the purchase of farm lands. Also money for the equipment needed by farmers, farm tenants, croppers or farm laborers.” Rexford Tugwell, the Undersecretary of Agriculture, was put in charge.

Clapp did not waste time posting on Blogs, Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, WordPress or YouTube. She had a big job to do. Arthurdale Activism was not mistaken for a string of words shouting back at hostile, bitter, virulent, venomous, fat cat critics. Her about-to-be Public School had to get up and running. The proof of the pudding really is in the eating. She knew it would start out messy, muddy, maddening and miraculous. It was all of that and more.

Coalminers’ Kids Building A New Life For Themselves In Arturdale