"Fear into Freedom"
Danso enjoyed the warm sunny day
as he strolled along the sidewalk,
Nathaniel balanced on his hip.
Hadyn walked beside him while Lakia
scampered in circles around them.
Hannah had Rosita in a baby sling.
Every weekend, Hannah picked a park and
they all rode on the bus to play there. This time it
was a pleasant neighborhood where Hollywood Park
had a fieldhouse, a spray pool, a playground,
and various other attractions to enjoy.
"Deer," Hadyn whispered, pointing.
Sure enough, a shy doe gazed at them
with dark liquid eyes before melting away
into a patch of shadowy undergrowth.
"Hey, what's that?" Lakia said.
"It looks like a box. With eyes!"
"That's a tweenbot," said Hannah.
"It must have been exploring."
Danso took a closer look.
It resembled the kind of
"cardboard box robotics"
you could buy at a museum
or a science toy store, with
a rounded torso and a cute face.
A long rod held a pinwheel overhead
to make the short body more visible.
It had gotten stuck against a park bench,
peeping in dismay as the little wheels spun.
"Who does it belong to?" Hadyn asked.
"It could belong to the city, or the park,
or a private owner," Hannah said.
"I don't see a nametag," Danso said.
"What's it even doing out here?"
"People set them loose in the city
to see how other people will respond.
It's a live experiment in civic interactions,"
Hannah explained, looking at them.
"What do you think we should do?"
"Stomp it!" Lakia crowed.
Hastily Hannah caught her before she could
carry out this plan. "That doesn't sound very nice,"
Hannah said. "Let's think of other things we could do."
"We could leave it alone," Hadyn said.
"Yes, we could," Hannah agreed.
"You said it was exploring,"
Danso mused. "Where's it going?"
"I don't know, but we can find out," Hannah said.
"Tweenbot, where are you going?"
"I am going to Peterson Park,"
the tweenbot announced.
"Please help me."
"We should help it," Danso said.
Helping others made him feel good.
"Go ahead," Hannah said,
waving him toward the tweenbot.
"Is it yummy?" Nathaniel asked.
Danso laughed. "No, cardboard
is not yummy," he said as he
put the tweenbot on the sidewalk.
"To reach Peterson Park from here,
you need to go west. Good luck!"
"Thank you, citizen," the tweenbot chirped.
A lens flickered as it took a picture.
Then it trundled away.
"Well done," Hannah said. "I'm proud
of you kids for figuring out what to do."
"Even though I said to stomp it?"
Lakia said in a low voice.
"Well, you had some pretty bad examples
earlier in your life," Hannah said. "Now you
have better ones, and we managed to help
the tweenbot by discussing options together.
That's always a good accomplishment."
"Yes, it is," Danso said as he watched
the little cardboard robot roll away,
its pinwheel whirring merrily.
No matter how rocky your start,
you could always work on feeling better
about yourself, and transform fear into freedom.
* * *
"I've learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom -- how great is that?"
-- Soledad O'Brien
North Park is a quiet neighborhood in Chicago with several nice parks. Hollywood Park is a small park with a rich history in the neighborhood, and you can read more about it online. Peterson Park is larger and has some good amenities.
This map shows Chicago parks with staffed facilities. Compare it with Chicago neighborhoods and this colorized map showing respective affluence. You can see how Local-Chicago has greatly polarized from middle class and working class to wealthy and impoverished. Terramagne-Chicago has much less of an income gap and its neighborhoods mix around more, although there are still some better and worse ones. T-Chicago belongs to the wider metroplex of Onion City, so connects with a very wide urban area.
Here is a look at the trees and sidewalks in Hollywood Park.
Tweenbots are small, simple robots used to study human behavior by observing how humans interact with robots. You can make your own. Here are some ideas for games and experiments. L-American tweenbots have instructions printed on a flag. In Terramagne they typically have a simple voice interface.
(Some of these links are sad and disturbing.)
HitchBOT was a robot that previously crossed Canada and visited various places in Europe before coming to L-America. Sadly, it was beaten to death after just two weeks. The vandal(s) decapitated it and tore off the arms. This says some very unsettling things about America. Then there's this downright disturbing rant about how "HitchBOT was a literal pile of trash and got what it deserved."
There are kits to build your own robot, although most of them don't actually do anything. Recycled Robots uses cardboard and other found items. Find & Make Robot Kit consists primarily of joiners and other tools, again with an emphasis on cardboard. The Trash Robot Kit works in metal and plastic. These could easily be modified to roll forward, which is all the basic tweenbot does. ZURI is a programmable robot with a dozen possible variations in its cardboard body, currently in prototype. Here are some general instructions for robot design.
Abused and/or neglected children show a tendency to catastrophize due to adults reacting all out of proportion to typical childhood mishaps. Even after being fostered or adopted into a healthier family, it takes time for them to adapt and change the narratives. Here you can see that Lakia isn't quite there yet, but is making enough progress to pay attention to Hannah's positive modeling.
Self-worth is necessary for health and happiness. It is based on practical awareness of intrinsic worth plus personal skills and virtues, rather than the more social aspect of self-esteem which needn't have a solid foundation. There are ways to build self-worth and teach it to young people. Spending time with family, learning new things, and exercising virtues such as compassion or helpfulness are all ways to increase a sense of self-worth.