Friday, June 4, 2010

People who Cook in Canvas Houses should Never Throw Hawks

Life is full of surprises. Like this one.
We returned home after three weeks on the road doing Events and were greeted with the usual stack of mail awaiting us. Uppermost on the pile was a letter from our insurance company letting us know that our Truck, Trailer & Kitchen insurance was being canceled due to the "Dangerous Activity" Doyle was engaged in demonstrating and teaching hawk throwing to school children.
Recently we had talked to the insurance company and told them about our website. On our website is the following video I made at Withlacoochie River Park in Dade City, Florida.

We made this video on our vacation, not during any event we cook at. The students arrived at the park and we volunteered to help the park by demonstrating Doyle's Hawk skills. The students had signed waivers from their parents releasing the park from damages, and the park has insurance covering any event on their property.
Many of you are aware that Doyle was, at one time, a World Champion Hawk Thrower, but had retired over a decade ago. No where on our site do we claim to do Hawk instruction or demonstrations. We explained this to the insurance company and even wrote an email stating that this activity was a one time deal and that we never offer hawk throwing as part of our kitchen activities and promising we would never engage in such activity again..etc, etc.. to no avail.
They just didn't understand why any sane white guy would hand a potential weapon to an inner city kid and teach them how it was used. They had visions of children hacking themselves and each other to death with their new found skill. Forget the fact that the first ten minutes of any demonstration Doyle does involves the history and safe use of the weapon at hand, or that he carefully monitors the use of said weapon during the demonstration. Forget that the kids had a great time, learned something and were delighted a crazy white guy had trusted them with a potential weapon. That doesn't happen very often in the inner city.
We would never trade this experience for anything, we saw street hardened kids laughing, learning and surprising themselves at their ability to safely and accurately throw a hawk. The best moment was when the Teachers took on the challenge and were encouraged and cheered by their students. They bonded with each other in a new way that didn't involve hall passes and taking attendance, they had fun and learned together. Hawks are a great equalizer.
So when "Suits from the East" panicked when they saw a teen toting an tomahawk, perhaps it's understandable. But we feel that if you show a child the real use of a real weapon of its time, along with the safe, sane application of such a weapon, perhaps they will view all weapons differently, and themselves also.
The feedback we got from the school was tremendously enthusiastic and for many students it will be a day they will never forget. We actually connected them with their history and introduced to them the ways of their fore-fathers. Priceless.
I, at first, wanted to wrap myself in the American flag and have a good cry, but I though better of it and instead found an insurance company more in tune with our reality and philosophy.
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