FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Durelle Price | October, 2011
What does it take to “leave a legacy”? This is a question that could have a myriad of answers—all individual, all personal. If you ask Graham Chamberlain of Gloucester, England, he may respond “It takes village.” Chamberlain, aged 70, a retired security officer, means this literally. Over 30 years ago in the early 1970’s, Chamberlain was working as a lorry (truck) driver traversing the border regions of South Warwickshire and Worcestershire and traveling through West Oxfordshire, Herefordshire, and Gloucestershire. Like poets, artists, and filmmakers awed by the Northern England’s Cotswolds landscape, Graham also was inspired by the beauty of the scenic countryside—charming villages cropping up out of the lush green rolling hills speckled with roaming livestock.
One sunny afternoon on a leisurely drive with his son, he commented that he’d love to build one of those pleasant cottages made of a yellow oolitic limestone rich in fossils. Chamberlain’s son, Steve, about age 7 at the time and a proactive boy by nature was quite confident in his father’s abilities. He urged, “then build one, Dad.”
Chamberlain shrugged off the suggestion. As the boy insisted, it was as if he’d tugged a chain clicking on the invisible light bulb above his father’s head. “Why not!” exclaimed Chamberlain. The hardworking father needed a way to relax and sharpen the saw. The kids wanted a fish pond in the back garden, but Graham now had other ideas. He’d always been handy with a tool belt and possessed a resourceful creative imagination. That weekend Chamberlain set out to sharpen both his saws—the proverbial and the one in the woodshed.
Finding the property upon which to erect his village was the issue. Financial resources didn’t allow for a large land acquisition. But that wasn’t what Chamberlain had in mind anyway. Dr. Stephen R. Covey advises “all things are created twice—mental creation precedes physical creation.” Gazing out the second story window of his Gloucester row house into his narrow back yard and neatly sculptured garden, the innovative designer had a vision. It was a grand vision on a small scale—in fact a miniature scale.
Beginning with the end in mind, Graham designed not only his own Cotswold cottage, but also an entire village.
Dr. Covey says, “There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase ‘to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy’… the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.”
Chamberlain’s contribution—acting on his vision while sharpening his saw—is far-reaching. He has opened his village to the community for tours inviting elementary children and other groups to visit. The visionary hopes seeing the village ignites the children’s imagination and encourages them to follow and act on their dreams—however megalithic or minuscule they may seem.
In 2011, the Chamberlain family grew with the addition of Graham and Pet’s first grandson, Rueben John, (son of Steve and Lucy). Soon Rueben John will stroll the small streets of his grandfather’s famous village; the streets his father swept as a boy.
The kin, both those at home in England and those “across the pond” in America cherish this miniature monument lovingly built as it represents a legacy of imagination, initiative, and execution. So, at least in this case it does take a “village” to leave Graham’s legacy.