Feb Update

Hey there readers,

A whole month into the new year!  I’ve been terrible at keeping you blog followers updated as there’s been too much going on!  Too much to write about to have time to write about it.

 

It is my intention for the rest of the year to stay on top of keeping folks updated on what we’re up to.  I am going to leave the format of weekly updates and instead post on a subject- by-subject basis, so that each project gets enough attention.  It’ll be a lot of posts in one go to get everyone up to date, so we’ll see about trickling out some posts over the next week.

 

On the topic of blogs, we’re now starting to integrate some of our web stuff with the rest of the Agile Learning Centers (ALCs), so before too long every Endor participant will have their very own yournamehere.agilelearningcenters.org blog!  These are essentially personal wordpress (wordpress.org, that is) websites that participants can have domain over.  The way the other ALCs use these is for each student to keep a blog so as to: help the students keep track of what they’ve done, and create sharable value for the rest of the community.  The ALC-online-network is setup using Buddy Press which operates kind of like a social network.

 

We’ll take our time getting everyone set up, but those who want to set their site up early can do so as early as Monday, Feb 2nd.

 

 

Endor Welcomes Brenna McBroom!

We’ve got a new facilitator on board!

Asheville’s own Brenna McBroom has joined the Endor team.  Brenna is an adult Unschooler, working potter, accomplished baker, ferocious reader, Not Back To School Camp adviser, Duolingo master, and very cool and motivated person.  Brenna will be at Endor once a week, thought not until she comes back from her trip to Argentina.  She left today and will be back in a month with plenty of Tango and Spanish skills to share with us!

 

Here’s Brenna’s bio  lifted from the NBTSC website.

Brenna McBroom is a long-time unschooler and former camper from Asheville, North Carolina. She currently works as a potter making functional and decorative crystalline glazed ceramics. When not at the pottery wheel, glazing table, or kiln, Brenna loves traveling, swimming, making French Buttercream, playing board games, and reading great female novelists.

 

Brenna is also passionate about the value of artistic self education at the college level, and she would love to talk with you about pursuing an education as an artist without obtaining a degree. She has taken part in two self-designed pottery apprenticeships: one in Cambridge, Massachusetts and one in Corvallis, Oregon. She runs a small business selling pottery online, and you can see her etsy site here: brennadeeceramics.etsy.com and her website here: brennadee.com.

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Welcome aboard, Brenna!

Our first Monday of 2015!

We kicked off the new semester with a bang! Exciting things are rolling in for 2015.

 

After our morning check-in and Community Mastery Meeting, we started the day with an overview of a potential new space in West Asheville.

 

We’ve yet to confirm a move, but are excited about the possibilities: this would allow us to be in close quarters and to collaborate with other community-oriented projects, like the Asheville Makers and the Asheville Tool Library. We’ll keep everyone updated!

 

We then took another try at getting the Raspberry Pi computer up and running, only to discover that the monitor we picked up from Goodwill was analog. Raspberry Pi is therefore back on hold; but we spent some time with logic puzzles from an LSAT (Law School Admission Test) book. and tackled this river crossing puzzle – http://robmathiowetz.com/ – which I highly recommend!

 

Most people then went to our weekly Ethics discussion, at which we talked about hypocrisy, racism, and concealing one’s gender.

 

We ended the day with a discussion about participant expectations.

 

We started this year without any participant expectations (other than, as someone pointed out, behavioral and community ones). While we use our Community Mastery Board to create and track progress on our shared values, we haven’t set any boundaries around work, academics, projects, or attendance.

 

The discussion went extremely well: participants discussed structures that would help them get what they want from the program, as well as ways to help new participants engage with the community, and for us to track and support each other’s progress. We’ll be continuing this discussion at our monthly Governance meeting this Wednesday.

 

Liam commented during our morning meeting that while our progress may sometimes feel slow, he feels that we’re going about things in the right way. I feel similarly — though creating things together takes more time than if we simply set rules — I believe that we’ll all be more engaged and fulfilled than if we had done otherwise.

 

Thanks all! Happy 2015!

Week #51 2014

We kicked off this week with our Big Group Dinner on Sunday. It was a Thai vote for this dinner (originally just a tie between Indian and Thai, settled by flipping a coin) and we prepared two delicious dishes: cabbage stir fry and soggy noodles.

Monday kicked off with a participant-facilitated Community Mastery Meeting (lead by Tucker). We discussed using our community binder to archive things that have been in Mastery for at least a month. For example, entering the building and walking up the stairs quietly needed a lot of practice at the beginning of the semester, but we feel that after several months, we’ve mastered this! Archiving will help make space on the board for our more up-and-coming practices. We also decided to note in our community binder when an item reaches Mastery, and when we add or change the suggested actions for our awarenesses and practices.

We had two visitors from out-of-town on Monday: friends of Liam’s from Not Back to School Camp, who stayed only for a short part of the morning. We debriefed about our Big Group Dinner. Highlights include that we did a better job this time on managing the kitchen (there were not Too Many Cooks), and that next time, we want to plan the dinner further in advance, (in particular to pre-allocate the amount of stovetop and oven space available).

In Ethics we covered a breadth of topics, including free will, sexism, racism, and regressive vs. progressive welfare states. We also had a Happiness Meeting to discuss how we could be happier. Popular items included food, hiking, and laughter!

A few participants also walked around downtown Asheville to do some gift shopping.

On Wednesday we played around with our Makey Makey and made controllers for a drum pad. Some participants also made game controllers: Logan made a game controller glove, and Sam and Nolan made game controller pants. We watched videos of other maker and design projects, and were particularly impressed and excited by Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests. We made some progress on designing a class ring, which we would like to have 3D printed. We continued our Happiness Meeting since several of us hadn’t been there on Monday, added a few new items, and thought about how we could do the things that make us happy more often at Endor.

Friday featured a new game called Play 9 (a card game based on golf), brought in by Lake. We again experimented with some of our electronics, but had trouble setting up the Raspberry Pi. People were disappointed that we couldn’t get it working, but look forward to be able use and experiment with it in the future. We had a short discussion on how to manage our blog, and were already experimenting with taking notes during check-out and writing a summary blog post at the end of the week. This is our first blog post written using that system! If you’re reading this right now, feel free to let us know what you think, and if there’s anything else you’d like to see on the blog!

We had plans to decorate cookies in the afternoon, but our cookie baker was sick, so we used Art Jam to add cards to our Dixit game and took advantage of our projector to watch videos.

Overall, we had a relaxing end to the semester, and look forward to the New Year!

Week #49 2014

(Dec 1 – Dec 5)

 

After our Changeup Meeting on Monday I taught a workshop on alternative banking methods.  We talked about how crowdfunding negates the risks of old fashioned loans and often creates a lot of opportunities that banks would not.  The site Patreon was a major focus, as it really seems to be the perfect website for Unschoolers and perhaps everyone in The New Age.  Patreon is much like crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but “Patrons” (people) subscribe to artists to support their work usually receiving something in return per month or automatic contribution.  My old friend Carsie who visited last week told me about it and how she has such a subscriber base that every time she writes a song she gets such-and-such a chunk of change, which turns the art of songwriting into a sustainable and consistent occupation.  Apparently one of the most successful Patreons makes $10,000 every time he publishes an a capela cover of a video game theme song.  Way to turn a weird skill into a career!

 

After Ethics, Sue came in to teach Facilitation Class.

 

At Math Jam we made a reference list of Math Jam recommended activities so as to streamline the process.

 

On Monday night we put on the Class Dismissed screening at the library with Steve Hargadon of the Learning Revolution.  It was a huge success!  About sixty people came out and we all had a good time.  Many felt that the film was a good introduction to Home/Unschooling, but almost everyone there had previous experience or exposure to the concepts.  We did have some good discussion afterward and many got to meet new people, so in all I’d say it was a huge success.  Steve did a great job facilitating the discussion and taking notes – the notes can be found here.

 

Everyone was really excited about putting on film screenings, so we reached out to Jeremy Seifert, director of Dive! a documentary about dumpster diving, to ideally put on a screening next month.

 

I put together a new facebook group for participants to discuss projects outside of Endor, since not everyone comes every day.

 

We held the first meeting of the Endor Internship Taskforce to set up a support network for getting internships for Ewoks.  We put together a great list of local businesses with something for everyone.  We’re collaborating on making an outreach-template letter before we meet up and take more steps next week.

 

We started putting together a pilot episode of our radio show-to-be, Ashlantis.  We broke into groups and recorded a media discussion roundtable, riddles on the street, and a telephone interview with local musician Dustin Goose.  Editing will be the biggest hurdle in the beginning – a job we started on Friday but will have to continue on Monday.

 

I think this’ll be the last weekly blog post for a while.  I find myself spending more office-work-able-time than I can afford writing these posts; I really want to prioritize LLC and other Endor administrative stuff for the time being.  I’ll still post about things that we do, but not in the day/week in review format.

Week #48 2014

(Nov 24 – Nov 26)

 

We were only open Monday and Wednesday this week as TG was that Thursday.

After our Changeup Meeting which covered mostly community values, we took a drawing for Fairy God Parent which then started that day.

 

A few of use went to The Teachers Lounge, as we’re calling it now, and did some quiet work.  Rochelle and a few others designed a poster for the upcoming screening of Class Dismissed that we’re putting on at the Pack Library on Dec. 1st in collaboration with Steve Hargadon of The Learning Revolution.  Later the posters were printed out and we distributed them around town.

 

An old friend of mine, an adult Unschooler and attendee of Original Endor from all those years ago, came to visit all the way from Bermuda.  Signe is an accomplished photographer with work at the National Gallery in Bermuda.  (Unschooling works!)

 

We learned the Nato Phonetic Alphabet and tested each other on it.

 

On Wednesday we had another two adult-Unschooler-old-friends-of-mine visit, siblings Carsie and Elijah Blanton.  Carsie is a successful musician based in New Orleans (here‘s her website) and Elijah is finishing his last year at Antioch College where he studies political economy, recruits other Unschoolers to the school and participates in Antioch’s Community Council.  Signe visited today as well.

 

After check-ins Elijah taught a very stimulating workshop on political economy, talking much about how labor, technology, and products are what rule the human world.  He covered regressive v. progressive welfare states, union power, and much peoples’ history.  I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did!

 

I held another meeting about the radio show we’re putting together – everyone was updated on what we’ve heard from the station.  We’ve got some great ideas.  I think it’ll turn into a really interesting show!

 

After lunch we visited the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center and saw their current Dan Rice exhibit.

Week #47 2014

What a week!

 

We started of course with the big group dinner on Sunday, separate post about that here.

 

At our Changeup Meeting (with the Community Mastery Board) this week we started keeping a log of things added and developed.  We talked about community values and how the CMB can be used to not just address issues, but also to pinpoint values we’d like to facilitate in our culture.  “Being welcoming” had already been added to the CMB, so to further that we decided to start sitting down in the morning check-in circle when we arrive so as to not make the sometimes-exclusive and nebulous floating circles that sometimes happen in the morning.  We added happiness as a community value and decided to play Fairy God Parent to further that.  FGP is a type of game where everyone puts their name in a hat, draws a name, and then proceeds to “fairy god parent” that person by being secretly and anonymously nice to that person by sending them treats through other people etc.

 

Ethics ran a little early so as to end at 13:00 to make room for Facilitation Class with Sue.  There had been a miscommunication so Facilitation Class didn’t end up happening but will be happening next week same time/place.  That opened a time slot that some filled staying a little longer at Dobra while some others played Intrigue, one of Ethan’s new games from Mad Sheep Games.

 

On Wednesday we visited the aSHEville Museum!  They had some great herstorical, cultural, and art exhibits.  I imagine we’ll visit again before too long.  It’s really great to be downtown and have resources like that so close by.

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Our friend adult Unschooler-Kimi Biegler came in to talk about her experience on Good Morning America and other places where Unschooling has been terribly portrayed by media (Dr. Phil, Wife Swap, People Magazine, etc – I’m not linking any of those).  We also talked about talking about Unschooling with people in general and the difficulties that sometimes come with that; the concept can be hard for people to understand.  Our conversation evolved quite a bit and I think all had a good time.  Also, here’s an example of an Unschooling being portrayed quite well by a mainstream media source, All Things Considered interview with Ben Hewitt.  It’s interesting to hear here the difference in tone in the interviewer’s voices, between the GMA and NPR interviews I mean.  It’s quite easy to see how big a role bias plays in journalism.

 

I think it will take some time before I get used to writing weekly posts; keeping it concise and posting punctually etc.  It’s already been good to have the extra time to work on LLC stuff and the website.

Big Group Dinner

The big group dinner I’d say was a huge success.  It was great to see a group project like this go through all of the steps of idea to plan to more concrete plan to action. Hannah and Cian came early and the three of us went grocery shopping. We cooked and ate at my house which has a very big kitchen, so when we had thirteen cooks in the kitchen it didn’t get all that hectic. It was really great the way everyone quickly got to work and found different things to do; we very quickly became a very efficient team. I cut my thumb within the first five minutes of cooking while demonstrating an onion cutting technique, so I was out of service for handling food which was fine by me. I fell into the role of coordinating the chaos and delegating tasks and keeping track of the recipes – a role that I fall into very easily. We ended up going a little over schedule and didn’t start eating until 20:00, though not because of anyone slacking, we were going full throttle the whole time cooking chili, cornbread, enchiladas and guacamole. We set up one long table which we sat quite cozily around and kept with the theme by listening to the Buena Vista Social Club. After dinner Sam and Rochelle made churros that came out a little gooey but were still very good.

 

On Monday we took some time to reflect upon the experience and came up with a few ways it could’ve gone better:

 

1. Specific roles – There were a few point-people set ahead of time (Soleil and Hannah make the enchilada, Sam the churros,Quinn the carnivore option) but we thought it could’ve been even more efficient had everyone been assigned a role.

 

2. More bacon fat! – We (mostly Clay and Nolan) made two cast-iron pans of cornbread (with homegrown corn), one with butter and one with bacon fat. People like the bacon fat.

 

3. Dietary restriction markings could’ve been better – The two non veg. item were marked, could’ve been marked better.

 

4. We went over budget – We discussed collecting funds beforehand or raising more money next time.

 

5. Knife skills workshop beforehand – Many had not worked in a kitchen before, so we thought it would be helpful to start out with a knife skills workshop next time. I also think it would be helpful to have just a general kitchen skills workshop, go over prep bowl use, prep/storage/grill stations, clean as you go, etc.

 

6. Names for stations – We discussed how a better tour of the kitchen beforehand as well as naming stations would be helpful.

 

7. Keep better track of ingredients – We discussed how it could be helpful to have a point person for each dish that can keep track of everything that goes in their dish. This would prevent doubling of certain ingredients.

 

8. Liam wants to do less prep – Liam said he wants to do less preparatory work next time.

 

9. More prep time – We started cooking at 17:45 which really wasn’t enough time to finish three dishes by 18:30. I should’ve know that, I’ve cooked food before. Next time we’ll start earlier.

 

In all, a huge success! We had a good time, learned some things, and ate a huge meal together. After debriefing about it we planned a second group dinner for Sunday, December 14th. Our first prep meeting for this dinner will be Monday, December 1st.

 

 

Photos

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References From Today, 11/19

The AshevilleFM Orientation Meeting

At the station, 864 Haywood Rd.

Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 19:00

For all those interested in putting together the Ewok Hour radio show.

Volunteer coordinator Ray “Blueshound” Brown says “It’ll last approximately 40 minutes and we’ll go over AFM volunteer expectations, organizational structure, discuss your interests and talents, as well as give you a tour of the station.  I look forward to meeting you!”

 

Mad Sheep Games Info

Visit http://zemita.net/madsheepgames.htm for rules and more information.

I personally have copies of Conspiracy and Intrigue for sale and Cian has copies of Tryptic for sale.

 

 

Bucky Fuller One Person Performance

One Edwin Place.

Friday, Nov. 21 at 19:00 – 21:00

The History (& Mystery) of the Universe – Celebrating Buckminster Fuller with David Novak, NC Stage performer. Time is 7 PM and location is UUCA on Charlotte Street in Asheville. Cost is $10. Come be inspired for change. Contact UUCA at 254-6001 for more information.

 

Bucky Fuller World Game Workshop

One Edwin Place.

Saturday, Nov. 22 at 9:00 – 12:00
“World Game” is a game created by Buckminster Fuller to solve the world’s problems. Cost is $10. Time is 9 AM to noon and location is UUCA on Charlotte Street in Asheville. Cost is $15 for both events at UUCA (the other one is on 11/21/14). Come be inspired for change. Contact UUCA at 254-6001 for more information.