When i was in my early teens i thought (for some reason which escapes me now) that i should be more virtuous. i did a bit of research and found a long list of virtues in some book (this is before Wikipedia would direct me here). Having studied the list and being an efficient sort of teen (not wanting to have to work the new virtue problem too hard), i settled on patience. My thinking was this, all you have to do is wait.
Turns out in my particular style of parenting, patience is the key to success. Twin Oaks requires an increasing amount of work from it’s kids as they get older. Willow needs to work a handful of hours now and it will bump up to 8 hours a week when he turns 13. Mostly he is responsible for his homework and education.
For a while time i was worried that Willow would play video games and watch Star Trek and resist both school work and work around the community. Over the last few months he has been doing more of both. Hawina has been instrumental in helping him find work that he actually wants to do. Like helping Sky with preparing lunch or doing a Tupelo Serf (cleaning shift) or boxing tofu or stocking his residence’s kitchen.
And good things come to those who wait. And the big benefit to the more patient approach is that he feels he is making the choices (which he is), rather than being commanded by his parents to do something. And some times the easiest thing to do is the right thing to do.
My favorite moment from this Tupelo Serf shift with Willow was after i asked him to help me spell something he said “i love it when adults ask me how to spell things.”
[Willow has Read and Approved the Post]
For once I was happy to be forced to drive slowly.
We had just finished a pretty rich Point A meeting with the Washington DC group and an even more successful mini-communities conference in NYC. I was exhausted, but excited to have some hours in the snow storm to chat with ex-Twin Oaker Dream. In many ways the trip is like the 1981 movie “My Dinner with Andre“, where Dream was playing the slightly other worldly stage director Andre Gregory.
Dream reminded me of transformative moments in his life, about feeling a Kundalini energy awakening in his body, while in bed aboard the USS Missouri just before it was struck by missiles during the first Gulf War. About falling in love with East Wind while at UMass Darmouth and struggling to decide if he should return to school. About hearing a word in a dream “Constatic” whispered to him. Constatic contrasts the unique experience of ecstatic, with a collective euphoric state, which he would only learn was a real (though very rarely used) word many years later.
Dream and I have quite similar tastes in a number of things. We both loved Being John Malcovich and the new movie Her, where the hero falls in love with his AI operating system. We were excited about the ideas in Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and the works of Huxley. We shared a number of attractions to people in communities.
Without even a masters degree, Dream has somehow managed to secure teaching positions at both MIT and Harvard. Some combination of daring, charm and a highly accessible presentation style is what makes this story believable. But it is Dream’s imagination which makes him such good company for a long drive. He has all manner of wild ideas, some of which just might be huge, if they got the right attention. In this I also see the parts of myself I like best.
Dream is all about empowering kids using long-lever computer tools. Well after midnight when I finally left him behind at Morningstar, he had assembled a group of kids, including Willow to work with his new educational tech tool, called scratch. And within minutes of them working together my son was saying “I want to put up my own website.” And with inspiring teachers like Dream, it can’t be long before this is happening.
[Edited by Vermin F. Cockwolf]
Five years ago in February my father died. This is the eulogy i gave at the Harvard Memorial Church on the day of his funeral.
I disagree with people for a living. My father was one of the most agreeable people you ever met. And yet it was from him that I learned, if you wanted to be in the conversation, you need to listen deeply and to be able to reflect back what someone else truly believes.
I break the law as part of my work. My father was the most law-abiding man I ever met. And it was from him I learned that you need to have an unwavering moral compass, so that whoever meets you knows what you believe in.
My father built highly functional schools and elegant houses. I stop the construction of inherently dangerous and unnecessary nuclear reactors. It is from him I learned that my role is to serve in the building of a better world.
My father’s father was a large man named “Tiny”. He died when my father was a boy and I believe this helped make my father a careful and cautious man. I was fortunate to have a dedicated and supportive father for 5 decades and I am convinced this security helped make me comfortable taking chances.
When I get up in the morning and look in the mirror before days which tend to be busy and long, as my father’s were, I sometimes see the mirror image of the man, who despite being different, was one of my most important teachers.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
“The dumpsters are never empty in Freegantown, Freegantown, Freegantown.” Is the refrain from the first musical number in this epic piece of Twin Oaks Children’s theater.
This short gem was captured in a low resolution video. But you can get the witty dialog (including the pitch for more bandwidth). It should be pointed out that Rowan (Tall Guy) is playing a role inspired by me, or at least inspired by my head-achy guests (from Nero who burned part of Acorn, to Jason who drove some people a bit crazy).
As background, freegan is a dietary preference which chooses to prioritize recovered food (typically from dumpsters, but it could be other places where it has been discarded like farmers markets) over other dietary constraints. The root is from “free”, which is usual cost of dumpstered and other recovered foods. More radical freegan philosophies go well beyond free food and boycott the entire money economy.
And now for the video:
If you are in the area (Charlottesville/Central VA) and you feel like you have some sense as to what community life is like, you should come see the Sunday Jan 26th performance of Freegantown (if you have not already missed it, this is likely today for you).
Willow (who’s full name is Willow Star Falcon-Flansburgh) plays the villainous ex-communard who goes off to work for evil corporation Traitor Joes. His name is Dark Star in the play. This 30 minute performance, complete with a start up song with Evan on ukulele, is the best kid theater i have seen and some of the best theater to come out of the commune.
I won’t spoil the plot which teases all manner of commune customs and practices and includes blatant calls from the kids for more bandwidth in the community. But I will say this performance is a bit of insider ball, if you know nothing about the communes, about our pocket dramas around guests or our practices around dumpstering food, you will miss some parts of the story. None the less i would encourage you to come.
i will post more pictures (Hawina took some and Sky will tomorrow – all the Star parents are super proud this evening) and possibly get up the video of it. Aubby did and amazing job writing mostly and directing the piece. Ezra wrote and performed the musical accompaniment.
So be there ZK dining hall Sunday Jan 26th high noon – show starts on time. There is no charge for this performance, and if you wanted to leave a donation, that would be great.
Zadek and i are the two cross overs. The younger home schooling program at Twin Oaks is called Unicorns. Kid as young as Elan from Acorn (age 1) come and as old as Zadek (7?). There is a lot of sandbox, drawing and playing-with-toys time as well as read-aloud books, words for the day and simple reading & writing exercises. Christie (an accepted Acorn visitor who has not arrived yet) put it most flatteringly.
I’ve been to dozens of pre-schools and day care situations, Unicorns is the only one which is doing it right.
Heroes is the fantasy role playing home education system that i am the games master of. I play this game with Zadek, Kaya, Evan, Willow and Rowan (ages 7 thru 17). They adventure similarly to a Dungeons and Dragons game, but when they role poorly for the outcome of an event, they can get another role by answering a question right. In the last game, Rowan’s character (Pesca the fallen god) actually died because Willow did not know what the Prohibition was (Evan did, but that was not enough to save him). Kaya’s character (named Sapphyre) was about to be married to Pesca, so she followed him to heaven so they could hang there. It is that kind of game.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest] (Past homeschool mom of 2 daughters from birth until they entered college.)