So here it isPosted: July 8, 2009
wo weeks ago, I attended the NADEC (North American Democratic Education Conference) at the Crowne Plaza in Albany, NY. I signed up for this as a parent from Brooklyn Free School, which was also co-sponsor of this conference.
My wife and I were founding parents of this school, which began several years ago after the first IDEC (International Democratice Education Conference). We read an article in the Park Slope Food Coop Gazette by a former vice principle and now director of our school, Alan Berger. We attended meetings at peoples homes, while our son was still barely 3. The school formed 6 years ago and is going strong.
My intention for attending this conference? There is always an ulterior motive. I have been a graphic designer and art director for close to 30 years now. With the struggling economy, and my growing gray hairs, an urge buried deep in my belly has been emerging. I want what I do in life to mingle with my spiritual values and social understanding. The school represents many of these values. My attendance at the conference was motivated in finding a role to play for the school, for this type of education.
I hope that I am talking now to folks who are interested in the Free School philosophy so if you are not, and do not know what a Free School is, I direct you to look up A.S Neil or Summerhill School in Wikepedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summerhill_School]. Though we are not 100 percent identical to Summerhill, we do use many of the same approaches.
One of the meetings we had in Albany was on How to Help Grow a National Movenment. The meeting got sidetracked into a long discussion on whether Facebook may be the answer to creating a network. For me, the point was not that, but why are we interested in this for our children to begin with. What is your story and how do we tell it so that people may listen?
Coming home from Albany, I kept thinking of a way to solve this. My brain was on full throttle and a thousand ideas were spinning through it. Something had to be done, and I was the man to do it. I spoke with Alan about creating a newsletter, something I have much experience in. I had produced a newsletter for NYU Downtown Hospital as well as our own art based newsletter which I also wrote (my wife edited). But to print a newsletter is costly, especially in this economic environment. Also, our school, BFS (Brooklyn Free School) is in the midst of creating a capital campaign in order to raise funds to buy its own building. A project that would help grow our school and allow for long term projects. Currently the school is in a church and must remain modular and collapsable as the church uses the same space we occupy. So now my priorities need to fall in line.
An online newsletter soon became an idea for a blog, and my wish to address the issues on a national level. I want this to be a forum where others in the Free School community can offer their voice, their stories. A place where the needs of the few can lead to the help of the many. Much of what makes up a blog is personal opinion, and excuse me if I use this place to do just that. But I also wish to be inclusive and will list appropriate submissions.
I will end my introduction here as I still have many things to learn about blogging, how to use this site to full advantage and to see if I can get a bunch of you talking, so that our 2nd NADEC will be a bigger splash than the first. the first was a blast for all of us; the kids, the teachers and parents. It is community building at its very core,and it is exciting to be part of such a process. It is something I wish for all us, even those who don’t agree.