Saturday, May 29, 2010

The first big night

We had an incredible evening here tonight. In the mix were bright, intuitive and engaged Asheville friends, a great concept with lots of room for dreaming and discussion, a beautiful evening on a big covered porch and great food and - if it continues this way it's gonna be the sweetest little ditty being crooned anywhere near these parts. I am multi-dimensionally full. Will write more about it tomorrow. I have also been reunited with my camera, so pictures will be on the way.
In the meanwhile, here are some of the details about the program and space. It represents the basics of what we envision while being open and malleable. If you are still free Tuesday or Friday and haven't RSVP'ed yet, we'd love to have you in on the fun stuff.

What we are...
Free Range Childhood is a non-coercive learning environment which supports students becoming active participants in choices which affect their lives and communities.
We do not adhere to a traditional formal classroom structure. Instead, our “open classroom” consists of a fluid home-like environment where hot meals are being prepared in the kitchen, people are working in the garden, projects developing and art happening, walks being taken, books being read and questions asked and explored on an ongoing basis which the child may flow into or out of at any time. We value the natural rhythms of home life and of the child. Often in the afternoon there will be large outdoor games on the lawn or children will have extensive time to explore and run free or have down time to themselves. While the students and staff will be expected to participate in the daily upkeep of the house, garden and farm animals, we facilitate as much freedom, space and personal choice inside that structure as possible.

In addition, there will be daily and weekly optional classes in outdoor and life skills, dance and movement, music, environmental science, foreign languages, etc. We will also offer more traditional academic tracks and tutoring as desired by students and families involved.

There will be no grades, testing or other formal evaluations. We consider ourselves
co-pilgrims alongside each individual's personal growth and learning journey. Because of that, we will have regular child/adult "school" meetings in which all ages will democratically take part in decisions which affect the group and themselves. We value open and positive communication and will assist and empower students in their own interests while facilitating a respectful and mutually encouraging environment.

Summer Program Hours
The summer program will run weekly from June 14 until July 9, take a week off , and run again July 19 through August 13.
Full-time and Part-time scheduling available.

Membership to the commons, $5 per month
Summer program, $25 per day, (discount for multiple children)
Drop in, $30 per day (less than a week advance notice)
Fees must be made in advance.
Part of the cost can be offset by work-exchange for “commons currency”

Commons Currency
Commons Currency is similar to a barter and trade system. It will allow members to track hours of service and other contributions to The Commons and Childhood Program and apply the credit to membership and tuition fees.
Commons Currency is based on reciprocity and will be determined by hourly rates or mutually determined value of resources.
The Commons will also be working in conjunction with local alternative currencies such as Asheville L.E.T.S. to create sustainable means of lifestyle enrichment and educating our children.

Current Needs of the project are:

Daily Program Staff
Administrative Planning and Oversight
Garden Creation
Planning and facilitating adult enrichment program
Teaching children's or adult classes
Building a Treehouse or other handy-person projects
Stream and/or Pond Restoration
Housekeeping/ Cleaning
Property Maintenance
Food Planning and Preparation

The Larger Picture of “The Commons”

The concept of the commons was birthed out of a desire as busy parents, entrepreneurs, artists, activists and educators to live more simply, to have less, to grow more of our own food, enjoy fresh healthy meals regularly and share life with others in meaningful ways - to know our neighbors and have a strong network of "good folk" in our lives and our children's lives. Also part of the mutual dream was living in a large country estate or farmhouse with beautiful gardens, horses to ride and a swimming hole or a natural pool in the summer.
We began to dream of what it would look like to have a common space that would allow us to have a lot of these things through resource sharing. To have our social interactions be more rich and nourishing, to know there's a hot meal with friends somewhere on a busy night or an open green space for our children to run around with lots of other children, pick blueberries, catch fireflies and explore nature freely in the shallows of a pond or while caring for farm animals? Where we can have a place to sit and relax with a glass of wine in the garden while the children's imaginations have room to romp and grow?

Out of these intention-filled desires we created The Commons. Traditionally, a commons is a land, house or resource that belongs to and is shared by a community, that is not owned either privately or publicly. It is that which we hold in common. Our “Commons” is a solutions oriented community that supports healthy, abundant and joyful living through membership based collaborative resource sharing. The Commons will create community gathering spaces that bring back the essence of nurturing relationships, both to each other, to nature and to a simpler and more sustainable way of living for ourselves and our families.

Our first commons is the Hemphill House. As mothers, we naturally wanted our first community gathering space to reflect and be open and inviting space for families.
Hemphill House Commons offers:
Residences held in common with extensive grounds and gardens
Pampering amenities
Farm fresh whole food meals, snacks, beverages
Discussion groups and adult classes
Free Range Kids Program -a childhood discovery program and "open classroom"
adult sports, dance and yoga
holistic and sustainable lifestyle enrichment

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