I have come to understand, over these many years, that a simple, “yes”, almost always, has the power to open up an affirmative space where conversation, exploration, and collaboration can develop into positive action. While, “no”, generally slams the door shut making it clear that there is not any possibility for discussion or investigation and it almost always invites conflict, defiance, and outright rebellion.
There are so many instances where “no” may seem to be the easiest and most painless choice (we have all been there). However, I have, found over the years, “yes”, may take more time, become much more involved, and require more thought in the beginning, but it will almost always be worth it.
To be clear, saying, “yes”, does not mean that you are allowing or condoning permissiveness, indulgence, or disrespect (i.e. bratty behavior). It simply conveys an openness to new ideas, which encourages respectful dialogue, and, in my view, will always be a win.
This concept not only works when responding to outside requests, it is also essential when you are engaged in those inner negotiations – all you highly divergent thinkers know exactly what I am talking about. I firmly believe that beginning with “yes”, gives you the freedom to explore all the possibilities, brainstorm, make errors, arrive at seemingly dead-ends, backtrack and seek out other paths until you discover the - or, one of many solutions.
Deep Root Center exists because I, quite literally, jumped in to the unknown in 2013 and out of sheer will and tenaciousness (that stubborn label, from my childhood, has paid off many times over), with the support of the Liberated Learners Network, made it happen. It was, and still is, scary as hell. I have made a gazillion mistakes and will most likely make a gazillion more. But, I knew that I needed a space where the possibilities are endless and I wanted to make that facility available for all the kids who require the kind of creative and supportive environment where they can make positive things happen too.
Now, as we finish up our 4th year, which has been filled with phenomenal growth, inspiring programs, awesome, motivated kids doing amazing things, a fantastic dedicated staff, and bevy of talented volunteers - DRC is on the way to becoming recognized as a viable educational option. To be quite honest, that really cool space, is beginning to feel a bit full, and, if the number of meetings I have had with interested families, recently, is any indication, it is only going to feel fuller. What an amazing “problem” to have!
Given all of that, as well as feeling frustrated about consistently throwing money towards rent every month that we believe could be used more efficiently and effectively towards ownership and paying our staff. The DRC board and I are looking into purchasing a house in the village for DRC. We have our eye on a couple of multi-unit properties (with the thought of renting out a unit as additional income) and are in the process of pre-qualifying for a mortgage. We will also need to raise a significant amount of cash (between 25 – 30 thousand) through donations for the down-payment. If you have any ideas, resources, or contacts within your network, who would be excited about helping us realize this dream – please get in touch. Our second venture involves developing a permanent home for the Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders Program and expanding it to be available 3-4 days a week. We have discovered during this year’s pilot program that providing kids with the opportunity to be immersed in nature is transformational in so many ways. We (everyone- kids and adults) come away from each adventure with new insights that may not be readily apparent, however, often accumulate over time and appear in the form of new maturity, calmness, or creative inspiration. The logistics include shoring up an old camp (the inside was refurbished several years ago) on my land, in Pierrepont, as a home base. Mike and I own 37 acres that abut Glenmeal State forest (670 acres) on two sides. There are abundant woodlands and beaver ponds, along with many other natural features for children to explore infinitely – because there will always be something new to discover. I have written a grant that would fund a portion of building repairs, a storage shed, and tons of equipment and supplies for outdoor adventuring and camping, as well as staffing. The budget for this project, besides this particular grant, includes significant in-kind donations of labor, supplies, and equipment, as well as private funding, and other grants that I will be writing over the next couple months. Once again, if you can help us in any way with this venture, please get in touch. As I have mentioned in previous posts, serendipity is quite possibly my favorite word (concept). I will go out on a limb here and use an ‘absolute statement’, which one of my students constantly warns me about. I know without a doubt that consistently saying, “yes” (despite the clutching fear at times), has cleared the way for serendipity to guide DRC to where it is today and towards an even brighter future.