Yesterday DRC was responsible for the Kid Zone at the Green Living Fair. I was there with my "bag of tricks" (art supplies, toys, & games) and a table covered with info about DRC. The best part of the day was that I met so many folks that I had not seen in years.
While catching up with one of them, someone I knew while starting DRC, she said in response to how are you doing, "same old, same old, but look at you - you took the leap, and look at you now!" And I replied, "but not all of us should leap - some are exactly where they need to be - doing the good work."
Yes, some of us leap - we are natural problem solvers, never satisfied with the status quo, always looking to improve, change up, or destroy and then re-create the system. Sometimes, we have a carefully (meticulously) thought-out plan (and a safety net) and know what we are doing, but frequently we don't. And for me - that is the key to leaping.
I usually have a general, sketchy idea that I believe will work and then jump in - knowing full well that I can learn anything I need to know. And that I can (and will) work through the technical difficulties, obstacles, missteps, or other stumbling blocks that appear, or I can even change direction entirely. I trust in serendipity. (I may have mentioned, a few times, that it is my favorite word.)
The central point of all of this is that I am not afraid to make mistakes. Scratch that - I am genuinely terrified of screwing up. Nonetheless, what it comes down to is I don't let that fear stop me from doing what I think is essential. And in total honesty, I also know that I have a group of people who understand my passion and will always have my back.
I meant what I said to my friend yesterday - not all of us should leap. So many folks are happily doing the essential work and are where they need to be - at this moment in time. Maybe their time to leap is later or even never.
The way to know if and when you should is to ask yourself these questions: Have I accomplished all I want to in this lifetime? Am I doing the work that matters to me and to others? Am I having fun while doing that work?
If your answer to any or all of these questions is "no," you may want to consider taking the plunge. But not before also asking yourself, will I regret not following that dream, goal, or aspiration?
Overthinking isn't always the best policy. Additionally, crying for six months beforehand probably isn't necessary, either. (Yes, I know this from experience.)
Indeed, it is (damn) scary, overwhelming at times, and often frustrating, but the joy, feeling of accomplishment, and gratitude of the folks I work with is beyond worth that incredible - life-changing leap nine years ago.
Weekly Creative Meditation
We are still seeking vendors for our Party in the Park on May 21st. If you know of someone who may be interested in joining us, please have them get in touch.
The bottle drive continues as well. You can bring them to 48 Riverside Drive in Canton and leave them by the garage door.
DRC has rolling admission - if you believe we may be a good fit for your child, contact us today.
Summer program registration is open. Space is limited. Register online.
Every living thing relies on diversity to survive. Based on the research of Mendel, Wallace, Darwin, and the biological scientists who followed, we understand that widespread variation is a large part of the evolutionary process of absolutely everything in the natural world. We know that there needs to be an array of genetic material for successful reproduction and survival.
When you replicate the concept of evolution into a non-biological application - the same holds true. We need diversity in every aspect of our lives to allow for meaningful personal connections and ultimate success for the entire group.
Yes, this all sounds super high brow and academic (unlike the typical pieces you receive from me) - but I would like you to take a moment to consider how our homogenized, milky white societal ideals have been detrimental to so many - for so long.
Through highly effective propaganda, for a good portion of modern history, we (humans of every stripe) have learned to despise (and fear) the "other" for a variety of made-up reasons. (See the definition of propaganda here. I don't generally use Wikipedia - but this provided a pretty representative definition.)
Therefore, when something very different or new from what we are accustomed to pops up in places - that we frequent, we may feel uncomfortable, startled, or even afraid. This is exactly the desired response and the result of all of that unconscious, subliminal training.
I work with many neurodiverse children - a good number on the spectrum, some with ADHD - and more than a few undiagnosed. I don't actually care about the official diagnosis - because, in the end, we (the DRC staff) recognize the amazing gifts every child brings to the group and we love spending our days with them.
The thing I do care about is the reason why so many neurodivergent kids seek out DRC. I believe that the people in the system they came from feel uncomfortable, do not know how to interact, and do not fully appreciate their talents and uniquely wonderful way of thinking. For these reasons, these kids are, quite literally, forced to change themselves to fit into this homogenized world I spoke of earlier. And, if they don't (or can't), they are frequently admonished or punished. Indeed, Pavlov's methodology isn't just used for animals. Therefore, understandably, they are unhappy, disenfranchised, and anxious, and seek out other educational environments.
When we neglect to openly invite (and remove barriers for everyone to participate), especially those who have diverse ways of thinking and being (not only folks with ASD or any of the other "disorders") into our personal spheres, we are actively traumatizing human beings while ultimately inhibiting societal growth, change, and possibly (probably) our own survival.
Diversity is not a talking point. It can't be achieved by hiring a "Diversity Officer," or implementing token policies and meaningless training sessions. It is deeply entrenched in the basic human need for connection and engagement. And the only way it will happen on a large scale is if every one of us welcomes, into our personal world, those who are not typically allowed a place at the table.
Ultimately culture will only change and grow through inclusionary practices and by exterminating misinformation, our reasons for fearing the other, and unimaginative thinking.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Both Centers are on Spring Break this coming week. However, fundraising efforts are still very much on our agenda.
Find the Color Street fundraiser here. We have had several vendor registration forms submitted for our Party in the Park over the past few days. If you know anyone with a side hustle or small business who would like to promote themselves and have some fun with us on May 21st- please share this link with them. We are also seeking food trucks and local musicians. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are still collecting bottles and cans - bring them to 48 Riverside Dr. in Canton and place the bags in front of the garage.
I am sending this out a day early to catch those of you celebrating Passover, Easter, or all the delights of Spring this weekend.
Best wishes from the entire DRC Crew!
A Work in Progress
In my mind - nothing is ever finished. I literally consider everything I create a work in progress that I can edit, revise, rework, redesign, or delete and begin again - still after being published and sent into the world. Yet I go a little crazy every time I walk into the DRC art room. Where I find not only the detritus from multiple kids and their many projects covering the table and spilling onto the floor - but also the abandoned projects left in varying levels of completion littering every surface.
I obviously understand on a deep level that the process is the principal component of imagination and creativity. And the finished piece is the least important. It is our culture - and the adults within who insist that a project's natural conclusion is - acceptable completion.
I have observed so many parents, teachers, and grandparents hover over a child, making suggestions and sometimes even taking over the entire project. Or, the "art" assignment may consist of pre-drawn, cut, and even colored components meant to be assembled the way the lesson plan shows. And if the child has not "followed directions" and created something completely unique, they are admonished and punished.
In those moments, these important people in the child's life have taught them three things. a) That a perfectly finished project is the desired end product, b) they (that child) are not creative or imaginative, or even good at art, and c) they are simply not good enough (at anything).
As a result of this never-ending reach for perfection, we have a world filled with people who believe that creativity is an unreachable aspiration. And they have no earthly idea how to begin.
Imaginative out-there ideas and people who are willing to see everything as a work in progress, including themselves, are the ones who will ultimately be the ones to save us all (from ourselves).
Therefore, I refuse to be complicit in the destruction of creative thought and processes - even if my blood pressure spikes every (damn) time I enter the chaos - that is the DRC art room.
Weekly Creative Meditation
DRC Imagination Station Summer Programs will be back for the last three weeks of August. Find more information and the link to the registration page on the DRC website. Space is limited to 12 participants each week.
We are still seeking vendors, musicians, and food trucks for the May 21st Party in the Park fundraiser. And be sure to let your creative, business-owning, musical friends know about this opportunity. Register here today. If you have additional ideas or would like to help plan this important event, please get in touch with email@example.com
The bottle drive will continue as well. Bring clean refundable bottles and cans in plastic garbage bags to 48 Riverside Dr. in Canton and drop them next to the garage door. E enjoys the responsibility of helping to bring them to the redemption center.
There always seems to be some point in our lives when we have seemingly run out of options. I'm only guessing that was the scenario for the four families who contacted me in the last four days. For the record, three of them were within 7 hours of each other on Friday. I spoke directly with two parents - one who showed up unannounced at the DRC-Canton door at 8 am Friday (while I was working on Admin "stuff" and before I had finished drinking my coffee). I also fielded a phone call (minutes after that parent left) from an advocate at a local organization that recommends us to families regularly and then, later that evening, responded to a google form consultation request.
Both parents I spoke with directly described sad, angry, and frustrated kids in crisis. And in each case, the parents felt helpless, disheartened, and fearful for their child's future. I could describe most conversations I've had with parents over the past eight years in precisely the same way. They felt like they were out of options and were feeling pretty hopeless.
We often say (sometimes provocatively) that school is optional. We really mean every desperately unhappy, anxious, and depressed kid should leave school - now. It is no longer a safe option for them.
Don't wait it out to see if they can make it to the end of the year. Don't say, "it is only a phase." Or "middle school is always rough. They need to toughen up" And, even, "if they could switch classrooms, I think they would do better with a different teacher. They were fine until this year." Treat this situation as seriously as any other life or death emergency.
Kids who join us after years of struggling - for any (and all the) reasons, often take a very long time to "deschool" (detox). To be clear, this process is exceedingly painful to watch. It may take a year or two before they completely understand that they can take charge of their education and follow their interests wherever they lead. I try to convey that the sooner they leave school, the less time that process will take.
When I say that I can get a child out of an unhappy school situation in ten minutes - that is quite literally how long it takes me to switch out names and addresses in the letter of intent (LOI) to homeschool and print it (or send it to a parent via email). The Individualized Home Instruction Plan is the next step and takes a bit more time, thoughtfulness, and an in-depth conversation with the child; however, families legally have ten days to get it to the school after sending the LOI.
This may sound like I am cavalier or unfeeling about this monumental decision. In fact, I feel deeply for every single one of these kids and their families and often carry their stories around in my heart for a while. The cultural norm of school is so deeply ingrained - I understand the difficulty of hearing the words "pull them out of school now" and the emotions they bring forward.
Ultimately, the decision to opt-out of school rests with each child and their family. I will always present Deep Root Center as an option. Because I remain steadfast in my dedication to the fundamental philosophy of non-coercion that we are founded on.
Yet, I always feel like I have failed a child when they and their family decide to stick it out in school.
On the other side, it will never get old (and I will never take it lightly) to hear a parent say, after asking me to write a letter of Intent and IHIP, "I feel like you have just lifted an enormous weight off my chest. I don't know how to thank you."
No, this is not about "scoring" more kids for DRC. I will continue to do this (as long as I can) to help as many kids in the NoCo - whether they homeschool (unschool) on their own or join us at Deep Root Center. My only goal is to help kids - who are unbearably miserable - get around the enormous obstruction (we call school) blocking their path to autonomy and authenticity - and pure awesomeness.
Scenes from Bio Lab this past week.
Weekly Creative Meditation
DRC accepts new members throughout the academic year. If you feel like you are running out of options - get in touch today.
We are still seeking vendors for Our Party in the Park on May 21st.
Also, do you know a creative or business-minded youth who would like an opportunity to sell or promote their art, products, or services? We have a special vendor fee of $10.00/space just for them. Submit an online form today and send payment to Deep Root Center in Canton.
And we are still collecting bottles and cans for the DRC-East Bottle Drive. DRC Canton at 48 Riverside Dr. is a drop-off point. Drop the bags in front of the garage. Thank you!
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