Those of you who know me, either in person or through these weekly musings, have heard me rail against the constraints of societal norms. Within that, you have probably noticed that I regularly express my contempt for tradition, ritual, and routine.
This morning while I was lying on the bedroom floor, talking myself through daily yoga poses and stretches, I realized, with some clarity, that I willingly participate in some routine activities every single day without chafing against them. And, in most cases, those rituals make my life measurably better.
What then is the difference? Why do some push all my buttons, while others are appreciated habits? This thought process, of course, sent me down another rabbit hole, a place I visit quite often while on the yoga mat in various, adapted poses. Today, while laying in the final backstretch, waiting to hear the popping sound that indicates that my hips have achieved (semi) alignment, the words "expectation" and "obligation" dropped into my head simultaneously. That one collective concept is, of course, the key.
When I feel pushed and coerced into doing something, simply because it is tradition, I will automatically rebel. In my mind, there doesn't need to be any other logical reason. For some, my rebellion over seemingly inconsequential stuff has the appearance of pure obstinacy or ridiculous lines drawn in the sand.
However, it makes utter sense when you consider that inconsistency, along with contradiction and hypocrisy, is the combination of traits that rests second on my list of pet peeves.
Why would I blindly accept (and celebrate) the ritualistic traditions that are part of my culture when my daily reality runs counter to societal norms, including the mission of providing a non-coercive educational environment and programming for any child who needs us? Not only that, but I also (some would say foolishly) trust that those kids are intrinsically motivated to seek out everything they need to grow and learn.
This internal conversation all leads, quite handily, to the reason this particular warren of thoughts was grappling for release from my subconscious this morning.
It is once again the time of year that we reach out to you for financial assistance. Yes, asking for your contribution has become an annual tradition. However, the last thing I want is for you to feel obligated to donate. Just as I am confident in our student's abilities to take on whatever challenges they encounter, I trust that the folks with whom our message resonates, and are able, will support us financially.
That, indeed, was the case for an incredibly generous donor who recently sent an unsolicited check for $5000.00. There are no words for the emotions that swirled when I opened that envelope. Nor for the short message I received a few days later in response to my note of thanks, stating that he wanted to acknowledge his appreciation of our work, especially during these challenging times.
I am deeply grateful for every dollar and for every kind word of support that recognizes our commitment to honoring our promise to our community. Thank you!
* Contribute an online donation here, or send a check to Deep Root Center, 48 Riverside Dr., Canton, NY 13617.
It has been brought to the DRC staff's attention that there is a shortage of afternoon options for families in Canton. We are committed to opening this program, (with a full Covid-19-19 Safety Plan in place) when there are enough interested families to make it viable.
Deep Root Center's Exploration Station Services extend our unique brand to children in the community who attend public or private schools.
DRC provides a physically and emotionally safe space for children, filled with resources and materials, where they are encouraged to explore their interests freely, without coercion. The DRC Afternoon Program is designed to offer opportunities for hands-on exploration, creativity, and fun that children crave.
Please get in touch if you are looking for an afternoon program for your family.
Yes, "this" sucks in so many ways. Folks are sick and dying, are forced to work in unsafe conditions, or have lost their jobs. Many can't pay their rent (or mortgage), buy food and other necessities, and can't find childcare - which only highlights the fact that those without privilege are (and will be) the hardest hit. Some would argue the very definition of entitlement is freedom (h/t Kenzie Corse). That, however, is a critical conversation I will save for another day.
The point I would like to make today is that each of us with privilege, who can shelter at home without repercussions, has the opportunity to embrace all the possibilities (without whining about our lack of freedoms). Foremost, it is a chance to generate ideas - new ways of being and doing. The tired argument, "this is the way we have always done it," does not work, and to be honest, it never has.
Additionally, if you are waiting for our world to go back to normal - please understand that normalcy never existed. And even if it had, why would we want to go back?
Yes, I completely understand the feelings of utter exhaustion that accompanies all of "this." The bone-deep weariness that invades and impedes our desire to be creative, as well as all the good intentions buried beneath our body and mind's demand to hibernate. (Note that collection of blog posts I promised that never got written and my second children's book that was never illustrated or self-published.)
Nevertheless, I am continuously inspired and motivated by the innovations and forward motion that has come, despite the mental and physical fatigue, as a direct response to the challenges presented by this pandemic and societal unrest.
Deep Root Center, for example, developed a new distance learning program, which we were able to devise only because our St. Lawrence University Community Based Learning (CBL) students had to volunteer virtually. We generated a schedule of Google Meet sessions, based on what our in-person and distance learning kids were interested in, then paired DRC members with the CBL facilitators and mentors.
This experiment was so successful we began adding the projects and activities the staff was facilitating in-person at the Center to the virtual schedule. Up till now, with a couple of exceptions, only our Canton kids and the Distance Learning peeps have taken advantage of the virtual opportunities. Happily, now that we are fully remote, with a schedule of Google Meet and Discord sessions facilitated by DRC staff, our Lawrenceville kids are hopping on board.
This level of engagement would not have been possible without the innovations that came out of necessity. Despite not being together in a physical space, we are all enriched.
History has taught us that forward motion will always be uncomfortable, initially. The path to progress will always be open to those who can think outside the box and embrace (and endure) the growing pains.
DRC has open enrollment throughout the year. Get in touch if you would like to join our "virtual" world. This schedule is flexible; we will add Sessions as they are requested.
We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at DRC. Stay safe!
Playing has become a four-letter word in our culture. Uttering the three words, "I am playing," conjures up frivolity, excess, diversionary tactics, plastic toys, and the needless waste of time. Which explains why most 9-18-year-olds I meet can look me straight in the eye and say, either, "I used to play when I was young, but I don't anymore, or I don't know how to play."
Somewhere along the way, we have lost the true definition of play. It, in its purest form, is exploration based on curiosity, imagination, and creativity. And not coincidentally, is also the driving force behind all authentic learning.
Therefore, I am on a mission to normalize and legitimize not only the word but the act of playing.
Yes, among many other things, I play with written words, graphic design, food, tech skills, and even verbal communication. I use the word "play" explicitly (and sometimes provocatively) to describe any task. I want to express very clearly that I enjoy my work and that I anticipate having fun.
Most of us will only take anything on voluntarily (even if it may seem challenging or hard) if there is the promise of pleasure, happiness, and the feeling of satisfaction from a job well done at the end. Hence, the very concept of enjoyment drives self-motivation, which, not surprisingly, along with rigor, is the number one concern for most parents (and teens) who contact me.
As human beings, we will not do (or learn) something simply because someone tells us that we "have to" or that it is necessary for our future.
Our evolution, as humans, required all authentic learning to be driven by imagination, creativity, experimentation, and the exploration of all the things that we are each profoundly interested in. These are the notions that make us ask questions, spend hours contemplating, seeking out the answers, challenging the status quo, and creating solutions, change, and, most importantly, art.
We are all playing here. Make it worth your while, and have fun!
This past week we were very fortunate to have a film-maker, Liam Crossen, at the Center interviewing our student members, staff, and families to create short vignettes, as well as action footage of the Centers for our social media accounts and website. We are excited that you will have the chance to hear about Deep Root Center from the perspective of those who spend their days here. These will begin rolling out as soon as he has them edited. Stay-tuned!
This amazing opportunity was perfectly timed - we decided to go fully remote beginning Monday, Nov. 16th, as the number of COVID cases rose exponentially over the last week.
Our student members will still have the opportunity to connect remotely through the DRC daily schedule of classes and mentoring sessions, as well as on a broader scale with other young people around the world through the Liberated Learners Network schedule of classes. If your virtual education is leaving you feeling bored and uninspired, check us out. DRC is accepting distance learning members throughout the pandemic.
And, a special thank you to Ian Corse for taking the new DRC Logo and "cleaning it up" for us.
Four years ago, I wrote a post that I ultimately determined was too personal, too raw for the DRC page. As a solution, I created Rooting for Change, a place to publish essays dedicated to my thoughts, which I believed at the time, were too much for the Deep Root Center Blog. As is sometimes the case for me, the excitement of imagining something new carried me as long as it took to write three additional posts after that initial essay (which coincidentally never ended up on that page). Looking back on it now, I see that it was a good idea that quickly got lost to the overwhelming weight of lies, deceit, and blatantly cruel retaliation. And, yes, the ridiculous feelings of - why bother?
After hearing the election news yesterday afternoon, I realized that I felt like I could breathe again. Without fully realizing it, for four long years, I had been subconsciously holding my breath - clenching and bracing my body in constant anticipation for the next direct hit.
My main job as a mentor to the young people who choose DRC is to not only support them, trust them completely, and help them seek out resources to meet their interests and aspirations but to model compassion, kindness, and moral character.
I had not realized until this moment how hard that work was, over these four years, given that skepticism was running a convincing race as my defining trait, and snarkiness had found a comfy home at the tippy top of my list of skill-sets.
With the above fully recognized, I would like to clearly state that what brought us the levels of pain and resentment is not gone, simply because we have ousted a demagogue. The underlying issues of inequities and injustice are living on the shoulders of those whom we, as a white privileged, society consider the "other" (BIPOC, LGBTQA+, refugees, immigrants, etc.). Those weights of disparity, racism, and xenophobia have not magically disappeared. We have (as I mentioned in a personal note yesterday) a SHIT TON of work to do.
How do we even begin that work when we are up against folks who are so afraid of change (progress) that they are driven so far into denial that they consider alternative facts an acceptable version of the truth?
Upon reflecting on my responsibility, beyond being a positive role model to all "my" kids, I would like to resurrect the Rooting for Change Blog. Despite the partially humorous self-imposed snarky label, I consider myself, foremost, a writer. And, without grandiose or self-congratulatory intent, I would like to seed the changes needed to welcome everyone into the conversation - through affirmative messages, honesty, compassion, and kindness.
Given my time constraints, the only way to keep the Rooting for Change blog alive is to make it a collaborative effort and push forward the works of folks whose voices need to be heard. If you would like to contribute an essay, letter, poem, or creative piece, following the guidelines below, please submit it here for consideration. And, please feel free to share this opportunity within your network.
The following is the first essay posted to Rooting for Change on November 14th, 2016:
Expanding My Voice -
I write to process and then express my emotions, hopes, fears, anger, and observations, broadcast to the world via the Deep Root Center Blog. This past week, I came to realize that many of those things I have to say as an individual are not necessarily appropriate to articulate as the voice of an organization. In this case, a not-for-profit, educational entity that welcomes and respects a variety of perspectives from our student members, their families, our staff, volunteers, community collaborators, and supporters.
Stay tuned as this forum takes shape as a place where we can share our deepest feelings and fondest wishes for this community and beyond. I request that comments remain kind, constructive, and without judgment. This forum will remain a safe place where everyone can feel welcome to express their concerns and desires.
The one rule at Deep Root Center is also applied here: Respect yourself, each other, and this space.
I look forward to future conversations that will bring us closer to understanding each other.
We all have emotional triggers. Some wear them prominently and proudly on their foreheads or chests as big bright red buttons - daring - you - to - push - them. These folks feed on the drama and toxicity of instigating and promoting conflict and dissent and delight in the angry interactions that ensue. They are happiest when they are engaged in subversive measures to prompt the desired and inevitable response. This behavior has become so prevalent that pop-culture has coined "being a Karen" as the universal derogatory identifier.
Others of us keep our triggers undercover - until we are completely overwhelmed with the feelings of rawness and have no option but to respond. Personally, it is most often hypocrisy and pettiness (Yes, Karen-ness) that set me off.
I get more than a bit pissed off when we (collectively) waste enormous amounts of community (tax-payer) resources, and those who were needlessly involved are upset. And, I resent the time and emotional energy I squander while responding to put out fires that are products of misinformation (not knowing or understanding the whole story) or blatant lies.
My point every time I encounter this type of heedless disregard for others, shameful lack of compassion and empathy, and outright unkindness (the by-product of busybodies) is that fundamental and forthright communication could have resolved the entire situation.
If you have a problem or notice something you are unsure of or uncomfortable with, talk about it. Weaponizing your triggers will only foster bitterness and apathy and will ultimately gain you a reputation.
The DRC-East parent group is currently raising funds to purchase a heating system for the Lawrenceville facility. You can contribute directly to the gofundme here.
They and the student members will also be set up at the Kinney Drugs this coming Tuesday and Wednesday between 10-2 to sell 50/50 Raffle tickets. The drawing will be November 5th. If you are out and about in Massena on either of those days - mask up and come down to support their efforts.
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