Tagged personal

Naming the Silence

Margins of planners. Notebooks. Arms. Chairs. Bookshelves. Trees. Rocks. Napkins.

Any blank space as an invitation for my pen. I scratched out song lyrics and lecture highlights, webbed thought-explorations, inked out feelings I wanted to examine, captured quotes from all my favorite authors, promised friends that I loved them, tested forms and the boundaries of letter-making. Apparently, active minds trapped in not-quite-stimulating-enough places frequently free themselves through ink on a page…though usually the context is an imprisoned visionary rather than an ordinary teenager in some extra-ordinary suburbs.

What I’m getting at is that I used to be A Writer. It’s the most recent awareness on my [metaphorical] personal-growth CMB: I used to be a writer, and I have stopped writing.

As a newbie ALC, I used to journal and blog and doodle-meditate. As a full-time facilitator, co-director and administrator, parent resource, regional coordinator, training organizer, event planner, network schemer, finance juggler, partnership builder, field trip guru, and pragmatic visionary, I…write meeting notes and emails.

Not to knock it…My notes are clear and precise; my emails occasionally become exquisitely crafted masterpieces. Writing is–still, somehow–one of my superpowers.

And I still doodle my meditations, but only when I really need to pull my thoughts out so I can see them clearly or at milestones (I’ll probably do some to open and close spring break this year). Is that a kind of writing that ‘counts’ as ‘sharable value’? IDK.

As I’ve learned and practiced more and more that would be useful to document and share, I’ve been immersing myself in the ‘doing’ and keeping the ‘reflecting’ mostly to myself.

This struck me last week while thinking about an enrollment puzzle and simultaneously reworking an Annual Report draft: I can’t calm anxieties or reassuringly cite accounts if the words are sitting in my drafts folder or in the back of my head.

It struck me again while reading @drew’s blog post last week, when I realized he couldn’t know how I identify (to be clear: not as an overworked volunteer, but increasingly as a leader) and couldn’t know that in November I took on some of the work he’s presently calling for. I didn’t broadcast beyond the people I regularly speak to, so we missed months of potential collaboration.

Finally, it struck me on the phone with my parents last night, when they asked point blank how anyone outside ALC-NYC is supposed to track, weigh, attribute, apply, and learn from my work if I’m not writing. And they follow me on social media enough to get all the snapshots I do think to post!

Awareness, that’s three times in a week. I hear you. ALFs, [after a anti-colonialist pause to assert that non-written histories and un-recordable expressions have as much weight and power as those that are written/recordable] I owe you. The analogy of a Reddit lurker doesn’t quite fit here, but rather than search for an accurate analogy I’m going to skip ahead and just declare an intention to change. I have check-lists and templates and spreadsheets and anecdotes and research and rituals and counsel. I have meeting notes and meditations that you may be interested in excerpts from. I have wild ideas and more reasonable ideas–as the local folks I’m constantly in communication with are well aware–and so. much. experience. And none of it moves the world unless I share.

When I was A Writer, I read that with every word read a reader gifts an author an irreplaceable instant of their life. Many lifetimes later, I still worry before hitting publish about whether I could ever write anything worthy of such a gift. I mean…really. That said, oh anonymous internet reader of the future, here’s my pledge to trust your generosity, to trust you to walk away from what hasn’t earned your headspace, and to start broadcasting more widely by giving at least two days this April to making offerings of blog posts to cyber ALC-land. Small steps for now, but I need a light way to start.

Slowly reclaiming all those literacies I was schooled out of…

Meanwhile, here’s to blank pages, creative punctuation, and ever changing seasons.

The Talk I Never Gave

Last Tuesday, a friend reached out and asked about giving a TEDx talk at the United Nations International School. It’s been a draining couple of weeks, and I was intrigued but not feeling quite on top of my game. I asked what he wanted me to talk about, ready to say ‘no.’ Agile, he said. The future of education, he said. You’d have to be mad not to, my other friends said. So I got to thinking.

Public speaking has never been a problem for me. I have some trouble with scripts, so never really got into acting, but over the years I’ve read, sung, done Q&A’s, been interviewed, lead trainings and sessions and classes and…it’s really nothing new at this point.

That said, I have my own style of preparing. It always works, but it used to get me into trouble as a kid. My teachers wanted notecards to grade; my parents wanted mirror-rehearsals to time. I wanted to learn the material, think it over, bullet a couple main points, then get up and improvise.

Maybe it was “TED” or “UNIS” or just fatigue, but I got really anxious as soon as I agreed to do this talk. I knew I had all the information and skills I needed, but the old, well-schooled self-doubt took hold anyway. In spite of the best efforts of friends to reassure me, I gave hours to writing an essay, making detailed notes to get all the words exact, and practicing late each of the three nights before the event.

I got to UNIS at 8:30 am on Saturday, chatted with kids and staff, had some coffee. The lights dimmed, and I listened to the well-rehearsed speeches of some 7 to 9 year olds and waited. The girl next to me grinned as a mic was clipped onto my dress. Things went quiet and the background slide changed. I smiled reassuringly at the boy who announced my name. Walked out to the middle of the red square, as directed, and…choked.

My notes looked blurry. The audience waited, their faces kind and blurry, too. I flushed. Stumbled through a sentence or two, trying to coax what I’d prepared back into my mind. And then I took a breath and let go.

Laughed.

Narrated reality to the audience as I tucked my notes into my boot and switched my brain from ‘giving a talk’ to ‘talking to the humans in front of me.’ There weren’t so many of them. They were kids there to present, parents there for their kids, and staff there to run things. I breathed and talked and don’t really remember what I said, but I think it was mostly on-topic. They smiled.

dsc06291

 

Maybe the responses I got were sincere; maybe they were just polite. Regardless, I was reminded that–no matter how much progress I make–I’m still de-schooling, and my self-doubt shadow is always most dangerous when I’m fooled into thinking I’ve escaped it.

Next time, I’ll do it my way from the start. This is me writing a note to my future self, for when I need the reminder.

—–

And just for kicks, here’s the speech that only my mirror got to hear in full:

In 2006 Sir Ken Robinson gave a Ted talk that would go on to become one of the most viewed Ted talks of all time. It was called “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” But he doesn’t start by talking about either creativity or schools. Rather he starts with the question that you’re asking today: the question “What next?” And his answer is that we have no idea. He goes on to explain that this is why everyone has a stake in education. It’s education, he says, that’s meant to take us into this future we can’t grasp. From there he goes on to discuss schooling, as if education and schooling were the same thing. But this is the problem. They’re not. And if they were, he wouldn’t have had much to talk about.

Why? Well. When I say ‘education’ I’m referring to all the experiences that shape your brain and your sense of self. These are the experiences through which you learn what you care about, what your strengths are, how to make choices, and what kind of impact you want to have on the world. This is…very different from schooling. Schooling is what most people think of when they hear ‘education’ but it’s a word with a much narrower definition. Schooling refers to a process designed in the 19th century to prepare young people for the factory jobs that it seemed most of them were headed for. And at the time this made sense, but that’s not the world we’re sharing today. They had printing presses and steam engines; we have WhatsApp, Minecraft, and Uber. And even though we don’t know what the world you’ll graduate into will look like–though I’m rooting for the solar roofs and self-driving cars–we’re pretty sure it’ll look different than the world of today.

Which brings us back to Sir Ken Robinson. Ten years ago, when he gave that talk, he asked that we stretch our definitions. That we have the courage to question the very assumptions about ‘what’s next’ that schools were designed around, so we could create schools which nurture creativity and value a variety of intelligences…the ideas danced and drawn as well as those calculated and spellchecked. He challenged us to stretch schooling until it looks more like education, so it helps young people develop the skills we’ll need to face the unknown.

And that’s the work I do. Currently, I serve as co-director at one of these schools for the future, called the Agile Learning Center. Since we know learning is happening all the time, that really all living is potentially education, we focus on the skills of deciding what to learn, figuring out how to learn it, applying what we learn across contexts, and practicing all this self-direction while building community together. It’s work. It’s fun. It replaces grades and tests with conversations and explorations, so each day brings new surprises for us to adapt to.

Now you probably aren’t in a position to radically redesign your school at the moment, and that’s ok. You still have the power to bring more education into your schooling…and to nurture those skills you need for the future in your out-of-classroom life. Find your art. Feed your creativity. You can learn improvisation games to practice meeting the unknown with confidence. Pay attention to communication styles around you–spoken and unspoken–and how they work. Try to understand those who are different from you.

When your schooling is finished, your education continues. I’m excited to co-create the future with you–that’s the mission, should you choose to accept it–but we’ll have to learn to collaborate and you’ll have to stay curious whether the Scantron values your efforts or not. If you’re in, let’s start practicing now. Thank you.

External Brain

This summer I worked some days at an adventure playground. I was there Saturdays, with two other adults and sometimes volunteers. It was work I really enjoyed, and I have lots of thoughts about it, but the biggest impact it’s had on my ALC-NYC school year life is that it’s where I started keeping a day log.

Because we were so busy during the day, staff didn’t get much check-in time until after we’d closed the site and sent the kids off for the day. We’d spend hours immersed in our work as the activity on the playground ebbed, flowed, and whirled. There were children in tires, children on forts, children with hammers, waivers upon waivers, and adults with questions. I always felt like I’d lived several days between when we opened in the morning and closed in the evening, so it was a relief at the end of the day to have intentional time set aside for reflection and sharing.

Asher, the lead playworker on Saturdays, would pull out a book, and we’d sit together to talk about our days. In the book, he’d log big happenings and observations from the day. I found the practice really helpful; sometimes my brain gets busy with all its ideas, and I lose details from the day that I’d like to remember. Sitting down with a blank page (a pensive, Harry Potter fans…) lets me hold and examine different pieces of the day. As a collaborative practice, it helps me hear what my partners are experiencing. As a personal practice, it helps me check that I’m giving equal notice and attention to multiple things.

The reason I’ve started keeping a daily log book this year at staff check-ins is something that I felt the potential for this summer but didn’t really get to experience with the ever-changing cast of kids at the playground. My external brain of a notebook at school provides all the benefits of my playground log book, with the added bonus of allowing me to look back over days, weeks, and months at individual kids’ development. Two months into the school year, it’s already starting to get interesting to read back and notice how people and dynamics have changed. Not to mention that it’s sometimes helpful during parent conferences, since specific notes let me share stories with much more detail than I otherwise could.

So grateful for transferable tools!

This week!

It’s very exciting to set up new students with blogs 🙂 Especially when they jump into writing independently, leaving me 10 minutes to write alongside them!

We had three students visiting this week. They jumped right into offerings and games with other kids, which was great to see. I spent a lot of time working on gathering records, preparing and following up after the assembly meeting, spreading the word about the summer training program Ryan and I are running, and trying to be outside.

I had a really great time in the park on Wednesday with @ryanshollenberger @pigcraft8 @agilesaylor @creeperclaws and one of the visitors. I got to climb trees with kids, which has to be one of my all-time favorite activities. I also got to take two nice walks with @serenagermany and @thewitchqueen908, who discovered a new crepe place.

The assembly meeting on Tuesday went really well. I used to be really uncomfortable about running meetings, but it’s gotten easier as I’ve practiced. It’s been really helpful to have Ryan and Tomis to work/play with.

Also this week, I watched part of Cooked, the Michael Pollen documentary that’s on Netflix right now. I also went to Julius’ parents’ art show. I hadn’t looked carefully at their art before, but I really enjoyed it. The diversity of the works at the show was really exciting; this was the first show in the gallery’s new space, and I’m excited to keep going back to see how the shows change.

 

Making it official.

Growing up, I was often told that I should go to school to become a professor.

Meanwhile, I read stories about and observed the lives of master teachers. And I started asking how they got to where they were.

A pattern soon emerged, and it made a lot of sense to me: the master teachers–the ones who were most interesting, impactful, and expert in their fields–had pursued experience rather than certifications. They had made decisions in their lives that gave them chances to practice and deepen their expertise. Sometimes this meant studying or getting titles, but it often meant doing the work with an intention to continue learning. When they became masters–at knitting or acting or writing or horseback riding or astronomy or geology–members of their communities saw this and spread the word. Students sought them out. Sometimes certifications or titles followed, but that wasn’t really the point.

They cared about doing the work and doing it well. Each had an underlying goal of personal growth towards expertise and confidence…a goal which frees the learner from dependence on external progress markers and acknowledgements (though some of us create our own progress markers and acknowledgement often feels nice). It was often a longer and harder journey to become a teacher than it was to acquire the certification and position of one. But it also sounded like a more interesting, honest, and fulfilling one. Guess which I chose 😉

These are my thoughts today, because I just requested a certification–an entitlement–and I feel really good about it. We have a peer-review process for those engaged at ALCs to become officially acknowledged as ALFs, and the PRs are usually convened at ALF Summer. I missed the first year of peer-reviews, held space for others the second year, and am pretty sure there will be more urgent conversations on our agenda this year. But it’s time. I’ve been doing the work and growing in expertise, so the title feels like a description of what I’m already doing…which is how I prefer my titles 😉 And while I’m content with personal rituals to mark transitions in my life, I no longer live in a small town where word-of-mouth is enough to orient community members to each other. When we live and work in a spread-out community, it becomes important to enact rituals that externalize our internal level-ups. There are the relationship-nurturing opportunities in such rituals, shrinking distance and grounding us together; that said, what are really exciting for me as part of a growing network are the relationship-starting opportunities that arise from such rituals. Asking for a community conversation to make clear what I do and am skilled at opens space for new ALFs to approach me seeking support on their own journeys or offering support for mine. This is super exciting.

I’m very fortunate (a reflection that comes from the awareness that my friends @mandyjayh and @jacobcb are thinking about initiating their own transition-marking rituals): since I am looking to the ritual to communicate what is–rather than hoping it will validate an identity or community relationship that I’m not already secure in–I can choose a virtual peer-review (more scheduling flexibility! yay!) and trust that I’ll get what I need. It’s interesting and fun for me to play with translating a group ritual into a remote one, but if my situation were different I’d probably opt to wait until I could convene an in-person PR.

Curious and excited to see how things play out.

<3

 

Broadcasting

It’s a behavior that various magazines I read as a kid attributed to pregnant women and children in the early stages of speech development. You’ve likely encountered it…”I want macaroni” or “I’m going to the bathroom” or “I’m drawing now.” These are all examples of broadcasting.

Now, I’m not pregnant or celebrating a new ability to express myself verbally. And between us, I’m most comfortable keeping my thoughts and feelings to myself. Or at least keeping them close. So…why am I broadcasting? And writing about it?

A few years ago, a younger ALC kid who I was fairly close with off-handedly mentioned that he never sees me struggle. By “mentioned” I mean that he declared, based on his experience, that I don’t ever struggle. And I struggled with this.

On the one hand, I’ve put many years into learning how to manage rough seas gracefully. On the other hand, if I think it’s important for kids to learn that struggling is perfectly normal–is something they should expect and make peace with if they aspire to try any new thing ever–then I have to figure out how to model that grace while pointing to the forces behind it.

In some situations, it’s easy to make my struggles visible. When I participated regularly in acro-balance, for example, or when I practice piano in the library, my challenges are pretty apparent. But usually my struggles look more like remembering to eat, overcoming shyness around new people, managing assumptions in relationships…that is, even if a young person were looking, they would be hard to see. And so, intentionally, as a facilitation upgrade, I started broadcasting.

To clarify, it doesn’t look like walking around school narrating my every action or turning small happenings into epic productions. Either would be counterproductive and annoying. I’m also always aware that what I contribute to the conversation influences school culture, so I choose language that acknowledges an obstacle and declares how I intend to engage with it, knowing I have to be careful to not accidentally end up communicating insecurity or glamorizing self-deprecation instead. My broadcasting usually consists of thinking-out-loud (“I’m a little nervous about this event, but I know I’ll have fun once I’m there, especially if I try to meet at least two new people right away”).

Sometimes my broadcasts get really radical…I ask the kids for help. At least two definitions of love that I’ve encountered include asking the other for help as an expression of love. Maybe this is because doing so requires becoming vulnerable, acknowledging the other’s power, and providing an opportunity for the other person to act in a way that affirms your relationship. Regardless, asking for help is something I would like to become better at. So when I address a struggle by asking for help–“I’m not feeling very hungry today, but I know I should eat. Do you mind if I join you when you get lunch? I’ll remember if we have plans to spend that time together?”–and kids agree, I usually thank them for both helping with my immediate struggle and for helping me practice asking for help.

It felt a little strange at first, but I’ve worked broadcasting so thoroughly into my facilitation practice that I sometimes catch myself composing broadcasts in non-school settings…like the facebook status I wanted to write tonight about talking to people on the subway. I may still publish that status. The point is, I thought to write it mostly as a reflex, and then I stopped to check what I was doing and why. Since I like the idea of adults facilitating each other’s growth, and since I’ve been told by non-students that my tendency to undershare can make me feel distant, I’ll probably keep broadcasting outside of school, in moderation, and see what happens.

Figuring out how to balance my quieter, listener self with my more expressive facilitator self is an ongoing struggle. It’s especially challenging when my quiet self gets nervous about sounding narcissistic, even while my facilitator self insists that it’s important to share my experiences if others might learn from them. I keep trying, though, because I really want to be both my authentic self and an excellent facilitator. It’s definitely possible…I just have to stay aware and patient.

Thank you for supporting shared reflections by engaging with the ALC website and my blog! I appreciate your help 😉

Playgroup

My parents moved to a new area when I was born. They were young first-time parents, and my mom especially was looking for community. They wanted community for themselves as humans looking for company and parents looking for advice, but also for my sisters (not yet part of the picture) and me as we grew up.

They joined a church and craft groups and a service organization; I remember the people from those spaces the same way I remember the neighbors they also built relationships with. As life flowed on, so did most of the faces and voices that surrounded my baby self. Three of the most notable exceptions are in this photo:playgroup

It’s already an old photo; Nicholas and Libby got married last year, Mihali is wherever the Marines have sent him, Michelle moved out west for graduate school. It’s also an incomplete photo. My youngest sister isn’t in it, nor are our parents or a few kids who were in and out of our circle over the years. But it’s the photo I have and it’s good enough. This is Playgroup.

Playgroup started before some of the people in it were born, but I don’t really remember those days even though I was there. Essentially, our moms wanted friends for themselves and playmates for us. So they were all, separately, joining “moms’ clubs” and “play groups,” until they found each other.

We still went to other “play groups” sometimes, but most of those didn’t last very long. The chemistry of this one…the culture that developed…This became Playgroup.

Why am I telling you all this? Am I just feeling nostalgic?

Not really…You see, Galactic Nemeses has been reintroduced to the space, and there are kids screaming at each other in the next room. I’ve asked them to quiet down, but they’re excited about a new game so I’ve settled for taking my aching head to a quieter room and closing the door.

When I breathe enough to transcend my aching head and release my desire for a quiet space, I want to laugh from appreciation and joy…also caused by the screaming. Because I hear in their commotion echoes of a world I once looked forward to joining more than I looked forward to any birthday or holiday. Playgroup was that world.

Once a month, we’d gather at someone’s house and rule the basement or playroom or yard. Interrupting the parents for any reason other than getting food meant we had to part ways earlier, so we were strongly motivated to keep our conflicts and noise out of the space where they were immersed in conversation. So long as we didn’t disrupt them, though, they left us to our own devices.

Sometimes we split into small groups to talk or play. Sometimes we created huge elaborate fantasy worlds that we all improvised stories in. We compared experiences with having siblings, losing teeth, going to school…with puberty and broken bones and crushes and dreaming.

And sometimes, when a really exciting new game with ambiguous boundaries was introduced, we’d enjoy getting super loud and emotional in some cinderblock room as we figured out how to play it together. And we could, because at the end of the day we knew that–however much we yelled (though we did watch what we yelled)–we were safe with each other.

That phase of integrating certain kinds of games never lasted long. It took a lot of energy and we all knew we were running the risk of attracting the adults’ attention, thus ending our time together for another month. We’d move on to other things, then return to the novel game as much calmer and more collaborative players.

Playgroup was one of the more significant experiences of my youth. I frequently tell NYC parents apologizing for their kids’ off-site-to-play-with-other-friends days that I fully support their decision, that I’m grateful my parents made sure my social world was more complex than just my classmates and immediate neighbors.

Having Playgroup every day would have been a dream. I wonder now at how much I learned from it just being there once a month! I used to swap books with Michelle and then we’d read them under our desks at school so we could discuss them next time we saw each other. Playgroup friends are the reason I became interested in languages and instruments. They were my introduction to Apples to Apples and Continue the Story and conflict resolution and balloon animals and and and…

Having Playgroup with a contract to make expectations clear, Change Up to address cultural shifts, and Culture Committee available for conflict resolution support? Woah. On the one hand, if our moms had had the intentional culture creation tools we have at ALC-NYC, they might have created communities they liked from other “play groups” and so my Playgroup family might never have met. On the other hand, if we’ve managed to stay connected and nurtured for over twenty years just in the culture that happened to come from us, imagine what we could have created together if we’d tried.

As I finish writing, the screaming here has quieted (after…three hours?). There was a brief episode where the Galactic Nemeses negotiators burst into the hallway and played a live-action game, and now they’re back at the joysticks…much quieter (though still super excited) astronauts and aliens than they were.

I shake my head at the familiar pattern and wonder how many of them will know each other in twenty years. I suspect that even if they don’t, they’ll be grateful to have known each other. Just as I’m grateful to witness these days of their being and becoming…headaches and all.

 

Slog Blog

I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been going through the past few weeks totally present during the school day, diligently responding to Slack/texts/emails/calls after school, showing up for lots of meetings, and simultaneously juggling some large happenings in my personal life. Frequently, I’ll stop and think about wanting to include something in my weekly blog post–a video Eli shared, my accidental adventure with Hannah, what Inter-ALC Psychology kids thought of Piaget–but then I spend Friday facilitating, blogging time helping younger kids blog, and weekends catching up on the work/personal things that didn’t happen during the week.

My Trello has a whole column for blog posts I want to write.

I want to write, selfishly, because I know the weakness of my memory. And because I know how fun it’ll be to send blog posts about now-young kids to them for their 30th birthdays 😉

This week already, I saw a play with Lyla and James, started my November daily doodles, helped visitors use tools in the woodshop, made use of my first aid training, written lots of emails and a short story, participated in Inter-ALC Psychology, went to the park, did some light coaching, played piano, and did lots of admin/community-tending tasks. I still have two letters to write tonight, and today’s doodle to finish.

And since I’m not a student, I’m not writing to build a transcript or share what I’m doing with my curious parents. But…that’s never been why I blogged. I get to witness so much magic through all of every day. I write, so that I can forget these moments without losing them.

Who I Am and What I Do

(…right now…in the ALC context…)

I’m Abby. Yes, it’s a nickname. Yes, with a ‘y.’

I’m NYC-based, presently Holding and co-facilitating at ALC-NYC with @ryanshollenberger. We play regularly with @tomis @abram @bear @drew and other roving ALFs who swing through our space, and we love hosting visitors from other ALCs.

At school, kids come to me to talk about field trips, books, museums, art, plants, languages, history, gender politics, education history, and whatever else they feel like. I show foreign films, lead city adventures (often involving food), and doodle constantly…usually mandalas or flash sketches of people around me. I love playing with kids (and grown-ups). Playing inside and outside…physical games and board games and imagination games.

I also handle lots of the administration stuff that Tomis can’t do from afar, like collecting and organizing paperwork and coordinating student/visitor/volunteer schedules. I also do lots of communication with parents: email threads, texting pictures, posting to Tumblr, and blogging stories as well as reflections. Communicating with parents is really fun for me and comes pretty naturally. It mixes my desire to brag about how awesome kids are, my interest in supporting other on their self-growth/unschooling journeys, and my somewhat compulsive image-making (photos, doodles, doodle notes of conversations and thought trains…) in a way that others seem to find useful.

In the larger network, I don’t officially do much. When specific projects involving explaining what we do (or simplifying/spell-checking other people’s explanations) arise, I love jumping on those. Having lots of experience both working in and critically studying education systems, I feel really comfortable and confident answering lots of different kinds of questions that come up related to ALC. I’ve made myself available to get grilled by business people and professors about what we do, spoken on a Q&A panel, led ALF Summer discussion groups, and contributed to Starter Kit and ALC Network Website content. I also practice informal coaching and heartspace-holding for other ALFs. My server self (ref. archetypes) feels fulfilled and useful when I can support others, and I could easily see myself someday helping with logistics planning for group events (like ALF Summer) which others would facilitate and then showing up to offer one-on-one walks, lunch conversations, and evening salons as my contribution to the experience. I’d also love to do similar small discussion events with parents from other ALCs and aspiring facilitators. Someday.

My non-ALC self loves exploring New York City and the nature around it. I get really excited about sharing those adventures with others. I moved here from outside Philadelphia (Coatesville, PA!), but have also lived in Berlin, Prague, and a village in the Republic of Georgia called Oni. In past lives I was a professional gift-wrapper and bow-maker, event planning intern for an artist in Berlin (Despina Stokou is amazing), equestrian and trainer, garden shop do-everything-person, TEFL teacher, and summer camp director. I went to a self-directed university program where I started out studying story-telling, but then I realized I was interested in the connection between story-telling, identity development, and politics/power structures. Which naturally led me through nationalism development (with Central/Eastern European case studies) to education systems and philosophies (which I’d been studying on the side for fun the whole time).

I have always enjoyed gathering really interesting, wonderful friends and then connecting them…a practice I continue within and without ALC at present. Thaaaat’s all for now!