Home » ALF Summer 2015: Week 1

ALF Summer 2015: Week 1


I started this week super excited to be in Charlotte, North Carolina to meet new ALFs! I right away got a couple pieces of bad news about some friends, and I was worried about being able to hold a group’s energy while working through my sadness. But both because the group this year was slightly more mature than last year and because I set time aside for myself early in the week, it wasn’t a problem at all. Of course, it also helps to be surrounded by people I love, busy with work that makes my heart sing 🙂

Here were some of the conversations and my take-aways!

Finite and Infinite Games: There are games you play to win and there are games you play to play. If life is a game you play to play, the rules are plastic, playmates are everywhere, and finite games can be incorporated lightly. I love this conversation…10430827_10153521726849540_4925285706532333561_n

Five Rhythms Inspired Ecstatic Dance: There is something about body play that has always made me feel really awkward and self-conscious. I used to attribute it to years of [dressage] horseback riding, piano playing, and Catholic school…where the body is held precisely and the preference is for it to move minimally. I started working through this with swing dance classes in high school, and since then I’ve taken every opportunity possible to play at changing my relationship with expressive movement. So when Art and Karine offered a Five Rhythms Dance on the second day of ALF Summer, I laughed and said ‘yes.’ Apparently, Karine cued up the wrong playlist, but no one else noticed…we were all too busy enjoying the dance 🙂

Slackline: On the theme of body play…I’m so glad Alex brought his slackline and has been setting it up daily! Really grateful for the chance to practice balancing, relaxing into instability, and breathing 🙂

Tools and Practices: Kanbans! CMBs (community mastery boards)! Language that moves things! Authenticity and trust and love! Ohhh yeahhh…

Summer Camp Facilitation: Honestly, I cut out of this one early. After two years of running a summer camp in Brooklyn, I have learned to plan/tool-create only to the extent that doing so makes running the camp less work. Kids will show up to have fun, and everything will be okay so long as we get clear on day one about expectations, daily rhythms, and parent communications (no med forms = no summer camp for ya). The amount of space and number of adults at Mosaic camp seems luxurious compared to what I had to work with in Brooklyn, too, so I hung out for the basic logistics conversation and tapped out when the planning got more intricate than I was interested in. I left thinking that this would be best: to let people who were anxious plan hypotheticals to answer their anxieties, so they could enter camp feeling prepared and relaxed…and then let camp happen and learn for next year that the stress isn’t necessary. I learned by the end of the week that it would have been more work for me but would have served the group better for me to stay in the meeting and gently insist we work through the anxiety and mistrust that my friends were struggling under. Lesson learned for next year.

Live Empowered Workshop: Kristen Oliver came in to do a workshop and guided meditation with us. Her focus in the workshop was on the process of exploring where patterns in our lives come from and on how to change the stories we tell ourselves in order to open space for those patterns to change. I was already familiar generally with the process she described, but it’s always nice to have a useful process articulated in a new way. Going through the clearing meditation was really nice…I find in life that these opportunities always show up just when whatever I’m carrying becomes too heavy to leave unaddressed. Monday I detached, Tuesday I mourned, and Wednesday I released.

Challenging Questions: The alternative title of this session was “How to make radical/controversial offerings.”

Blueprint of WE: Kate led a workshop on using the Blueprint of We, a scaffolding for co-creating a living document to facilitate communication and partnership. It’s awesome. I practiced with Tomis and Sara–two people who I communicate well with and similarly to–so I didn’t have any major revelations during the practice session. However, I’m REALLY REALLY EXCITED to try this with some of the other people in my life to see if we can level up our communication skills 🙂

Student-Facilitator Relationship Cultivation: Javair pretty much ran this…I was just there for support 😉 I’d like to do a doodle from the recording I took; maybe in August. The intention was to explore the differences between student-facilitator relationships at ALCs and student-teacher relationships in conventional schools. What actually happened was probably more valuable: parents and facilitators-in-training with worries about how to ‘do it right’ asked for advice. What qualities should a facilitator have? How can a facilitator show trust and respect for a student? What should a facilitator do with discomfort or judgments that they feel coming up in themself? Javair did an excellent job fielding their questions. <3 I love not being needed!

Collaboration with Sara and Tomis: I had a meeting. Big things are coming. Yes.

Movie Night: We watched Schooling the World (for free online!) and had a discussion about how setting up US-style schools around the world–typically seen as a generous and charitable endeavor to improve the living standards of children in developing countries–is a form of colonialism that often destroys families, disrupts the transmission of skills/culture to youth, and doesn’t actually help kids get jobs that sustain them. It’s a tough film…Fortunately, I studied a bunch of this in college, so it was disheartening but not surprising. Others in the room weren’t so lucky, so we processed together after and talked about how to make sure what we do stays different (and if we can offer our model to diverse communities in good conscience).

Archetypes: Oh the archetypes wheel. So everyone now understands how to support our servers, appreciate our scholars, and talk to our artisans 🙂 Here’s a video of Bear running the workshop last year. If you’d rather read than watch, this website explains things pretty well. What are your types?

How to Make Radical Offerings: We talked about woodworking, knife throwing, and blacksmithing, specifically, which made the conversation pretty simple. If I’m offering one of these things, I should be expert enough with the skills myself to teach them to others, clearly and firmly communicate expectations [clamp wood and point drills away from people, stand behind this line while waiting your turn to throw the knife, wear close-toe shoes while smithing, etc.], and be ready to remind parents that learning how to properly handle tools is proactive, empowering safety education. No one asked about screening R-rated movies or inviting kids to protests or brewing beer or answering kids questions about sex/drugs/MauriceSendak. So I’m looking forward to a Part II of this discussion.

How to Activate Parents:


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