Hey everyone, Yaz here. I’ll be intro-ing the main intro for this flux edition, so make sure you get to the good stuff!
Super excited to introduce the newest member of our team - Tomis Parker! After a few months joining our calls, Tomis is now taking an official role as “People and Culture Lead” on the Junto team and is already making a positive impact. From the organic growth and community-building perspective, his mind and experience with the Agile Learning Centers network fills a needed space here. In addition to offering management and support to various projects, he is contributing greatly toward preparation for an efficient and scalable introduction of the Junto app in the coming months. We are so excited and grateful to have him onboard!
I’ll let Tomis introduce himself below.
- Yaz :)
Yeah, I’m Tomis. I’ve been spelling my name this fun way for a little over a decade now -- it’s still pronounced like “Thomas.” But that’s a story for another time. I’m here, in my first issue of Flux, to share a little more about myself -- where I’m from, where my head is at, and why I’m stoked to be working with the Junto team.
In the winter of 2008, just a few months away from graduating college with a BS in Psychology, I discovered a book called Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing. It blew my mind and my world wide open. My favorite Social Psychologist at the time, Eric Fromm, wrote the forward to the original edition published 1960. If you’re curious, the forward is almost as good as the book itself. Since then, I’ve dedicated much of my learning and creative work to the Self-Directed Education space.
In 2012-13, I contributed to the birth of a new model of intentional learning communities, called Agile Learning Centers. I served as Director of the first ALC in NYC for a few years while working to establish patterns to share the model and train others starting their own ALCs. If you’ve been following Flux for a while, you may remember Yaz’s trip to visit the ALC in NYC last November.
I love that Junto is being described as “a movement for authenticity.” ALCs and the larger Self-Directed Education movement could be described similarly, wherein the focus lies in developing spaces for children and youth to be [and to create] themselves. It didn’t take long for me to realize that, as adults, we cannot trust children until we are willing to trust ourselves; we can’t raise free people until we understand what we need for our own liberation; we can’t nurture authenticity until we are willing to be honest with each other (yes, children are people!).
So much of my work over the years has been about creating authentic community -- designing patterns and holding space in ways that allow each individual to write their own story, while also being a part of everyone else’s. How can we have autonomy and alignment?
It’s about partnership. It’s about having power with each other, instead of power over another. It’s about figuring out how we can get It (insert your favorite term for self-actualization here), together. It’s about acknowledging the false dichotomy of the individual vs the collective and exploring the territory beyond that contradiction.
It is much easier to embrace these concepts in a small, close-knit group like a circle of friends or family. When we know and care about each other deeply, we don’t see another's needs or desires as a threat to our own. It’s harder to create together when the collective is larger. Partially, because there are more perspectives to consider, but mostly because we don’t [yet] have effective tools or the cultural practices to navigate these greater levels of complexity.
I’m excited to help Junto design for the health of the individual and the collective, and for the reality that they are inseparable. We want to evoke the most authentic expressions of our individual perspectives, while also developing a culture that recognizes we expand who we are by understanding the perspective of another.
More and more my experience with social media is like navigating a minefield of distraction and toxicity to pluck out a piece of information or make a brief connection. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I’m looking forward to the coming weeks and months as we prepare to start playing in a new container -- a social organism designed to support deeper levels of expression, collaboration, and understanding. One that we’ll be evolving together.
We’ve just begun phase one of internal alpha testing (amongst the core team). We’ll be testing for the next four to six weeks; an exciting new era!
We are currently in the process of translating www.junto.foundation into many languages. Hungarian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Japanese, Slovenian, Swedish, Danish, Turkish, Thai and Chinese. Thank you to all of our translators! If you are fluent in one of these languages and would like to volunteer to review completed translations or have any leads for an Arabic translator (other languages are welcome too), please email email@example.com (we will pay you for your time).
Join us on Telegram! Our channel is https://t.me/juntofoundation
We want your feedback.
Like what you see? Share it! Think we can be doing things better? Let us know. We’re open to ideas so DM us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop any of the team members a note at their individual emails listed on our website here.