Yaz here, writing to you from an orientally carpeted corner of the Junto house. Today, I'm really realizing that the greatest expression we've had as a team has come into fruition from the influence of the smallest details that spark inspiration in a space: lights, colors, plants, images, instruments and other contents of comfort.
Segueing into the point of this introduction, my experience walking into Agile Learning Centers' New York City School (alternate description: a bungalow of possibilities) is as vibrant as walking into the Junto House.
The similarity I recognize is the practice of prioritizing one's natural curiosity as the driving force behind action in a learning environment. ALC is a community that provides opportunity - but not obligation - to interact with everyone and participate in everything. To aid them in making the most of this opportunity, teachers, known as Agile Learning Facilitators (ALFs for short - check out some interviews here!), embody the value of guiding students through their learning processes rather than directly telling them what to do.
Furthermore, ALC schools are age mixed. Right now, the youngest person is seven, and the oldest is sixteen. There are four facilitators and 26 kids total. Communication, inclusivity, respect and a genuine desire to listen have become essential aspects of the growing experience.
(More info on how ALCs work in my resonation below)
What I find most unique about ALC's structure is that every day revisits the opportunity to cultivate personal accountability. Accountability for something someone else told you to do is replaced with accountability for something you decided you were going to do. ALC's structure emphasizes personal development through understanding how one's unique mind translates inspiration into action. From what we classically know as pre-school age, kids are instigating their own intentions, taking action, and assessing progress through reflection.
Since the project started in 2013, ALC has grown to 60+ different schools around the world.
How does this relate to what Junto's been up to? We're fortunate enough to have been getting to know two of the founders of ALC. Shoutouts to Ryan Shollenberger and Tomis Parker for all your engagement and support! Funny enough, these two wonderful humans worked directly with Arthur Brock to bring ALC to life. Art was also working on Ceptr and Holochain at the time.
<- Eric here with a quick commercial break. After speaking with both Ryan and Tomis separately, there seems to be a lot of collaboration potential between Junto and ALC. The ALC community has been looking for a medium for authentic self-expression and mutual learning and we strongly believe Junto will be able to facilitate that. Tomis has already been designing an app for the ALC community that shares many of Junto’s design patterns. Given our ongoing conversations with both Tomis and Ryan, I have high hopes for this to grow into a strong partnership in the near future. ->
It has been an absolute blessing to develop friendships that thrive on shared aspirations and overlapping initiatives. Maintaining communication between the ALC, Junto and Holochain teams keeps the inspiration alive every day. Distributed, biomimicry-based technology, self-directed education and a new means for social connection... who knows what the future has in store?
In this spirit, the 8th issue of Flux will be a youth issue!!
Read onward and Happy Thanksgiving ... :) Dora curated all the features below!
Ps. If you have any questions/thoughts about ALC, feel free to send Ryan an email at email@example.com.
Kids Think Big.
Boylan Slat, a Dutch inventor and aerospace engineering drop-out, founded The Ocean Cleanup at age 18. Now, 6 years later, Boylan is working with a staff of 80+ people and their project is well under way. The company's goal is to clean up 50% of the plastic found in oceans in the next 5 years. (Source: TheOceanCleanup)
One More Generation (OMG) is a non-profit started in 2009 by two siblings, Olivia and Carter Ries. They were only 7 and 8 at the time! When they found out that many animal species would go extinct before they have their own children, Olivia and Carter immediately decided to form a company with the goal to save all endangered species and clean up our environment. With the help of their dad, they created Animal Conservation, Environmental Conservation and Youth Empowerment Programs. Their activities include: collecting and hand-delivering thousands of letters to foreign governments to show that people care about saving endangered species, speaking at conferences and universities around the world, organizing local fund-raising events, collecting and delivering supplies for animal rescue after the BP oil spill, awareness initiative in Vietnam to decrease demand for rhino horn, creating the One Less Straw Pledge Campaign and more. Inspired? (Source: OneMoreGeneration)
"So why did we keep trying when all the adults said it was impossible?" Ashton Cofer and his team invented a method to turn polystyrene foam (styrofoam) waste into activated charcoal that can be used as a water filter, solving two environmental issues at the same time! Ashton is 15, has several patents pending and is teaching robotics to local area youth in Columbus, Ohio. (Source: TED)
"I like people to get to know my heart, who I really am: a girl with Down Syndrome who has no fear and is able to reach her goal." Isabella Springmühl was rejected by fashion design colleges due to Down syndrome. Her Mom signed her up for sewing classes and she started to make clothes for small dolls. By age 19, Isabella had her own clothing line! Her designs were showcased at the 2016 London Fashion week and she also created a line specifically for people with Down Syndrome. She is from Guatemala. (Source: HelloGiggles)
"As much as we are here to teach them, they can teach us." - Campbell's father. Campbell’s been sewing teddy bears for sick kids since he was 9 years old. He’s sewn about 800 bears so far. Now at age 14, he has his own organization and you can request a bear to support him here.
Here’s what our team found valuable this week:
A year ago, Yaz met a quirky photographer named Leif on a bus back to NYC. I met him briefly at our apartment in Brooklyn at the time and recently invited him to come down to stay with us in the Bronx for a few days. He came through this past Saturday and somewhere between discussing gluten-free diets and relationship complications, we found ourselves on the topic of metaphysics and self-inquiry (as is tradition).
Some valuable takeaways I received from my friend Leif that I’d like to share:
Every moment ‘I’ (or any variation of the individual self) comes up is a good opportunity to ask yourself 'Who am I?’ or ‘Who is experiencing this?’
There are hundreds of opportunities to ask yourself this a day
This self-investigation will question assumptions and shed light on the ever-changing nature of the abstractions you’ve created for yourself, i.e. the ego.
Realizing the subjective and fleeting nature of your identity creates space to connect with your deeper, observational awareness and dissolve attachment
The cessation of attachment is the cessation of suffering
Side note - it’s beautiful to see how one conversation with one stranger can blossom into a spontaneous, fulfilling and multi-dimensional friendship(s). Much love, Leif.
Shameless, unsolicited plug - Leif is a talented, interdisciplinary photographer. If you’re looking for someone to capture some special moments, check out his website here: https://www.happylionportraits.com/
In simple terms, here's how ALC Schools works:
Monday morning every kid and facilitator has the opportunity to give offerings, which act as invites to hold space for any given activity at various time-slots throughout the week. It can be a reoccurring offering or a one time thing. A few offerings I've had the pleasure of hearing about include game design, math, book discussions, learning how to pickle various foods, designing a maze for halloween, free writing, group trivia, video production, history, choir formation, rock climbing, group acrobatics and a wide variety of field trips.
ALC-NYC is quite a striking and empowering environment with constant engagement, interaction and curiosity exchanges happening between community members. For example, weekday mornings feature a break into smaller sections lead by Facilitators. The purpose is to go over each person's intentions for the day. At the end of the day, the groups re-convene to go over what happened/how the day went.
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.