Friday, May 17, 2013

Blog Posts to Come

by Andy

One thing that I enjoy about this work is that every day is different. There are new challenges, new people, and new weather. Of course, in a certain way, every day is the same too. As I go about my day,  I am always thinking. As a Montessorian and an organic farmer, I know that careful observation is a key to understanding and insight. I observe, and then I make connections. I listen or read and a sort of cross-fertilization happens. Then the ideas ferment during the periods of my day which require meditative attention, like hoeing or driving the tractor. Inevitably the ideas ferment in my brain in the form of a potential blog post. The blog essay has been an artistic outlet for me for the past couple years. Unfortunately, my life has seemed "too busy" for the last year or so to indulge every potential rabbit hole blog post.

In an effort not to lose the germs of ideas, I am going to create a list here of some of the potential blog posts that have been rumbling around in my mind. I am going to try to go roughly backwards from yesterday.

  1. Temple Grandin was on Wisconsin Public Radio yesterday morning. I love WPR! She talked to a caller about her tween-aged son. She recommended that teens need work. Specifically she talked about how when her parents hired her to serve appetizers at their dinner parties, she needed to learn social skills in order to do her job. It was like preparing to play a part in a play. I was struck with her coincidence with Maria Montessori.
  2. I am currently reading Jared Diamond's The World Until Yesterday. This is his incredible learned look at traditional societies. I have a continuing interest in early humans because by learning about our evolutionary social environment, we might have some insights into our modern-day dysfunctional social environment.
  3. The Sun magazine continues to inspire me. Recently there was an interview with an actor/teacher named Philip Shepard. His point of view is that intelligence is the ability to sense things and respond to them. The interview is amazing and it inspired Jen and I to get his book, which I am in the queue for right now.
  4. TED talks. Okay,  20 minutes is not to much to ask for you to blow your mind open. The first I want to mention is Sugata Mitra, an educational researcher in India. He is proposing that people teach themselves spontaneously if you give them the right environment, challenge and encouragement. It sounds so much like Montessori that we should be able to learn from his research. He is into the internet as a tool for learning and wants to create SOLEs - Self-Organized-Learning-Environments. One to watch.
  5. Second TED talk. Allen Savory. He talked about observing nature and creating a grazing system that imitated nature. His simple discoveries might halt desertification and feed people worldwide.
  6. Sandor Katz is one of our major inspirations. His new book, The Art of Fermentation is incredible and his older book Wild Fermentation, was a constant resource during last year's fermentation experiments. I love the part where he describes revolution as fermentation. I like to think of myself as working in the revolution-as-fermentation business too.
  7. Efficiency. Last year we had spent a month figuring out the best way to thresh black beans. It was amazing to have success and I felt connected to agricultural people around the world. That afternoon I was driving to Menomonie and I drove past a kidney bean field that was being harvested by a combine. As fast as they could drive, the machine was eating up the dry plants and spitting out the chaff. A hundred thoughts with this juxtaposition.
  8. Self-sufficiency. Related to efficiency. I have been thrilled to be eating our own dry beans and tortilla corn. I get a kick. But then I reflect that there is something in the kick which is feeding my own internal myth of independence. In fact we are interdependent. Much more to say there.
  9. Permaculture. I have heard of Permaculture for years, and dismissed it as unworkable idealism. Recently I have been reconsidering. Maybe our current agricultural system is unworkable realism. One Montessori school is using Permaculture principles to design curriculum.
  10. Ocean acidification, dead zones in the gulf, plastic continents in the Pacific, mountain top removal, tar sands, frac sand mining, desertification, hurricanes, lodgepole pine die-off, and on and on. I have become alternately numb and scared. Neither condition is useful in combating the causes and effects of climate change. Bill McKibben and his group are one of my inspirations. Another is the Transition Initiative movement.
  11. The gift economy. What if we give it away? I have been teaching a curriculum of incorporating young people into the economic life of society. I am starting to see that our economic life based on money is a recent invention. For millenia we have used something else. The gift economy. See also The Occupy Movement.
  12. I want to start a High School. Make it a storefront in the neighborhood of LCS. Connect it to the Land School. Offer real important work.
  13. I love love love the Compass Montessori School outside of Denver. They recently presented to a collection of Montessorians in Florida. Their faith in the vision rocked my socks.
  14. Foraging. Mushrooms.
  15. Katie has suggested we write a cookbook of Land School favorites. I think maybe we could build it collectively on the blog. Pictures and recipes and discussion of politics and ingredients.
  16. Summer plans for the garden. What are we going to plant? Why? What is different? What is the same? What is our driving philosophy this summer? 
  17. Fat Chance. By Robert Lustig. I have been trying to exclude sugar from my diet for over two years. It has transformed my life. Recently one of our heroes came out with a book. He describes how sugar is key to understanding a whole host of issues in our modern world. It is personal and political.
  18. Adolescent as activist. I have been thinking about idea of landing our adolescent education squarely in a place and time and the effects of that. One of the inevitable things is to stir up strong feelings of injustice. Where to go with that, without taking a political stance?
  19. Poetry. Specifically Mary Oliver.
  20. Tao Te Ching.
  21. Plans for transforming the garden into supplying a year-round market.

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