Moving to www.deeprootcenter.org

In the interest of streamlining (and frankly making my life a bit easier), we are incorporating The DRC News Blog Posts onto our new website.

The next few weeks will be filled with news and happenings so please make sure you stay in touch by following us on the new website blog by clicking the rss feed on the lower right hand side of the blog page. Or, you can contact Maria to receive the DRC newsletter directly to your inbox via mailchimp.

A huge “Thank You” to everyone who has followed and commented on this Blog, your support has been appreciated beyond measure.

Three Steps Forward, One Step Back.

I am not by nature a very patient person and when I say I am going to do something, I just put my head down and do it. Isn’t that the way the world is supposed to work? Well, this process is teaching me among other things, that keeping my eyes on the prize is sometimes going to be really hard.

In many ways, I am absolutely amazed at how quickly things are coming together, in others I feel like we are riding on the back of a giant tortoise plodding our way through the process. I hate waiting on other people and I despise officialdom in all its forms, shapes and colors.

Now that I have all of THAT out of my system, I can say, with a fair degree of confidence, this center will open a pilot program in January. And, the North Star team will be visiting in mid November for our first open house.

I was hoping this edition of the newsletter would just be a link to our brand new website. But, because of one of those aforementioned steps back, that I will explain next, I am waiting for some feedback before launching.

one step

one step

Progress

No worries, the website is mostly ready to launch. A lot of time has been spent tweaking it this past week. It was phenomenally easy and I have to say it looks fantastic! I can’t wait for you all to see it!

We are an official project of Seedcorn. Yahoo!

Frustrations

Still waiting on NYS in regards to our status as a not-for-profit.

I met with the Director and two members of the Canton Day Care board. They had some new information about two items that may prove to be possible road blocks: according to the code enforcer, they will have to build a fire wall between the Yoga Loft space and the area we will rent and the village has informed them that they will have to pay taxes on the rent they receive from the Yoga Loft and us. These may make it too expensive for them to consider leasing the space to us.

Help Wanted

This is where all of you can help. I am very firm in believing that we need to start outreach as soon as possible, however, not having a space is a problem. Do I go ahead and push the “publish” button on the website and make it live with the location page reading “Our location will be announced soon. Check back frequently for updated information.” or do we wait? I am inclined to push the dang button (remembering I am the person with few patience that just gets things done.) That question also pertains to when I submit the beautiful article (just saying) I have written to the local papers.

Next question: Should I be proactive and start looking for other places to locate? Of course before writing this, I have already contacted two people to see if they have other ideas for locations in Canton. I also have a call in to a person at Clarkson who is responsible for renting out the offices and classrooms in the Old Clarkson buildings in Potsdam. After looking at the floor plan of Peyton Hall http://www.clarksonbuildings.com/peyton_hall.html

I am excited about the possibilities of being located in that building. It is in the village, near the library, the SLC Art Council, SUNY Potsdam, Clarkson and the Shipley Center, etc… The space is also very conducive to what we are trying to create and there is available offices and classrooms to grow into.

Please, Please, Please respond to these questions. I need folks who have some perspective and who are not in this as deeply as I am right now.

Thank YOU!

Hands-on Inspiration

Learning is natural.  School is optional.
*used by permission, North Star, Hadley, MA

 

Yesterday, I drove 275 miles, so it took exactly 5.5 hours to arrive in completely different world from our little isolated and insulated island of northern New York.  If you have never been to the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, home of North Star as well as the five college system that includes Hampshire, you have missed out on one of the most progressive and beautiful parts of the country.  No wonder this is the birthplace of such awesome non-traditional educational choices.

Walking into North Star is like entering the original teen zone.  The center is located in an late 19th century school building, but has nothing in common with its original function, besides the age of the occupants in the building.  The main area on the first floor is the teen hang out.  Couches, two large tables on opposite sides of the room, a refrigerator, microwave and Catherine’s (the Program Director of NS, who schedules the tutorials, classes, and coordinates the extended staff) desk occupy the space in this very large room.  This is the area where most of the teens spend their time when they are not engaged in, one on one tutorials, advisory sessions, or in a class.  The decibel level upon entering this space is overwhelming at first, but after a few minutes, the individual conversations start to separate out. The kids conversing on the couch with a volunteer, are happily unaware of the tech heads playing Minecraft interactively at one of the large tables.  Catherine is working her magic at her desk, two staff members are talking about a music class at one end of the other large table while Ken and I are discussing the progress we are making on Deep Root Center at the other end.

This scenario was oddly comforting. Being a person who becomes severely hampered by excessive noise, I was concerned about the prospect of operating Deep Root Center in one large undeveloped space, but as I settled in to the scene, I found I was not overwhelmed at all. The teens were respectful of each other, but also, so completely engaged in their own projects, they were not bothered by the activities happening in other corners of the room.

Ken was happy to see the Deep Root Center business card and the nearly ready website.  It was great to spend time in their space and experience first hand the amazing collaboration between teens, adult staff members and volunteers.  I am looking forward to hosting Ken and a team of North Star teens in Canton very soon for a promotional/informational evening.

As much as I would love to spend more time here, I will arrive home tomorrow, energized and inspired.

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Progress

We are still in waiting mode on several of the building blocks.  Not surprisingly, we have not heard from NYS about our incorporation status.  I should have an answer from Seed Corn about financial sponsorship, soon.

I will meet with the board from the Canton Day Care next Thursday and will hopefully have an answer from them about our potential location at the end of that meeting.  I did find out last week that the downstairs finished classroom is no longer an option.  I am looking at it as one decision that has been made for us.

The website is nearly ready to launch!!!  We are using Weebly a free web site developer that I will have to pay a nominal fee because the domain name was purchased from another site.

We were listed as sponsors of the GardenShare Food Day Youth Summit, so each student went home with a sheet that had our logo amidst all of the other sponsors.

Photo-0017To Do:

Continue outreach
Launch website
Meet with Canton Day Care Board

Help Wanted:

The Center will most likely be located in the upstairs undeveloped space at the Day Care.  Therefore, we will need to find furniture.

Initial needs:

Two large tables
Several chairs
filing cabinets
couch
upholstered chair or bean bags
two room screens
area rugs

DRC NEWS October 10

Time keeps on slipping…slipping…”

*from Fly Like an Eagle Steve Miller Band

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How is it possible another week has gone by? The changing of the seasons highlight the speed in which time is marching along. These beautiful golden days almost feel transient, like a passing or fleeting thought before the cold and snow of winter arrive. I feel like we are in a race to get everything ready before January. But, I also realize that things are going to happen very quickly once we get a few of the basic necessities squared away. Those building blocks are all in the works as you read this.

Important Message!

This is not a school! It is a community center that does not offer a curriculum. Youth members are home schoolers and people who have left school. Each member’s plan or curriculum is under the direction of that member’s parents. The parent’s will include some classes or other services from The Center, but The Center has no curriculum or academic requirements. The Center will not maintain a regularly enrolled body of students.

The above is a paraphrased section of a narrative from Princeton Learning Cooperative’s application for 501 (c)3 status.

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Accomplishments :

The Articles of Incorporation are filed or at least sent. Now we have to wait for New York State to deal with them.

A possible collaboration with Seedcorn as our financial sponsors is in the works. It will enable us to act as a non-profit, tax exempt organization and begin fund-raising as soon as we are an entity in NYS and we file with the charitable giving department. This is how GardenShare and many other icon organizations in northern New York got their start.

Kara, the SLU student, is willing to take on the website design. We are going to scrap the free Google site and spend some money to get a decent and professional looking site built. She and I are working on it today.

I spoke with Nancy the Director of the Canton Day Care Center. She had some questions from her licensor. Basically by definition, we are a drop-in program, not a school age program, which would be under the auspices of OCFS. She has to communicate that to the licensor. This is an important distinction if we use the classroom space downstairs. However, if we rent the upstairs space, they have no jurisdiction over us, no matter what. Her board meeting is October 24th and she will present all of our info to them. I may attend, it all depends on my travel plans.

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fall burnished ferns

On the Docket:

Continue work on the business plan

Continue website development

Network with possible volunteers

Outreach (I am conducting a workshop at the GardenShare Food Day Youth Summit and we have our logo in the take home materials)

 

Help Wanted:

If you know of any granting or other fund raising opportunities please let me know.

Please continue to spread the word! Word of mouth is how this is going to happen.  Pass this onto anyone you think may be interested as a volunteer or as a youth member.

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The girls basking in the morning sun

 

Important Links:

A video of a North Star member at the end of her career, there. She speaks so eloquently about the role of North Star in her life. https://vimeo.com/64253004

And another North Star Alum: https://vimeo.com/59918395

Pitfalls and Rebounds

The emotional roller coaster I have been riding this week has been an extreme reminder of how far outside my comfort zone I am operating right now. There is a quote I have seen many times that goes something like…your desires have to outweigh your fears before your dreams can be attained.

I do daily battle with all of those fears (I won’t include the very long list, here) because I recognize how very important this project is for so many people, especially all of those unhappy kids who think they have to endure X number of years, before they can go out and live their passions. But, sometimes I get lost in the struggles of the multiple details related to starting a Not For Profit and lose sight of all of that awesomeness that is going to be at the other end.

I am committed to keeping the vision clear and to nurturing the creative side of this process, if only to make sure I don’t get mired down in the process and lose the joy.

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tree spirit

Progress this Past Week:

It almost feels anti-climatic, but after considering some questions that came up about the Articles of Incorporation, we have decided it is ready to be filed. I will print it and send it out to the State of New York Department of State, on Monday. In a few weeks, we will learn if our application has been accepted making Whole Learners Inc. (the corporate name for Deep Root Center) a non-profit entity in New York State. Feel free to insert cheers, high fives, or any other celebratory action, here.

Kara, a St. Lawrence Communications major, responded to the ad on SLUWire that we were looking for a student to build our website. I met with her Wednesday afternoon and gave her all of the info to get started, including access to the Google Site that I started months ago. She has never created a website before, but has experience with layout. She is willing to give it a try and will let me know by Monday, if she is comfortable taking on the whole project

In news about our possible site, the Director of Canton Day Care has a few questions after talking to the licensor for the center; we will meet sometime next week. Her board would also like me to present at their next meeting.

On Friday, I spoke with Michelle at the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center. She provided me with a guide to create a business plan. She is also available for any support and hand-holding I will undoubtedly be needing.

The By Laws are written (it helps that, we only needed to change the name on Princeton Learning Cooperatives version.)

If we can get all of our ducks in a row in the next couple weeks, the Center will open in January with a Pilot Program.

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maple

Help Wanted:

They say the best way to get what you need, is to ask…

We are looking for someone who is an accountant or who understands the legalities of finances and taxes, to volunteer their services to this endeavor. If you are that person, please contact me.

Please continue to talk this up. If you hear of a kid who is unhappy in their current educational situation, please mention Deep Root Center and pass on our contact information. Thank you.

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sun spots on the stream

Next Steps: (I would welcome help on any of these items)

Start writing the business plan

Follow up on website design

Continue to develop and write outreach blurbs

Make business cards

Follow up on the Canton Daycare site

Feeling the Momentum

 

It has been another productive week, well, in truth a busy 24 hours. Yesterday, a member of the team and I met with the Director of the Canton Day Care Center. She showed us the two spaces that are available to rent in the building that they own on the Maple Wood Campus. The original room that she had mentioned, during our first phone conversation, is an upstairs unfinished space, that is separated from with the Yoga Loft by a curtain. The other space is a classroom within the Day Care itself. They use it for the after school program and we can be flexible enough to accommodate their hours.  Both of these possibilities are very enticing, the large empty space, because we can divide it into different usable spaces and the existing classroom, well, because it is already set up and ready to go.

We also received the electronic file with all of the start up materials from Liberated Learners. That means the Articles of Incorporation will be completed, by the end of today, reviewed by the folks who actually understand what they are reading, and filed by the beginning of next week.

 

This is beginning to feel very real and do-able. My goal is to have a pilot program up and running by January.

 

 

 

 

Help Wanted:

Now is the time to talk this upLets get this vision out there into the wider world.

Last night I created an outreach poster that will be part of a folder that each Food Day Youth Summit participant will be receiving upon registration. The event is being organized by GardenShare and will be held at SUNY Potsdam. 

If you are able to put posters up in the community, let me know and I will get them printed.

Continuing with the subject of publicity, I am still in need of someone who is conversant enough with computers to help build a website. I already have the domain name and have started to play (dabble, bumble, etc.) around building a Google site.

 

 

 

More links that explain the benefits of self-directed, non-coercive, and non-compulsory learning

http://alternativestoschool.com/the-human-nature-of-education/#subcontent3
http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html