Highlights from 2013

My latest newsletter update with a glimpse into 2013 and the launch of Mycelium Learning Journey. Highlights from 2013 include:

    • The Mycelium vision continues to evolve and find form
    • The Compass Project – A one week intensive for 18-24 year olds

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Community-Based Education and Regenerative Business

For those of you who know me or have been following me for may years,  you know that my work has been focused on young children and social and emotional learning for the last 15 years. How is it that I am now launching a school for 18-35 year old leaders that is also an alternative to a traditional MBA program? There are two parts to this answer.

First, all my experience has lead me to firmly believe that the future of education lies in community-based learning practices. There is a wealth of information stored in every region’s human capital. People with skills and passions have wisdom and knowledge to share. While children are obviously learning about how to be productive citizens in today’s world, there are necessary skills that people of all ages are also learning. Learners can be any age, teachers can be any age, the necessary component is ripe conditions for trust, experimentation, self-discovery, and concrete tools, lessons and frameworks that are relevant and meaningful. In this same vane, young people have tremendous insight to contribute to public conversations and civic discord. Education that is both personally meaningful and socially relevant, connected to the real people and issues of a region, is the form of education that I am interested in learning more about.

Second, it is clear to me that the current power structures on our planet are heavily rooted in the infrastructures of business. How then can these pillars of influence be a positive force towards creating a world that provides the maximum benefit for everyone, without social or economic offense to anyone? It seems clear to me that for rapid and dynamic change to happen, the field of business must continue to evolve with private and public sectors redefining each other and focusing attention towards regenerative and resilient practices. At The Mycelium School we see social entrepreneurship as a powerful vehicle for social change. However, this is just one piece of the puzzle. Obviously this is a big topic, you can hear my business partner, Matthew Abrams, speak about this at Queens College in the video below. And I’d be happy to keep the conversation going with you if you’re interested.

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Ideas That Move Youth Challenge

Working with real people in real communities making real efforts to take action that will support the maximum benefit for everyone is what inspires me, lights me up, brings me to life. How do we really take action that brings about well-being and positive movement for 100% of humanity?

What I know is that there is no single answer. There is no direct path there. And there is no shortage of amazing, intelligent, compassionate humans on this planet to invest themselves in truly making a difference. How do we continue to find one another, find the small things we can do that contribute to the larger story? Find the unique piece that we each have to offer and give our whole hearts towards making that contribution to the world? And how do we enjoy life, honor love and connectivity, and celebrate beauty as much as possible while on the journey?

One initiative that I’m working on now that is deeply inspiring me is the Ideas That Move Youth Challenge. Public schools and private schools collaborating together to create a platform where young voices can be heard and their efforts to be leaders are supported.

Check out some of the ideas they have to make Asheville healthier and more sustainable:

  • Aquaponics as Food Insecurity Solution
    Problem: One out of every six people in Western North Carolina suffers food insecurity, not having an adequate healthy food resource.Solution: An urban solution we propose is to create aquaponic farms in Asheville or other urban areas in Buncombe County, particularly areas with low socio-economic demographics. This will produce fish (i.e Tilapia) as well as vegetables (i.e. lettuce, other greens, tomatoes, peppers, etc.). It can even be completely off the grid and therefore provide a stable food source during conditions of extreme weather.
  • Swim For Life
    Problem: Every year hundreds of stories about people drowning are reported in our area. We see this as a preventable tragedy. Youth need to acquire the ability to swim as a survival skill. Due to income and opportunity limitations many young people would benefit from free swimming lessons.Solution: We would like to create a community service project that would work with local public schools to provide free swimming lessons to students who may not have the opportunity to take them otherwise. This would benefit students in many ways, such as increasing their self-confidence, keeping them safe and providing an exercise outlet for the future.
  • Youth Diversity in the Classroom and School Community
    Problem: Many students who attend SILSA do not realize the issues that arise regarding an equal learning environment for all, due to the segregation of social groups and diversity problems on campus. All students need to feel as if they have the same opportunity as others in order to be successful in high school and beyond.Solution: Our idea is to start a Diversity group on the AHS/SILSA campus. We will meet twice a week to discuss current adolescent issues with people from different backgrounds. It will also be a great opportunity to build new friendships with people of various cultures and build more community on our campus. We will also discuss possible ways to address issues that face teens on our campus.
  • Switching Asheville City Schools buses from diesel to biodiesel
    Problem: Asheville City School buses run on diesel fuel which is a nonrenewable resource and creates air pollution. If we continue using diesel fuel in our buses, our air quality will continue to worsen and we will continue using harmful nonrenewable resources. Western North Carolina is known for clean, healthy air. Diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen, which is dangerous for students to be breathing.Solution: Asheville City School buses run on diesel fuel which emits harmful pollutants into our clean air. Diesel exhaust harms our environment and everyone exposed to it, including the 25 million children that are transported by diesel fueled school buses. Particulate matter in diesel exhaust has links to causing asthma, bronchitis, and even lung cancer. Biodiesel is a clean, renewable alternative that reduces diesel air pollution. Biodiesel contains virtually no sulfur. This reduces the amount of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter released.
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Gaming the Future

Gaming The Future introduces how an emerging cluster of social entrepreneurs, academic institutions and public agencies in Asheville, North Carolina are utilizing powerful interactive visualization technologies and decision-support techniques to explore new ways of imagining, planning and building a climate adaptive workforce and climate resilient society…for an economically and environmentally sustainable future.

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TEDxKatuah was another inspiring event that brought people from different arenas of science together to share ideas, spread inspiration and make connections… in a fascinating and historical site. Stay tuned for more details to come.

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute

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Caring For One Another ~ Caring For the Whole

What struck me most during my short visit to Occupy Wall St in NYC and participation in a General Assembly there, was how much energy and attention people were investing in taking care of one another… food, first aid, blankets, kindness to neighboring businesses, respect of noise, etc.

Is that the case in other cities? What if at the core… it’s about all of us caring for one another?

Following the guidance of Buckminster Fuller, what can we do “to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time, with spontaneous cooperation and without ecological damage or disadvantage of anyone?”

And if you’re wondering about your own personal piece… here’s a couple more quotes from Bucky that inspire me:

“The things to do are: the things that need doing: that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done — that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual.”

“When individuals join in a cooperative venture, the power generated far exceeds what they could have accomplished acting individually.”


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Ideas Evolving into a Movement

Turning ideas into action… what’s it take?

Chris Corrigan notices patterns and expands with his own insight, drawing on the Occupy Wall St. movement and conversations from its origins with Adbusters.

Some selects from Corrigan‘s post. Check out the full article to see what inspired these observations:

It is a complex world and small interventions can make a difference. Nothing is guaranteed, but there are a few characteristics of #OccupyWallStreet that are worth pointing out. If an idea like this is to propagate and spread it requires a few key things to take it beyond a brainstorming session:

An invitation. What is our one demand? The poster is not a manifesto, it is an invitation to co-create, to show up and deliberate together. While {there is} an idea, the process is important.

Connectivity. Adbusters has a massive network of people who are in constant communication with each other. Such a network makes it possible to share and propagate ideas, and ensures that the medium for transmitting the idea is already in place. If you have to build a network to get your ideas out, you are already behind the times.

Sponsorship. {Different Generations Collaborating Together} “I feel like this is the first time in the 20-plus year history of Adbusters that we really have a chance to pull something off, and it’s we. Let’s face it, most of the people, probably 90 per cent of the people camping out on Wall Street are young people, and even though I’m not sleeping there I still feel it’s we. It takes old people like me and theoreticians like Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, who are writing for our next issue, and people like David Graeber, the anarchist, and Saul Newman, the guy who recently wrote a book about anarchism. It takes all kinds of people to launch a revolution, but the cutting edge is young people who put their asses on the line.”

A light plan with few expectations. A concrete strategic plan with a fail safe strategy is too rigid and brittle for this work. In order for self-organizing behavior to have a chance, you need to step back and let things unfold as they will. And if it fizzles, let it go. But if it works, throw everything you have at it to keep it going.

A shared purpose aligned with the times. There is a clear purpose at the core of this work and that is to address the economic and social inequalities that plague the world. The time for analysis is over. We know what the problem is. Even those who clamor for the movement to be clear know deep down that the protesters are right about something. You can sense it. There is a need and the movement is providing a focus for the despondency that many people feel. This is not a small issue that only a few people can relate to. The 99% is real, and invites each of us to find our own relationship to the core.

A view of possibility. “I know it sounds kind of grandiose, but it seems like on Nov. 3 and 4, when the G20 meet, it is possible to have millions of people marching around the world, all demanding one thing. And we believe that one thing could be the Robin Hood tax.”

This is not aimless. This is action that is undertaken with the idea that something is possible. A tax on financial transactions – slowing down fast money

Wether you’re behind the Occupy Wall St. movement or not, what I want to know is what is your One Demand? What is your Big Idea? How can we together keep moving what’s important forward into action?

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