Just this week, two friends have shared excellent, happy news with me about job and employment situations they’d been struggling with. For one of them, the required move would have been “impossible” a few weeks ago … but now, after something that initially looked like bad news, their family is eagerly looking forward to a fresh start in a brand new place. Another set of friends, expecting their first child in a few months, were delighted to report on the baby’s gender and, thus, his name. And on Tuesday, when I went to a local coffee shop to find a quiet-but-not-isolated place to work, I saw a former student who, having just graduated from college, has made a big decision about where he’ll be living and working for the next year or so.
Good news all around. Good news about teams and places and times, about long-deferred, half-abandoned dreams becoming reality. Things getting clearer and happier for people I care about. I’m really glad for them.
But in my world, things still feel anything but clear. In the middle of the night, team, place, and time felt farther away than ever before; a return to the factory-world, while horrible, even impossible to contemplate, seemed like “the only option … but not an option.” What to do?
To be fair, the long term and even the medium term are coming into focus, clearer and sharper and more hopeful than ever. When I looked at actual numbers the other day, I felt really good, for the first time ever, about medium-term financial stuff. If we really can get rid of the Current House, the short-term picture looks bright, too. But my friend who wants to buy it encounters setback after frustrating setback. Could it be that there’s a different path for them? I’d gladly do a lease-option or partial owner financing for them, but I do need some cash and some capital at the beginning … cash and capital they just can’t seem to find.
In the long term, knowing that there are lots of folks who want to buy houses, lots who want to sell, lots of empty houses, and lots of friction in the housing market, I can see the outlines of a business opportunity that might just fund the school network, the Tres Columnae Project, and everything. There’s got to be a way to bring together folks who need a return on their savings, folks who have houses they want to sell, and folks who want to buy but can’t … something like crowd-funding, maybe, in the real estate markets? Any time you have willing buyers and willing sellers, there’s obviously a market … and when the sales aren’t happening, there’s obviously an opportunity. But again comes that vexing question of startup capital, of short-term income. Things are clearer everywhere except right in front, in the next step or two I need to take. That’s where things are murky, so murky I can’t even tell if there is a step that won’t involve falling off a precipice or down a bottomless chasm.
In the midst of this murkiness came an email from someone I know, someone who seems content with his role in factory-schooling. It had a link to this post about “apps for classroom management.” One thing was clear as I read it: a world where apps like those are marketed as a “technologically hip take on classroom control” is not a world I want to spend time in. A colleague last year, not usually a Ms. X or Mr. Y, had nothing but praise for ClassDojo, but the more I read about it, and the more I heard how he was using it (“They can see the points they lose or gain right there on the SmartBoard while I’m teaching!”), the less I wanted any part of a place where such treatment of “them” would be acceptable. Other emails, other conversations in this space and over on Google+, make that part of the picture clear, too. No more factory-school, it seems, for me.
But if not that, what? And where? And how? Someone suggested spending time here … but, again, where would the short-term money come from without selling the Current Place? Someone just sent me this link this morning, and there’s a similar environment somewhat closer to me (watch out for the music if you click that link!) … but again, so many logistical barriers. A friend had the start of a brilliant idea for marketing joyful learning community approaches to parents, as well as teachers, who are tired of watching their children suffer in factory-schools … but where? And how? And when?
Team, place, and time to build the dream. That’s the phrase that has kept me going for the last several months. And I’ve watched the team (or teams) come together, stronger and better than ever. It feels like the place should be just about ready … but where is it? And how do we get there? And who gets the old places as we move on to the new ones?
Thanks for listening and reading, builders and sustainers of joyful communities, and thanks for your thoughts and wishes, prayers and suggestions, shared triumphs and shared tragedies. Any thoughts about the next few steps when all around is murky?