Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living

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Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living Derek and Jo Sheppard 6/12/11 4:49 AM
Hi,

A group of people has been meeting to further plans debated and decided by The Booroobin School.  These mostly informal meetings started in mid 2006.

These plans include:
  • the purchase of land;
  • building loft style residential accommodation in separate living units with small footprints connected by covered walkways for 5 to 7 people / families as part of an exploded house with an aim, in Australian terms, of providing reasonable, affordable housing;
  • developing the land, including purchasing necessary equipment and building dams and sporting facilities;
  • establishing or continuing a diverse organic farm;
  • building facilities for a democratic Sudbury model centre of learning, utilising some existing resources, that could then become an accredited School for young people aged from 4 to approximately 19 years;
  • establishing ethical enterprises, including especially arts and crafts enterprises;
  • depending on the location of the land, building a cafe and gallery, as an interface for the public, centre of learning, farm and residents alike; and
  • managing and improving the environment without chemicals, weeding it and planting indigenous species.

The land selected as the site for The Booroobin School is still favoured.  The owners want to sell.  This land comprises 16.42ha (40 acres) of a highland valley in the Sunshine Coast hinterland of south east Queensland, Australia, with views, good soil, good rainfall, an almost main road frontage, proximity to a town, beaches and State forests and National Parks and 1.5 hours to the State capital with international and domestic airports.  The site has its issues, lots of opportunities and we know it well.  However, we are also open to consideration of another site.

We are seeking people who especially know, understand and have a passion for the democratic Sudbury model.  Graduates of Sudbury model schools would be welcome, even if for limited periods, although long term involvement is preferred.  We need maturity, experience as well as youth, vigor and energy, but most of all, commitment, time, energy and dare I say it, money.  Apart from our family's accommodation, we have separate accommodation of about 270 sq ft, comprising 2 main rooms and an entrance / hallway.

A Constitution for a new Democratic Centre of Learning based on Sudbury has been drafted.  A Constitution for a residential company limited by shares has also been drafted.

We would be interested to hear from people who want to be part of this challenge.

Regards, Derek Sheppard
Skerman Lane, Booroobin Qld AUS 4552
RE: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living Brent Curtis 9/10/11 8:28 AM

 

Hello Derek,

 

I am late to the party but I have a suggestion: rather than take on an external entity’s definition of organic farming, how about the kids learn and figure out what works for them, the land and the climate?

 

[I’ve never before mailed to this alias but I am a farmer and I did live in Australia.]

 

Good luck!

 

bc.

 

From: discuss-su...@googlegroups.com [mailto:discuss-su...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Derek and Jo Sheppard
Sent: dimanche 12 juin 2011 13:49
To: discuss-su...@googlegroups.com
Subject: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living

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RE: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living Derek and Jo Sheppard 9/11/11 1:44 AM
Hi Brent,

Your question presupposes that we're taking on an external authority's definition of organic, and that enough young people will be interested to make the organic farm a reality.  I think most farming is about works best with specific land working with the climate.  As prospective continuing residents we want an organic farm, for our own consumption and income needs.  If young people are interested then we'd be more than happy for them to be involved.  There's no doubt that there's an opportunity for a School Corporation, if students wanted to take it that far.  We'd like to think there will be enough others interested to assist with the organic farm, but if not, that's okay too.  We do want to make sure it's "viable" operating business that derives income from supply, perhaps to the School / Democratic Centre of Learning, to residents and to the public, through a Farm Shop and direct to retailers on the Range or through local Farmers' Markets.

Regards, Derek


From: bre...@gmail.com
To: discuss-su...@googlegroups.com
Subject: RE: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living
Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2011 17:28:00 +0200
Re: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living Woty Regan 9/12/11 10:05 AM

On Sep 11, 2011, at 4:44 AM, Derek and Jo Sheppard wrote:

Your question presupposes that we're taking on an external authority's definition of organic, and that enough young people will be interested to make the organic farm a reality.  I think most farming is about works best with specific land working with the climate.  As prospective continuing residents we want an organic farm, for our own consumption and income needs.  If young people are interested then we'd be more than happy for them to be involved.  There's no doubt that there's an opportunity for a School Corporation, if students wanted to take it that far.  We'd like to think there will be enough others interested to assist with the organic farm, but if not, that's okay too.  We do want to make sure it's "viable" operating business that derives income from supply, perhaps to the School / Democratic Centre of Learning, to residents and to the public, through a Farm Shop and direct to retailers on the Range or through local Farmers' Markets.

What happens if the school-aged kids aren't interested in farming and would rather play video games all day?

~Woty
Re: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living Mike Sadofsky 9/12/11 10:42 AM
Hi Derek (and Jo),

An ambitious venture, but maybe, just maybe, the land (Skerman Lane) and the surrounding population could support an organic farm and the associated ventures.

Best of luck in your quest for the financial support such adventure will require.

Now my question:  what will be different with this "democratic Sudbury model centre of learning" from what you had as Booroobin, such that the Queensland authorities will not only allow it but will also accredit it?  You had a real "tangle" with Queensland government just several years ago, and now you want another ? 

Mike
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Re: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living msouth 9/12/11 1:42 PM


My question was going to be 'what if they want to have their own pesticide-aided farm'.  But that, too.

mike
 

~Woty


RE: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living Derek and Jo Sheppard 9/13/11 3:04 AM
Woty,

As in any Sudbury model school there is no expectation that they will do any particular thing, except that which interests them, and doesn't interfere with the free pursuit of personal interests by anyone / everyone else.

Derek


From: woty...@gmail.com
Subject: Re: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living
Date: Mon, 12 Sep 2011 13:05:36 -0400
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RE: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living Derek and Jo Sheppard 9/14/11 6:52 AM
Hi Mike,

I'd be disappointed with that opinion, but as with all other matters, it would be presented as a Motion to a School Meeting on an open Agenda, and be debated and decided.

Regards, Derek


Date: Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:42:13 -0500

Subject: Re: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living
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RE: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living Derek and Jo Sheppard 9/14/11 6:49 AM
Hi Mike,

Always good to hear from you.

Booroobin was always an ambitious venture - we just didn't realise how hard it was to assure the freedom that we sought.

The plans are not that much different from those developed by the Assembly of Booroobin's not for profit parent company in 1997.  They were a long way ahead of their time, just like the School.  The plans were for a low impact, sustainable future.  There was never much of a chance to implement the plans, while simultaneously fighting off government intrusions almost every year.

I and those few of us not scared off by the government's last effort to stifle our work, have not stopped meeting and planning for a reopening, a lifting of our long self-imposed suspension as a self-funded democratic centre of learning.  We were facing off against a government and a political party at the height of their popularity.  They're now at the bottom of that cycle, and it has taken a long time to get to that point.  I've relearnt patience.  This political party has been in government for most of the last 20 years.  To put into context, they came into power a couple of years before the planning for our School commenced in 1993, and have held government in this State with its unicameral Parliament for all but 1 term since then.  I've said that our future is reliant on a change of government.  The next election is due by March next year.  I've been cultivating contacts and making our views known in quieter ways to a range of people over the last 5 years, once my anger at having our school taken away from us had subsided.  My update to DSM is part of the process of our return.  I have other steps to take, and there are no guarantees, but I think there will be more support.

I know that I've never accepted that what happened to us was justifiable, or right.  The government, their interpretation of their new legislation used to damage us, and their bureaucrats were overzealous in their efforts to stop us from operating a successful democratic school.  Our greatest mistake, pointed out by Scott Gray in the past, was to accept government funding of a minority proportion of our operational expenses.  Never again.  I have been putting forward the proposition that a self-funded, self-managing democratic School should not require the level of governments' intrusiveness "in the public interest" that might be justifiable (although I would strongly argue the extent to which it is justifiable, compared to the point where it is simply meddling and a waste of public money) with respect to those schools which seek funding.  My proposition is that any intrusiveness into such a democratic school's operation be limited to health and safety issues only.

Our greatest stumbling block in our 2003 battle was that we would not force, coerce, direct or punish students for not being taught the State education curriculum.  Our interpretation of the governing legislation differed from the government's and there was no right of appeal to a court to seek an independent view of that interpretation.  Now, the State has given up its frequently changed and flawed State curriculum in favour of a national curriculum.  I believe that a self-funded school should not be forced to take the national curriculum and further, and force it on students.

Funding for this will come through people wanting and paying for: the right to live in accommodation on the land (small footprints and priced affordably), the enterprises and from the School, proportionate to its growth.  Fees will be affordable.  Accommodation could be used for staff and homestay boarding.  Staff will need to accept wages that the School can afford, but hopefully increasing as the School grows.  There is enough space, as you know, to separate the various elements of accommodation, school, farm, sporting facilities and areas of environmental protection, rehabilitation and management.  One thing is for sure, and that is that I'm determined to have a legal defence fund and the retention of good legal counsel.

It's never been good enough to walk away from what I believe to be right.  Our School was right for all those who chose to attend as students, the parents that chose it for their children, the people who chose to apply and were elected staff.  It was a learning community.  We want our school back and operating, yesterday.

It's worth noting that we have a Facebook page "Sustainable, democratic learning and living".  Not much discussion to date, but lots of information.

Regards, Derek



Date: Mon, 12 Sep 2011 13:42:11 -0400
From: mike.s...@gmail.com
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Subject: Re: [DSM] Aims for a sustainable, democratic centre of learning and living