Friday, August 23, 2013

The School of Living and the Community

This is the third Green Revolution article about the life and work of Ralph Borsodi, and continues the series by examining the role the School of Living, an adult learning institute, plays in the formation of a community and the character of its people.


Ralph Borsodi was above all an educator.  Early in his career, in New York City, he taught people the rudiments of business finance.  He conducted seminars and workshops.  He provided his clients with painstakingly prepared financial analysis to help them run their businesses.  Like Benjamin Franklin he was trained in the art of printing and publishing.  He knew the power of the printed word.

When he moved to the country he invited friends from the city to the homestead to learn with him.  He and Myrtle Mae schooled their two sons at home.  He wrote books about the problems of industrial civilization.  By 1929 he was already formulating a new university-level curriculum to promote what he called quality mindedness (below); to train homesteaders to be leaders in a movement to build an alternative and humane society.

During the long years of World War II, after nearly two decades of experimentation with homesteading communities, Ralph Borsodi mulled the major problems of our lives.  In 1948 he published Education and Living, two volumes of his thoughts about education and its role in developing the person, the family and the community.  He had carefully studied what he considered barriers to the advancement of human civilization.  In this book he transformed the barriers into a program of personal and community development and laid the broad foundation of the School of Living.

This article will focus on Borsodi’s plan for the School of Living and how it is intended to shape an alternative community and economy.  In this article I will draw on Education and Living, on Borsodi’s other two major works on education, The Education of the Whole Man and Seventeen Problems of Man and Society and the forerunner of the vision, This Ugly Civilization.  The purpose of this article is to explore the subject matter Borsodi might suggest for a School of Living today – a curriculum – and begin to establish appropriate content for a New School of Living program for our day.

The Role of the School of Living

In two previous articles in Green Revolution I outlined two phases of Ralph Borsodi’s life and work.  The first article looked at the pioneering role Borsodi played in the back-to-the-land movement in the 1920’s and during the Great Depression 1930’s.  The second was about the history of the School of Living.  The purpose of this article is not just to make a historical note of Borsodi’s work on the School of Living but to serve as a further step on the road to re-establishing it as a learning institute in the twenty-first century.  Borsodi called the School of Living the center of the community.  This article will look at what he meant by that idea. 

Why is it important to re-establish Borsodi’s model of education?  The short answer is that then it was a response to a world in distress.  He started this work, in his early thirties, following the horrors of World War I, “The Great War” it was called, an industrial war fought by the first generation of weapons of mass destruction including machine guns, rapid firing artillery, aerial bombardment, submarines, tanks and poison gas.  It was a war of machines.  Millions of flesh and blood soldiers were slaughtered (bodies rarely recovered) for mere square miles of land taken and lost again, and millions of civilians perished of hunger, disease and collateral violence.  It was only the dress rehearsal for what was to come.

The war brought unprecedented centralization to government, industry, finance and education.  Following the war came a surge of risky economic speculation, a wild and hedonistic decade, then the greatest economic catastrophe of modern history and then an even greater world war.  That brought on even greater centralization and commercialization.

The Great War (WW I) was not the only sign of the ills of the age.  The Evangelicals got an amendment into to the US Constitution prohibiting the sale of alcohol.  The 18th Amendment affirmed their claim of human sinfulness and depravity.  Forty-six of 48 states ratified it.  Freud and friends firmly established a psychological theory that said our minds are dominated by a dark force, with an ominous name, the Id.  In Russia Marx’s dark and violent dream of history found its bloody champion in Joseph Stalin.  Darwin’s theory not only reduced human existence to an accident of nature but social interpretations of his doctrine of “survival of the fittest” became a popular justification for predatory behavior in business and government.  The cities were teeming with impoverished masses, loathsome slums and criminal gangs.  Factory workers performed long, grueling days of often dangerous labor for pitiful wages.  When injured or worn out by toil they were simply discarded.

Borsodi’s solution was that we had to abandon the cities, close the factories and return to an agrarian, self-reliant, form of life.  To do that would take an organized effort of community building and to do that would require a School of Living.

How does that relate to today?  Borsodi’s ugly civilization has become a global phenomenon.  Our economy recently went through a Great Recession and recovery is still more hope than reality.  A dark cloud of environmental, economic and political uncertainty hangs heavily over our heads.  There is a new reactionary movement:  In place of back-to-the-land, today the largest movement on the planet is sustainability.  Local foods and self-sufficiency are again the platform of the movement.  We need a method to catalyze this movement into a transformative force.  The School of Living was designed for just that purpose.

Why did civilization not collapse, as many believed it would, decades ago?  In large part because we found a cheap source of energy to drive it, oil.  The automobile, airplane, diesel locomotive, tractor-trailer, vast oceangoing tankers and container ships and transportation-dependent suburban metropolises are the product of cheap and abundant oil.  The so-called green revolution in agriculture in the developing world, and industrial agriculture in general, now penetrating every corner of the world, are also made possible by cheap oil.  A century ago a farm had to produce more calories than it consumed.  Today, each calorie of food on your plate contains 7-10 calories of energy, mostly oil.  We are beginning to run out of oil and it is no longer cheap.  The by-product of all that carbon fuel is global warming with its own set of perils.  We do not have anything like a systematic program to build a new economy.  Meanwhile global population continues to soar.

Our lives, that is, our industrial civilization, is unsustainable.  We are, short of some scientific miracle, on the verge of a global economic meltdown[1].  To secure our future we must adapt a new way of thinking, and a new type of school to teach us how to live, to work and to plan a safe and secure society. 

Ralph Borsodi spent his life on the problem of making our lives more secure but he is now largely forgotten.  I will argue that we need to again take up his model of learning how to live, to live sustainably and humanely, with renewed intensity.  We need to understand what he had to teach us.

First Glimmerings

During the Roaring Twenties Borsodi began his campaign against the mass hysteria of the new century.  He moved his family from New York City, the city he thought the icon of industrial depravity, to a country homestead.  There they learned to produce for themselves.  Borsodi begin writing books about the fallacies of the industrial era.  In 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression, he published This Ugly Civilization.  It was not about just the old, ugly, society but also outlined a new and humane civilization. 

He was carrying the torch of social reform dating back over a quarter of a century.  That reform, an agrarian movement, was even then fading into history.  In This Ugly Civilization he wrote about the barriers industrial civilization erected against re-humanization, described his family’s homesteading experience and outlined a program for what was to become the School of Living. 
When Borsodi first formulated the idea of a School of Living he was, in part, dissatisfied with the quality of the local public schools so he and Myrtle Mae home-schooled their two sons.  Borsodi already had some very strong views on education in general.  He didn’t like school when he was a boy and spent much time in the public library learning what he needed; starting a life of broad and deep learning.  He knew there was a better way to learn how to live.

He and Myrtle Mae also taught visiting city friends the art of homesteading.  In 1933 he published the popular Flight From the City (republished in paperback in 1972), adapted from This Ugly Civilization, twice served as a handbook for the back-to-the-land movement. 

I wrote about how he went to Dayton, Ohio to try to help form homesteading communities in the wake of the Great Depression, in an earlier article.  That project was decimated by Federal centralization, choked by red tape.  He moved on to the first of several private homesteading projects, at Suffern, New York, in 1936.  There he established the first School of Living to help city-breed homesteading families learn the rudiments of self-sufficient living on the land.  There was more to this model than a vocational school (albeit practicality was always Borsodi’s goal).  He, like Jefferson, not only wanted to see a self-reliant agrarian community but one peopled by men and women of high character who would work to build a new, just, free and secure society.  That first School of Living was also a research center that explored how best to build an alternative educational system.

It doesn’t take much reading of history to realize that the idea of civilization is synonymous with agriculture.  Human civilization appeared only after the founding of agriculture.  From that time until the dawn of the industrial age, human life and values came largely from the land.  Although US Founding Father and President Thomas Jefferson idolized the yeoman farmer, his political opponents, men with money and a mechanical vision of life, prevailed.

Politics has always been behind American industrialization.  In Jefferson’s day, there was a commerce-driven political movement, inspired by Adam Smith, whose prophet in American was Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton started the pro-business Federalist Party, what we would now call conservative Republicans, which sought to transform American (agrarian) life.  Federalism was not founded on the democratic ideal but rather on factories, big banks and global commerce[2].  Over the course of the nineteenth century American culture and values were transformed from the Jefferson’s vision of the quality life, lived close to the cycles of nature, to one of the factory, of wage labor, congested cities and life driven by the ticking of the clock.  The Hamiltonians championed an ugly, mechanical culture ruled by a very small wealthy minority.  Sound familiar?

Even before Borsodi was born there was a popular revolt against the emerging commercial order.  It was called Populism.  Farmers fought long and hard in the US to retain the value system they knew was the soul of America.  Populism sought to preserve American agrarian values, to improve the quality of life of the farmers so that their children wouldn’t run away to the cities for jobs, and to preserve the best in the American soul.  Out of this movement came Henry George who influenced Borsodi’ father and shaped Ralph Borsodis world view.  Populism gave way to Progressivism (a compromise between land and factory) then to rampant industrialization at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Today only some one percent of our population works on the land, many of them as farm managers or laborers, practicing industrial agriculture.

Borsodi thought deeply about the influence of education on the mind of the day – a mind driven by quantitative concerns and not issues of quality of life; that is, of matters that make us human, which give meaning and purpose to our lives and above all allow us to live a civilized life.
We must go back to the land, said Borsodi.  He believed that the homestead, centered on the family that lived on it and produced the essentials of life for themselves, would restore the good life.  The homestead, he asserted, would raise food of superior nutritional quality, provide real physical work and health, develop manual and practical skills, strengthen familial bonds, become the first school for and improve the learning and character of children and serve as the building material of a robust community.

Education and Living

Education and Living (1948) has two basic themes.  First it explains why modern man failed to find the good life.  Then it explains how that good life can be achieved.  The failure is the result of mis-education, a system of education that molds us to work in the factory, to struggle for a wage rather than living the life of a human being.  The solution is re-education.  In between Borsodi goes to great lengths to explain what is wrong with our current system of enculturation and the principles underlying an education for living.

The major themes of Education and Living include:  Decentralization, Major Universal Problems, Normalization (Normal Human Beings), Quality-mindedness, Family, Community and the School of Living.  These two volumes are only a part of the evolution of Borsodi’s thinking about living the good life.  He worked for another twenty years to refine the model.

Borsodi was himself a scholar.  He was bookish, analytical, and intellectual.  He was not an academician.  He was not even college educated.  He was always a practical man.  He earned his living as an accountant, publisher and business consultant.  When he and his family pioneered back-to-the-land, they all worked to produce food and fiber and things needed to support life.  He was, nevertheless, a mental giant, indeed a genius.  Behind every page of published material are at least ten pages of carefully documented research.  At one time there was a School of Living library of 2,500 books, all likely thoughtfully read by him.

While he undoubtedly believed everyone should read and discuss good books, I do not think he believed everyone should conduct research as he did.  The fundamental thesis of Education and Living is that the community forms around teachers, men and women who do have that scholarly state of mind.  These teachers should be held in special esteem.  They are a natural leadership, not a leadership of authority but of education. 

Education is persuasion, reasoning, thoughtfulness, a deep conversation; consensus forming.  It is not about classroom teaching; it is about learning.  It is learning under the guidance of those esteemed for their experience of life, for their wisdom and judgment.  These are not ivory-tower intellectuals but people who live in the community, work, tend their gardens, raise children, go to picnics and public celebrations, sing and dance and are good neighbors.   There are no priest or politicians in this community; no elected, appointed or anointed authority.  They are not needed.

Decentralization is an incredibly important feature of Borsodi’s work.  It is intricately linked with an idea Borsodi calls the “Normal Human Being.”  He goes to some length to explain what he means by Normal and abnormal living.  Abnormality is the life of the industrial city.  It is detachment form the land and from nature.  It is a condition of dependence rather than self-reliance.  It is indoctrination into the various ideologies of control that makes industrial civilization possible at all[3].  Decentralization breaks that pattern of psychological conditioning.  The topic of decentralization will be in an upcoming article in this series in the Green Revolution.

Learning is a community activity.  Borsodi recognized nine stages (ages) in life.  Each has its own learning requirements.  Education begins at birth, with the family, and is continued in community schools (one-room schools) where the three r’s and skills for learning are acquired.  Vocational schooling provides skills (and a lot of this is apprenticeship and on-the-job learning).  All levels of community learning are housed in a single campus, a special place built with dignity and distinction.  Professional schools (that teach medicine and law and other demanding vocations) and small universities are located in regional towns but remain intimately connected to all the communities within that region.

The School of Living is for adult education.  It is something that happens every day in the community.  It is about building character, a deeper understanding of life and of history and of human nature.  It includes literature and art and science.  It encompasses a growing understanding of the subject matter of the major problems of life.  It is, above all, practical.  And it is enjoyable, rewarding, satisfying in its own right.

Here is Borsodi’s model of community education:

Quality Mindedness

What makes the ugly civilization so pathological is what Borsodi called “quantity mindedness.”  Quantity-mindedness is about money, not human values.  It is banking and factories and railroads and advertising.  It is about shaping the consumer mentality.  It is about conditioning people to work and die for men of power and wealth, for ideologies.  The result is squalid and unhealthy cities, poverty, crime, bigotry, inequality, wars and all the things that offend the humane sensibility.

Eric Hoffer, a contemporary of Borsodi’s, a longshoreman and philosopher, wrote a best seller about ideological fanaticism.  Hoffer, a German-American, was appalled by the influence of Nazism on his countrymen.  He became equally alarmed with the rise of fanatically communism during the early days of the Cold War.  Hoffer, in another book, found the root cause in the “ordeal of change” and explored the role of the ideologue in shaping the public mind; robbing us of our individuality, rationality and integrity.  Hoffer despised such intellectuals.  Borsodi found much the same influence in mass advertising.

Quality mindedness is about living the life of a human being.  I’ve quoted Borsodi elsewhere about this topic.  These bullets summarize those ideas: 
·      Quality mindedness springs out of life on the land, self-sufficiency:  Men and women free of dependency.  They can be indifferent to the pressures the working man or woman, the wage-slave, must submit to.
·      Quality mindedness is free of the ideological constraints imposed by plutocrats; the reckless drive for wasteful material accumulation.  It thus takes from the men of authority their coercive power.
·      Such a life enables us to refuse work that outrages our tastes; that prostitutes our creative talents.
·      It permits the type of free thinking that allows a humane society to be formed and perpetuated.
·      It provides the human race with a more intelligent social leadership, one based on education and persuasion, not power and coercion.
·      It enables us to truly pursue happiness.

Quality-minded people live a Normal Life.  They do so by studying and understanding the great ideas that have illumined the human path, by rejection of the ideals and values of a corrupted society, by returning to the land and achieving economic independence, by forming sound families and by living in community with others like themselves,.  Most of all they achieve a Normal Life by erecting, at the heart of the community, both figuratively and literally, a School of Living.

Normal Community

In Education and Living, Borsodi devoted 400 pages to the topic of Normal Living.  Major topics include:  The ideology of Normal Living, the implementation of Normal Living, the Normal Individual, the Normal Family and the Normal Community. 

Normal Living involves getting outside the dominant culture; breaking away.  Breaking away is not a sudden departure but a slow and steady egress.  It involves building a whole new lifestyle, a whole new set of behaviors and attitudes. 

Normality is not the anti-establishment chant of the Sixties Counterculture but does start with non-participation.  It is not one of competition or reform; there is nothing to compete against and there is no reform of the old order.  It is a whole new ideology; a whole new world-view.  Borsodi contrasts Normal Living with abnormal living because we often come to understanding what a thing is by what it is not.  Most important, to achieve Normality requires right-education.  To achieve that,
“All the knowledge and wisdom of mankind must be integrated to make more and more practicable the application of the general principles, not only to the daily problems of living, but to the specific and critical conditions with which modern man is confronted. Right-education, in principle and in practice, alone offers hope that all the labors of mankind and the sufferings individuals undergo in the course of life can be rendered significant, and dignified and justified.”

Borsodi put a lot of emphasis on the “integration” of knowledge.  It is first of all a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the human race, both East and West, and a full dose of science and the arts.  There is far less emphasis on accumulating new knowledge than on understanding the incredible record of human experience we already have.  Human beings have been working on the problems of living from the beginning.  It means not only learning but digesting that knowledge.  It means putting it to use in daily life.

We achieve normality only through our relationship with others.  We are a social species and our nature is cooperative rather than competitive.  That relationship begins with the family.  The family continues to be central to the life of the individual from birth until death; family, in Borsodi’s view, is multi-generational.  The family is the producer.  With the family comes the first basic understanding of social organization.  The family, however, can only achieve Normality within a healthy, Normal, Community.
Normalization involves working on three things simultaneously:  self, family and community.  To create the conditions of Normal Living is thus a very strenuous undertaking.  While all of these topics are vital to understanding the School of Living, this article will focus on the Normal Community[4].

School of Living

As Borsodi describes it, the School of Living is the central feature of the, and I’ll use the term more current, “sustainable” community.  I need to stress the term “community.”  The School of Living serves a society of people who enjoy a special quality of mind.  That quality of mind is found in communal association with other Normal people.

The idea of an extraordinary community organized around an exemplary learning institution goes back to at least Pythagoras.  It is found in the ancient Jewish Rabbinic tradition.  It is found in the medieval cathedral schools and in monastic societies around the world.  It is found in Confucius.  Emerson described the quality mind as a product of scholarship.  Froebel, Pestalozzi, Montessori and others dreamed of such schools.  Hoffer also championed a new school for the working people he admired, a school with aims very similar to Borsodi’s vision.  Many of these schools place less emphasis on community organization than Borsodi but they all sought to improve the overall quality of life.

Borsodi spent decades developing the ideal way to educate a healthy, psychologically sound, integral, Normal, human being.  With Education and Living that model starts to unfold.  He undertook more educational projects in the US and India.  Right down to the end of his long and productive life he worked to clarify his vision, his model and his method.  That is why he is worth studying.  That he was forgotten is because he was, as they say, “ahead of his time.”  More accurately we could say that he was swamped by the wave of cheap energy that continued to drive a mindless plunge towards something called “progress.”  Yes, the times were against him.  Now we are again in crisis.  He gave us something very solid to build on. And yes, another several decades have brought us new and useful insights.

Organization

In the introduction to Flight from the City, Borsodi listed four purposes of the School of Living:
1.     To associate a selected group of artists, craftsman and teachers in a demonstration of the contribution which decentralized, self-sufficient living in the country may make to redress the economic and psychological insecurity of our industrialized civilization:
2.     To study and develop the possibilities of the home and homestead as a productive and creative institution
3.     To furnish to men and women the opportunity to follow a carefully developed plan of learning and experiences in living securely, comfortably and richly and in leading others to live equally well;
4.     To offer those who may be able to come for short visits only, a place to see and study the relationship of homesteading and domestic produce.
a.     To the past, present and future;
b.     To our present industrialized, centralized, organized, political society; and
c.     To make life more meaningful to themselves here and now.

Borsodi planned the School of Living as what he called an “enterprise” level of organization.  Organization was always high on the list of Borsodi’s priorities.  That has, however, becoming an increasingly problematic subject[5].  Sensitive people these days have, largely as a response to the unending trauma of the dark side of modern society, withdrawn so far into themselves that they actually abhor the very idea of an organized activity.  One study of Boomer generation back-to-the-landers showed a strong anti-communitarian attitude. 

Associate, perhaps, but organize, no.  Even “association” is weakening by the spread of the latest wave of industrialization:  information technology.  Our rapidly emerging social networking technology has driven more wedges between relationships.  It encourages chat over engagement, texting over contact.  Even the best and brightest of use are more interested in polite and reasonably eloquent expression of opinion rather than the nitty-gritty, hard work, of organization and achievement.

Borsodi clearly documented that advertising was the chief agent of education in his day.  It was (and is) the most powerful force in mis-education.  In his day the newspapers, magazines and radio were the media of advertising.  Then came the television, the personal computer and now the smart phone and tablet.  Ours is a consumer society.  Nine of ten jobs are in services; not production but providing support for consumers.  Cell phones, text messaging, social networking, web browsers, services to download music and videos and now a growing host of downloadable applications, increasingly define our lives.  Even when you pay for a service, it is a medium of advertising.  

These services are powerfully organized enterprises.  To counter them takes far more than just slipping away (with cell phone in pocket and laptop or tablet in backpack).  To counter them will require a counter-organization.  That counter-organization is the Normal Community.  There are several features it must have:
1.     A name – a symbol which makes it possible to apprehend its existence, to think about it, to feel about it, and to act about it.
2.     Members – not just residents but persons who both feel that they are members and feel that they owe fealty to it.
3.     Land – it must have boundaries which define the commonwealth and the area over which it is sovereign, an area within a reasonable commuting distance.
4.     A center – for its institutes and a place to which people come and in which they meet to transact their business and social affairs.
5.     Body of customs – which are commonly accepted and observed.
6.     Leaders – not like those in the larger society but to whom community members are drawn because of their learning and practical experience in life.
7.     All institutions – for self governance, educational, economic, recreational.
8.     All group functions – to enable its people to live like genuinely civilized human beings.

Borsodi provided the following graphic illustration of the community, organized around the School of Living.  Immediately surrounding the School of Living are placed other institutions such as:  Library and Museum, Common and High School, Vocational School, Auditorium, Churches, Hotel, Bank, Market-place, Shops and Factories, Post Office, Bus Terminal, Town Hall, Men’s Club, Women’s Club, Young Men’s Club, Young Women’s Club: Then plots for subsistence homestead, plots for family farmsteads, common pasture, town forest and forest belt.

Obviously the community is a very well organized small society.  It contains all the functions necessary to achieve self sufficiency.  Around this core community could readily be added other clusters of home/farmsteads (he provides an illustration, done by friend Shirley Miles, of a township of some 30,000 people – an actual proposal).  The community has its By-laws (“By” is Danish for “Town.”).  Beyond the community is a region, an area defined by an easy commute, and within that region would be a town, a larger built environment, which would include the university, professional schools, hospital and other institutions, facilities and services that are needed to support civil life.  There are no nations in this plan.  In Borsodi’s grand view, the world is made up of communities, regions and some type of planetary body that gives the human race a collective identity.

Borsodi went to some length to describe membership in a Normal Community.  In short a member is someone who lives there permanently and who accepts responsibility for all of the community’s vital activities.  It has occurred to me that a community is for a settled agrarian population what a tribe is for a nomadic hunter-gathering population.  It is unlikely that a Normal Community would include more than a few hundred adults.

Some of the features Borsodi outlined, as a focus of community, were: 
1.     Perpetual Community Survey
2.     Perpetual Community Plan
3.     Instructional Activities
4.     Festival and Commemorative Activities
5.     Inspirational Activities

Re-Education

In the final part of Education and Living are three chapters on Re-education: 
1.     The Normalization of Man,
2.     The Organization of Re-Education, and
3.     Education and Leadership:  The Challenge to the Teachers of Mankind.

The School of Living is for adults.  It is not about providing the education we didn’t get in school but about learning to live as mature individuals.  It’s about all aspects of life and living.  It concerns personal and individual topics and social and gregational topics.  Learning ends only in death. 
The School of Living is a social institution; it is about fellowship.  That is more than what occurs in a “congregation,” which is by definition merely the gathering of a crowd of people.  It is about living in human community.

How the community functions is found in the seventeen (then 13) major problems of man and society.  These are the major departments of learning.  How these problems are addressed includes:
1.     An attitude of taking decisive action
2.     Preparing ourselves to solve problems
3.     Attracting and holding attention – the emotions
4.     Rouse and hold interest
5.     Creating a desire to live like Normal human beings
6.     Move people to action

Curriculum

In This Ugly Civilization, Borsodi outlined, in considerable detail, what he then called the barriers to living:
1.     Moral Barriers
2.     Psychological Barriers
3.     Educational Barriers
4.     Individual Barrier

He wrote about the subject matter needed to overcome them:  “We need for everyday living: (1) economic polices, (2) physiological, (3) social, (4) biological, (5) psychological habits; and (6) religious, (7) moral, (8) political (9) education, (10) individual values.”  To that list of subjects he added history – past, present and future, and the arts and sciences.  These subjects are learned not in separate compartments but as different facets of the whole of living our lives.  They are approached not in the abstract but in terms of their use in life.

In Education and Living Borsodi gave a long list of “resource leaders,” fields that suggest areas of study, including:


Philosopher
Theologian
Psychologist and Psychiatrist
Sociologist and Social Worker
Cultural Anthropologist
Educational Scientist
Public Relations Counselor
Poet-Orator-Writer
Musician and Dance Master
Painter and Sculptor
Actor-Dramatist-Director
Industrial Designer
Hygienist
Nutritionist and Bio-Chemist
Physician
Sexual and Eugenic Scientist
Population Scientist
Historian
Political Scientist
Jurist and Attorney
Criminologist and Penologist
Police and Military Scientist
Political Economist
Home Economist
Agriculture and Forestry Scientist
Financier and Banker
Accountant (C. P. A.)
Architect and Landscape Architect
Appraiser
Business Management Specialist
Engineer
Insurance and Investment Counselor


Borsodi admired St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.  Its founders, Stringfellow Barr and Scott Buchanan, set up a new curriculum based on the Great Books of the Western World in 1936.  This curriculum was derived from the Great Books project at the University of Chicago under Robert Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer Adler[6]

The St John’s curriculum consists solely of the study of these great books.  There are no lectures, only seminars.  The program introduces students to the entire scope of western culture.  It also includes arts, music and lab work, often repeating landmark original experiments in science.  Borsodi included the wisdom of the East. 

This type of education nurtures quality mindedness.  It teaches critical thinking.  St. Johns bestowed a master’s degree, the highest degree it confers, on Borsodi for his work in education[7].  Borsodi retained affection for St. John’s to the end of his life. 

The School of Living curriculum is also firmly founded on Borsodi’s Seventeen Problems of Man and Society[8].  Following is an outline of those topics:

Part I, Noetics:  Four Basic Intellectual Problems.
Problem I:  Antrhopoic:  The riddle of human nature, the problem of the nature of man’s own nature.
Problem II:  Ontoic:  The riddle of the universe, the problem of the nature of the world in which man finds himself.
Problem III:  Etiologic:  The riddle of historiography, the causes of the events which constitute the history of the world and the individual experiences constituting every biography.
Problem IV:  Epistemic:  The riddle of communication, the problem of distinguishing between truth and error and of verifying and validating and communicating what is true.

Part II, Axiology:  Four Basic Problems in Values.
Problem V:  Telic values:  Convictions and prejudices about ends and means, about the really important purposes of mankind.
Problem VI:  Ethical values:  The problem of good and evil.
Problem VII:  Esthetic values:  The problem of beauty and ugliness.
Problem VIII:  Economic or Utilitarian values:  The problem of distinguishing between wealth (and well-being) and Illth (the opposite of wealth and well-being).

Part III, Praxiology:  Nine Basic Practical Problems.
Problem IX:  Psycho-Physiological Problem:  Mental and physical health, realize highest potentialities.
Problem X:  Occupational Problem:  How we spend our time.
Problem XI:  Possessional Problem:  Owning and holding things.
Problem XII:  Organizational Problem:  The science (principles) or organizing all sorts of enterprises needed to live rationally and humanely.
Problem XIII:  Production Problem:  The science (principles) or organizing all sorts of production of goods and services needed to support a rational and humane life.
Problem XIV:  Distribution Problem:  The science (principles) or organizing all sorts of distribution of goods and services needed to support a rational and humane life.
Problem XV:  Political Problem:  Elimination not of differences of opinion but violence.
Problem XVI:  Institutional Problem:  Conservation and Reformation.  To retain or change institutions.
Problem XVII:  Educational Problem:  Man cannot rely upon his instincts.  We need a new educational model to develop that which is truly human in us.

Each of these problems is carefully outlined and each comes with a bibliography of books to read in order to understand and resolve the problem.  Obviously there are more books that can be added to that list today. 

We have begun seminars on Borsodi’s seventeen problems at Ahimsa Village[9].

New School of Living

It can not be overemphasized that the community forms around the School of Living.  How does one form such a School?  The first step is a study group of concerned men and women who devote time to study of the major problems of living.  This group, it only takes a handful of dedicated people, formally organize the School of Living in their community.  The size and form of the school must fit the community.  Borsodi said that each School of Living, when the time came, should have its own “expressive and impressive building” at the geographic center of the community.  It should have certain distinct features:  “A dignified meeting room, a number of seminar or committee rooms, a research library, office rooms, and perhaps a homestead for the occupancy of the staff.”  In the latter instance there should be kitchen and work shop, out-buildings, and a model of the productive home.

As we form a New School of Living, a program of study, a curriculum, suitable to the needs of the community, will have to be established.  So will a library, updated by a half-century of new resources and understanding, organized around the major problems of life.  As community members progress in their re-education they will establish the infrastructure of the new community.  That has got to be one of the greatest adventures we can undertake in this century. 

Last year, 2011, saw the revitalization of the idea of a new Schools of Living.  This year, be it resolved, we will make firm progress by forming study groups, bringing back Borsodi’s books, and creating a strong association of champions for this project.



[1] Economic meltdown will likely come decades before irreversible climate change.  Building a new energy economy now (which includes everything that depends on energy) could prevent both catastrophes.
[2] Hamilton, himself a Founding Father, in fact despised democracy.  After the new US democracy was formed, he turned his interest to banking and industrial development.
[3] Is it not curious that schools look like factories, and increasingly, prisons.
[4] The individual is an important study in its own right.  Too much of what we call individuality today is actually coping with alienation, not actualizing beingness.  This will be another future Green Revolution article.
[5] Organization is one of his “major problems.”
[6] You can find The Great Books in just about any library.  Encyclopedia Britannica mass marketed tens of thousands of 54 volume sets.
[7] The University of New Hampshire later conferred a doctorate on Borsodi.
[8] Soon to be back in print.
[9] A School of Living affiliate, Julian, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the New School of Living


Most Green Revolution (this is the fifth article in a series about Ralph Borsodi and his School of Living) readers are aware that I have taken a strong interest in the model of the School of Living as Ralph Borsodi originally conceived it. I only became familiar with him in 2010 but I found his ideas inspiring.  He spent decades working on the idea of rebuilding agrarian community around a learning institute that provides it with knowledge, skills and the psychological foundation to achieve a high level of economic security.

I need to point out that I am not a Borsodi disciple.  Borsodi is one part of my vision, a significant part.  But Borsodi himself was a collage of ideas.  Prior to encountering Borsodi, I spent much of my adult life exploring the human potential movement, particularly the role of education in human social “evolution.”  I was fortunate to have experienced some important experiments in this “higher” education and meet some of the pioneers in this field (see post "Twenty-Two Years of Integral Transformative Practice – A Tribute to Esalen and George Leonard" at this site).


My other major interest was community.  I grew up in a community, one that died as I reached adulthood.  One of my mentors had a similar experience growing up in an urban Irish neighborhood, an experience of community that died during the seven years he spent in seminary.  The death of community, as I have frequently pointed out, is the most serious crisis in our time.  The experience of community is now slipping from living memory.

For decades I’ve known that we need educational institutions that go against the grain.  Common sense tells us that what passes as education – early, secondary and post-secondary – is anything but a process to bring out (“educari” means “to bring out”) the best of that which we call the human essence.  It is mostly about success, making money, in a global economy.

In contrast, what passes as “alternative” education is mostly “edutainment:” light, easy, quickly forgotten.  As Jeremy Rifkin pointed out, culture has become a commodity:  cheap, easy, and disposable.  Teachers are telling me the attention span of their students is that of a text message and that they are trying to learn to adapt to that reality.  Not universally true, I hope, but indicative of a trend away from the tradition of the “well-read,” the “well-informed,” citizen that characterized American culture prior to the global, digital, age.

What attracts me to Ralph Borsodi is that he developed a comprehensive model of a learning institute at the heart of a community.  He did that not as a professional educator or academician but as a man working to build viable community. 

That principle, people creating their own institutions, we need to think deeply about.  Today we expect experts to make things happen for us; either as a public service or for a fee.  Borsodi expected people to be self-reliant, self-sufficient.  That just happens to be the American Dream, the dream of what was once an agrarian culture.  The leaders in traditional communities were teachers, elders, men and women who possessed an elemental wisdom about life.  The institutional pillars of that culture were the school, the church and the meetinghouse:  sometimes all rolled into one.  It sees a fundamental certainty in life, that reflection of human essence that we so vitally need to restore.  Borsodi gave us a comprehensive model for doing that, not perfect but suggestive.  I bring a lot of other work to the model of a new School of Living.  It is up to us today, in our own communities, to take what he and a number of other now mostly passed “elders” left us and to complete the job of restoring our life as human beings.

Two Instances of Human Evolution

Let me address the question of human “evolution.”  I think we need to be clear on the nature of our times and how we respond to the challenges of this day.  There have been two and only two instances of evolution in the story of our species, the human species.  The first was the emergence of consciousness, the appearance of people very much like ourselves:  self-conscious, language using, aware of past, present and future.  The second was the founding of settled, agrarian societies, the very stuff of a way of life we call civilization.

There are thus two models of life that seem to be encoded in our DNA.  The first is the one we share with other social animals:  the nomadic, hunter-gather band.  As a result of language we took the hunting band to new levels of social organization.  An iconic model can be seen in the American Plains Indian tribal culture; perhaps one of the highest levels of development of this lifestyle at the very time it was brought to an end by industrial culture. 

The second embedded pattern is agrarian, settled life.  That is a form of life that blends with, likely comes out of, the highly sophisticated tribal groups.  An iconic example of this style can be found in groups like the Six Nations in the US Northeast.  Such groups have defined human life around the planet for thousands of years down to only a generation or so ago.

We are a very special social animal.  We have that unique capacity of self-awareness, awareness of past, present and future.  We have a unique capacity for language.  Our brains are hardwired around these capacities.  They are what make us human beings.  We also have a unique capacity for humor.  These qualities are important because they make us a species as distinct from other animals as life itself is from matter.

Settled, agrarian existence enabled us to develop these uniquely human capacities.  Agriculture produces surpluses of food that allows populations to grow and certain parts of that population to take on other work.  Until recently, 90% of the people of the great traditional societies worked the land.  Those other ten percent settled in villages, towns and cities and formed a nucleus of a new way of life.  Mostly they made things, invented things, conducted trade and provided useful services.  They were intimately connected to their agrarian neighbors.  They lived close to the earth, shared the cycle of the seasons, celebrated events that highlighted the values they held dear, lived their lives and left an esteemed heritage to following generations.

Somewhere along the line ideas like writing came along.  Writing was a vital step for us.  It’s hard to attribute cause and effect.  What came first:  Writing or more complex social organization?  There was a snowball effect:  Writing and arithmetic, then geometry, astronomy, architecture, robust sailing ships, philosophy and inevitably history.  Writing became the glue that held complex societies together.  All of these arts seem an expression of something in our DNA.  They just make sense.

Social organizations became more complex:  from village to city-state to kingdoms and vast empires.  History comes about because we developed a sense of direction, of change and development in the course of the unfolding generations.  And yes, that story is one of rise and fall, of building great societies and seeing them go to ruin.

Which brings us to the dawn of the modern age with printing, world exploration, science, technology and power-driven industry and transportation:  “The whole catastrophe,” as Zorba the Greek put it.  The jury is still out on the modern, industrial age as a step in human evolution.  We are not entirely sure we will survive it.  The invention that stands out, however, is printing.  It gave us unparalleled power to record human experience and to share it across time and space.  The book has become the symbol of knowledge, or learning and of creativity.   There is just something "natural" about a book.

During Borsodi’s life, and at the beginning of mine, just as the idea of community, the civis, was fading to a mere shadow, the life of the mind was considered the highest state of existence for human beings.  Learning was a public enterprise.  It wasn’t about filling one’s head, or a room, with book knowledge.  It was about learning how to live, how to contribute to one’s society, how to participate in civic life.  It was about developing character, culture, and civility.  These are the qualities that make human community work.  Not surprisingly they were closely linked with our ideas of spirituality.

A community is not just a collection of people.  It is people who live for each other, for the common good.  That takes a common way of seeing the world.  It requires us to see ourselves as human beings not in terms of the isolated, alienated, individual that defines our dark century but as members of a collective, a body of people, a place; of life lived day by day.  I could use the term “tribal” which seems to be fairly well understood as a tightly knit group of people who work for the common good.  A village is much the same idea only for a group of people who have settled on a spot of land.

I write for people who see a basic failure in industrial society.  Borsodi describe the malaise well.  So did Emerson and Thoreau a century earlier.  In between a battle was waged between agrarian and industrial interest in the US.  When our nation was first formed, Jefferson and friends were the champions of the agrarian civilization.  Hamilton and the Federalists were champions of industry and wealth.  The agrarian movement a century latter had names like Populism and Progressivism.  It had champions like President Teddy Roosevelt.  Our agrarian way of life, sad to say, sank beneath the rising tide of industrialization and now lies lost like the fabled continent of Atlantis.

Industrial society has always been unstable.  Industrial economies grow and then they crash.  It has happened many times.  The big crash in modern times came with the Great Depression.  That epoch event is something worth the time to study.  It was an economic catastrophe but it had its roots in political ideology, in a national and global-scaled context.  Then as now there were two contending parties, liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats.  When conservative-driven big business failed, Franklin Roosevelt, a liberal, a Democrat, championed vast social expenditures to restore an economy destroyed by pro-business polity.  Today, in the twenty-first century, conservatives still consider him as the great enemy of their cause. 

What I see as the enemy is that we lost our sense of place, of local community.  Before that great crash we had already lost our agrarian way of life.  Our sense of community was already disappearing.  There was a temporary return to farming and community building during the Great Depression.  It was on that stage that Borsodi first made his appearance.  But that epic event passed, industrialism resurged and has dominated the history of the planet but now seems have run its course.  Continued economic growth is simply no longer sustainable.

History does repeat itself.  The economy has again been seriously damaged by polity.  Same two ideologies locking horns, now in a global context.  The US Congress is deadlocked.  Politics has become little more than a distracting sideshow; unfortunately more a tragedy than a comedy.  Neither side has a definitive solution to our economic crisis.  What indeed can government do when money has run out and debt is running a trillion something each year? 

What have we learned in 230 odd years of our national experience?  If nothing else that we have created a social muddle that simply doesn’t work.  We have taken the wrong path.  We have got to get back to basics and, as Borsodi clearly saw, that means getting back to life on the land and in small community.

Agrarian Reengagement, call it back-to-the-land if you will, is about working at the one level where we have any real understanding and control of our lives:  the local level.  Agrarian Reengagement, unlike back-to-the-land, is a communitarian movement.  We have to live in community.  Contrary to popular belief, Darwin wasn’t about conflict and competition.  He was about collaborated.  For him survival of the fittest was survival of the species with the best cooperation.  Communities are about cooperation.

Individuals living in self-sufficient isolation are in a state of denial of their very humanity.  The New School of Living is about rebuilding human community at the founding level, the agrarian level, close to the Earth and the cycle of seasons; living in a place, by the blessing, not the curse, of the sweat of our brow, in harmony with the world and intimately engaged with those others with whom they share a collective life.  It is about building the institutions that support community life, for developing the capacities and the character of members of that community, and for promoting the values of the common good.

Idealistic, utopian?  No. We don’t need to turn human society into some type of giant beehive of mindless drones living the fixed and invariable theme of some intellectual fantasy.  That’s what utopian visionaries write about.  Real life is messy.  It is messy but it is also very human.  We need well-formed human beings living and working together to make a life worth living, who live their lives well and when the end comes to die without despair.  That was Borsodi’s vision.  That is my vision.  I’m going to tell you how I see that coming about.

Welcome to The New School of Living

You have come down a road into the countryside to a small farm, 120 acres.  At the gate you parked your car in a small lot.  You see a spread of fields and then a house or two, barn and an array of outbuildings running along a slight rise, a ledge, at the base of the hill at the back of the property.  You can see a windmill and solar collectors on the buildings.  A creek runs through the property.  There are wooded hills beyond the buildings.  A curl of smoke rises from the main house.

You are expected; met at the gate.  “Hello.  I’m Sally.  Welcome to the New School of Living.  Lets get your things in.”

We walk a hundred or so yards to the house.  Its fall, the leaves are glorious.  Coming down the hill behind the house is a wagon with a load of wood; four young people wave a greeting.  We go to a building behind and to one side of the main house.

“This is the dormitory.  You see to the right there, the cottages for married couples.  Singles live here.  Right now there are only some two dozen people living on the property.”

You are shown a small neat room, bed, chair, small writing table, cupboard, on the second floor.  The building has a solid feel, stone walls, lots of heavy timber.  The window faces the fields.

“I’ll leave you to refresh yourself.  Bathrooms and showers at both ends of the hall.  When you are ready come into the door at the back of the house,” pointing out the window to the deck.  “Dinner at seven.  No hurry.  Take a walk around if you like.”

A short walk along the ledge between field and hillside reveals a number of finely crafted buildings.  A barn, what must be a shop by the sound of a saw and someone working at an anvil, a number of other buildings, a large greenhouse, a row of cottages, a large building at the other end of the line, built low, surrounded by windows and a wide, partially covered deck.

Dinner is in a large dinning room off a large kitchen, four tables, room for 40 or more people.  Folks are gathering; they introduce themselves.  You are shown a place at the table.  They are piled with bowls of vegetarian food.  “We live with our animals,” the woman next to me explained.  “They share, we share.  All that we need comes from plants and dairy.  Some of us are vegan.”  The food and conversation are wonderful.

After dinner we washed and tidied the dining room then retired to a large “parlor” at the other end of the house.  Folks shared conversation about their day over tea and cake.  The chat goes on until a woman picked up and starts tuning a banjo from a corner stacked with musical instruments.  Others get instruments and the chairs are pulled into a large circle.  For maybe an hour or more there is song, stories, jokes, poetry, a short reading or two.  By nine people are drifting away.

“Bedtime,” I’m told. 

“Do you have wi-fi?” I ask.  “I need to catch up on some e-mails. 

“All buildings and decks have it.  Password is ‘real.’  Chores at six, if you want to join in, on just wander about.  Breakfast at 7.  Have a pleasant night.”

I got up at six and went to the kitchen to help with breakfast.  After cleanup John introduced himself as my guide for the morning.

“You know the basic story of the School of Living, I’m sure.  Founded in the mid-30s by Ralph Borsodi.  He set up several homesteading communities and a small university, worked in India with Gandhian educators and wrote three books, four volumes, on education, among others.  Sadly he became a forgotten man.  Now we are restoring him to his rightful place in the remaking of our culture.”

New School of Living started with a small group studying his works, getting his books back in print.  As the Great Recession returned and settled into a slow, global, economic decline, money was found to buy and develop this property.

We took a tour, walking down to the barn.  Beyond the barn was a large orchard.  Around the barnyard were milk cows, a lot of horses, for working and riding, a few goats and lots of chickens.  Below the barn was a large pasture.  Behind the barn was a food processing setup and a storage shed full of foods. 

Coming back towards the main house we toured a large and well-equipped shop:  wood, metal, ceramics, a blacksmithy.  Six or eight people were busy working, mostly on a wagon and wheels.  “Our goal,” John said, “ is to learn to make most of the durable goods we need, to develop, or should I say re-learn, the methods for doing so.  We call this zone of our model ‘The Mill.’  We incorporate Arts and Crafts ideals.  We make quality goods and sell a lot of what we make.”

Behind the shop was a large greenhouse, filled with growing food, several people at work there.

Next came the main house and dorm, behind which were several small buildings, a store, toolshed and storage buildings.  The wind turbine was set among these, turning in soothing sweeps.  I noticed that there were both passive and photovoltaic solar collectors on most roofs. 

On the other side of the main house was the road that ran up to the woodlot.  On both sides of it were small cottages, bungalows, four built, one under construction.  We toured one of these, John’s and his wife’s.  It had a wide porch, sitting room and dinning room in front, small kitchen, bath and bedroom in back.  “Loft,” he said, pointing upwards, “for when a couple of children arrive.  There were no children here yet, but coming soon,” he smiled knowingly.  Wood and stonework were exquisite.  An elegant, rustic fireplace dominated the sitting room.  “Just over 600 square feel of very livable space.  We value privacy.  Everyone has a personal space.  We also place high value on family.  Our life, however, is about the community so we spend most of our time together, eat together, work together, learn together, relax together.”

We then approached the large, low building at the end of the ledge.  “Wright inspired,” John said.  “Prairie style, low to the earth, natural materials, lots of windows to let in the light and view.  This is the school.”

We walked up a short flight of stone steps to the deck.  It ran around the entire building, mostly open to let light into the windows but some sections covered by wide, cantilevered roofs.  There were chairs and tables and a lot of planters.  To the right, on the deck facing the fields and valley beyond, was a small pool with a fountain in the middle of it.  The building itself was mostly local stone and timber.  There was a lot of glass.

We went inside to a large open room with tables running along each wall.  Several people were at the tables working quietly with books, paper and computers.  Books lined the walls below the windows.  “This is the main study area.  Study is self-paced; not lectures.  There are lots of practical exercises.  This is also the main area for individual work.”

“The New School of Living was founded largely as a research institute to develop both the learning and community model,” John explained.  “Funding was acquired to set up a research staff to develop the program.  The farm is part of the institute, both a means to support the enterprise and to develop and pilot models for self-sufficiency.”

“Everyone works to support our small community,” John added.  “But we are also salaried, a stipend really.  Room and board comes with the job.  We raise most of our own food and make a lot of our own durable goods.  We all work in fields and shops.  That’s part of the lifestyle.  Most of us are professionals, doing research, planning and developing projects, four to six hours per day.  At the moment we are all on the property but often we go on the road.  We are all here at planting and harvest time.  Now, harvest mostly done, we are putting the finishing touches on three projects to found new and independent Schools of Living.  That is our mission; to get this model up and running and more communities adopting it.  The three projects we have are two homesteading communities and a small city, one of our Forgotten and Distressed Cities clients.  We started with eight people and have tripled that number in just a few years.  Interest in this model is picking up really fast.  More people are coming on board.”

The middle section, with a wing extending towards the hillside, was the library.  “Ten Thousand books.  That’s our goal for a paper collection.  We are trying to create a library of just about everything we need to know to live as human beings small enough to fit into a single room, a town library.  We also have a digital library, Polymath we call it, that gives us full Boolean search access to pretty much the full scope of world knowledge.  Borsodi, among others, like Korzybski, believed that we should avail ourselves of the great collective knowledge of human experience.  This is in every sense a school.  It is about learning, solving problems and building viable social organizations to fit the needs of the people who belong to them.  We have to learn things to be able to do that.  Its clear that we don’t know how to solve the problems of this rapidly changing world we live in.  We have to learn.”

He touched a key and a large screen lit up with graphic displays.  “We may use horses to plow on the farm but we also use cutting edge technology.  For us this is appropriate.  We have a team that is working to produce a computer and operating system that will not require frequent upgrades, which can be built in local shops.  That is a long-term project.  We use what the world uses for now and we are good at it.”

Next came a laboratory.  “Any science you like, any technology,” John said.  “There is a level below this one as well, much larger, extended out under the decks.   Our approach is very practical.  People are here to learn to do things.  Most of our work is just that:  experimental, learning how to make things work.  That applies to science and technology and to community and economic development.  Everyone here is, or is becoming, capable of working in every area, from doing a chemical analysis to forging a horseshoe, to planning and organizing a project.  We are, and this is an important principle, generalists, comprehensivists Fuller call it, systems thinkers and systems workers.  And we are all, first and foremost, agrarians.  We believe we are part of nature, a working part of it.”

The next room, angling off to the left, following the contour of the hillside, was fan-shaped with a stage and screen at the small end.  “Auditorium, meetings and conferences,” John said.  “We also hold concerts and performances here.  There are breakout rooms below.”   We took the stairs down.  One room was a large research space, a room with a table around which five people were working interactively with computer displays, in energetic dialog about their project.   “This is one of the project teams,” John said softly.

We walked out of the building, the terrain being ground level for this floor, and back towards the main house along the path below the school.  The sky was a brilliant blue and the color of the leaves stunning.  Back at the main house John give me a long, searching look and said, “I’ll leave you to think.  Lunch in an hour.”

How the New School of Living was Formed?

No, we are not there yet so lets come back to the present.  The New School of Living is now evolving as a vision.  There is no one way to create a School of Living.  The scene described above, however, is highly consistent with Borsodi’s vision.  It is my vision. 

The farm institute described could be just a few years away.  Creating it is obviously a complex undertaking.  It is what Borsodi described as an “enterprise” level of activity in Seventeen Problems.  It will take a good deal of money to make it happen.  It will take a lot of organization.  Most importantly it will take a group of people dedicated to achieving the vision.  Like I said, there are other visions.  They all simple need people to make them a reality.

At the School of Living quarterly meeting in July 2012 I gave the first of a series of workshop designed specifically to begin to clarify the vision of a New School of Living.  I made it clear that people must choose carefully which model to develop or join.  There is already a School of Living.   This is a New School of Living.  The current School of Living, which Borsodi created going on 80 years ago is a land trust.  The New School of Living seeks to restore much of Borsodi's visions, yes updated with decades of important new understandings.  It seeks to create a learning institute and a learning community which seeks not only economic self-sufficiency but to develop the highest potential of each of its members.  My team and I will work to develop the model we envision.  We will also support other efforts.  Nature, after all, loves diversity. 

When we return to the topic of creating a New School of Living, in a future post, we will meet on the broad front porch of the main house.  We will sit with steaming tea and a platter of just baked cookies and have a long chat.  See you then.