Cider Blessing

cider press.jpgWritten by Kate Foran as a wedding blessing this fall.

On this day you invite your beloveds to the feast,
provide meat and drink to do justice to the harvest.
As you attended to every detail of this celebration,
you had a vision of serving the season’s cider
pressed and unfiltered
in the old way–beginning to bubble,
hospitable to the wild yeasts–
the bouquets of microflora that are our ancestors and guests,
making life from decay, enacting everyday Cana miracles.
Generations of households have observed
the domestic mystery of cider, preserving the yield of the trees
in a draught more common and reliable than water. Continue reading

Circles of Support

Sylvie&RichardBy Kate Foran. The following is the fourth post in a series by Kate Foran  exploring an alternative kindergarten education for her daughter Sylvie.

Part of my inspiration for pursuing an alternative education for my five-year-old daughter Sylvie has been the work of Communitas, a Connecticut-based organization focused on building inclusive community, particularly for people with disabilities.   Since the 1980s Communitas has pioneered the model of “circles of support” which focus on the dreams and capacities of people with disabilities to enhance their lives and their communities. This model of organizing came out of a time when people with disabilities were often shut away in institutions, and were seen as a collection of needs and problems rather than individuals with gifts and desires for their own lives. The idea was deceptively simple: the focus person gathers together people who will help identify and enact a vision for a full and satisfying life. Through this model, Communitas has helped people start housing co-ops, find employment, publish books, and make art. With circles of support people have been able to do everything from coordinate caregivers to meet their basic needs so that they might live more independently, to travel the country on speaking tours. Continue reading

Abundant Community

Scouts_readingThe following is the third post in a series by Kate Foran about exploring an alternative kindergarten education for her daughter Sylvie.

This picture was taken last November at a harvest gathering (note the bowls of squash soup) that I participated in with other children and parents. At the time, I was still wrestling with whether to enroll Sylvie in school or not, and the moment captured in the picture stands out for the way it tipped the balance toward “DIYing” her education instead. It was in some ways a typical preschool group story time (I think we were reading Curious George), but in other ways it was remarkable, because it was not a moment I organized. Instead, a child handed me the book and asked me to read it. And soon the other children crowded around, piling onto my lap and leaning on my shoulders. I was aware at the time of the great privilege of having the trust of these children, and it occurred to me that the spontaneous connection and even the physical closeness was not something that could easily occur in an institutional setting.   Sylvie was a bit ruffled at having to share her mom, but she was satisfied when I explained to her that I got to be a teacher to these other kids the way that their parents got to be a teacher to her. Continue reading

Wilderness School

TwoCoyotes2By Kate Foran. A second installment on her series on alternative education of her daughter Sylvie.

“When I show most people a rock I found, they say, ‘oh, nice.’ But when I show my teachers at Wilderness School, they say ‘Wow! It’s so beautiful! I love it!!” Sylvie, age 5.

The enthusiasm with which nature mentors and children regard rocks is a key piece in this patchwork quilt of my daughter’s education. On Mondays Sylvie spends the day at Two Coyotes Wilderness School, which meets in the woods surrounding Holcomb Farm in Granby, CT. She starts the morning with a gratitude circle, songs and games, and then it’s onto the woods for the day’s agenda (which might be building a fire with a bow drill or gathering wild edibles for October’s Ancestor Feast, or building a shelter out of sticks and branches.) Continue reading

An Alternative Kindergarten Education

IMG_0865Kate Foran, Hartford, CT, begins a series on education throughout her daughter’s “kindergarten year.”

The Hundred Languages

No way. The hundred is there.

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
Continue reading

Detroit Spirit and Roots Reflection

Photo taken by Andrea Ferich. Created by participants bringing with them their ancestors to this place.

Photo taken by Andrea Ferich. Created by participants bringing with them their ancestors to this place.

Kate Foran reflects on Detroit Spirit and Roots, a project of Word and World and local organizers in Detroit.

An ancestor chose to survive because they saw this—you, us—coming. – A Detroit Spirit and Roots Participant, to the young people of color at the table

Some 11 years ago: my husband Steve and I are interns for Word and World, living in Greensboro, NC and working under one of the founding W&W board members Nelson Johnson. Word and World is struggling (as one way or another most organizations do) with white supremacy culture. We have a diverse board and we have rigorous goals for anti-racism and anti-oppression at our week-long schools. Everyone is making a good faith effort to unpack internalized privilege and internalized oppression, to “do our own work.” Still, as can be expected when you’re organizing so many moving parts, tensions run high and everyone brings their own default cultural assumptions to the table. At the time (and still) Nelson is involved in many organizations nation-wide. Steve and I ask him if he has ever been part of a truly multi-racial organization. He thinks long and hard for a minute and says no. He says the closest he’d ever come was with the Communist Workers Party, where ideology was so strong it trumped other dynamics. He says Word and World is different because at least folks are willing to have some honest conversation about race. But, he said, his experience as an African-American organizer is that white people either take over or they leave. Continue reading