Yesterday was day 16 and the last day of our first cycle of first pandemic year. I say first because it is unlikely that the pandemic will be over by next August. Well, the first pandemic year if you don’t include last year when we went remote after the first week of March. And our first pandemic year was extra since our calendar stretches into mid-July instead of ending in late May like most of the local schools. Although it was extra less painful because we didn’t mandate that Learners sit in zoom rooms all day, assign homework, test them, or grade them like some local schools did. Too bad most local schools reverted to mandated screen time, homework, testing, and grading for this pandemic year, for those who are remote. And if they are not meeting outdoors they should be remote.

Our morning conversation about copwatching and other topics with Heartwood ALC

Our morning conversation about copwatching and other topics with Heartwood ALC

Anyway, yesterday was the last day of our first cycle and it was also our second scheduled remote day that makes safely meeting in small and unfixed operating cells possible. Unfortunately I missed out on the morning meeting of our final day of the first cycle of our first pandemic year, which will just be called day 15 from here on out for brevity, because I was invited by a sister-SDE community to give a presentation and participate in a Q&A about copwatching, policing, and defunding or abolishing the police. The community is Heartwood ALC which sits on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia. Heartwood ALC has been a really great member of the ALC community, and I got to see them in action when I went a spent a day with them (a day is never enough to learn about what an SDE community is about, though) before attending a racial equity in Self-Directed Education summit they hosted in 2019.

In the talk I attempted to briefly talk through my unintentional journey into the world of trying to fight back against police abuse, brutality, corruption, and crime. While my story was necessary to tell, I tried to focus the takeaways on the institution of policing, the way that systems are set up to harm victims of abuse, the benefits of copwatching and other forms of direct action, and the reality that the struggle has no simple solutions. But then I addressed what I thought were possible solutions to the problem, primarily focused on defunding or abolishing the police. Facilitator Jennifer also jumped on the call after they finished with the morning meeting at Abrome.

After I finished with the presentation, I made sure that Zoom room 1 was set up for Facilitator Lauren’s brain blast offering, and then I tried to schedule some check-ins with Learners. At 12:00 p.m. I made myself a simple, delicious, whole foods lunch with lots of nuts and vegetables as I broke my 16-hour fast (and then was left wondering what the point of being so hungry was when I stumbled across an article that said that intermittent fasting may not actually work).

At 1:00 p.m. Facilitator Jennifer hosted a sketching skills offering, and at 2:00 p.m. I hosted a Free Write offering. No one showed up for the offering so I got some more work done as I took notice of how exhausted I was. I guess the first cycle really did tire me out, even though I had been doing a great job of eating well, sleeping 8 hours a night, and working out regularly. At 3:00 p.m. I had a check-in with one of the Learners that went really well. I wanted to make sure that they understood that while attendance is optional, it is awfully difficult to build community when they don’t show up to be in community with us. The Learner got it, and seems really psyched about the cycle to come. Then he explained to me the fascinating world of virtual reality hangouts that I did not even know existed.

At 3:30 p.m. we had our final afternoon roundup of the first cycle. Nine Learners and three Facilitators showed up for the meeting, which felt much better than the turnout for Monday’s roundup. A Learner who was forced to be remote for the first cycle of the year volunteered to lead the meeting, and she asked the group how did we do with our intentions of the day and what are our intentions for the rest of the day. After the meeting Facilitator Lauren and I stuck around to have a check-in with one of the Learners that was in our cell this cycle. It was another good check-in and we talked about a variety of topics and interests for a half hour until Facilitator Jennifer logged back on for our end of the day Facilitator check-in.

That evening I jumped on the ALC book group call (after saying I would miss it because I had planned to go to take a nap) and then I went to the pharmacy to get my flu shot (but their system was down so I had to reschedule). I finally settled back in at home around 7:30 and drifted off to sleep. This was a good first cycle for Abrome as a Self-Directed Education community heading outdoors amid a pandemic. In the coming days I’ll be able to better reflect on the cycle and what we can do to make the experience better for the members of the community.