Wednesday was day 81 of the pandacademic year. When Facilitator Ariel started the meeting a Learner jumped in and demanded that he lead the meeting. When we are in small groups meeting in-person we typically ask who wants to lead the meeting, but now that we are meeting online with everyone who chooses to show up, we have been avoiding that so that we can keep the meetings short for the Learners, as well as to make sure that we hit all of the essentials: practices, announcements, and prompts. Facilitator Ariel expressed to the Learner the needs of the group and asked him if he would be willing to come up with the prompt, which the Learner agreed to.

Morning meeting

Morning meeting

Facilitator Ariel opened up the Community Awareness Board and reviewed the practices from the last cycle, and then he asked for announcements. My announcement was that today was day 81, and that 81 is a special number because it is 3 to the fourth power. Then Facilitator Ariel turned it over to the Learner for the prompt. Our prompts have been something we have really valued of late. We have been focused on coming up with prompts that get the Learners to think differently about their daily experiences, their role in the lives of others, their impact on society, and their inner lives. The Learner said that today’s prompt was, what is your favorite reptile? The answers were mostly reptilian: water moccasin (because they’re misunderstood), python or boa constrictor, gecko, ball python, turtle, boa constrictor, turtles, velociraptor, snake, thorny dragon. The reptilian responses carried over to some degree to the second prompt of how are you feeling today: good but hungry, sad, sad but excited for the day, excited, good, happy, a little sad but excited for stuff I’ll do today, happy, tired, tired, feeling fine.

After the morning meeting Facilitator Ariel had the first of five one-to-one check-ins that we had with Learners that day. In that check-in he got to connect with a Learner who has had a difficult time with both the remote experience and the outdoor experience. They talked about his desire to be back with everyone at Abrome but particularly when we can be indoors again. He then shared his screen so that Facilitator Ariel could watch him play a game, and they talked about bots.

At 10:45 a.m. the usual crew gathered for the 7-minute workout which is always the same as every other 7-minute workout, but each of us feel it in different ways. We gave each other high fives when we were finished and then I needed to drop off because I had planned on attending a webinar that was hosted by a local parenting group at the local library. The group focuses on ‘outside the box children’ and I have presented for them in the past. The focus on the session that day was on executive functioning and attention deficits, and I was eager to hear what the presenter had to say. Unfortunately, most of the first thirty minutes kept centering schooling, or more specifically how to help kids survive schooling instead of simply encouraging families to opt out of systems that do so much harm to kids. So I opted out of the webinar, dropped off, and got some work done.


Observing bees on dandelions

Facilitator Lauren had one-to-one check-ins with the youngest and one of the oldest Learners in the late morning, while Facilitator Ariel organized an in-person, socially distanced, fully masked up check-in with a Learner who has been struggling being away from the other Learners. The Learner (and his family) were quite excited for the meet up. They spent some time looking at the changing nature of dandelions in the yard, as well as a bee that was making the most of the dandelions. They then went on a bike ride, allowing the Learners’ young brother to join in.

Meanwhile, back in the virtual world a Learner was ready for his Among Us offering. In the morning meeting during announcements he declared that he would need commitments from people to host the offering, and it seemed to rub people the wrong way. We typically ask for commitments when there is some sort of resource constraint such as we need to deliver something to each person who wants to participate, or in non-pandemic times a Facilitator will be driving them somewhere away from the facility so we need enough people to make taking the Facilitator and the vehicle away from the facility, but not so many that we cannot fit everyone in the vehicle. No one ended up showing up for the Among Us offering.

Facilitator Lauren’s art and fart offering did draw one Learner. The offering is just about doing something artistic with each other while being available to talk. To fart around, really. The offering was named in particular for a Learner who really appreciates fart jokes, but who before this day never showed up for the offering. But on this day the Learner did show up, so she and Facilitator Lauren got to art and fart together.

The calendar really started to crowd up around 2:00 p.m. with an adolescent Learner’s 75-minute workout offering kicking off, Facilitator Ariel’s online gaming offering starting, and a one-to-one check-in between me and a Learner. I was actually going to be late to my one-to-one had it not been for the Learner reminding me of the meeting. I admitted that I had not set my alarm (a prior practice) but fortunately for us he did. In the one-to-one the Learner led off by asking me if I knew that there were multiple Mona Lisa paintings. I said I was not necessarily aware of that, but I knew from my reading of Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson that he often made multiple copies of paintings, and that many renowned painters like him who had apprentice painters would collaborate on paintings or that the apprentices would try to recreate paintings. I highly recommended that he listen to the book on tape.

Unfortunately no one showed up for the online gaming offering, but two others showed up for the 75-minute workout led by an adolescent Learner. That was a sharp drop off from the number who showed for the Monday workout, but the workout reportedly went quite well and they are looking to reengage on Friday. Thirty minutes after the workout began my free write offering began. An older Learner dropped into the Discord voice channel where we meet for the offering to ask what free write was. After I explained it he said he would like to join so that he could write music knowing others were also writing. He then pinged Facilitator Ariel, who because no one showed up at the online gaming offering, was able to join.

Preparing the yarrow salve kits

Preparing the yarrow salve kits

At the afternoon roundup I led with the practices from last cycle and asked everyone how they were doing on any of them. Then we opened up for announcements, and then shared what feels so good in our lives right now: sleeping eight hours a night, the warm weather, my relationships, my [very comfortable] chair, my bed, eating cookies, getting time to spend with my seven chickens, breathing, a massage chair [that I do not actually have], my bed, meh, playing video games with friends. We then adjourned the meeting and stuck around chatting with folks as they slowly dropped off the zoom call. When all the Learners left, the Facilitators reviewed the day as we always do, and made plans for the next day. Facilitator Lauren informed us that she had finished preparing the yarrow kits for her offering on Friday, and that she would drive them into Austin that evening. I agreed to pick them up and deliver them to the folks who committed to participating in the offering.