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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Just fer fun

I'm waaaaayyyy behind on photo developing once again and I really like having visuals with blog entries so I decided to play instead of actually writing about what's been happening. We had the ARGH gathering last weekend which was a lot of fun. You can see some of Steve Cooperman's pics here. So just for fun, I swiped this from Kelli T's blog so I have something to blog about until photos come back.

The idea is to google the answers to the following questions. Google images to be precise.:) Have fun!

1. My age next year: 39

This is a nebula approximately 7,000 light years away that is called Abell 39. It's 6 light years across. Damn that's big! I liked this image better than the Interstate 39 one.:)

2. Place I'd like to travel: Chile

Chile seems a place of extremes. Warm temps, cool temps, beaches, mountains....plus I could catch a boat to the Antarctic, another dream of mine. The Patagonia mountains are breathtaking from the photos. I think it reminds me a bit of my birthplace.

3. Favorite place: Prince William Sound Alaska

The Prince William Sound is a place we visited every summer, at least once. My Grandfather owns a cabin on Busby Island. The above photo is a narrow view of the village of Tatitlek which is situated at the base of mountains, accessible only by water (though it is connected to the mainland) and sits right across the bay from our cabin. I can see the village from the bunk bed, through wavy glass in our cabin tucked at the edge of a northern rain forest on a rocky beach. Bald eagles share the island with us, as well as weasels, frogs, deer, blue herons and an abundance of sea life.

It was magical to me as a child. I never lost that awe. Where else can you fish all day, catch nothing and feel like you've won? Sitting on the water surrounded by mountains, whales, sea lions, fishing boats and watching the glaciers calve is nothing less than amazing. It is a place that is sacred to me. A place I carry with me always.

4. Favorite Object(s): Art Supplies

I wavered on this one. Books are up there, a good hand-made ceramic mug, maybe the quilt made of my Mum's clothing. But no, in the end I really love my art supplies the most.

5. Favorite food: Artichokes. Or is it Nachos? Or chocolate. Oooh, oooh, homemade bread. Hmmmm.....how can I pick just ONE?? Cripes people.

I'm a foodie. Anyone that knows me for five minutes knows that much. But the artichoke wins for it's sheer artfulness.

6. Favorite Animal: Anything in the Falcon family

But here's one I grew up observing and respecting. Fierce creatures those.

7. Favorite Color: One? Again? No. How about Blues and Purples.

8. My nickname: Um....Ren.

Yeah, yeah...there were a ton of the usual Ren and Stimpy pics at first glance. I liked this one better. Her name is Ren-chan from a show called Erementar Gerad. I have no idea if it's worth watching, but hey, it's anime!

9. Town I was born in: Fairbanks, Alaska.

I remember shopping downtown with my Mom when I was very small. I can still smell the popcorn in the old Woolworths building and feel the excitement of a new pair of shoes.

I also remember all too well, one of the reasons I will probably never call Alaska "home" again. Nope, not for me. I need more than two seasons and a real summer where you have more than 2.5 months in which to grow things. I do miss the moose in the yard and being able to cross country ski out of your back door. Oh, and those glorious mountains. Sigh.

10. Bad habit I have: Me? Bad habits?
Ah ok.
...just one? I'll go with my habit of trying to finish people's sentences. That one brings up some strange images, and then some punctuation help.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I think I love Chriss Angel

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Went to the Beekeeping Association's monthly meeting last night. I expected to find a room with perhaps 10-12 people and was shocked to enter a large room full-to-busting with over 80 people! It's really exciting how much support there is for agriculture here.

I met a couple of new folks, many experienced beekeepers and gained a lot of valuable information. I'll be taking the beekeeping class for beginners in March. Very exciting.
So I'm a member now, with no bees.:) One step at a time.

And this, from Storypeople today, I can totally relate:

I can remember walking down
the street, saying my name over & over,
until all of a sudden, it didn't sound like
my name anymore. It didn't even sound
like a word at all & then I stopped & the
silence rushed in & whispered words that
sounded more like my real name & I smiled
& thought to myself how surprised my
parents would be when they found out
what a mistake they had made.

Oh, and CG...
I met Ken and Kathy but couldn't remember who referred me to them until I got home! Then I searched and searched for the post where you'd mentioned them and couldn't find that....Bleu thinks I've lost my mind. Anyway, they were really interesting and I plan to visit their apiary soon! Thanks for the recommendation because now I can buy everything locally.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Unschooling gathering in Eastern TN!!

Some of you have probably read this at more than one list, but I figured I'd post it here anyway! I'm really excited to have Steve Cooperman and Eli Gerzon heading this way as I type. They are inspirational souls and we're lucky to have their presence at this gathering. Hopefully, this will spawn many new and unique get togethers for unschoolers in this region.

See you there! Here's the email that has been sent with all the information:

Autodidact Radical Gathering of Homeschoolers

ARGH is a two-day event loosely inspired by BarCamp, an experiment in bringing people together to share, learn and play in an open environment. For more information on Barcamps, check this website: http://barcamp.org/

How the Schedule Works

ARGH has no strict format. The actual schedule will be determined as a group on Saturday morning based on the number of, and interest in, the proposed sessions.

Event details

When: Friday November 23rd and Saturday November 24th.
Where: Johnson City TN area
Cost: Requested donation of $10 per family to cover space rental costs and help cover some of Steve and Eli's travel costs. If your family can help out with a bit more, that is great. If you truly can't afford it, please come anyway!! All are welcome regardless of financial situations.



~Potluck and drum circle 5pm-8pm at Kiwanis Rec Center on Market Street. Bring a dish to share and drinks for your family. If you have drums, please bring them along!

~For anyone wanting to stay up later and hear some live music, Cristabel and the Jons will be playing in downtown Johnson City at Acoustic Coffeehouse at 10pm. You can hear some of their music at myspace: http://www.myspace.com/christabelmusic

Acoustic Coffeehouse has food (including some veggie choices), great beer, smoothies and more for those that want to hang out for a while. It's a diverse and family friendly environment. Cristabel plays a lot of old standards and swing style music, great fun for dancing! They do request that minors leave at 11pm (city thing) so we could just hang out on the non-stage side after the potluck rather than waiting to get down there until 10pm.


10am-6pm at Trinity Baptist Church on Hwy. 11E in Jonesborough.
This church is letting us use a main room and a couple classrooms plus
a kitchen. The kitchen has everything needed to prepare/heat your lunch.

This will be loosely structured in the bar camp style. We will post all possible topics and everyone will decide which they'd like to attend. We'll split up into various areas with a very open format that gives everyone input and allows for a
lot of flow. The main idea is to have fun, learn and share while building connections with other unschoolers (and those interested in unschooling) in our

Proposed Sessions

~“Winging It Around the World: Assorted Nuts and Bolts of World Travel”

~“Self-Educated = Self-Employed: Entrepreneurism 101” (Steve/Eli)

~Grown Unschooler Panel (if you have a teen/young adult unschooler thatmight like to participate, please let me know!)

~"The case for creativity" (Ren)

~"The Zen of Unschooling" (Ren)

~“Creating Community: A Structured Conversation” (Steve)

~Ongoing ATC funshop

~Cob building and sustainable communities workshop (Katherine)

Please add your ideas here. Any passion or interest you'd like to share with others, is most welcome as a possible topic. Think of topics you might like to see discussed also. There just might be someone willing to facilitate such a discussion!:)

• Ren Allen, starsuncloud@comcast.net
• Eli Gerzon, egwizard@yahoo.com
• Steve Cooperman, stevecooperman@hotmail.com

Please email me to be added to the participants list.
Walk-ups are also welcome, but we need some idea of how many to expect in order to better plan. Thank you!!

Task List/requested items to bring:

~Anyone willing to bring a couple items to share for the toddler corner (open to any and all ages, the idea is to have items that are safe for little ones for ongoing play) let me know.
I will have large legos and brio train track in abundance. Bring anything other than those items. Once a person offers to bring an item(s) we won't have anyone else bring that so it's easier to sort out when the day is over.

~Any art supplies you might enjoy using for ATC's. More information can be found about artist trading cards here: http://www.cedarseed.com/air/atc.html
I will have plenty of blank ATC's for you and your family to create with. Bring some extra scissors (might want to mark with your name) glue sticks, stickers, funky papers, embellishments, stamps etc... anything you would enjoy using.
There will be art materials available for everyone to use also.

~Taco Bell, McDonalds, Arby's, Jonesborough Pizza Parlour and other restaurants are nearby if needed. The location is also within short driving distance to several grocery stores.

Overnight accommodations can be found at Sleep Inn. If our group reserves at least five rooms, the rate will be $62.00 instead of the usual $84.99. You can contact Sleep Inn at 423-915-0081. I will be emailing directions to both activity locations from the Sleep Inn
and from the freeway. The hotel is conveniently located near I-26, Barnes and Noble, Atlanta Bread Co., Natural Food Market and other businesses. It's an easy drive to both activity locations for Friday and Saturday. **NOTE: Please make sure you tell them you are with
the ARGH homeschool group so they apply your discount!!

Some local activities you might be interested in:

~Hands-On Children's Museum

~Historic town of Jonesborough TN (oldest town in TN...very quaint. One of the houses in downtown was the location of some of the very first abolitionist publications! It still stands today, with a sign out front detailing it's history. There is a log cabin that Andrew
Jackson lived in for a year or so while he practiced law in Jonesborough. It's fun to just walk around and see all the cute shops.)

~If you get here early on Friday, Jonesborough has it's annual art/craft fair:

~Storytelling Center, located in Jonesborough:

~Speedway in Lights (holiday display and ice skating rink at the Bristol Motor Speedway)

~Bays Mountain Park (my kids love the wolves up there. If you see a lake in the pictures, assume it's extremely low now. The drought has deeply affected our waterways up here)

~The Mall at Johnson City (not too exciting, but there it is)

~The Rocky Mount living history museum

~The Exchange Place, living history farm

~Davy Crockett State Park (and info. about other state parks here)

~Info. on Davy Crockett

~Info. on Daniel Boone and the Boone Wilderness Trail

Also: If anyone wants to stay around for Sunday to just hang out and walk downtown Jonesborough (or go to a park, or??) that is an option too! My family will certainly be available for more fun.:)

I hope to see you there! If you have any questions, or plan to come, please write me ASAP! Thank you,

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” ~Rumi

Friday, November 02, 2007

Wake up!!!

Is Eastern TN going to wake up? Are we going to realize how serious the water issues are? Or are we going to sit in a dull sleep because we can turn on the tap and water miraculously appears without much thought about where the hell it all comes from? Maybe if we had to draw a bucket up from a drying well, we'd get serious really fast.

There isn't much left folks. We need to get serious about conservation. I'm thinking it might be too late. Some towns have run out already. Where will all that water come from when the entire region finally wakes up? Why isn't this all over the news and why aren't city officials trying to scare the crap out of everyone in order to save water? I wonder....