Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Self Sustainable Schools and Neighborhoods

I understand why schools and students are protesting budget cuts; I think the protests let folks know how strongly people feel about the issue. But it is clear the money or resources aren’t there because of lack of education, so protesting is not a solution, it’s not even a band-aid.

Communities have forgotten and need to relearn how to fund their own educational institutions and how to reboot their own local economies.

Charging huge tuition fees to local students so that some locals don’t get a good education cancels out the benefits of what an education to a child or youth can bring to a local community. What does work for the community is using the institution and it’s teachers, or part of it, to make it’s own money and extra work hours, as well as give quality education.

When we look back to history, say… as recently as early to mid 20th Century, schools and towns raised money through fetes and flea markets. Weekly flea and craft markets are wonderful traditions that bring people out to meet their neighbor on a regular basis, which makes a safer healthier community and example for kids to learn by living.

School corridors, gyms, halls, and play and sports grounds are perfect venues for craft and flea markets, because they have the space and the bathroom amenities and safety access. If a school can fit 120 vendor booths at $75 each for a Sunday = $9,000 per Sunday = $35,000 per month = $432,000 per year.

Schoolrooms and teachers could earn more money evenings and weekends teaching classes on how to make, grow, fix things or provide services to sell at the markets. Thus creating a sustainable micro economy and funding line for the school, and give a boost to local culture and community health and safety.

Fetes, markets, and classes - as many as possible. Recreate your school and you recreate your community into the society a school is supposed to create.

I’ve worked as a vendor coordinator for festivals and flea markets, it is a bit of work to set up and may be confusing at first, but with a bit of lateral thinking, some web 2.0 tools and event skills, the problems get worked out and it’s smooth sailing from there. And it works…

Schools also must give kids fresh food, preferably vegetarian to help them calm down raging hormones and increase focus in class. Sugar overload, trans fats, lack of nutrients creates learning disabilities. No wonder kids are going nuts and can’t concentrate or remember stuff. Get the kids to growing a school garden and feeding it in the cafeteria. It will teach kids to respect food, give better nutrition, calm the kids down, make parents and teachers happier, and save a bunch of budget.

Schools are the only real community centers left, except for the shopping mall. But a shopping mall doesn’t teach you about your neighbors and life and being part of something bigger than yourself.

Arts venues could be used for professional plays, concerts, and dances for parents and local citizens. Make use of the space for the community so students have a healthy community to grow into.

Bring back community self responsibility and sustainability.

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