Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mobile School Building

In preparation for Tuesday's meeting with Kate Cahill, when we will discuss the building for the School of the Future-- a mobile modular school, this is an email interview that might clarify some questions about this 'school' 'building'. Please chime in online or at our meeting next Tuesday if you are interested!

Kate also gave us this amazing link to Pushcart Schools in the Philippines:
"For the past 12 years, PeƱaflorida and his team of teen volunteers have taught basic reading and writing to children living on the streets. Their main tool: A pushcart classroom."

Questions by Kate Cahill
, answers by Cassie.

How permanent is the school?
I see the school as being permanent, adaptable, reusable, moveable. It should be modular so that it can be adapted to many different terrains and class situations. I like the pushcart idea as a complimentary piece of the school-- it can be sent out for project missions from the mothership. For this summer we will be set up in Sgt. Dougherty Park for a one month trial run of the school.

How many people to set it up/break it down?
The school should be able to be set up with two people to begin. more difficult construction can happen at each school site depending on what is happening, but the basic part should be pretty light and simple- a fancy tent that's more than a tent.

Is transport on the back of a bike still the goal? Maybe the pushcart can attach to a bike, but the entire thing could be larger... maybe small enough to fold and fit into a medium size vehicle.
How many occupants at once? Hmm, since I am thinking of the school building as being quite small with opportunities to expand out, the nucleus part only needs to hold 4-6 people at a time. That can act as an office and more intimate workspace.
What kinds of space will be needed?
I think we need a good place to talk, draw, eat, and construct models: a table, a whiteboard, some seating.

What goes on inside? (bathroom? drinking water? storage? dancing? climbing wall?) Can you reveal more to me about what kind of school/learning is going to be housed by this structure?
I don't think we need a bathroom. I see it as a meeting and brainstorming boutique. A place where we plan- a central idea nucleus lab, and our actions move outward, expand physically from the central space by ways of lots of snaps, velcro, and ziptied attachments, amendments, extensions. LeCorbusier's museum of unlimited growth is a good way for me to think about it. Every class might add its own addition until the original central room is completely disguised. So, I am not sure what will happen inside. I will type a list from the notes that I have taken from our discussions, but there is a broad range from dancing to shoemaking.

I see a grey water system listed as a potential. is that born out of a need for water, or a general desire to include some shinny sustainable tactics?

I think the grey water system is a great way to begin to use observation and reactivity as a cornerstone for curriculum. The school will first exist in a derelict deserted park next to the BQE, bordered by STAPLES and the ConEdison plant fields. In reaction, we should do whatever we can to clean it up, spiff it up, process the air and water and soil like we are the mushrooms, remediating what we can. It doesn't have to be a permanent feature of the school, but it should definitely be explored for this summer's manifestation.

$10 - $100K...general range, what sort of budget are we talkin' here?
I hope to raise more than $5K. We have the potential to work with Association of Teaching Artists and I am spreading the word to other interesting organizations who might give us more clout in the fundraising world. I am working with TrustArt still too, and they are really into raising social and financial capital, and if we set a goal they will help us meet it. I am in the dark as to what we NEED but I think that if you help us define the cost of materials AND we start hoarding materials NOW we can definitely make exactly what we want.

Exactly who all is involved in this project?

Everyone-- Teaching Artist Union is my main community, but that said, it is growing and expanding constantly. I want to find ways to involve all the artists I know. There is interest from the outside, from other organizations, but I want it to mostly be made out of a community for that community. That's us! Teaching artists, artists, teachers! And I want to offer local members of Bushwick and Greenpoint a sincerious place in the process and the school itself.

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