The Shepherd's Staff
Welcome to our community news bulletin!
This is the story of the time we developed four outdoor classrooms on a 24-acre ranch in Ramona over a period of three months using entirely reclaimed materials and volunteer labor. It was deeply satisfying to flesh out a place-based education program, centered around the mutual benefit of people, plants, and planet. It was also a brilliant demonstration of what can happen when human capacity meets resource consciousness. Thanks to our many helping hands!
One week before our program was scheduled to start, I received word that the county had issued a cease-and-desist order after multiple complaints from a neighbor. They wanted us to get a conditional use permit to run a "school." Next would come the mandates.
And we're not playing that game. According to the United States Constitution, parents have the unalienable right to make educational decisions for their children. We also have the right to assemble. If my pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness includes participation in an empowering, comprehensive, and healthy offering for kids, who can lawfully deny it?
However, being a fledgling program, we needed a more supportive place to make our stand. We packed up our supplies. Gave away the ducks, chickens, kittens, and goats. Said good-bye to the ranch, and all we had planted.
Ultimately, we need our own land. We need a place to raise our seedlings, both literal and figurative, in fertile terrain. Little Shepherds Nature Lab doesn't want to cower down and play small. It wants to root deep and become a tall tree.
In the meanwhile, we have a fundraising goal of $24,000 to help us transform a school bus into a Mobile Learning Lab and move forward with our mission to deliver regenerative educational offerings in San Diego County. Think Ms. Frizzle meets John Jeavons!
When we find a suitable place to raise a full-time kinder program, an expansion to grades 1-5, and place-based building projects for older kids, our original seed will come out, shining and singing and ready to sprout.
Little Shepherds Nature Lab will grow on. Stay tuned!