The Banyan Tree Community School
A Community School for Life
Jeff Sale and Jodi Reed
Parents, educators, and leaders:
A group of us are interested in building a community and school
outside of San Diego. Home schooling sounds appealing, but we think a
community school would be ideal, not just for the kids, but also for
the adults who would otherwise live somewhat isolated, fragmented
lives. We think a co-housing arrangement would be a lot of fun as
well as a practical way to share resources. Think about how rich our
children's lives would be in an eclectic environment supported by
caring, creative adults who like to think and talk.
If you're not familiar with Co-op housing, it works like this:
Each family unit (or individual) owns its own dwelling. This can be
either an unattached house or a condo. A centrally located building
holds a large kitchen, dining hall, and living/entertainment area.
Cooking duties are shared by Co-op members on a rotational basis.
Members of the Co-op housing group can also arrange for child-care
and home schooling options with other members. Co-op housing members
are able to pool their resources to create mega-workshops, computer
LAN systems, or whatever they desire. Co-housing offers a genuine
feel of community at an affordable price, and is a logical
arrangement for a group of like-minded individuals looking for a
change. It is very popular in Denmark, and has enjoyed some success
in communities in the United States.
Preliminary Designs of the Banyan Tree Community and
Since we did these drawings, our vision has changed somewhat, so
stay tuned for future modifications of the design. Regardless, this
design was inspired in part by the architecture of James Hubbell, who
is a talented and creative architect living in Julian, CA, a small
town in the mountains east of San Diego.
Elevation of The Banyan Tree School
Floor Plan of The Banyan Tree School
Banyan Tree Community Plan
We're thinking of pooling our resources to
* a community school
* a community garden (for health, beauty, the
peace of growing, and learning opportunity for the kids)
* a truly awesome library
* guest rooms in the shared house
* a computer network linked to the Internet
* a fireplace (perfect for after-dinner
* a hot tub (& pool & sauna?) (perfect
for after-dinner discussions)
* an adults-only tree-house & a kids-only
* a central courtyard
* a water-reclamation system
* works of art
We're interested in preserving privacy, but we want plenty of
opportunity for informal discussions, shared dinners, and other
community-based activities. A "community association" financial
arrangement makes sense. We would each own our private land plots and
would contribute a flat fee or percentage of income to the shared
grounds. Only those involved in the school would have to support it,
and hopefully we could eventually bring in a small income from school
activities & tuition. We've got a lot of diversity in our group
and may be able to create income options that support the community,
both financially and spiritually.
Where will this be?
We'd like to find a rural area North or East of San Diego
(Escondido, San Marcos, El Cajon). We want nearby hiking, employment,
& universities. We want to be close enough to San Diego for
people to easily commute to jobs, but far enough out to feel isolated
from the big city.
What will the school be like?
We envision a small school (for our own kids at the beginning)
based on home schooling principles (parental involvement, project
oriented). Our working name at this point is The Banyan Tree. The
branches of a Banyan tree send out shoots that root to form secondary
trunks: a fitting symbol at many levels.
* lots of play and hands-on activities for
the little kids
* parental involvement (critical!)
* regular story time (parents and older kids can
read or tell stories)
* lots of books
* hikes & climbing
* gardening (kids plan and maintain their own
* computers! (lego-logo programming, desktop
publishing, Internet pen-pals, mathematics, interactive instruction,
Meme, AVS, etc.)
* projects (design & build a tree house, for
* community service (trail maintenance, creek
* kid-centered (adults are "coaches")
* music, sing-alongs
* chores, responsibility
* writing letters, stories, books, etc.
* painting, crafts (fun with pop sickle sticks!)
* puppies, kittens, goats, chickens (of course
the kids take care of them)
* pond ecosystem
* general systems thinking
* shop (woodworking, rocket-building, etc.)
* science lab (microscope, chemistry sets,
spectacular demos/"magic" shows)
* field trips (Wildlife Park, Ruben H. Fleet,
Sea World, museums, ocean, etc..)
* community business?
* values/spirituality (taught primarily by
* regular quiet time/meditation/prayer
We're currently in the early stages: getting to know each other,
discussing the possibilities & looking for land.
Why are we telling you this?
We're interested in the experiences and wisdom of others, and
we're also hoping to promote creative living. Since we began
discussing this, many of us have experienced a surge in energy. Our
increased inspiration was born of our sense of dissatisfaction with
modern life; perhaps you can also find creative solutions to your
Thought for the Day:
Dare to be naive. - Buckminster Fuller