Dear friends and family of the Field Academy,
Six years ago, the Field Academy was a conversation around a kitchen table in a drafty apartment with a broken heater. It was sketches on napkins and lists on the back of brown paper bags. It was “the Radix Project” (thankfully, that name was short-lived!). It was hours spent debating the purpose of education, and driving up and down the coast of Maine, and trying to figure out how to explain in 20 words or less just what it was that we were trying to do.
Today the Field Academy is a real, live community. The heart of this community is our alumni: students and teachers who are some of the most inspiring, vibrant, and visionary people we know. The web of this community extends to include the communities and individuals who spend months planning with us, co-teaching, hosting our students; the organizations and individuals working for change in this country who have helped us think and re-think our curricula and challenged us with hard questions; the teachers, students, supporters, donors, friends, family, board members, and believers who have supported us and our programs since the very beginning.
In these six years, together, we’ve learned a few things...
We’ve learned that education that brings real people from diverse backgrounds into relationship with each other with the goal of witnessing, of sharing stories, learning about someone’s home, and seeking to hear both the celebrations and struggle that they experience is an important antidote to homogeneity and divisiveness in today’s world.
We've also learned that this type of education without political and economic context can serve to perpetuate rather than break down stereotypes of poverty and progress in this country.
We’ve learned that relationships build movements and that stories make movements human.
We've learned that young people want to lead, and are wildly capable of leading, not only this organization, but transformative change in this world.
We’ve learned that people across this country share a love for the places they call home, a desire to care for their families, and aspirations for meaningful work. These powerful things are commonly held in so many communities. We’ve also learned about many of the threats to these hopes and dreams.
Given what we’ve witnessed and what we’ve learned, we find ourselves, six years into creating the Field Academy feeling deep urgency to build education that supports movements for equity and justice through love, community, and resilience while confronting the realities of climate change, of racism and sexism, of the legacy of colonization and necolonialism alive in our country and world at this moment.
This urgency sounds like questions that echo in our conversations:
The world is a different place today than it was six years ago. And, in many ways, we’ve changed too. Teaching at the Field Academy has changed us. This organization has, from its inception, determined to learn about real-world critical issues across this country. During these years many of these issues - political, environmental, economic, social - have become louder, deeper, more divisive, and more urgent. At the same time, we have become even more committed to creating educational experiences to meet this reality head on, with vision, compassion, and action. We feel like this sabbatical is important for us and for this community as we step more deeply into this work and into ourselves. We hope you are excited to take this pause and meet this moment with us.
To read more about our plans and ideas, click here. And, as always, please be in touch to share your thoughts, questions, and inspirations with us. We will be checking email more intermittently this year, but will love to hear from you.
Jen and Heather