“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”
― Gary Snyder
While preparing to welcome the first Millennium class to the 2016-17 school year, we have been investigating our dynamic new neighborhood around the Boys & Girls Club. Our intention is to forge real connections with our city environment, emphatically rejecting the view that kids need to be segregated from society for eight hours every day. There’s just so much near our location on Fulton Street to take advantage of, from the stylish cafés of Hayes Valley to the public access, municipal buildings and world-class cultural institutions around San Francisco’s Civic Center. For most schools, field trips can take a whole day, and so become harder to arrange; for us, we can visit places like City Hall or the San Francisco Symphony and be back practically within the hour.
There is plenty to see, learn, and consume in our neighborhood, but we also plan to do what we can to contribute to the health and vitality of the area as well. We’ve already made connections with the homeless outreach program of San Francisco’s Main Library, which in 2009 became the first library in the country to hire a homelessness social worker. There will be many opportunities in our first year to ask questions, understand what is going on, and work towards the alleviation of suffering in the SF homeless population. Another opportunity for Millennium students will be with the Vote16SF effort, a local ballot initiative to expand voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds in San Francisco. We even secretly hope a Millennium School student gets appointed to the SF Youth Commission, which recruits members as young as 12! Even though 380 Fulton Street is not our permanent place on the planet, we still strive, in Gary Snyder’s words, to “dig in and take responsibility” while we’re there.
So how often will students be out of the building? Right now we have a standing community excursion every Friday afternoon, typically connected to one of our academic quests, and there will be many more opportunities throughout the year. Initial ventures out of the building will be undertaken as a school community or in advisory groups with adult supervision, yet our hope is that students will soon be ready to make targeted visits on their own in pairs or small groups. After all, wouldn’t it be fun to do some reading or work with your committee at, say, Little Gem on Gough Street or Boulangerie on Hayes Street (providing we can make a deal for a pitcher of iced tea or lemonade)? Or, if it’s a warm day, how about working at a table near the interactive temple on Patricia’s Green? If you visit the neighborhood sometime over the summer, see if you can find “Millennium School” written on one of the temple’s pieces (or add your own and send a photo)!