[Image: A very ugly banner that says “Shenanigans! March 2020”]
Okay so wow – life here in the US sure changed abruptly over the last month.
Let’s take a moment to breathe. Two big breaths. Let’s go.
Slowly, and surely, and with a lot of stumbles and, for anyone who needs it – weeks to take care of yourself and a quiet convalescence to process
But for the most part – we are in this. We’ve been preparing for this, and we’re about as ready as we’re ever gonna yet. Everything we’ve been working for – it’s still possible. Many of the things we’re worried about – they’ve been amplified. All of the flaws in our system, they are showing. All of the privileges we’ve been given – it’s time to acknowledge them and use them to help others.
One more big deep breath. Back to it.
Now is the time to stay vigilant against bullshit, fillers, and time-wasters
Educators and caregivers just entering the unschool community are scrambling to find pre-vetted, reliable resources in a sea of…well…complete crap.
Seriously, the garbage that people have been spreading this month has been overwhelming. I ranted about this a little in the Luminary Brain Trust and the BFL Facebook group – but THIS IS NOT A TIME TO CREATE FOMO FOR ANXIOUS FAMILIES.
Folks are looking to profit off our anxiety about missed school and ‘enrichment’ (barf). Families are struggling to keep their jobs while staying home and managing loud and busy kids.
WE ARE NOT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS. Understood? GREAT.
If you see folks sharing misinformation, using caregiver anxiety to market to nervous caregivers, or people trying to drum up anxiety in order to sell us shit, shut it down.
And with that, let’s establish who should and should not be paying for these kinds of resources below:
Obligatory info & support button that I have to put here because our members keep demanding it:
With rare exceptions, the resources I create are free and accessible for folks who face obstacles to educational resources and can’t afford a paywall. Now more than ever, while public schools are closed and caregivers and educators are struggling for accessible resources, we need to keep going. If you’re struggling, support your family and use these resources, I am gleefully happy to provide this work for free so you can have it.
However, if you’re surviving the pandemic without negative effects on your finances, and you benefit (hard stare at folks who repackage my work for profit, rant below) from this work, please help me support my family while I support yours.
But FIRST support your local food banks and crisis response funds, please! My family will survive the month. Many others won’t.
What we accomplished this month:
This month started out as Women’s History Month, and took a hard and surreal swerve into Screaming WASH YOUR HANDS At Each Other Month.
Oh also we’re full-time unschoolers now, I guess. But also both of us are still working – thank goodness. My partner remaining employed and retaining most of our patreon support has been a lifesaver for us. I am beyond grateful for all of you.
And, still THE KIDS ARE HOME. So things are going to be wonky around here for a bit while we find a new way to be. Like you – life stuff, like family funerals, paying the bills, meeting work deadlines, and getting dinner on the table still need to happen.
These past couple weeks have been a deer-in-the-headlights situation, if you know what I mean. So things have been spotty, and things are going to change, but we are all still here. Still in it. Same mission.
Adapting to what needs to happen now. Grateful that we get to do it together.
New & Updated website posts:
After this winter’s experiments with minimally-formatted book collections debacle, we’re returning to the old format of BREAK IT DOWN, make it simple, name it, and provide easy books for new & fragile folks to start the work. Which means more busywork, and less content. But this is what folks need, so I’m here for it.
New public book collections & spotlights: (See the full archive list here)
Caregivers and educators are scrambling and I want to make this clear that NONE of these resources are urgent. Right now, I’m building up a library of resources that I know folks will need once they can get their heads above water. Don’t worry about getting these books ASAP.
It’s just a resource for when you’re ready and in need for that next step forward.
- Older Lives Are Worth Living: Fighting Ageism & Deathmisia In Children’s Books (3/22/2020)
- Kids Books For Sudden Unschoolers (3/14/2020)
- Reassuring Kids During Covid 19 Isolation (3/14/2020)
- Subverting Systemic Racism in Kidlit Publishing with Activist Author Zetta Elliott (3/1/2020)
- I’ve updated a ton of book collections – but didn’t keep track of which ones because THINGS ARE A LITTLE CHAOTIC RIGHT NOW. So, um. Enjoy?
Behind the scenes website stuff:
Updates on Unpolished Book Lists: They are all completely free and open to the public now.
Okay let’s get real for a second. The point of my patreon-only unpolished book lists is to:
- temporarily set aside rough draft book collections until I have the time to simplify, polish, and do that spoon-feeding thing for newbies,
- make a space for filler books that aren’t quite good enough for the front page,
- and work out my infodumps in a safe space where only folks I trust have access, so I don’t have to deal with trolls and folks who don’t have scaffolding and try to mansplain what’s going on here
- Nudge folks on the fence about supporting my work into clicking on the patreon button. (Not proud of this one, but I have a family to support.)
I lock these for collaborator-level patrons because unlike members in our free groups and the public web comments, I’m fairly confident no one is going to pay me $5 just to be an ass at me, and these are the folks who are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt when I don’t explain things perfectly and eloquently.
But also within these resources, we’ve started to compile some really important things that I’m feeling urgently compelled to spread earlier (and messily) rather than later. And with this new influx of folks trying to homeschool and unschool, struggling for resources and without access to libraries to pre-screen books before they purchase them, I feel kind of uncomfortable keeping them locked.
So for the duration of school closings, if it’s any solace, I’m unlocking all of our locked website content, and this primarily affects these posts:
So I’m asking you for the following boundaries:
All of these resources are now free and accessible for the public right now. I’m trusting you to use it without hurting me in return.
- If you can afford to support my work, and you use stuff I create, please become a Patreon supporter.
- If you can’t afford to support my work, USE IT ALL. This is all FOR YOU. Please keep your money and buy food and medicine and rent and whatever you need to get through the day.
- If you see something in the locked posts, originally meant for a closed audience, and something doesn’t sit well with you, comment and let me know so I can make it more appealing for the masses.
- If you are a patreon supporter and you’re annoyed that this is now free when you’ve been contributing money to access it – feel free to cancel your membership, because I think we might have misunderstood each other. Supporters aren’t paying me to GET MORE stuff. They pay me because I’ve already provided oodles of stuff, for free, and this is how we afford to provide more, for folks who can’t afford it.
Seriously though – if you are a literacy specialist, blogger, or professor, author, or other professional repackaging my work, I can see what you’re doing (even folks with locked course websites – I can see pingbacks!) The rest of our community can see what you’re doing, and many of them even tell me. As I see it happening more and more, it’s getting kind of weird.
If you’re a supporter, it’s cool! But when you’re just taking it and using it to profit without supporting us – it’s kind of uncomfortable for everyone when you cut and paste or just re-phrase my writing and add your own affiliate links. Awkward.
New Stuff for Patrons
These are still a mix of public and patron-only, mostly because these are exclusively perks that are nice to have, but you can live without. Now that I’m moving more of our content to the website, I’m using the patreon feed as more of an email newsletter service – this is the only way I can afford to send direct email campaigns.
So if you want to see them all, visit the Patreon posts feed.
But I want to highlight this one for everybody in case you missed it: If you are financially impacted by the pandemic and social isolation, PLEASE LET ME KNOW so I can refund your contributions this month and future ones as they process. Leave a comment here, or over on the post, or send me a Patreon private message, and I’ll refund your contribution ASAP.
This works well for me because then I don’t feel guilty about folks who are too busy to cancel their memberships, AND I know we can reconnect automatically once the storm has passed.
We’ve lost a few supporters this month, and I am 100% happy about it, because I want you to take care of your families and communities first. I particularly love it when these cancellations come with a “It’s not you, it’s the pandemic” message. Because I’ll be honest, the ones where it’s like “You’re not doing enough” kind of send me into a spiral.
Luminary Brain Trust
Luminary-level members, we abruptly halted our series on doing less busywork and prioritizing in our mission to raise kind and courageous kiddos. Now we are…umm. Okay honestly, this space is basically my safe space where I can vent and we can discuss prickly subjects.
So we’re doing whatever I need at the moment. And it seems to be working well, because lots of you seem to need the same thing.
In the spirit of connecting during social isolation, I hosted our first live stream chat event.
It was lovely, and I was awkward, and I’m looking forward to getting better at it. I’m currently recapping the things that went well (getting to see some of my favorite people), what didn’t (getting cut off by the free zoom time limit right after Jimmy Carter got abducted and vaccinated by aliens), and what would make it a good resource for you.
I’m also working on typing up our discussion using Pretty Salma to discuss coercion and grooming tactics. Which, I don’t want to be thinking this far ahead, but at some point – will be something we need to think about. Between overworked parents sending kids outside for some quiet, emergency workers leaving kids in new and unusual spaces for childcare, and as we re-work our exposure to folks online. Kids need to be prepared.
(Don’t worry – we have time. So don’t rush.) I’ll let you know when that’s ready.
Student Ignition Society
This will be a central space to find our Family Action Toolkits. We’ll be adding links to #OwnVoices educators, trustworthy and reliable education websites, and we’re still here as a community for educators to gather and support each other.
I really want to highlight our quick action page. I didn’t have much time to research the best grassroots organization to support in such short notice, so this is our first pancake. Also this was my chance to finally use my ‘serious face’ profile photo, in which I finally have a good excuse to look a little fierce.
This is to underline how much I need help with this.
With my kids home, I can no longer invest 5-10 hours a week researching and vetting #OwnVoices organizations to support. PLEASE comment below if you are interested in volunteering – helping us identify a monthly #OwnVoices organization that supports multiply marginalized students.
My parenting shift starts soon, plus I am exhausted. There are a few rants about exploiting caregiver anxiety & FOMO, some articles about the impact of social isolation and pandemics on sex workers, uhhh…. lots of boosts for other organizations, lists of publishers releasing read aloud rights, BIPOC, neat zines and videos about hand-washing pleads for folks to please stop attacking us on the streets just because 45 is drumming up xenophobic racist bullshit, etc. I just don’t have the spoons to create highlight reel.
Contributions & Accountability
Unless I have a staggering loss of patreon support over the next few months, we will keep this up. To date this month, I’ve directed a portion of my patreon contributions to:
- Muslim Justice League
- Our local food pantry (see the SIS action page for more on why local)
- Project Bread
- The People’s Kitchen Collective
- Karam Foundation
- Planned Parenthood
- Autism Women & Nonbinary Network
- On Patreon: The Broke-Ass Transwoman (nepotism disclosure: this is my step-sister, but I’d support her even if she wasn’t), Black Girl in Maine, Bellamy Shoffner (severely impacted by the shutdowns, please support!), Alice Wong, Ramp Your Voice! with Vilissa, Lydia X. Z. Brown (Autistic Hoya)
You can read more about why I started funneling a portion of my income into #OwnVoices orgs before covering the out-of-pocket expenses of running RL in my Accountability Statement.
Praxis – How we’re practicing what we discuss at home
Okay things here at Bumblebee Hollow are topsy turvy.
As an autistic person, with my routines being OBLITERATED I am juuuust holding it together. Both the NT & neurodivergent Earthquakes are doing great. Maybe better than before!
We’re fine though, so I want to underline how much I am happy to refund patreon contributions through the pandemic. Thanks to the massive privileges I’ve lucked into by marrying an abled white dude, AND:
The fact that I’ve been preparing for a zombie apocalypse since 2004 when I went to the theaters to watch Zoolander and accidentally ended up watching Dawn of the Dead and developed an overwhelming phobia of my family turning into zombies. (I was NOT MENTALLY PREPARED to see Ramona getting attacked by a boyfriend wearing my partner’s pajama pants!)
I am genuinely surprised how handy my weird phobia and anxiety has prepared us for a pandemic.
So what we’re doing right now is triage to take care of ourselves so no one else feels the need to care for us. Once we have regathered ourselves and have started to assess our losses and responsibilities. Also we have plenty of crowbars, battery-operated power tools, knowledge about forest foraging, and a direct river route to the ocean – all which come in handy when zombies breach our defenses. LOOK WHO IS LAUGHING AT MY WEIRD PHOBIA NOW.
This month and next, we’ll be exploring unschooling with the kiddos, exploring preventative trauma for kids as they go through this, and how to help the outside world while staying far away from …the outside world.
Which is to say that next month’s posts and recap will look very, very different. But you’re used to that by now.
Hang around, it’s gonna (continue to ) get bumpy. Next month, we’re exploring the controversial practice of 2nd-generation unschooling as an alternative to indoctrination and the flaws in the modern industrial education complex.
(Mud. The kids are basically going to be playing in a lot of mud.)
Stay Curious, Stand Brave, and Take a Breath
Your safety and the well being of your kids are extraordinarily important to me. PLEASE stay safe.
We are in this together. Our families, our community – we have handled things like this before, and we will take this on again. Take care of yourselves first so you don’t become a liability, (but please don’t hoard, come on people), get your kids to a safe place.
And then once we’ve gained a bit of solid ground – we can launch forward in saving the rest of the world. Cool?
Seriously I am very uncomfortable about this being here but I promised our members I’d put it here also members get email updates so that’s the perk, I guess. (DONATE TO A FOOD BANK FIRST…or INSTEAD!)