Sphere College Project

A New World of Learning

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What to do, what to do?

Ok, do I:

* Respond to the conversation I had with the nice woman who used to work for Walter Cronkite, 60 Minutes, etc.
* Finish the proposed agreement for bringing on the new multi-amazing faculty member (more on that in a future blog entry!)
* Go look for space for the College
* Post announcements on craigslist about faculty, coordinator
* Continue to work on getting the word out about the film contest—oh, hey, you can help me here… send this link to your friends who like to make videos, or who may know people who like to make videos: https://spherecollege.wordpress.com/film-contest/ …and watch this promo for the contest, starring Dave Spencer and Kyle Simmons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC5jiiV8Yrw
* Dot the i’s and cross the t’s on the Sphere College Business Plan that Gail Fletcher has put so much time into
* Add the feedback from the Steering Committee to the document describing how a student moves from Phase I to Phase II so it can now be taken to the other students for their feedback
* Work on the acknowledgement thanking the people who have sent donations
* Add a new post to the blog

I’m not complaining, mind you. These are good choices to have to make. And this is all as challenging and as fun as it was when I was studying music! And computer science! And teaching CIE! And doing lots of other fun and challenging things!

My choice? After this blog entry (I’ve been ignoring you, haven’t I?) comes the thank you acknowledgments, of course (Thank You!!!). None of this is going to be possible without the donations, which are now starting to roll in (see the “Donations!” page.

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It’s Show Time!

Alright folks, time to pony up!

Let’s get this show on the road. I’ve been working on this for about two years now and if the video recently made by and about students of the College (http://www.vimeo.com/9087364) isn’t enough to convince you that there’s something really different and special going on here, nothing will. (Thank you, Jonathan Stewart, for generously donating a great deal of your time in editing the video!) I mean, where else do people from all walks of life take time out of their busy schedules for open, honest discussions of the most important issues facing our society? Where else can people who are willing to do the difficult work of educating themselves on how to truly contribute to society and enrich the human experience find support and encouragement?

But I can understand your reluctance. Nobody wants to put money into something that won’t really pay off. We just need to know whom to trust. This is something that doesn’t get taught very well, particularly in a society where accumulating money tends to be a primary life goal. But take a look at the video again. Most of these students have participated in Sphere College for MORE THAN NINE MONTHS! (Jonathan and Virginia have each been attending both the afternoon and evening sessions!)

I’m here to tell you that Sphere College is going to become one of the most important mechanisms for sensible, stable societal change. And those who help develop the College—I’m talking about YOU, here!—are going to feel extremely gratified of contributing to its growth at a critical stage, and will enjoy watching it achieve greater and greater success over time. How is this going to happen? Well, let’s do a bit of a back-of-the-envelope calculation…

I currently have 512 facebook friends. (Computer scientists will enjoy that number!) If half of you give on average $100, that’s $25,600. (Yes, I do understand that not all of you can afford to contribute $100, but I’m asking those of you who can to make up the difference for those who can’t.) With these funds, here are a few of the things we can do for at least three months:

* Hire a Coordinator for the College who will do things like schedule classes; handle phone calls, enroll new students (there’s currently a waiting list of students on standby until we are able to handle them!); coordinate all the details around field trips; keep track of the College finances; coordinate fundraising events; help manage my schedule; handle communications among students and faculty members; and 1001 other things that I’m struggling to get done now.
* Hire a Development Officer who knows how to bring in funds for innovative adult education programs. There’s a lot of money out there right now for this, but someone with the necessary expertise must make a case for Sphere College in the form of grant applications and funding proposals, which take a great deal of work to get right!
* Pay some faculty members (myself included—I need an income, too!) to teach some classes on a part-time basis. We’re currently in serious talks with at least TWO eminently qualified individuals—I mean world-class!—who are very enthusiastic about the College, and plenty of retired educators or current faculty members would be delighted to have the opportunity to share their knowledge for a modest sum.
* Rent dedicated space for classes and purchase supplies. We’ve been extremely appreciative of the area businesses who have graciously allowed us to use their space: The Colonial Theatre, Wolfgang Books, Earth Mart, The Phoenix Arts Center, Steel City Coffeehouse, Molly Maguire’s and Pickering Creek Inn. We now need to move into a place that we can access anytime without interruption that will support more forward-thinking dialogue.

And I’ll have more time to blog regularly so you can follow what’s going on. So, please take a few moments to help us really get things moving by making an initial donation. Your support will ensure that we will accomplish what we have been striving towards. Don’t wait for someone else to do it—we need everyone to help out now. Let’s demonstrate how much we can really accomplish when we all pull together!

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Become Involved!

Ok, there’s a LOT happening with the College these days. Here’s a glimpse…

We continue to have excellent classes. In today’s afternoon class the students will be working to create a description of a style of conversation we’ve termed “Thoughtful Conversation” (something our society could use a bit more of, yes?), in which participants speak only when their thoughts are fully formed, and all participants get to contribute equally. When the students finish their version of the guidelines we’ll post it for others to try out and comment on. In the evening class students will be discussing Galileo’s Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina. For this class they’re using texts donated by students of Ursinus College who have gone on multiple book drives to collect texts for Sphere College (many thanks, Ursinus ACM!).

Some time ago, students of Sphere College created a brochure that does an excellent job of explaining what we’re up to. Now we have just completed a very compelling video that gives an even better picture. You can watch the video at Vimeo: http://www.vimeo.com/9087364.

We are also hoping to have some exciting announcements to make in the not-too-distant future about new faculty members and class modules. Stay tuned!

All of this goodness does not come without costs, though. Although the students have been real troopers, we really need to have a comfortable space where we can feel at home, free from external noise and interruptions, with sufficient lighting, storage and supplies. We truly need to hire a coordinator for the College—someone who can schedule events, line up transportation for field trips, answer questions, and generally provide the assistance a fledgling college needs. We also need to pay the upcoming faculty and staff (me!). Each new addition to the College will significantly enhance what we are able to provide for the current and future students (there’s a waiting list!).

So what I’m asking you to do right now is, after watching the video and seeing for yourself how important and timely Sphere College is, become involved in growing the College by clicking on the DONATE tab at the top of the page and either sending a check to the address provided or clicking on the PayPal link. It’s quite simple: we have demonstrated how much we can and will do with a small amount of funds; now YOU are the only ones who will truly make this work.

Your support is needed now and is greatly appreciated!