Sphere College Project

A New World of Learning


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Keep It Going!

There’s no doubt about it, from time to time it can be a real challenge to keep moving forward with this education project, but we keep seeing students make progress and that’s all we need to keep us doing everything we can to make it work. I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of developments.

First, Frank Wolfe continues to work on his passions of poetry, entertaining, comedy and art. His signature piece is “Love and Bagels”, which he has performed many times at Steel City Coffeehouse in Phoenixville. Well, now he’s making this piece available in a YouTube video to share with everyone. Thanks to our friend Kevin Coxe, who shot several performances and put a lot of thought and work into the editing, here’s the video for you to enjoy:

Congratulations, Frank, on completing this project!

Second, Lisa Longo recently began attending our classes. We’re currently studying Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion, and it seems to be having quite a positive affect on Lisa. You can read about it by following this link to her latest blog entry, How Rhetoric Rocked My World. It’s a real pleasure to have you in the classes, Lisa!

So it seems that the message is this: no matter how challenging things appear to be, just keep it going. There will always be things that will come along to make it all worth it!


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Now Hear (Read) This!

Read this feature article about Sphere College in the Chronicle of Higher Education and learn about the college education you wish you had. One that was financially accessible, stretched your boundaries and aligned with your passion.

It is the education you personally can give to others, especially those talented people who don’t fit into the current box of higher education we’re trying to squash everyone into—those talented people who have something big to contribute to society and really are the change we need to create a more enjoyable and functional world, where we live rather than douse our dreams.

Read It and Be Inspired. Grab the article by following this link: http://spherecollege.org/ChronicleMay2011.pdf

And then take the step to make this dream come alive—for the present students, for those we can ignite and even, maybe, for someone you personally know.

Every bit helps foster the dream. You can donate the cost of lunch or a movie ticket easily. Just click HERE on this DONATE link.

You’re almost done. Now think of just a few people you know who understand that bringing effective education, individualized education, to a wider public is the key to creating a world where we are passionately productive, aligned with our joy, and choose to bring the very best of ourselves to make a contribution that matters to society and point those people to this entry. That’s it!

THEN sit back for a few moments and breathe a nice, deep sigh, comfortable in the knowledge that you’ve joined many other like-minded people in supporting what we would like to see happen—a world with a greater appreciation for the arts; with a greater capacity for understanding scientific thought; and a greater ability to be compassionate for those who differ from us while connecting more closely with those who are similar.

Ok, let’s really see what we can do to change the world now.


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What a Weekend!

In the last post I told you about some upcoming student successes, both of which took place over the past weekend: Virginia and Jonathan Stewart’s art openings in the Members Show at the Phoenix Village Art Center, and Frank Wolfe‘s book signing at Steel City Coffeehouse.

Stapelia Attack
WELL, not only was the opening a wonderful event, but early on Virginia told me she sold one of the two works she had in the show! AND Frank did a superb job of entertaining the audience with his poetry, wit, stories and comedy. He had them in the palm of his hand, sold some books and is very eager to get up on stage again.

These are very important steps for these individuals and I’m quite proud and honored to be able to travel this portion of their journey with them. Their stories are truly an inspiration!


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Student Successes

Other than the knowledge that we’re doing some very important work, what keeps us going after two years of struggling to establish a new institution of higher education in a challenging financial environment? Student successes, naturally–that’s the whole point!

Well, this is a big weekend for Sphere College students. On the heels of being awarded the Sunday Soup grant to have her artwork matted and framed, Virginia Stewart is showing some of her artwork in the Members Show at the Phoenix Village Art Center during the month of May. Virginia’s husband and Sphere College student, Jonathan Stewart, will have works on display as well. The opening is tomorrow night, Friday May 6 from 7-9pm.

AND this Saturday May 7 from 2-4pm, Frank Wolfe and friends will be entertaining during his book signing, Love and Bagels, at Steel City Coffeehouse. A superb article about the event appeared in the Montgomery News (with mention of Sphere College).

We invite you to come out to meet us and see the wonderful work our students are doing!

Meanwhile, classes continue each Thursday night from 7-9pm in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. As is the philosophy of Sphere College, the students select the topic of study. We are currently engaged in a 10-week session on Propaganda.

Please support the work we’re doing. Providing financially accessible education for adults in the way they learn is a critical component of a healthy society. You think a small donation won’t help? NOT SO! $10 from 10,000 people would raise the funds necessary for Sphere College to build an infrastructure that can grow. There are 15,000 people in Phoenixville alone. We need your help. Please donate!


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It’s Here!

Tonight we celebrate one year of classes of Sphere College!

My, how time flies! We’ve come a long way, but we must keep our nose to the grindstone. Good things come to he who waits, but the waiting is the hardest part. Oh, I could go on and on listing clichés now, particularly with the help of websites that list clichés. But what we’re doing is trying to create new human experiences—the feeling of being deeply connected with one another. It will be a good day when this feeling is worthy of cliché. I do hope you’ll join us tonight and we can work on establishing the connected feeling that, in my humble opinion, is all too rare.

What exactly is it that we’re celebrating? Well, this is a milestone on a journey into something that truly has never been accomplished before. And trust me, as good of an idea it is to provide free, high-quality education to adults, it’s a seemingly impossible task to many people—particularly to many of the very people who truly have the means to make it happen! It’s surprisingly easy for us to believe that as a world society have already done it all—climbed mount everest, conquered all the lands, explored space, created all kinds of artistic expression, established that we can completely destroy the earth. Is there anything left to do?

Of course! And you know what it is: to bring people together to really communicate with each other. To learn how to be patient with one another, to understand that we all see the world in radically different ways and that instead of living in conflict and trying to get each other to see things our way (because we’re so convinced that our way of looking at the world is the right way) we can learn to experience the world through all the senses of another. If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that there are many, many other worlds out there to explore—our complex, beautiful, scary, wonderful world as experienced by other people—and that doing so opens us up to extraordinary experiences.

So please join us tonight, Tuesday, April 20 at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville for the Sphere College First Anniversary Celebration. We’ll have a reception at 6pm, a presentation at 7pm, the Sphere College Short Film Contest screening at 7:30, and the fantastic feature film, Living in Oblivion, a self-referential comedy with excellent acting about independent filmmaking, at 8pm. Come talk to the students about their experiences—what we’ve been doing and learning together. And find out what we hope to accomplish in the future.

Whether or not you are able to join us in person for the celebration tonight, and I know there are many who will be there in spirit, I invite you in whatever way you can to become a part our journey to chart the truly unknown territory of bringing humanity closer together.


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Inspiration

People sometimes ask me where I get my inspiration to pull off a seemingly impossible task—you know, founding a free college for adults 21 and over who are not a good fit for the current model of higher education. When they ask I usually talk about the film Man on Wire. In this film, Philippe Petit decided that he was going to do a tightrope walk between the nearly completed World Trade Towers. This film has long been one of my primary sources of inspiration.

But this recently changed a bit. I took a friend of mine to visit his PO (probation officer). I was in the waiting room for quite some time while they were meeting. At first I was annoyed that I was being forced to watch a video that was playing, and that I wouldn’t be able to block it out of my mind. But the video showed people training job seekers who had been previously incarcerated how to find open positions, fill out their applications—including the question: have you ever been convicted of a crime (hint: the answer is yes), fill out the “If you answered yes” line, conduct themselves and answer questions during interviews, and generally the attitude with which they should approach the job market. They said things like “You’re going to have to fill out 50 applications before you even get an interview. So what are you going to do? Fill out the applications.” It made me think deeply about people going into a job explaining the circumstances around an incident that landed them a 10-year jail sentence, and trying to build the trust required to be hired for a position. Could I overcome the obstacles myself if I were in that situation? They seem almost insurmountable.

So now I look at the throngs of people who, in the current economy, undertake the seemingly impossible task of overcoming prejudice against ex-convicts, going from business to business asking to fill out applications, doing the hard work of filling out the applications honestly, waiting for the phone to ring, and doing their absolute best when they go for an interview in front of someone who is going to ask them about why they went to jail, all in hopes of landing a job and becoming a more highly functioning human being. Raising the funds for a new college in a difficult economy, or tightrope walking between the World Trade Towers seem almost easy in comparison.

I find these job seekers inspirational. I want to do what I can to help.