“In an abstract way and in a real way, what is real is real because it is connected. Life is a network.” – Mark Rosenstein
Through our work, we connect:
• Students and the Environment
Learning and living are deeply tied to the natural world and the world’s ecosystem. This is not a modern discovery; it is age old wisdom. Learning and living also are encased in the human community. Our work connects students to these places. Students are learning IN a natural setting, learning ABOUT the environment, and learning FROM it. Encouraging students to engage with their environment imparts benefits on multiple levels: lessons take on practical meaning, attention to the tasks at hand improves, and the act of observing and questioning as a way of learning is based on the Socratic method.
• Students, Teachers, Families, and the Community
This is the “village” of learning. The Roots Foundation organizes and sponsors events that connect this village in many different ways. We bring people together, sometimes with a clear goal in mind, at other times, just to have folks get together. A fine example is our on-going Milpa project at Vance Elementary. (Milpa is a crop-growing system used throughout Mesoamerica. The word milpa is derived from the Nahuatl word phrase mil-pa, which translates into “maize field.”) Over the course of the school year, students are planting various crops, learning about history, ecology, nutrition, science, and other disciplines from these activities. The cultures of the Cherokee and Mesoamericans are introduced through these crops. The year culminates in a taco party in the school garden. These tacos are made by the students from the corn they raised, harvested, and ground into meal. Students, teachers, parents, and neighbors come to the party.
• Connecting Our Partners
The Roots Foundation fosters partnerships. What we do, we do not do alone. Within the activity of “village building,” we know that “many hands makes light work.” Instead of duplicating efforts, we rely on collaboration to achieve our goals. We are partnered with Asheville City Schools, Greenworks, FEAST, Warren Wilson College, North Carolina Outward Bound, UNC-A, and many others. Each brings a unique and beneficial energy. This strategy enriches the students’ experiences, and in the process, it makes our work more sustainable, as each of our members contribute to the mix, and helps to lower costs.