Hi everyone. I am tired of my literal and figurative desert where I now dwell. I need a village and I am willing to move to find it. So tell me where is there an unschool community (or even a democratic/subsbury) that actually is a community!! I mean where people meet and gather and have coops that are actually attended. Where kids can grow up among a group of others that they will know throughout their childhood. Here in Phoenix trying to get unschoolers together is like herding cats. Yes, I know the beauty of independence but I think MY life needs a village in order to unschool best. So please tell me who is living in the magical unschooling community and what it is like? thank you
Where is there a great unschool COMMUNITY. We are willing to move
Come to Western Canada! There are a lot of us here! And especially in Calgary, Alberta - which is in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Beautiful place all around and tons of unschoolers around here! But, we aren't organized in any structured way. We meet weekly during the summer - various members living in lake communities put out standing invitations to as many unschoolers and eclectic homeschoolers as are interested - and we hang out all day! During the winter it is a bit harder to meet up - we get a fair bit of snow and cold weather days. But people make good use of yahoo groups and small groups of us meet at the local science center or swimming pools, and people's homes, too. If that's the kind of thing you have in mind, you would like it here!
We've got a pretty great HS community here in Los Angeles with lots of unschoolers. There is a parkday in some part of the city nearly every day of the week and we have all sorts of various co-op or paid classes set up by parents or other organizations. Plus, we have a brand new constructivist homeschool hybrid charter school (2 days in class the rest independent) or you can get state educational funds from several other charter schools with independent study options (to pay for the cool classes).
Obviously the cost of living here is wretched compared to anywhere else, but I happen to know of 3 lower-cost rental houses that are available on my block (near LAX airport) where you'd have 2 families of unschoolers as neighbors
I second what Serendipity said (we've known each other for a few years now.) There's the SOARing group that is all unschoolers and the Northwest Tucson Homeschoolers group that has lots of unschoolers mixed with curriculum based families. (Then there's SDH, but they don't do as much as the other two groups.)
Between the two above groups in the past month there has been:
Weekly park days
a bunch of folks went to the living history event
folks went to the sheep shearing event
A tour of a metal recycling scrap yard
A demonstration with the police canines
A solar tour
A farm tour
A scavenger hunt in Sabino Canyon
Then there's open gym every Monday for all homeschoolers (I think that's still in session)
And all the stuff I didn't write on my calendar.
Of course, you wouldn't be leaving the desert if you moved to Tucson.
So this is way out there, and a larger literal desert than you currently live in , but I just LOVE our Abu Dhabi homeschool group. There are only 3 or so unschooling families, a handful of relaxed/eclectic homeschoolers and a whole bunch of curriculum-based homeschoolers. But we have so many activities to choose from, it's a rare week that we spend more than two days at home, and since we're all expats, it's a full-on community. Even better, lots of families are planning/wanting to move to my neighborhood, so we'll all be living walking distance from each other soon. If anyone in your family is an educator by trade, the schools are hiring like crazy here!
So, we unschool and are part of a community, but our community is not made up of unschoolers. We live in a cohousing development in Madison, Wisconsin. This has turned out to be just incredible for my son, as there are lots of other kids around, of a variety of ages. He can just go out and do stuff with them whenever he wants to, without me needing to make a plan and drive him somewhere. (Lately it's gotten so nice out that he'll run outside within 10 minutes of waking up!) When his schooled friends are home, he can play with them. When they're in school, he often plays with the younger children (luckily, we have a lot of stay-at-home parents, so lots of children are home during the day). Two other families do homeschool, but we don't do anything structured with them--just means more kids available for playing!
Also, the other adults in the community are nice to kids, and my son can spend time with them independently. He loves yard work, and one spring day when he was 5 lots of neighbors were out working in their yards. He spent HOURS going from yard to yard doing yard work with people. I really like that he knows such a variety of adults, in a non-authoritarian way.
There are a lot of other homeschoolers in Madison, but once we moved here we did very little in terms of getting together with homeschoolers specifically. My son just wanted to be at home with his friends. (We moved here when he was 4, and he's 9 now.) Lately, we've been going to a couple of things at the Y, and there are two families we've started spending more time with. That's nice--nicer for me than for him, maybe, because I like talking to the other moms. As more of his friends get old enough for school, I did want to develop some relationships with children who are available during the day.
However, we wouldn't be happy going off to homeschool activities all the time, and trying to have our community that way. It's just too much work. Having our community at home and then having homeschooling stuff as an extra is working really well for us.
So, what I'm trying to say is, if you want community, maybe cohousing or some other kind of intentional community would be a good way to go. Other children can be fun even if they are schooled (although it's true that schooled children can bring in some undesirable influences).
And since you probably just want an answer to your original question :-), Madison does have a thriving homeschool community. I'm in two groups. One is basically non-religious homeschoolers, and that has over 100 members, I think. The other is specifically unschoolers, and is maybe 30-40 families. The unschooling group is less active right now, but the other group is certainly fine with unschoolers. I hear there are also several religious homeschooling groups. The mass of homeschoolers in the area means that a lot of places that offer activities for children will offer homeschooler activities during the day. And overall, this is a very homeschooling-friendly place to live. (great laws, too, by the way--no testing or curriculum review!)
I think Illinois is also a good state for homeschooling--at least their annual homeschool conference is really big and loaded with offerings. http://homeeducatorsconference.org/index.php