In May of 2006, a small group of young people, parents, educators and activists began meeting. And, as is true of so many ‘school’ start-ups, much of what sparked our action was necessity, the proverbial mother of invention. A group of kids wanted and needed a different kind of community. Some of the larger folk in their lives wanted to facilitate the creation of that community. The group felt strongly about sticky issues like hierarchy, control, and coercion. All had strong feelings about justice, inclusion, the rights of the minority, and about sustainability. So we settled on a cooperative with a consensus model for decisions.
Our first day of Real School was on September 5, 2006 in the 1st floor of an inconspicuous old house in Houston’s 6th ward. Five fascinating and exhausting years later, we have partnered with BIRTH, HEAL and other activists to create Alliance for Cooperative Transformation (www.actnowhouston.com) allowing us to purchase a 2 story house in the vibrant 3rd ward community. ACT members and supporters have been busy rehabilitating the property over the past year and a half, and although we have a fully functioning building, we continue to make improvements with the donations we receive. We have recently added workshops and meeting groups to our community education project; more information can be found in our blog posts.
The group continues to expand, contract, grow and shift. We welcome this fluidity. But our commitment that The Real School aka Dragon Valley will be a learning community free of coercion and control where young people are free to pursue their passions in an accepting and supportive environment remains constant.