Saturday, June 15, 2013

Creative Facebook

This blog is about a few of my friends who use Facebook creatively. You know, some people really do get creative with it. Really!
by Charlie Leck

“More than enough is too much!” [Confucius]

I struggle with Facebook. I don’t know how to use the social contact service very well. I’m awkward when responding to posts others put up. Some of my friends, who I’d like to really know more about, are desperately simple and, sometimes, alienating in what they post. I don’t want to unfriend people (which I wouldn’t know how to do) or to even block them (which I probably ought to do to keep my peace of mind). One of my children tried to explain, but I didn’t get it. So, I just scroll over most of the ordinary posts to get to the really creative stuff that a few of my Facebook friends put up. By the way, I put nothing up because I don’t know how to use Facebook creatively – to say things there that would really be interesting to people. Maybe someday I’ll learn!

Here are a few of my favorite Facebook friends – the creative ones…
– ones who I think are really creative about “the stuff” they put up and share. I look forward to finding a post from them whenever I load up Facebook.

Laurence Nobile
Laurence is the wife of a young cousin of mine (actually the son of a first cousin, so what do I call him? Is “cousin” okay?). His name is Patrice. He and Laurence live en France, southwest of Paris. Laurence and Patrice have 3 children. I love them all dearly. They are a wonderful family (
ils sont une merveilleuse famille). Laurence and Patti are artists – and not just ordinary ones. All of Laurence’s Facebook posts are creative and interesting – and often artistic. I look forward to them. Sometimes they leave me so moved I don’t know what to say in commenting on them. Often, it’s just “thank you (merci, merci).” Laurence, I think, should write a book on “creative facebooking.”

Last week Laurence pointed me to this remarkable video that wonders what the world will be like in fifty years… think about it... the world in fifty years – or a hundred years. It’s a brief video, but quite interesting and artistic. I include it here for you.

We live in a networked world. Premal Shah, in the video, says: “The power of a correct idea is spread so quickly in this internet connected age that scale can happen on a never before pace.”

In another post, a few weeks ago, Laurence tried to explain the approach to education that her family takes (she calls it “World Schooling” rather than home-schooling). The family made a presentation to a gathering of interested people in the village of Montargis. Laurence included a summary of the family’s presentation (in French) and I’ve tried to help with the translation a bit and hope I haven’t been unfaithful to what Laurence and her family said… (it is included at the very end of this blog)…

R.T. Rybak
The Mayor of Minneapolis is R.T. Rybak. His Facebook postings are always worth checking out. They tell me interesting things about what’s going on in the city. Sometimes they alert me to things that could be happening – good or bad. Sometimes they are touching and personal. Sometimes they’re funny and comforting. R.T. has a sense of humor and sometimes a devilish attitude. He just plain knows how to use Facebook. He has accumulated the maximum number of friends allowed on Facebook (5,000).

The mayor went to Boston College after graduating from one of our best private school here. He’s a journalist in his civilian life.

You can listen to a piece on Minnesota Public Radio about R.T. using Facebook. In it he says that his social connections (he also uses Twitter) are really him. He makes the posts and he doesn’t leave it to staff members.

The Daily Planet calls our mayor a “hipster.” And, he is hip. Most of his posts are light, cheery and often comical. You don’t get the usual political stuff out of him. He lets us know about things we ought to do in town – things we ought to see and places we ought to visit. His great love for the city comes out in his blogs and I really like that.

Anna Hillegas
Foundry Home Goods is a little shop in downtown Minneapolis (in the Warehouse District) run by Anna Hillegas. I don’t know how I ended up friending Anna, but I’m glad I did. She
doesn’t post frequently, but, when she does, she puts up something really neat, interesting and informative about her shop, her neighborhood or the city. She doesn’t go on and on. She’s short and sweet and I often follow up on suggestions she makes and I listen to her advice. I knew her when she was little and now I’m mighty proud of the woman she’s become.

Brook Hutchinson
is quite good also. She shows off her good taste. She posts terrific photography and she also recommends some really good reading. The other day she sent me off to a splendid article in the NY Times, called
How Not to be Alone. Terrific reading! Brook comes out of the western suburban horse community but she’s not stereotypical by any means. She has broader interests, a wonderful sense of justice and a passionate mind that seems hungry to learn.

Sam Stern
My neighbor and fellow-blogger (and good friend), Sam Stern, is a pretty good Facebook poster. He’s brief and to the point. He’s highly personal and reports on his own life and adventures. He also lets folks know about activities in the liberal political world and he alerts us to developments we ought to know about. I think Sam is a perfect Facebook friend. People in Egypt are not going to read him, but his friends, neighbors and Minnesotans are – and they’re going to find his “stuff” interesting.

As for me?
I don’t know how to Facebook. I can’t get the feel of it and I can’t get comfortable. A couple of friends have told me that my blog is my Facebook. That may be true. I rarely put up a Facebook post because I just don’t know what to say – and how to say it that briefly. Who cares about dull? [“I hit golf balls for nearly two hours today and I played nine holes with Tim, a very nice man from Virginia.”] Wow! That’s hot! Can you believe it?

One of my Facebook friends – the first girl I ever kissed – has gone in an immensely different direction than I since our childhood. And, she uses Facebook like an evangelist. She’s always telling me, on Facebook, to indicate I like Jesus or that I respect and devote myself to him – or that God is great and loves us and has our backs. She also tells me I ought to hate the President and love George W. She’s mum on Mitt Romney. I wish she’d tell me how life’s gone for her because I’m interested in that. Is she happy? Healthy? How does she like Pope Francis? How is Maureen? What makes her smile every day? She ought to friend Laurence on Facebook. It would expand her horizons significantly!

Even my family doesn’t light me up with “the stuff” they post. The photos are usually hurried and don’t do their kids justice. Maybe it’s because they understand Facebook better than I and they know to save the good material for private emails. When I talk to them about this they just tell me that I don’t understand. I guess they’re correct.

In these elderly years I’m hungry for creative thinking and signs of hopefulness in the world.

Most Facebook people who read this probably think I should just give up on it and stay off it. But then I’d miss the wonderful stuff I get from the mayor – and Brook – and Anna – and San.

Here’s the little presentation summary by Laurence that I told you about. She’s talking about her family’s approach to education…

The Nobile family are five, including Patrice (father), Laurence (mother), Armand, nearly 16 years, Hélène 14 years and André nearly 11 years. Invited by Art and Culture to Montargis, they have come to talk about their approach to the education of their children…

The most beautiful school in the world!
The Nobile, children do not attend school, they receive their education at home by their parents, whose educational base is found in a book written by thinkers on education (Illich, Freinet and the Montessori School) and take advantage of all the occasions and external opportunities to grow and learn. It means many things in life. Patrice is artist, painter and decorator. Laurence is an artist. Very early in their lives, influenced by their personal experiences, Laurence and Patrice knew that their children would not go to school.
If they are not watching TV the children have access to the Internet, Skype, and a wide variety of current media, cultural and naturalist associations. In other words, they have nearly the very world “at hand.” They have had the fortunate opportunity to travel and stay in various countries – such as the USA, Mexico, India, Morocco... where their father (Patrice) did not hesitate to accept “on the spot” opportunities and contracts for several months. They lived in motor homes, hostels, bed-and-breakfasts and in Earth houses...

School is not compulsory
Remember that school is not compulsory. It is education that is compulsory. What the Nobile contend is that school is too bound up with overloaded programs, that rhythms are not respected for the child and the teacher-student relationship is too rigidly formatted (as if every student was alike or the same).
The idea of school at home and as a world approach is a more well-developed phenomenon in other countries than in France. Here [in France] there are approximately 40,000 children between 6-16 years of age in home-schooling situations, or 0.4 per cent of the young people of school age.
We are all able to do that [home school and world schooling], but it has been formatted otherwise by the educational structure. Other countries, such as the India, are better than we are at flexible educational techniques and we need to change our methodology and approach.
The United States
The Nobile children returned bilingual after a year’s journey through the United States and Mexico. In their world travels they observed and reflected as "anthropologists looked for early evidence of human life. The children were able to reflect on this and learn from these observations. In India, they went into the rice paddies and planted rice.
"Observation is a powerful learning tool," explains Laurence. “Here in France, our children are given the opportunity to participate in sports and cultural clubs – in conservatories of music... All they observe and exchange outside the home, is discussed again in family gatherings and it is illustrated in their art and developed in the accounts and narratives they write down. The children – and, mind you, their parents – learn poetry and music and become creative in many different areas.
The teaching of the children Nobile
is “a natural learning process” and not the result of an imposed education.
This kind of education – this way of learning – is actually within the reach of nearly all of us. It is achievable by most all of us in the world. Think of the world as the school of the Republic. Yes, it has some flaws, but it also has huge qualities and possibilities?
You may judge what we have done. Our children are our evidence and our testimony. The Nobile family is generous. We try to share the rich experiences we have had in the world and the great opportunities we have had in our travels. We are proud to make the dream and our ideas public to as many people as we can. There are so many families yet to contact and to whom we want to explain what we have done.

You would need to know the Nobile children to see and understand just how successful their world education program is. Their children are a match for those educated in the most celebrated systems in the world. I guess it figures that one so successful in establishing such a system of education for her children would also be such a creative Facebook participant.

I’m not giving up on Facebook – not when there are such creative people making use of it. A happy Sunday morning to you all!

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