Paonia Home School Coalition—

Paonia, Colorado

Project Summary

  • A fragmented community seeking to develop a home school coalition
  • Through the telling of a Story of Place™ and community engagement facilitation, a recognition of repeating patterns in the landscape and community that can help to shape the home school coalition and have it reach its potential

Project Description and Client Aspirations

Paonia, a small community in the North Fork Valley of Colorado, was looking to develop a home school coalition. A diverse community both geographically and socio-politically, Paonia wanted their home school coalition’s structure to reflect their community’s diversity.

Several home schools had been in operation for nearly a decade, having been given the right to do so from the local school board. However, these schools were having mixed success and were splintering into disparate social groups.

The people involved in the home school group contacted Living Education, an affiliate company of Regenesis, to help inform their strategy going forward. While doing so, the members realized that understanding the history and essence of the area was vital to the success of this project, and therefore contacted Regenesis to do a Story of Place™.

Patterns and Insight

Several patterns emerged through Regenesis’ assessment. The first pattern was the omnipresence of self-actualizing niches in the area; the various small areas of agricultural productivity, the diversity of shops run by local entrepreneurs, and the myriad of social groups and organizations present in the community.

The second pattern was the pioneering spirit of the area, which manifested itself in everything from the presence of pioneering plant species in the ecosystem, to the multiple periods of pioneering settlement in the region, to the fact that the area is home to some of the most forward thinking and pioneering building and design techniques in the nation.

The third pattern was the need for community interdependence in all facets of life due to the economic and environmental constraints that affect the area. This was an especially important pattern to recognize and reflect on, considering the tenuous relationships that sometimes exists between the various social groups in Paonia.

These patterns, of course, also exist within the home schools themselves. They are diverse, small-scale, interdependent entities pioneering a new way of educating. This shared pattern with the community was a major insight for the coalition. Through this Story of Place™, the coalition was illuminated as to the importance of its existence, and how it could be structured to better engage the wider community and celebrate the diversity of its surroundings and the interdependence that exists amongst community members. The coalition was illuminated as to how the North Fork area could become a “learning valley”.

The home school coalition is still developing internally, and two of the schools are in serious discussions regarding collaboration. In the wider Paonia area, there is a lot of work being done with regards to land use planning and community visioning, which has been inspired by the work carried out by Regenesis.