Thursday, April 22, 2010


School is the OTHER way, not this way!
All New Island children, whether from tribes or towns, attend a public school or are home-schooled. Kids begin primary school at age five and study math, science, history, social skills, reading, writing and drawing for about six years. They also hear and sing a variety of music, from old Irish folk ballads to rock and roll. They begin high school at age 11, where they learn among other subjects, the seven basic skills, those subjects thought to be the most nourishing for young minds. Private boarding schools, in the English tradition and in the Japanese tradition, offer programs with emphasis on the arts, science, engineering, traditional crafts or spirituality.

The Seven Basic Skills are:

1. Animal and plant husbandry
2. House design, building and transportation maintenance
3. Food-and-nutrition, simple medicine, physical health, massage therapy
4. Literacy: reading, writing, communicating skills
5. Visual depiction: Drawing, painting, sculpture, design and art history
6. Math and science: from arithmetic to the Gaia Concept
7. Spirituality: loving, caring, being, music and dance

After public school, Putney University, New Island's oldest (and only) university, offers degrees in Holistic medicine, Engineering, Oceanography, Sustainability, Social Issues/Religion, Fine Arts, Traditional crafts, Spirituality, and other more esoteric fields. Victoria College in Penhill (near Victoria Harbor) offers studies in marketing, accounting, industrial design, software development, and the like. Many high school graduates might choose one of the isolated 'outback colleges' for esoteric studies in Tantric Yoga, Art of tatoo, Zen meditation; Blues, Reggae, and African music; Organic produce production, book design and bookbinding, living-on-nothing, and Advanced being.

Next: The Great Walk

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Growing up on New Island

Children grow up with lots of help from not only from their parents but from aunts, uncles, grandparents and nearby neighbors as well. This is especially true in tribe settlements and tribal neighborhoods.

Kids learn from nature first-hand by wandering the countryside and exploring among the plants, rocks, bugs, creek beds and beaches, knowing they are trusted to not do stupid things; to look before they leap! They are literally pushed out the door when the usually mild weather allows it; and are generally ignorant of TV, electronic media and cell-phones. (Only within the last five years have computers been introduced in schools!)

Kids run free most of the time here. The general
rule is that they have to be home by dark.

Kids likely grow up in houses hand-built by their own parents or grandparents, and are often asked to help with repairs or additions. Many kids wind up building their own bedrooms or small cottages in the yard! Children can wander among different neighboring families and sometimes stay with their friends' families for long periods. Older kids (10 years +) often move in with a friend or cousin, yet still keep close to their parents. This way, kids get practical experience, and learn to socialize with other parent-figures a variety of siblings.

Kids are loved and nurtured with games, stories, art projects, and help with emotional upheavals. In raising their offspring, most parents have found that hugs, vitamins and benign neglect seem to work the best.

They rarely get bored!

Next: Education

Saturday, April 10, 2010


A garden planted in beach sand near Samas, on the island's
western shore. A note to sand-gardeners: for lush
growth in sand, mix old manure or peat from the local bog
about 50-50 with sand, plan t your plants or seeds,
then water thoroughly.
(Courtesy Samas and Lizard Garden club)

Gardens in front of some getaway cottages in the dunes near
the Hook, a sandy peninsula at the island's west end.

Islanders express their love of nature by planting whatever they can find around their homes, preferring near-chaotic combinations of herbs, climbing vines, fruit trees, veggie patches and wildflowers to formal hedges or lawns. Indeed, much of the island is too dry most of the year for lawns. Instead, islanders favor miniature desert or dune gardens with succulents, or wild grass gardens with a fish pond, or they just let nature take its course. Many settlers have left their surroundings un-gardened altogether except for a kitchen garden for food.