Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Updating our Website... we need your help!

Howdy all! As some of you know we got a new website a year or so ago that works great for posting classes. Sadly we've been slackers on updating the other bits and pieces of the site and so now it's time. Here's the help we need from you:

We've got some great class pictures but because we tend to be the people standing up front teaching we also don't have nearly as many as we'd like. Do you have some great Seattle Free School pictures? If so please post them on flickr and tag them seafreeschool or just email them to us at

Sadly a number of the free class spaces we have posted on the site have gone away but at the same time we know there are lots of other places offering free classes. If you know of a place that regularly has free classes please email us at so we can get these posted on the web!

Thanks all and see you at a Seattle Free School class soon!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Art and Science of Listening

Blah Blah Blah Blah, wait, what did you say?

Want to become a more effective listener? Want to build a better team?

Well we have two new classes posted in a series of six set to help you learn the Seven Critical Competencies of Teams.

The first class is the Art and Science of Listening and will focus on our different listening styles, and how those styles impact our success in working with others.

The second class is an introduction to the concept of polarities – the key to the most intractable problems.

And eventually we'll have four more classes posted in the series.

You can sign up for one or both of the currently posted classes here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Get Soapy!

Maybe you've always wondered how soap is made. Maybe you've seen Fight Club and wonder if it's true about Lye. Maybe you just like fancy soap but don't want to spend the fancy dollars for it.

Well we have a class for you. On June 9th we'll be hosting a Hot Process Soap Making class at the Cascade People's Center. The class starts promptly at 7pm and will go for just a bit less than 2 hours.

Come ready to take notes and learn how to make your own soap at home!

Sign up here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Notes from our Leadership Class

Today we had a great Leadership class. If you missed it here are the notes including information on how you can grow your leadership potential:

“Leadership is the artful capacity to induce desirable results with and through others. Great leaders think, listen, speak and act in a way that inspires people to give more than is needed to produce more than what is expected (without the use of fear).”

This was the starting quote for this evenings leadership class put on by Lain Kahlstrom and Seattle Free School. Here are the talking points incase you missed it.

Leadership changes over time and our ability to lead changes over time. It’s not that you’re born with it but that you can grow into it.

Stages of Leadership (wherever you are right now, try on a stage further along to help you grow) You’ll understand people in an earlier stage but you’ll be confused by someone at a later stage of development. When things are going well we are at the leading edge of our development or growth. When things are challenging or really hard we will revert back to earlier stages. Tend to dislike people in stages before you or be hostile to how things are done in the stage directly before you.

Opportunist- Kids stage. 1st person, time frame is now, world is hostile, actions are only bad if caught, compete for power and goods, everything is win/lose, focus on immediate needs, self protection and opportunities, react to feedback as a threat or attack, relationships are volatile, influence by coercion/taking over, ego-centric. No concept of trusting others. Conflict is solved with whatever helps me get what I want which is commitment as well. They say: “They’re all mad at me” “My way or the highway”

Diplomat- Kids stage (teens through college). Past and today time frame, conforming, Sense of importance from status of group, focus is socially acceptable behavior and approval, feedback is disapproval or reminder of norms, people are either friends or enemies. Ethnocentric “us vs. them” “we”. This is the way things have always been done so that’s how we behave now. Trust those in inner circle, conflict is to be avoided at all costs, commitment is to following rules, attention is keeping up with others and approval from others. They say: “Family comes first”, “I just want things to be stable”, “I’ve got one of those (we do that) too”

Expert- 35% of leaders adult (college age), time frame is in months, want to be accepted because different or special, sense of superiority, have it all figured out, focus is expertise, procedure and efficiency “should” “ought”, many solutions to problems but prioritize poorly. Sense of humor is to ridicule or become hostile, early world-centric “all of us” Tend to say we should do something but prioritizing is lacking and thus follow through/deliverables suffer. Trust those in their inner circle and experts in their fields but no one else. No interest in fields outside of what they know. Conflict is OK because it’s a chance to tell people what they know. Like perfection, want everything to be 100%, tactical, problem-solving orientation. No larger view of creating a team or group. Feedback is taken very personally, defends position and dismisses feedback by those not seen as an expert. Dismiss anyone that isn’t ahead of them. Style is to either strongly assert themselves or hold back to accommodate others. Supervisor not manager. Focus on small improvements inside of unit rather than bigger pictures. They say: “Yes, but”, “I’m sooo busy”, “They can’t do it without me”, “I know a better way to do that”, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about”. Inspire an antagonistic feedback from others show a rigidity towards other ideas. Focused on impressing those above them. Refusal to accept others ideas, especially those under them in rank. Don’t motivate to develop themselves.

Achiever- 45% of leaders Time frame 1-3 years, self esteem depends on achievement, can lead to exhaustion, focus is on delivery of results, effectiveness, goals, and success within system, leads with logic, experience, information. Guilt is central emotion, self-criticism can be severe, world-centric (all of us). Getting things done, hard rational truth. Trust is on all previous experience and objective science. Conflict as assertiveness, opportunity though a little less attacking, attention is to results, did we get done what we said we would do- outcome! Was the outcome efficient and effective. Leadership is strategic. Will accept or even initiate feedback if helpful to outcomes, leads teams in meetings to gain buy-in to own views, initiatives include strategies to gain buy -in still includes how I get everybody to agree with me. “it’s all about the results” “how can we do this more efficiently” “what is this statement based on (what are the facts)” “I need to take a class to do my work better”

Individualist- Timeframe is 1-10 years, able to see through other’s eyes, their view is valid as one’s own. Distrust conventional wisdom and focus is on self in relation to system/integration with system. Leads by ignoring or adapting rules, inventing new rules, airs difference and discusses issues. Can speak and listen from multiple perspectives without being attached to them. Planet-Centric “sentient us” Trust is in inner voices and subjective processes. Conflict is non-violent communication and “I” messages. Attention to results is focused on did we lose sight of the quality and authenticity of the process along the way? Leadership is visionary, facilitative orientation. Welcomes feedback (feedback junky), wants a highly participative team, more facilitative and wants open exchange of views. Initiatives often include organizational development and team development. They say: “That depends on the context” “Rules are made to be broken” “Let’s meet to talk about it and make sure we hear from everyone” “All people are good, society makes them bad, there is no evil”

Book “Leadership Agility” by Josephs and Joiner

Transformative Practices to help the Expert grow
Prioritize ideas
Visualize results 1 year out, 5 years out
Learn and practice Non Violent Communication
Daily or weekly self-reflection, meditation schedule comparing results with intentions-
goal is to reflect in the moment so you can respond in the moment.
Operate from the idea of Achiever and start to think the way an Achiever sounds and behaves
“Achieve desired outcomes consistent with your values”
Sell the idea of being an expert at achievement

Transformative Practices to help the Achiever grow
Invite and identify at least 3 perspectives per issues
Visualizing results 10-20 years out
Shift goal from results to more functional team, organization
Twice daily self-reflection schedule, meditation
Understand and operate from Individualist capacities
Know what the next stage looks like and “try it on”
Reflect in the moment and create context and processes that are meaningful to everyone
Sell the idea of Achieving success as an Individualist

Transformative Practices to help the Individualist grow
Prioritize perspectives to find the “best” one
Uncover assumptions- what assumptions am I making
Everyone’s perspective is true and partial (including your own)
Hourly or in-the-moment self-reflection schedule, meditation
Understand and operate from Strategist capacities

Strategist- Time frame is 3-21 years (own history and lifetime), Crucial new capacity-realize one’s own power to generate meaning and to tell a new story, consciously commit to creating a meaningful life, can perceive systemic patterns and long-term trends, better able to take a stand from a relative position, feedback doesn’t hurt, focus is on linking theory and principles with practice, dynamic systems interaction and personal development. Leads by reframing, reinterpreting such that decisions support overarching principles. Planet-centric- society and others with similar principles. OK with letting go and detaching from what we said we were going to do and going a completely different direction. Trust is based on their own principles, conflict is an opportunity and a projection of others is not necessarily a reflection on self but on other. Commitment is to process and outcome of a vision, making an impact on the world. Accountability is to realize a larger vision “have we achieved our vision while staying true to our principles?” Leadership is based on shared purpose and collaboration and is very flexible on vision. Invites feedback for self-actualization but hold someone else’s opinion as their own and don’t personalize it. Teams develop a collaborative leadership team, prefers consensus but will use authority when needed. Organizations characterized by relationships. They say: “In service to the greater good” “Help me understand your thinking” “How can we take this to the next level” “Let’s look at this as a growth opportunity”

Magician- Time more than 1 generation beyond own lifetime, Life is not what I want but rather what does life want from me, focus is on inner conflict around existential paradoxes and intrinsic problems of language and meaning making. First stage that looks at all experiences in terms of change and evolution, capable of perceiving the structure of their own thinking processes. Lead by reframing, clowning, reflecting back- often behind the scenes. Tend to be out of normal synch for others. Early cosmic-centered. Trust in the illusory nature of reality (reality doesn’t exist outside myself). Conflict can be playful, “cool, I’m a jerk but how?”. Commitment is to understanding complexity, questioning commitments and the assumptions behind them and everything else, clear definitions. Leadership is holistic. Feedback loops as natural and essential for learning and change but doesn’t own it. Team leadership is fluid and uniquely suited to situation at hand. Empathetic awareness of conflicting stakeholder interests. Synergistic intuitions. Can make odd synergies happen and can put together crazy discordant data points to come together to create new idea. They say: “It’s all made up anyway!” “It’s two sides of the same coin” “The map is not the territory” They will notice that which arises as an object of their own awareness.

Ironist and beyond…

General Transformative Practices Anyone Can Use:

Awareness practices (meditation, self-observation practices, journaling)- set a timer to go off every hour and take 30 seconds to notice how you feel mentally, emotionally etc.

Grapple with big questions: what are you up to in the world? What do you stand for? What’s the future that wants to emerge through you? What does the world want from you?

Join a learning organization

Appreciate that everyone’s perspective is both true and partial, including your own

Notice that which arises, as an object of your own awareness

Know and share your intentions

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mozzarella Recipe

Mozzarella can be a very difficult cheese to make. It will turn out like cheese but quite often it will not stretch correctly. Lots of recipes are harder than they need be so here's a great simple recipe that (usually) works.

2 gallons cold milk
3 teaspoons citric acid (this may vary with the milk taking more or less)
Liquid Rennet
Mesophilic starter packet (optional)

dissolve citric acid in warm water and stir into cold milk
Bring milk temp up to 90 degrees
You may add lactic culture to develop flavor (1 packet of Mesophilic starter culture)
stir in 1 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1 cup of water
Let set for 1/2 hour cut into small cubes
stir gently slowly raising temperature to 95
When curds settle to bottom of vat
drain off whey and cover curds with 145 degree water
Stretch curds , form balls and drop in cold water

Let us know how this recipe works for you!