The One Room (un)Schoolhouse

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Mamas & Papas:

You can give your kids an education that honors the smallness of village life and builds resilience for navigating the bigness of the modern world.

You want the very best for your kids.

You want them to grow up with a sense of service and purpose, of self-direction and collaboration, of rigor and of rest. You would like to walk to school, know your neighbors, and the weave a web of community in your own neighborhood. You want your children to learn though action and connection to the rhythms of the earth and its seasons. But when you look around at your options, they all seem to be a compromise. You can either send them to an expensive private school across town, an overcrowded public institution that you can walk to, or gamble in the lottery for one of the coveted spots in a free charter school.

Maybe you’re on the waiting list at a few schools and are tired of the gamble, or maybe you sense it’s time for your kids to branch out from a few years of home-schooling. Or maybe you have them in public school and are starting to realize that the costs are outweighing the benefits. Maybe your kids are happy enough where they are, but you know it could be so much better!

You see, the problem with most schools (public, private and charter) is that they all operate with similar underpinnings rooted in the notion that children must be separated by age, molded, and taught so they can fit into, and perpetuate, our contemporary cultural paradigm. They divide children into small groups of similar ages and then teach them according to a set curriculum.

We have another perspective.

We believe that children are natural learners and when they are nurtured, safe, nourished and happy, they will find solutions, co-create new paradigms, and develop physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. We trust that children need to be around each other, not divided into groups by age, ability, intelligence, or economic class. We have seen older children arise to the care and support of younger ones, model skills, and organize their own behavior knowing they are among all ages. We have also seen younger children follow and imitate their elders, imbibe their stories, and (when given the opportunity) offer their own innovations in sticky situations. Mixing developmental ages encourages resilience naturally.

However, this is not to say that children do not need teachers or structure.

Of course, the most important and deep learning happens within a family. And, children also need outside mentors:  Teachers, older children, aunts & uncles, and elders. We are interested in expanding the nuclear family just enough to give tired parents some breathing room without risking fragmentation that occurs when kids go from home to institution. We want to, ever so gently, encourage the emergence of a Village where everyone feels safe, that is big enough to provide diversity and small enough to correspond to our nature as human beings.


Providing a structure that reflects deep and magical needs of developing children will be our job.

Our children learn through story, art, earth craft, farming, and through our Cottage Industry initiative, ie. They help run a Heart-Centered Business that helps support their school.

At the Tierra Soul One Room (un)Schoolhouse, we are careful to offer our children nutrient dense omnivorous meals according to the principles outlined in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and we make a point of gathering together as a school community weekly to share a mid-day meal. We harvest and prepare as much of our own food as we can and learn from tending to our expanding permaculture food forest, our dear farm animals who offer us eggs, milk and fiber, and even a few hives of honey bees. We visit the farms who provide the food we cannot produce ourselves and learn to honor and respect our farmers.

The Curriculum

Our influences: Indigenous pedagogy and land-use practices, Waldorf Pedagogy, Weston A. Price / Nourishing Traditions, Permaculture, the SLOW (food/money/learning/business) movement, Compassionate Communication (NVC), Somatic Experiencing, Community / Liberation / Eco- Depth Psychology, mentorship, one room schoolhouse, unschooling….

We are pioneering a flexible and child centered Waldorf inspired curriculum that meets your child where they are while also encouraging them to delve into topics that are especially appropriate and nourishing for their age and based in perennial principles. It will have a Waldorf foundation and a Permaculture influence and be committed to creating a vibrant community not just for the children, but also for their families using a foundation of compassionate communication and diversity awareness.

The curriculum will be flexible as well as targeted. It will be earth based and a considerable part of our time will be spent in the outdoors in the garden as well as in the wilderness. Steiner says in Kingdom of Childhood that education must be a unity. This is what we strive for.

Rather than pull knowledge apart and then “re-integrate” it, we will aim to maintain learning as a natural and emergent force. Our job will be to be available as mentors and intercessors for the children in our community.

Waldorf curriculum

The Community:

In 2014 we will start with one class of 8 youngers, ages 7-10 (1st, 2nd and 3rd grade). In order to keep our entire school community (all children and parents) at a size reminiscent of a traditional village we will grow each year until we reach no more that 40 students – approximately 150 individuals – in our community.

It will also be our job to bind this community together and we consider parents to be an inherent part of our project.

All our teachers and staff will be trained in Waldorf education, Traditional Foods, Permaculture and Compassionate Communication (NVC) and we will hold a required all school NVC training annually so we have a firm foundation of connection to turn to when conflict arises.

Where is it:

  • We are located in the Historic Mississippi Ave. residential neighborhood of Portland, Oregon

Who it is for:

  • Families with children ages 6-13
  • We are contemplating adding a group of 14-18 year olds in the future.

When does it meet:

  • Monday through Thursday, 9am – 3pm following the standard school year
  • Families are requested to join us as a for Village Big Meal on Thursdays at 2pm

Our Teachers:

  • Lead Teacher, Krista Arias: Main Lessons, Meaningful Mathematics, Storytelling and Language Arts
  • Farm-School, David Arias: Festivals, Permaculture, Handwork, Outdoor School
  • Music: TBA (we are accepting applications from Waldorf trained music teachers)
  • Language: TBA (we are accepting applications from Waldorf trained Spanish teachers)

Our Daily Rhythm:

  • 8:45-9:00 arrival into kitchen or garden project
  • 9:00 outdoor welcome verse and circle time
  • 10:30 main lesson or music / language / painting
  • 11:30 main lesson or music / language / painting
  • 11:30 snack
  • 12:45 farm / craft / cooking projects
  • 1:45 setting table and final preparations
  • 2:00 Big Meal bell rings
  • 2:45 clean-up, shoes on, outside ready to go home
  • 3pm departure

* All times are fluid and flexible except our required Thursday Community Big Meal.

Our Seasonal Festivals:


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Your Investment:

We are currently developing a model for parent financial contribution to the school community as well as school contribution to its families and community. Our model will be based on indications from Rudolf Steiner, Sacred Economics, Gift Economy and Social Justice.

We request volunteer participation in all aspects of the school functioning including it’s Cottage Industry Initiative as well as continuing education and inner work from parents. We also ask that parents be committed to conscious home curation: limited media exposure, nutrient dense food, rhythm, sleep etc….

We want our program to be accessible for everyone which means we will not operate under a tuition based model. This also does not mean our program is free. We know we will have cover our expenses and plan to publish our annual budget. From there we will employ a healthy dose of community ingenuity and cultural creativity to come up with funding for our school.

Read more about “Family Obligations”

We have currently pledged 50% of Tierra Soul (Marginal Paradise Corporation) profits to go toward funding the school and 100% of Lazy-Lady Living profits

We invite your business to do the same

We envision that the (un)School children and families will all contribute to, and evolve, these projects and inspire new ones.

It will be simple. It will be profound. It will be beautiful.


Application for Fall 2014:


We have 8 spaces available for our first year.

After you apply we will invite you for a brief meet and greet.





Instagram feels @tierrasoulvillagefarm