Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What and Why?

This one has my reflection in the door.

This gazebo might or might not be fun to sit in in January. With New Mexico, you just never know. We can use it, though! Maybe as a snowball fort.

What I'm envisioning for this gathering is to create an opportunity to discuss unschooling in a deeper way than conferences generally enable participants to do, and to have that be the starting place.

My central intention is to have these three families in one place at one time: Joyce Fetteroll, her husband and daughter; Pam Sorooshian, her husband and three daughters (or at least two, but having all three is my hope), and all of my family. This has never happened before and might never again.

As to the schedule, I'm planning one late morning session and one after-lunch session Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and a communal evening meal with some sort of information sharing then, too. I have ideas, and they all involve a low-key, slow-paced scenario in which people have time to think and to talk and to observe. Sunday will be unscheduled, so that those who need to drive home can get started, and those who want to go skiing or driving around will have a full day to do that. Those who want to sit and talk will have a whole day, too. The conference rates are good Sunday night, too, for anyone who wishes to stay (and probably past Sunday as well).

I have no wish nor intent to make money on this. The conference expenses need to cover transportation costs of the main guests, two catered meals (not fancy sit-downs), a load of firewood, and a few small incidentals (printing, beverages and snacks). Without pressure, if things work out, I hope Schuyler Waynforth and her husband and children will be there as guests too. Because of this and a few other variable, I don't know yet what to charge for registrations, and so it's too early to register. I will continue to provide information here so that those who are considering whether they want to come can do so. I will make it as inexpensive as I can when I know more. I don't foresee it being over $200 per family or $100 per individual, and if it is I'll explain why. Those families whose experiences make them a great resource for other participants might pay less than others.

The cost of the condos including taxes will be just under $100 a night for a one-bedroom, $130 for a two-bedroom, and about $171 for a three bedroom. All the units have a living room with a couch or two, and some have fold-out couches. Two small families or separate adults could share units. Our base rates are $79/$99/$149 for one/two/three bedrooms, but New Mexico lodging tax is 14.938% and I don't know if there's sales tax on that or not. During busy tourist season, the rates on those are in the $200 to $500 range. For filling 39 rooms, our contract gives us two meeting rooms and rooms for the speakers.

We have reserved 39 units, with the possibility of adding up to ten more, as I understand it. If we need more than that there is a partner hotel half a mile away or so with kitchens (not full suites) that will match that rate.

Budget for groceries, rather than for hotel meals, because it's not a hotel. There is a breakfast room where guests can get free coffee, juice, cereal, bagels, each morning, but no hot breakfast there. We'll all have kitchens, though.

If the facilities are enough fun for people, I would like to do a music-focused gathering, and then one for arts, at the same location, if we can find other off-season times that wouldn't conflict with major unschooling conferences. So if you miss this one and it was fun, there might be other similar opportunities. For now, though, this is the one and only Santa Fe Unschooling Symposium.

More information will be posted as it trickles out. I'm sorry for the hesitation. The symposium is definitely a go, but I don't want to detract from the conferences happening over the next several months. I would hate for someone to decide not to attend a full-on unschooling hotel conference, because the Santa Fe Symposium isn't the same thing at all. I'll see lots of you in San Diego in September, and many who read here will be meeting others in Vancouver, Toronto, Boston, and other places in the next few months.