Courses you will take

  The three Understory courses interweave with and inform each other and often feel like one holistic interdisciplinary course.  We utilize the journal across courses as a primary tool of recording and reflection.  All three courses are rooted in a social and environmental justice lens.

Homestead Ecology: Cultivating Abundance

What are the skills, understandings, and practices that allow us to work within an ecosystem to produce abundance?  How do worldviews shape human-ecological interactions?  How do we practice reciprocity with the living world?  How does the life of the body inform the life of the spirit?  What are the criteria by which we choose between traditional and modern methods?  What does the homestead contribute to a regenerative economy, to regenerative culture, to new metrics of success?  

In this interdisciplinary humanities course we draw heavily upon your daily lived experience on the homestead to explore these questions.  Additional voices from the community, guest teachers, and prominent literary voices from indigenous, bioregional, homesteading and permaculture traditions enrich your exploration of these topics.  For the capstone, you will choose a physical project through which you will demonstrate deep understanding of the philosophy and practice of a specific subsistence skill.

Applied Forest Ecology in a Changing Climate 

The forest ecosystem is the source of all life at Maine Local Living School.  The forest provides garden nutrients, maple sugar, nuts, fiber, building materials, goat food, fuel, water, antibacterial ointment, powerful medicines, and, of course, oxygen.  How can we work with the forest to enhance carbon sequestration and biodiversity while providing the human community with forest products?  

Your investigation is both practical and academic.  Emphasizing hands-on observation and study, we delve into field identification techniques, ecosystem dynamics, tree morphology and natural history.  You also learn to think like a forest, fell trees with axe and saw, and sharpen tools.  As a capstone project you and a partner make and enact a management plan for a 1000 square foot section of forest.  Your knowledge of succession, soils, pests and blights, and climate projections will inform your decisions as you plant, thin, cull disease, and tend diversity.

Re-storying Place: An exploration of historical and contemporary connection and separation from place.

What are the stories of this land?  What are the stories of its people?  What are the practices and ways of understanding that will bend the arc of our collective story toward wise and just inhabitation?  In this combined history and creative writing course we work to pull apart the threads of the past to better understand how they braid together into this present moment.  We study the history of this landscape and the peoples who have inhabited it over the past 12,000 years.  We travel to abandoned homesteads and original Abenaki village site.  We read indigenous authors, poets, and local authors and scholars.  We listen to the land, seeking guidance from that which lives around us.  Throughout we work to find our own voices as writers, emphasizing the power of literary expression as a tool for change.  This sort of history is soul work; it questions the very yearnings, motives and values of our ancestors and in so doing shines a light on ourselves and the road toward justice.