Are You a Free Range Learner?


This past weekend I re-connected with a favorite past-time: doing nothing.  No obligations, meaning no school. For the past 10 weekends I’ve spent the better part of both days chained to online libraries and university software.

Happily, my first grad school class–and last, for now–is behind me. My whole body grins when I realize that 10 weeks of regimented nonsense–for a mere $6,600 of federal loan–is finished. In fact, I’m probably through with traditional learning models, especially those that provide zero self-gratification.

Well, except for the A in the class. I may have groused through the majority of 10 weeks but a commitment is a commitment.

Now it’s on to the open range

Now that I’ve decided to leave the traditional learning world behind, at least for now, I’m becoming a Free Range Learner.  Don’t know about free range learning? My friends LaDonna Coy and Raye Shilen (@coyenator and @RayeShilen) are wizards and are teaching me everything I know (which isn’t much at the moment!).

LaDonna and Raye describe free range learning this way:

Free Range Learning is a form of learning that is informal, dynamic, self-directed, observational, and social.  It isn’t new, just has new tools enabling more of it.  Free Range Learning puts (you) the learner in control of the educational process. You decide who to learn with or from, what to learn, when to learn it and where to learn. Social media (the social web) enables this kind of learning by providing endless people and content, and it’s always available from any Internet connected device. (Check out LaDonna’s blog post at Learning Chi for more information.)

In addition to flexibility, any learning I do needs to be fun. And help me eventually pay the bills. But mostly just fun.

That’s the way I want to live my life and grow my business–by having fun. Content marketing, the history of recovery advocacy, networked nonprofits–all three are areas where I feel passion to learn right now.

Do I care about fundraising? No, but that’s an area my sweetie finds passion and reward. See why free range learning is so cool?

But wait, there’s more!

When you decide to embrace the kind of learning that stokes your heart’s fire, you become truly present to your work. You get excited to interact with others. You become authentic. Stepping into your very own learning process–not one dictated by someone else–honors your imagination and your intellect.

Can you imagine waking up every day energized and jazzed to learn and grow and set the world on fire with your knowledge?  I can, especially now that the damn class is finished.

I think about free range learning this way: I get to mosey around in my own educational barnyard, plucking what I want from bookshelves, both real and virtual. Then I get to hop online and check in with like-minded people via social media.

It’s a sweet gig, and believe me, a whole lot better than 10 weeks of learning how to do academic research and write 20 different kinds of citations.

But that’s just me. Here’s to more weekends (and weekdays, for that matter!) of doing what you want to do!

Last Week’s Star of Texas: The New Recovery Advocacy Movement

Signpost along the road to recovery.

Last week, many of America’s best minds in today’s recovery advocacy movement met in Dallas for the Executive Directors Leadership Academy of Faces & Voices of Recovery’s Association of Recovery Community Organizations.

Whew, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? I had the good fortune to attend a part of the event and it was a bit of a heady experience. The depth and breadth of the work that these Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) are doing to push the New Recovery Advocacy Movement forward is phenomenal. Ninety organizations in communities as far-reaching as Bangor, ME; Walla Walla, WA; San Diego, CA; El Paso, TX, and Decatur, GA  all talking the talk of recovery so that others will follow.

All the pieces are coming together for major forward motion in the coming months and years.  Keep you eyes and ears open; better yet, join us in making America’s #1 public health issue the #1 advocacy issue for 2014 and beyond.

Multi-faceted approach

When it comes to respected voices in the world of recovery advocacy, few are higher on the favored list than Bill White, emeritus senior research consultant at Chestnut Health Systems. Bill spoke to us at the leadership conference and really fired up the group’s passion. I know he fired me up, especially after he signed my copy of his book, Let’s Go Make Some History and thanked me for the advocacy work I’ve done for the movement.

Bill talked a bit about the movement’s history. His primary focus though looked at the movement’s next stages like an expansion of the constituency with targeted populations like young people in recovery, retirees in recovery, grieving families and friends of people lost to addiction, and jail/prison inmates in recovery.

He called for an “increased density of recovery carriers in the United States.” Isn’t that a cool phrase, “recovery carrier?”

Become a recovery carrier

Anyone can play a role in advocating for recovery.  You’ve read several of my earlier posts about hosting a Gathr screening of The Anonymous People. There’s a brand new tool kit just for screening captains located here.

Other opportunities include:

Most importantly, link your voice with ours. There is no more important cause than the New Recovery Advocacy Movement. I’m so proud to be get to work with ManyFaces1Voice and Faces and Voices of Recovery. This is such an exciting time in our history. Join us, will you?

Get involved.  Stay involved.  Be the voice.  The recovery movement needs you.

Photo courtesy of crossfitthames