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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

How the Home School Co-op Took Off

An Interview with Karen Miller

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GEO Original
August 6, 2020
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Register to attend or teach a class with the Home School Co-op, on their website.

Matt Noyes: So my first question to you is, as an introduction to the video, who you are. Just basic info. But also, who were you before COVID-19?

Karen Miller: OK, so my name is Karen Miller. I am a professor. I teach at LaGuardia Community College. And right before COVID-19, I was actually on a Fulbright living in the Philippines, in Manila. And I was there for a couple of months. And I'm attempting to write a book about the Philippines and the U.S. colonial state in the Philippines, and sort of Filipino resistance to colonial control, the kinds of things you might expect.

And anyway, so I was there for a couple of months. I was there with Oscar, who's my son, he's twelve, and we were supposed to be there for five months, but COVID came. And so on March 10, they closed his school. I was a sort of visiting faculty at the University of the Philippines and they have a K-12 school on campus, and so he was he was going to that school. And it's such a wonderful place, so we were just so lucky that he was included in that. But on March 10th, they canceled school because of COVID. And so, suddenly I had no more child care. I think that different parents respond to that differently. I'm somebody who really would like some structure for my kids, so that I can have some space to do something. And so I immediately posted online and was like, I guess I'm homeschooling now. What do I do?

And there seems to be both synchronous and asynchronous options. And the synchronous options were the ones that worked best for him, and worked best maybe for me, because I could put him in front of a screen and have another grownup be interacting with him, whereas the asynchronous options were all things where I had to sort of help him. They were really great and I'm not knocking that, but it just required more of me. And part of the reason I wanted childcare was that I could be working on my own work while he was working on his work. So the synchronous options were kind of great. And the one that I found was based in the US that the times were a little weird, so we were waking up at the crack of dawn. As you know, because you lived in Japan.

So he would take classes at like six and seven a.m. and then six and nine p.m. And it was just a week. March 10th was a Tuesday, and by March 14th, we learned that we needed to go back to the States and, we should be back on March 15th. And when I arrived home, it was announced that school in New York City was also canceled. So I had already been thinking about this for about a week, and the synchronous online classes were between like 10 and 20 dollars for usually forty five minutes or an hour. And it just felt really unaffordable as a way of moving forward. New York was going to do a weeklong break to figure out how to go online. And so I was just like, oh my God, this is crazy. I don't want to be paying a ton of money for these kinds of classes, and everyone I know is a professor or an artist.

And so I have this model which really works, which is you have a grown up and some slides and you engage kids about whatever. So I contacted some friends of mine and my partner. And the first person I talked into doing it is a friend who's a poet. He did a class on poetry and puzzles. And my partner has a pretty robust Twitter following. She has, I guess, 11,000 Twitter followers. And so I put it on Facebook to my eight hundred or twelve hundred Facebook friends, and she posted on Twitter, and literally in forty five minutes the seven slots to we opened up were full. And this was the moment where everybody was like, 'what the heck am I going to do with my kid?'.

And then I have another friend who's a poet in Detroit, Kristin Palm. I don't know if you know her -- so the first one is Chris Schmidt and Kristin Palm -- she agreed to do a poetry class. And then my partner loves cats, so she started Cat Chat. We were just looking at it the other day.

Matt Noyes: Hilarious. So what is Cat Chat?

Karen Miller: So there is always a question of the day. There are about ten to fifteen kids. There are about eight to 10 regulars who come constantly and then she always will have one or two new kids now. And there is a question of the day about a cat. And you go on with your cat and then you talk about cats.

Matt Noyes: I think that's hilarious.

Karen Miller: And so that's really popular, it turns out, with about five years to ten year olds. Oscar, our son is 12, and he was doing it for a while, and then he got a little tired of it.

And then I made a form that people could fill out if they wanted to teach a class. And I put it up on Facebook and in 24 hours I had 22 new classes. People were just really enthusiastic. Everybody, I think, was really freaking out, which is super understandable, as was I.

And you know, one of the things that I really care about is collectivizing child care and doing that through public institutions that are free. And I think that's an impulse that a lot of the people who I care about share. And so so we had, literally in the first day, we had 22 new classes. And tons of people that we didn't even know.

Matt Noyes: I have to ask you a couple of questions so I can get a clear picture. So how did you organize this? You put it all on Twitter and then you get this massive response from social media. And then how does this get organized and coordinated? Because there's time slots, there's people, there's the technology.

Karen Miller: Right. So when I started of the things that preceded this, which maybe is part of the reason I got so enthusiastic about this, is because when Oscar was in third grade, we have this really wonderful aftercare system at the public school that that he attended. And it was sort of, basically a little bit of a crisis. And there was some discussion about rather than having para-pros and teachers run the after-school, they wanted to hire a private company to run the after-school. And private companies that run after-schools tend to pay workers ten to fifteen dollars an hour, whereas when para-pros and teachers work in after-school situations, they're paid their own hourly rate. And so for me, this was a labor issue. And I got really pissed about it, and I ended up organizing parents to keep aftercare at the school, at the public school. And it was a pretty fun fight, and we did end up winning. And part of part of that was that I agreed to start running the aftercare. So we had these programs that would come in and do classes. And those classes were were largely paid for, although we did have some sliding scale and some scholarships for those classes. And they helped to fund the aftercare so that we could make the aftercare affordable for all of the kids of the school, which was, again, sliding scale.

So I like organizing things. And that was something where I would use like Google Sheets and -- we didn't use Eventbrite for that, but I use Eventbrite [now]. I'm one of the administrators for a master's program at the Graduate Center, and so I was sort of familiar with some of these free tools. And then I also drew on people I knew who are like me and were interested in sort of providing this kind of structure for their kids. The first one was a friend, Andrea, who had worked with me on the aftercare program at the elementary school my son went to, and then faculty friends of mine. So right away, it was not just me and Emily. So I would teach people how to upload events onto Eventbrite. And it was a lot of fun. I like to organize things.

I love talking people into things that I want them to do, that they would find rewarding also. And so right away I sort of generated a lot of work for us but I was also able to generate a lot of interest in helping out. And I think also people are just freaking out. They didn't know what to do and nobody could concentrate on their own writing or research. And so this was like a good substitute.

Matt Noyes: And at this point, you're you're still on the Fulbright.

Karen Miller: That's right. So I'm on sabbatical. That's another important thing to know about this.

Matt Noyes: So you didn't get hammered right away by that whole, "now I have to put all my classes into [indecipherable] form and into online classes, etc.".

Karen Miller: Zero. That's right. So I was on sabbatical and the two close friends who helped me out, Andrea and another friend Robin [indecipherable], were also on research release, and so that really helped. And then Emily as a librarian -- and she is pretty big on librarian Twitter -- my partner, Emily Drabinsky. And so some librarians also got involved. So it ended up being a professional librarian team initially. And then parents who were really enthusiastic about it from the beginning. I just invited them to help.

Matt Noyes: How did you coordinate that? Because you have people who were -- it's a decentralized thing. Probably people, they're not all in New York, right? They're all over the place.

Karen Miller: No, not all in New York.

Matt Noyes: How is that discussion happening? Is it through e-mail? Is it like some kind of...

Karen Miller: Yeah. So I was like having Zoom calls with people to teach them how to do various things. And then there's a mom here, Jasmina Nikolov, and her kid was really enthusiastic about it, and I asked her to help out. And so then I would just give people specific tasks. So I needed somebody to upload things to Facebook, and then she became the person to do that. And then I needed people to upload things to Eventbrite. And we just created systems because you can't do anything without systems. And then I would run the email. And for the first few weeks, I was not really writing. I was on sabbatical. And it was a lot of fun.

And it also felt like it's the kind of collective work that I'm interested in, you know, and I'm trying to get people to use this resource that was completely free. So it's just something that I decided was fun. And you know, it's not the same. I mean, there are all kinds of political work that people can do. And this may be on the not as important side of things, but also I do think that it would provide people with joy.

Matt Noyes: Well, it's a great experience in collective activity, right?

Karen Miller: I equate experience and collective activity, yeah. And I would hear from from parents and from kids and from teachers that this was maybe the best 45 minutes they had had in the last month. You know what I mean? Cause the teachers of the classes were also just really getting a lot out of the kind of joy and enthusiasm that comes with children and doing this kind of work.

So it's been great and everything. And then right away I started these weekly Zoom meetings. So people who are involved would come to the weekly meetings and then anybody who wanted to get involved, I would invite them.

Matt Noyes: Those were like your coordinating...

Karen Miller: Yet this were like coordinating. And then we ended up with a pretty tight core. Not a lot of people. And one thing that's interesting, which is about organizing, is that it really would take organizing to get people to teach classes. So you would talk to somebody. They would be interested. So at first there is this like rush. But subsequently you would have to organize almost everybody to do it. So you would have to ask people quite a few times, right? Which is what organizing is about. So you'd have to be, "oh, you seem like somebody who would be really great at teaching a class about zebras" and they would be like, "oh, that sounds interesting." And then you would send them a link to fill out the form, and then they wouldn't fill out the form, and then we would text them again and ask them how they were doing, and talk about whether they had any questions. And then maybe they wouldn't, but we would have to approach people a few times to do that.

And so what Emily and I found is that because we have more organizing experience and just because I think I'm just sort of oriented like that. I don't know where I learned that. I think I've just been doing it since I was a very small child. We would end up generating a lot of classes and we would have these meetings during committee meetings and people would talk about their friends who were interested. And it wouldn't always turn into classes. It would for some of them. But it's really fun and it's really fun to talk to people about it. It's fun to convince people to do it. I firmly believe that any grown up, and any kid, because kids teach classes, too, if you are willing to talk about something that you care about, you can get a bunch of kids on a screen.

Matt Noyes: And so how many people are involved, how many people are teaching classes? How many classes do you have? How many kids involved?

Karen Miller: So we have had almost 250 unique classes. And that means that Cat Chat, which has run every single weekday since March 17th or March 18th, that counts as one.

Matt Noyes: Oh really?

Karen Miller: Yes. So we have a lot of recurring classes. We have about 250 classes, which represents about maybe 200 teachers who've done it. Most of them have just done one thing, but then there's some people who've done multiple things. And then there's sort of a number of people who've done repetitive classes. Things that repeat.

And then I just looked the other day. We have sold -- "sold" -- I think I mentioned this to you, we've sold over 12,000 tickets.

Matt Noyes: These are all free, you're not charging anyone?

Karen Miller: Yeah. Yeah. Everything is totally free.

And about like 40 to 60 percent of people actually come to buy a ticket. So I would say maybe six thousand people, six thousand attendees. And that might be one person who's gone to seventeen things or one person who's gone to one thing.

Matt Noyes: Wow.

Karen Miller: Yeah. So I'm a little bit proud of our accomplishments. We got a little bit of coverage from NPR. I don't think we've made it onto the radio, but they did write a little companion article that we appeared in and that gave us a nice little bump.

Matt Noyes: I think I saw that and wondered if you were in. It wasn't specific -- it wasn't just about your project, right?

Karen Miller: That's right, yeah. But we were sort of listed in a list of things. And that's been really nice. We've got a few teachers from that. Somebody in Utah, I think runs a Mojave Desert wildlife sanctuary and doesn't have anybody to give tours to, and so now she gives tours to our co-op on Wednesdays at four. So things like that have been really great. And she just saw it and saw our form and signed up. It's been so fun.

And what we've done is we've encouraged people to follow us on Eventbrite and then they get an email that says what's coming up. And so it has gotten a life of its own. I was thinking we might just retire ourselves at the end of August. But now that COVID has resurged, and it looks like everything is staying online, I think I've decided that I don't want to shut it down because it's such a cool resource.

It has really shifted. When kids started doing it, everybody would have their little photo up and interact with the video. And I think as kids have spent more and more time online in synchronous meetings, they have learned to say that their camera is broken and they want the privacy of no screen. And I think that can be challenging for teachers because you lose that connection, which is sort of the point of doing something synchronous.

So I think that we have sort of like two different kinds of classes. We have hangouts where we do expect kids mostly to turn screens on. Like I run something called Joke Exchange, where you come with the joke and then you listen to other jokes. And most kids leave their screens on.

You know, like I said, I have all these professors who are in my world. So a friend did a class on the Panama Canal because she's written, I think one of the best books on the Panama Canal. She's a labor historian. Julie Green. And it was amazing. But of the 30 people who came, many of them turned off their screens.

Matt Noyes: A couple of things I wanted to ask you. It sounds like this didn't necessarily come out of -- a lot of home schooling comes out of a critique of existing schools, right? And it's an idea of like we need an alternative because the existing schools are not working for us for whatever reasons, often for ideological reasons or whatever.

Karen Miller: Yeah.

Matt Noyes: This is not like an unschooling, homeschooling, deschooling kind of thing.

Karen Miller: So the way that I see it is, not at all. I love our public school. I love public school. I'm a professor at a public institution and I really believe in the value of public education and public assembly, all of the things that come with that. We do have someone who recently sort of found us. People are finding us who are sort of coming out of the homeschool and unschooling movement. And that's great.

I mean, I'm super happy for anybody to use this platform to do anything that is exciting for them. Obviously, barring anything that I think is dangerous or damaging, or that we think of it dangerous or damaging. But, like there's a there's a My Little Pony chat. That's great! Whatever you want to do!

So we have somebody doing an unschooling series that's going on on Sundays. Every other Sunday, I think she's going to start doing it. And I'm so excited about that. But it did not emerge out of a critique of that at all. And actually, I have to say that I know that people have a lot of feelings about the online education that their kids have had available to them, and I'm beside myself by how much I respect the teachers at my son's school. And I just feel like they just hit it out of the park. I am so impressed with what they've done. And I think it worked really well for him.

And, you know, I'm hearing lots of mixed things about what online looked like for people. But what they did was -- I'm just so impressed. What they did is they took the schedule, they shrunk it down and he just had half hour classes through the day. And it was not a ton of synchronous. They were just a few synchronous things over the week, but there was a structure that could keep him, right? So, like I'm doing science for this half hour, I'm doing math for this half hour, you know? And it required some parental involvement, but we're very lucky to have somebody who's twelve. I think I would have a very different feeling about online education with a younger person.

Matt Noyes: Oh my God. I try to imagine what it's like.

Karen Miller: And he is not interested in this at all anymore. He was enthusiastic about it for the first month.

Matt Noyes: About what?

Karen Miller: About home school. He won't do any Home School Co-op anything, except he will teach origami classes. Which is very cute.

Matt Noyes: So the co-op, idea of doing it cooperatively, that just comes out of your longstanding commitment to collective projects of various kinds, right? Of self-organization.

Karen Miller: And it was super clear that this is not something that I could do by myself. I just don't have the capacity to do this by myself. And also the point is to provide a platform for mutual aid and support. And a mutual aid platform, I think, needs to be provided by a group of people who are participating in mutual aid themselves. Of course.

Matt Noyes: Did you think then about, how -- often when things like that begin, in the moment and the sort of early phases, or the spontaneous emergence phase, you don't need to think very much about structure, or decision making, or roles, or all that, because it kind of is happening. After it's gone on for a certain point, then it often gets the question of like, "OK, so how do you make decisions here?" or "how is this done?" or "who gets to decide whether this class is appropriate or not appropriate?" You know, all that kind of stuff. How have you thought of that?

Karen Miller: You know, what we're doing is so concrete, it's so specific. It's like somebody proposes the class, we put it up. I think, of those 250 classes I just described to you, I literally don't think there's a single one that we didn't post. I think that we had some question for very few of them. We would be like, "oh, maybe you can rethink it in this particular way." And then they would get back to us and rethink it. And maybe one or two -- I mean, I can't even remember -- but maybe one or two of those people decided that maybe this isn't for them because we suggested something that might not fit as well with their vision as they had anticipated.

But there was some concern in our committee about vetting, and some concern about perhaps nefarious intent of people who would try to do this. But I just really believe in mutual aid and mutuality, and this is gonna sound outrageous, but the sort of fundamental goodness of anybody who might want to do this. And we haven't had any complaints of anything problematic going on. And also, I've just feel like if we did, we could shut something down really easily, right? I mean, it would just require changing our password. So there's sort of a '70s openness to it. Which is the kind of thing -- that's the world that I want to live in, a world that isn't sort of foregrounding suspicion, but is instead foregrounding mutuality.

Matt Noyes: Starting with trust.

Karen Miller: Yes, starting with trust. And I think that that has worked well for our for our committee, and that people are quite onboard with that. And so the decision making -- it's interesting that you bring up -- there's sort of no decisions. You know, when people have ideas, it's amazing.

So somebody does, Nikola who I mentioned, she wanted to start a teen -- she does a thing she calls it quaranteened, very cute. So there's a teen group and it's both stuff like leadership stuff and things like that, that teens respond to very well. I'm not a big fan of that model, but teens love it. And so it's leadership and that kind of stuff, but it's also it's also getting teens to help us out. And it's been amazing. And she's amazing. And so what she's brought to this is so great. And that's just her idea and something that she wanted to spearhead. And so we just haven't had the problem of having people have wacky ideas that don't fit with what we're trying to do.

We have had discussions about fundraising, and what we kind of came up with after a discussionm I think a productive discussion, was that we were thinking, "oh, what do we want to...?" Some people were, "well, maybe what we should do is we could do a sliding scale, or we could say everything is free, but if you take a class, you might want to consider paying us this amount of money." And we decided that that wouldn't work for us, because we wanted to just make everything free. And the idea of raising money was to pay teachers who otherwise were losing their job or losing their livelihood. And so what we what we settled on was very quiet fundraising. There's a donate button on our website and we have raised very little money, and that's totally fine. We don't we don't need it to run the co-op because there are almost no expenses. I mean, Eventbrite is free. Our Zoom account costs a hundred and fifty bucks. Our Web site, you know... And we ourselves are sort of doing that. We have we have been able to give some very modest amount of support to some of the teachers, but it's been extremely modest.

Matt Noyes: I'm curious, as the teachers, you have a lot of professors, etc., volunteering, right? It's not obvious to me that, somebody who's used to teaching in that one context, i.e. like a university class or a graduate school class, etc. suddenly teaching a class to bunch of 10 year olds. That transition seems like it would require a lot of thinking, right? Because it's a different teaching context. How has that worked out?

Karen Miller: I think it's been great. I think people are having a really good time. And I would say that the people who allow themselves to be talked into it are just people who are willing to try it out.

So the class on the Panama Canal, which attended -- I don't go to very many classes, but I did go to the Panama Canal class because I love Julie Green -- it was so great. She talked about the Panama Canal, which is so inherently interesting, and can be interesting, I think, for six year olds and 80 year olds, and 60 year olds. Because I didn't know how the water worked in the locks, and I didn't know that Panama expanded the canal significantly after it became Panamanian. It was just amazing. And then the questions are so great because they're, you know, smaller people who have a different set of concerns, and grown ups. We have grown ups being like, "how do you think about gender when you think about construction on the canal?" And then we have kids who are like, "I heard that this digger is the digger that they used to dig out the dirt." You know what I mean? I just completely made that up.

Matt Noyes: Wow. So it's a mixture of adults and kids in the class?

Karen Miller: It can be. I mean, not always. But it can be, yeah.

Matt Noyes: That's super interesting.

Karen Miller: And I mean, she's just really good at what she does, so she was really able to kind of give a talk that was interesting to everybody, on different levels at the same time.

But not all the classes are doing that. Like, I haven't been to the Mojave Desert one, but I bet that is something that would be popular among children and grown ups, because it's just a bunch of desert animals. What could be better than a bunch of desert animals?

Matt Noyes: What's not interesting about that? I'd totally do that.

So it sounds like -- I don't know if this is like that useful question -- but in the world of thinking about co-ops, and solidarity economy, etc. one of the concerns is that sometimes people think of it as filling gaps in the system. So the system doesn't provide X, Y or Z amount of care or whatever, meet a need in the community, and so often co-ops, collectives, etc. develop as a way to fill in a gap, and sometimes that becomes useful to the system that isn't providing the service in the first place.

Karen Miller: Right. Totally. Yeah.

Matt Noyes: It's handy that somebody else has picked up the slack where they've failed to do so. So this is always a dynamic that people in co-ops have to be aware of, especially when it's around things that can be, or have been, or should be, or used to be [indecipherable].

Karen Miller: Well, you know, I'm thinking about that a lot when it comes to the defund police movement, because we want to defund the police, but we don't want a bunch of non-public, non-union jobs to replace public and public-unionized employment. And so how do we actually not do that through a sort of nonprofit sector that has a really different kind of job security, pay structure? So, I feel like that's sort of relevant to what you're talking about.

Matt Noyes: So I guess my question would be, what you're doing now -- everything that's great about it is this kind of emergent exploring -- you're kind of creating this fascinating dynamic of pulling together all these resources and people who are there but just not pulled together in one place, not involved in one place. How is that connected to, or...Maybe it's a question of transition. We had raised that: what happens when school comes back online? I mean, not online but in person, etc. You know, how does this relate to -- how do you see the future of it?

Karen Miller: Yes, I think this is very temporary. Like I said, we were thinking we would just shut down in August. But then I had some remorse about that because I do like our institution, and I like our structure, and I think it just can't scale up to provide anything particularly meaningful.

Although, I was thinking that if somebody wanted to take it over and build it, and take our structure and turn it into some kind of nonprofit and get funding for it, I would be super happy to have somebody else do that. But that question that you're asking then, how does a mutual aid oriented institution not replace something that we want states and public entities to be providing for populations? I mean, I think that it's a really complicated question. So in the ideal world, something like this could be seeded and then it could become a public institution, right? So, we could become DOE run. I mean, obviously that's not going to happen.

But it's a really interesting question. I think we haven't been thinking about that. And I certainly haven't been thinking about that, largely because it has developed something of a life of its own. I mean, the hour that I'm spending talking to you about this will be will be 50 percent of the time that I work on it this week. I mean, maybe that's a little extreme. You know, that not true, but often, I'll spend a half an hour working on it in the evening. And me working on it produces work for other people. It's not that only a half an hour is happening.

Matt Noyes: I think that's very much a testament to your organizing skills, because the biggest danger in something like this would be for the person to try to do everything and then just get swamped and overwhelmed.

Karen Miller: It was just so clearly not going to be sustainable if I was doing everything.

Matt Noyes: One more crazy thought. This actually just comes from years ago, a conversation with a carpenter in Madison who is often frustrated because he would go to his council meetings for the union and he would propose these things that the union was just never going to pick up. One of them was -- it was a carpenters union -- why don't we start a housing co-op where we build housing for homeless people and low income, and the union does it. Why isn't the union just willing to help in creating this type of housing through some sort of cooperative? So I wonder if -- imagining -- if there would be a way in which teachers unions could embrace this kind of activity as something that doesn't have to be run through the Board of Education, but could be run as an activity that the union provides, or coordinates or supports in some way.

Yeah, I mean, as long as things are well compensated, right? I mean, that is one things that I thought about, which is one of the contradictions that I think is unresolvable, which is that we are providing this free service, in a space where artists and creators like me to actually make money, you know what I mean? And so, we shouldn't be competing with people who are trying to do this for a profit. But then there all these people -- not a profit, but for their sustenance -- but then there are all these other people who I think don't have the resources to be able to avail themselves of those kinds of things. And so I think that that is a contradiction that is proximate to the one that you're talking about, right? Because, of course, in the ideal world, and the reason that I even was thinking about fundraising in the first place, we could be supporting people and compensating them for their labor rather than asking people to volunteer who are so gifted. And like professors don't need to be compensated for their labor if they already have full time jobs. But, you know, there are plenty of professors out there who don't have full time jobs who would need to be compensated.

So I am aware of that contradiction and I think it's...For me that contradiction doesn't mean that this project is not valuable. I think this project remains valuable, but it is a contradiction that is about living in this world full of contradictions that we live in. And I and I could see somebody saying that actually maybe it's not a good idea to be doing this because that contradiction really is not great. You know, the sort of mutual aid aspect of it isn't good enough to counteract the ways that it might undermine other people's paid work. So I don't know. Anyway, that is something I think about.

Matt Noyes: I have one more question about this [indecipherable]. Has the connection to the Philippines played a part in the homeschool? You have contacts there. And not just there. I know you've got contacts in other places. But is there a kind of [indecipherable] aspect to this?

Karen Miller: You know, I do have contacts there and some people have come to some of the events. But as you know, the time -- I think Japan is one hour earlier than Manila. So the Philippines right now is exactly twelve hours. So seven a.m. there is seven p.m. here. So Japan is eleven hours.

Matt Noyes: Yeah that's about right. There's one hour difference.

Karen Miller: Yeah, right. There's, there's like one hour but it's on the opposite end of the day. So when we're, when we're on standard time it's 13 hours, and when we're on daylight saving time it's 12 hours. And so it has been hard to -- I have reached out to some people I know in the Philippines and suggested that they get involved. But like I said, it takes a few times to support somebody to actually make the leap and do it. And the timing is tough. We do have somebody in Singapore. The mom is a librarian who is part of Emily's networks, and her daughter is a committed Cat Chatter. So it's more of the same the same time as the Philippines. So at eight thirty p.m. Harriet is there on Cat Chat and then she goes to sleep.

Matt Noyes: That is great. The answer here is just that it doesn't all have to be one. It could just be all iterations of this, right?

Karen Miller: Oh yeah.

Matt Noyes: Have other people approached you about that?

Karen Miller: People have and my response has always been, we have the infrastructure so why don't you join? Like, the NPR interviewer was very interested in me talking about ways that other people could kind of -- this was a model for other people to build on. But, why? We have an infrastructure going and it's one of those things where it takes more organizing than it looks like it might. There's a lot of back end work that isn't so obvious. So, as you know about mutual aid and anything that's organizing based on it, it requires so much convincing and conversation that not a lot of people talk about very often. So I was encouraging her to imagine that this works because we've been able to draw enough people in to make it work. And why repeat that? Because we could just have classes 24 hours a day. Like, who cares?

Matt Noyes: That's interesting. So it's like infinitely expandable.

Karen Miller: Oh, totally. And Eventbrite is amazing because if it's free, they just let you have unlimited numbers of classes. So, whatever we can do lots and lots and lots of them.

Matt Noyes: That's incredible. So is there anything else, any other interesting aspect of this that we didn't talk about that you want to add in?

Karen Miller: Just the only thing I have to add is that we are so excited to have anybody teach a class. So if people are in your networks, people who are listening to this -- if anybody is actually listening to this -- are interested in this, all four of you should teach a class. And I'm sure that in the written thing, we will include our link to our forum for people to fill out what they like., and I'm the form is on the website. And anybody who has any idea should try it out. And like I said, because we've built this infrastructure and we have enough subscribers. The classes are kind of filling up. For the first month or two I just spent a ton of time trying to advertise and it was really stressing me out when only three or four people signed up and nobody came. I was just constantly stressed out about it. But my partner put up something, she has two friends who are active in the JetBlue Pilots Union, and they came on and they did something about how to be a pilot. And like twenty five kids signed up and neither of us posted it on our social media. So anything you want to do, we are super happy to have you do it.


This transcript has been edited for readability.


GEO Collective (2020).  How the Home School Co-op Took Off:  An Interview with Karen Miller.  Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO).

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