The UnSchool is all about making positive change, pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.
We are fundamentally committed to reducing environmental impacts, maximizing social benefits and demonstrating new ways of disrupting the status quo for collective beneficial outcomes.
We do things differently.
**These guidelines form important structures for operational activities of UnSchool Programs and must be adhered to whenever an UnSchool-branded event, program or project is being run. We set these based on our commitment to having a positive impact and leading by example. **
1. WE DON'T DO DISPOSABLE.
No disposable plastic or paper bags. No single use stuff that can be replaced with reusable.
- We use reusable bags/boxes to do shopping and transport items. If you’re doing a grocery run for an UnSchool event, use a reusable bag or box.
- Do not show up to set up an event with plastic or paper shopping bags!
- We ask people (both UnSchool team and event attendees) to bring their own water bottles and bags.
No disposable plates, cups, cutlery etc. for food or drinks during any events, including catered services.
- We purchase or borrow reusable items such as plates, cups and cutlery.
- Disposable napkins made from recycled paper are acceptable to use.
- When ordering food from caterers, try to get them to use reusable items or offer to reuse the items the food came in. Make sure to tell them not to send paper plates, plastic cutlery, chopsticks, etc. as you’ll be using your own.
2. WE ARE ALL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE.
Every program needs to have a clear goal and fit within our objective of creating genuine change-making experiences.
Each element of the experience needs to be understood within the larger learning arch.
We need to be able to explain why we are doing something, and how it contributes to the overall objective of the program. If we can’t explain why something is part of the experience, it probably shouldn’t be.
Elements should be considered on how they fit within the entire program and what participants get out of them.
Food and the sharing of meals are really important to us.
We curate experiences around food and make sure that the eating experience offers opportunities to connect, collaborate and share.
We allow for emergence to occur.
Programs are designed to facilitate an organic emergence of ideas and approaches that facilitate the entire learning journey.
We design for the entire group’s benefit, but respect individual needs.
3. WE PRIORITIZE LOCAL SERVICES
We make sure that we prioritize local small-scale service providers to maximize positive local impact.
- Ensure that providers are ethical and sustainable.
- Use small-scale local providers.
- Find local providers of fresh foods and produce (farmers markets are great!).
4. WE DESIGN TO REDUCE IMPACT
We reduce waste by planning what we need and shopping smart.
We reuse what we can, reduce what is not necessary and borrow what we need for only a short or one-off event.
Recycling must be at all events. If a location does not offer recycling, we must take initiative and figure out a way to make this happen. We can share this process with participants as part of their learning experience.
We lead by example and try to shift systems.
5. WE CATER WITH VEGETABLE-CENTRIC FOOD
We avoid meat products in our catering and prioritize locally sourced, vegetable-centric healthy food options.
Meat production contributes 20% of global carbon emissions. We reduce the ecological impact of our programs by sourcing local, seasonal food. In cases where it’s culturally inappropriate to NOT have meat, locally sourced, sustainable meat and seafood can be provided. That said, we have successfully run meat-free programs in Mexico and Brazil, where meat is usually a central part of meals. Everyone enjoyed the vegetarian fare!
Seek out food products that have the least packaging.
Preference for fresh, loose, bulk and local food over industrialized, packaged or imported foods.
Reduce food waste.
If there are leftovers from one meal, get creative and see how they can be used in one of the next meals (the veg-centric menu, makes this easier as so many things can be turned into a salad!). If there are no more meals left in the program and there are leftovers, offer them up for participants or staff to take home.
6. WE EMBRACE CHAOS
There is always a moment when things go a bit crazy. We design to engage with chaos in a dynamic and constructive way. The UnSchool is all about change, and we know change is constant, so we contingency plan and adapt quickly when things need to shift.
Open communication within the team is key to this. If something is “going wrong” (ie: we are lost, the food hasn’t shown up, a mentor cancels, etc.) it is critical to tell your team members so we can troubleshoot together.
It is best to admit there is a problem when it arises so we can work together to adapt and solve it. We care less about blame, and more about solutions.
We prioritize safety, but also share this responsibility with our community so that we don't become boring and risk adverse.
7. WE FOSTER DIVERSITY
Diversity of people and opinions, with respect to each other.
We seek to include all voices, yet also need to manage the design of the programs to meet the needs of the entire group.
Whilst diversity is incredibly important to us, we also have limitations on certain types of inclusions in our programs and reserve the right to have the final say on what is included and or not.
8. WE MAXIMIZE THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE THROUGH GOOD DESIGN
Each program is designed to foster divergent and flexible thinking, create collaborative, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, rapidly transfer complex knowledge and enhance the likelihood of a transformative experience for each participant.
Our goal is to create an incredible learning journey that has diversity, complexity, fun and creativity embedded within it. The focus is on curating the experience to maximize the positive outcome for all participants.
9. WE DON’T DO HIPPY OR TREEHUGGER
We believe that actions change the world. We know that the personal sustainability is just as important as the rest, but we focus more on stimulating action.
We don’t have anything against hippy / tree-hugger people or behaviors, but we find that including that ethos in our programs would limit its appeal. People who do not wear those labels may feel excluded or put-off by them.
We think sustainability needs to be accessible, relatable and sexy.
We honor and respect all spiritual beliefs and personal practices, but we don't highlight or preference any in particular.
Reflection is important to us, and we want every individual in our community to have the chance to share their ideas, thoughts and experiences so we get into the conversation.
If participants want to organize mediation, yoga or other relaxation practices, they certainly can. We just don't offer it or organize it as a core part of our programs. If a mentor wants to include this in their session, they should check that it fits within the learning arch of the program.
10. OUR MOTTO IS: GET SHIT DONE.
We prioritize solutions and work together as a tight communication-driven team to deliver an amazing experience for all. Problems hold their own solutions. We work together to figure out how best to resolve an issue immediately when it arises.
We foster positive, can-do attitudes, bouncing solutions-focused ideas off each other when we need to rapidly solve or resolve an issue.
We value transparency. Planning, scheduling and sharing each step helps to keep everyone on the team on board.
During projects we are often all-hands-on-deck. There is no task that is above or below any team member. We rise to challenges and do some grunt work when we need to.
We get shit done, well.
Emotional space and reflection time afterward events and activities helps us to build our capabilities.
Debriefing is important and encouraged.