In order to co-create an inclusive and accessible space for people of all ages and backgrounds, Alder Commons practices and promotes the following core values:
We aim to support the natural development of autonomy by allowing people to control how they spend their time. When people do what they want to do, they harness the power of intrinsic motivation, which fosters skill development, and helps develop a sense of self. In order to make an informed choice about how one spends their time, it’s useful to encounter new people, ideas, activities, cultures, and more. Exploring the full space of what the world has to offer, and reflecting on our place in it, helps us figure out who we are and what we want.
Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement. — Daniel H. Pink
Our need for autonomy reflects the basic human need to have control over our own lives. It’s also one of the primary predictors of happiness both at work and in life. Unfortunately, autonomy is frequently subverted by the demands placed on us. This is doubly true in the lives of most young people.
At Alder Commons, we subscribe to an educational philosophy of Self-Directed Education (SDE), which prioritizes the autonomy of young people. Our Members are supported in pursuing self-chosen activities and life experiences, and as a result, intrinsic motivation is a major force behind what Members do at AC. This, of course, must exist in balance with the needs of the community - your freedom can’t impose on the freedom of another.
Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person's capacity to act. — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Developing and demonstrating competence are part of how humans maintain motivation, and feel fulfilled. Because experiences at AC are not standardized, every individual can seek out the level of challenge they need to develop and demonstrate competence in an area of their choosing. The wide variety of experiences and ages of our Members provides ample opportunities for folks to experience the role of beginner and expert in different contexts. Everyone is a teacher, and everyone is a student.
He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened. — Lao Tzu
Every person moves through the world differently, has had a different set of experiences, and has different interests and learning styles. To discover how we can best relate to others and find a path for ourselves, we must develop an understanding of our own interests, talents, difficulties, etc. Development of this knowledge is supported through autonomy and competence, and it’s bolstered by self-reflection and evaluation. At Alder Commons we encourage self-reflection, and aim to help Members know themselves and find purpose in their lives.
If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. — Lilla Watson
To propel transformative change and end systemic oppression, liberatory goals should be pursued simultaneously. We are committed to fighting for liberation for all people.
We do not live single issue lives. — Audre Lorde
We must fight for racial justice, alongside social justice, alongside disability justice, alongside climate justice; the pursuit for equality and justice in one realm must be accompanied by action in others. Alder Commons is against all forms of oppression, including racism, colonialism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism, transgender discrimination, ableism, classism, religious discrimination, patriarchy, adultism, and other forms of oppression.
We cannot keep using tools of oppression and expect to raise free people. — Akilah S. Richards
Violation of the basic rights of children has become embedded in many of our cultural norms. We are working to restore a culture of consent in our interactions with young people. Accordingly, we don’t require participation in particular activities, or attempt to control when and how young people talk, move their bodies, eat, use the restroom, etc. Young people deserve to be free to direct their own lives, and we aim to provide a safe and supportive environment where that is possible.
We support a diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, religion, socioeconomic status, and neurocognitive functioning.
We work to reduce barriers to participation, whether physical, social, economic, psychological or otherwise. Alder Commons membership and programming is provided on a sliding-scale basis, and we are dedicated to continuing to learn and share our anti-oppression work.
Humans are among a small set of eusocial organisms, and social connection is one of our basic needs. Alder Commons aims to be a place where we learn to navigate in partnership with others in our community.
I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light. — Helen Keller
Meaningful relationships and interactions with other people are a crucial component of our motivation and impetus for growth. AC works to foster conditions where people have the opportunity to connect not only with their age-peers, but with people of all ages and backgrounds. The connections that people make with those of different generations are crucial avenues for learning more about ourselves and about the world, yet there are very few places where these interactions occur with regular frequency. AC aims to be one of those places. Please do “talk with you neighbor”.
One part of being in community with other people is navigating the needs of others. While autonomy is also a core value of AC, there must be limits when one person’s autonomy has negative externalities. At AC we work to keep each other accountable - to call folks in when they transgress. Compassionate accountability also shows up as supporting others as they stretch to meet challenges, and helping them plan for the future.
We focus on restorative practices when helping folks navigate conflicts both within and outside of the community. Folks sharing space will inevitably clash over something, and when that happens, we will work together to repair the harm done and forge new agreements on how to proceed.
The culture of consent extends to the governance model of the organization itself, where decisions are made while seeking consent and input of participating Members. To respect the needs of the community, we operate in accordance with iterative community agreements. This also extends to the sharing of resources - Members of the community will share responsibility for building up “the commons” alongside our organizing team.