Avon Hills Folk School in the News!

Thanks to Ann Wessel and the St. Cloud Times for getting the word out to the Central MN Community about our fledgling school. See the article:


I’d like to fill in a few details that space did not allow for in this article.

First, I’d like to thank Mark Conway, who contributed to the interview. Mark is Director of the Literary Arts Institute at the College of St. Benedict and a rock star poet, having received many awards and traveled the world with and for his poetry – something which I give him no shortage of grief for. Mark is a neighbor, a dear friend and continues to gently nudge me towards my goal of the realization of the Avon Hills Folk School.

So – to all my doctor, dentist and lawyer friends – certainly you are not “all jaded”  🙂 But, I do know that SOME of you are … and are ready for a change or to try something different – at least on the weekends.

That short commentary from the article came from a conversation with my father many years ago when I was about 10 years old (see previous post about Francis Cloud Schellinger). It was I who then made the connection to words Henry David Thoreau had spoken about people “living lives of quiet desperation.”

What did he mean by that? Well, many of us who have worked at something (a job, career, etc) to pay the bills or to even become wealthy, have eventually realized it was not fulfilling us. But, we have to continue. We were trapped, the food had to be purchased, the mortgage paid and of course the health insurance maintained. We had no choice- we were, or are, living lives of quiet desperation.

My reference to doctors, lawyers and dentists (sorry to pick on you) came from a conversation with Mark Hansen, often credited as THE founder of the North House Folk School in Grand Marais.

The North House Folk School has become incredibly successful! People come from all over the mid-west and the world to attend and teach classes there. The reality is the vast majority are adults and many of them are people of means … doctors, lawyers and dentists for example. Mark had always envisioned North House as a place to serve “at-risk” youth from the region. However, Grand Marais being where it is, 2 hours from Duluth and 5 hours from the Twin Cities, was never going to see large numbers of at risk youth. It was then that I assured Mark that the adult professionals- people of means need “saving too”.

So often we start our lives and get caught up in a kind of inertia that we cannot get out of – or at least we convince ourselves that we cannot.

I believe that the Folk School model provides learners of ALL AGES the opportunity to learn something new, something they had been thinking of doing or are greatly interested in, and to do so in a non-competitive environment.

It changes lives and it changes the direction of lives – I’ve seen it myself. And it can do that for all of us, even those who are viewed as incredibly successful and “must have everything they want.” Even doctors, lawyers and dentists have unmet desires.

Avon Hills Folk School will offer these experiences and learning opportunities in a fully hands-on approach – in an environment that allows for “community to happen.”

Hope to see you “In the Hills” sometime soon! 

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