The Odysseus Group has acquired a 5-year lease on an 128-acre piece of wild land in Chenango County, New York, which it hopes to convert into a long lease, and eventually the purchase of this land in order to establish a Retreat Center and Library for the use of small groups who would like a place to meet and discuss local school reform. Local, that is, to your own locale!
The property is situated in the Chenango highlands, six miles from Norwich, New York, and midway between Ithaca, New York, and Cooperstown, New York. In a 35-mile radius from this location, no town of more than 8,000 population exists (Ithaca and Cooperstown are both about 50 miles away), the air is clean, the water pure, and the people friendly. Six ponds exist on the land, a trail system, a small and interesting gorge, a hundred-year-old barn (recently restored to structural soundness), and a two-story log cabin with three bedrooms and a garage suitable for conversion into a cabin.
In the process of researching the book THE UNDERGROUND HISTORY OF AMERICAN EDUCATION, and planning for the film THE FOURTH PURPOSE, we've acquired hundreds of books and films about schooling. These will be the seed of the library, to be housed on the milk floor and hay floor of the barn as soon as we can raise the estimated $40,000 it will take to make the barn secure, to insulate the book floors, to install lighting, and to convert the North Wall into an apartment for students and overnight guests. Similarly, the milk floor where a conversion has already been begun. Our hope is to be able to accommodate groups of up to twenty people, or several smaller groups for up to a week at a time, utilizing the barn, the log cabin, and the conversion of the garage into another cabin. The estimated cost of preparation of the log cabin and garage is $30,000.
Development of the trail system
The emplacement of benches and tables throughout the land.
Building a swimming dam in the gorge
Identification of wild plants, trees, with discreet signage
Creation of a springwater system
Building a meetinghouse in the central part of the property, which should include recreation fields
The placement of several small bridges over streams and swampy areas so that transversing these will not disturb the land.
The installation of several large deck areas for outdoor socializing
A total of $250,000 could accomplish all of these things, but all need not be undertaken at once; the renovation of the old barn is where the first work needs to be finished. When that is done, we intend to open the Odysseus Retreat Center and Library for guests, enlisting the service of the many homeschooling magazines and newsletters around the country to get the word out. At that point we will also reach out for book donations, hoping eventually to offer a reading library of 10,000 books useful to people thinking about the education of children.
If you'd like to support this project, mark your contribution specifically "Retreat and Library Donation." (We accept books also!) And send it to the 295 East 8th Street address. All contributions are tax-deductible.