Student Apps Still Open! + Help Us Meet Our 2018 Needs

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Student Applications for our May
2018 Session

We are still accepting applications on a rolling basis for our session this May! We are so excited about our fantastic class lineup, and we would love for you to join us for 1, 2, or 3 weeks! At School of the Alternative, we aim to provide a passion-driven model of education that encourages greater possibilities for thought, creation, and collective action. As a student, you will even have the opportunity to teach pop up style classes, and tuition includes all meals,+ 9 radical classes to choose from each week. We'll all live together in a lodge on a beautiful campus in Black Mountain, North Carolina, the original campus of Black Mountain College!

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At SotA, our current budget (funded through tuition from paying students) covers the cost of food, lodging, transportation (gas to and from airports to pick folks up), and operational expenses (storage unit, PO box, email, and website expenses). All supplies are donated, and all faculty and staff are working as volunteers. Monetary donations are prioritized for our deposit for 2019, stipends for faculty and staff, and class supplies. 

$$$ is not the only way you can help, though! We are also in need of basic art supplies, as well as additional kitchen supplies. Can you help us meet our 2018 needs? We are so appreciative of any donation, from $5 or a few packs of markers to $500 or a food processor, every donation is massively helpful!

2018 Classes Announced!


We are beyond thrilled to announce the class lineup for our session this coming May (11-30)! At SotA, we value passion-driven learning, and our curriculum each year is determined by the applications submitted.


If you're interested in being a part of our community, we would love to see you apply as a student! At SotA, the line between student and faculty is blurred at best, with students even having the opportunity to teach pop-up classes, and faculty attending classes as students. Won't you join us for 1, 2, or 3 weeks in May? 

Application Due Dates:
Scholarship Deadline: Feb 15th |  Student Deadline: Feb 25th*

*We will accept student applications after the 25th, and they will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all spots are full


Support SotA this Giving Tuesday!

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School of the Alternative has joined #GivingTuesday, a global movement that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage collective action and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Occurring this year on November 28, #GivingTuesday serves to inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the causes and communities that they support. 

We are asking that you give. Currently, all faculty, staff, and administrative positions are unpaid. At SotA, our current budget (funded through tuition from paying students) covers the cost of food, lodging, transportation (gas to and from airports to pick folks up), and operational expenses (storage unit, PO box, email, and website expenses). 

All else will be funded through generous donations both inside and outside of our community. Many of our class supplies in the past have been donation based, and every donation (even just a few dollars!), is immensely helpful to our incredibly bare bones, DIY budget. 

This year, our top fundraising priorities are:
Deposit for 2019
Staff + Faculty Stipends
Class supplies

If you can't financially support SotA, there are other ways to support us! You can donate supplies, time, and support us by spreading the word! To learn more about the many ways to support this project, we hope you'll reach out!




Photo by Suzi Sadler, illustration at top by Erin Anderson-Ruddon

For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday websiteFacebook page, or follow @GivingTues and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media. 

2018 Apps are OUT!

                                                                                                Poster by Bud Ries

                                                                                               Poster by Bud Ries

Our studentscholarship, and faculty applications for our 2018 session are now online! School of the Alternative is an experiment in education and community. We will all live, learn, teach, and work together for three weeks this May, in the magical mountains of Black Mountain, North Carolina.

At SotA, through a system of co-education, learners and educators cooperate in actively producing knowledge and forming new aesthetic experiences. Faculty are free to plan their class according to their own instruction, and are encouraged to join other classes as students. Students are expected to design their own curriculum but are also given the opportunity to teach. All members will participate in the school’s physical maintenance through gardening, cooking, cleaning, and will contribute to the gradual and continual transformation of the educational objectives, essential values, and political concerns bracing School of the Alternative.

We value experimentation as both an aesthetic drive, and as a way to push new ideas and old traditions to their limits. This radical power is one that allows for significant change – within us, our respective fields, our society, and our relationships with others.





*We will accept student applications after 25th, and they will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all spots are full


We aim to be accessible to anyone who wants access. We want to share our programming with all–regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, income level, educational experience, or background. We value reciprocal education, wherein dialogue between peers, students, teachers, and community members creates space for all to learn. We are thrilled that you are interested in joining us this year!

New Board Member! + New Acting Director!

 Photo by Suzi Sadler (taken in Sophie Bolla's class-built-classroom-sized camera obscura)

Photo by Suzi Sadler (taken in Sophie Bolla's class-built-classroom-sized camera obscura)

What a beautiful 2 sessions we had this May! Season 2 episodes 1 & 2 were a truly impactful community experience. There really is a sort of indescribably magic to learning together in this sort of environment, and I feel really grateful to have lived that with everyone this May. THANK YOU to each of you who were a part of this community this year. Thank you for taking a risk in being a part of this experiment, thank you for being vulnerable while you were here, and for fully immersing yourselves in our SotA community! A few newsy items for you...

We have a new Board Member!

We wanted to keep you all in the loop, and to be transparent about the working structures of the school. As you may know, we have a 5 person Board of Directors, and last year we had a student member as a rotating member of the board, the unspeakably great Luan Joy Sherman. It was a total delight working with him, and  having him as such an integral part of our community this year. We've now filled that position with an incredibly passionate, energetic, and tirelessly hardworking community member, Nelle Dunlap! Nelle and her uniquely brilliant mind were a big part of making 2017 happen, and we are beyond thrilled to have her on board!

We have a new Acting Director!

Another pretty major shift that we've made is that I (Heidi Gruner) will now serve as the Acting Director of SotA. I've been involved with this project since the first planning sessions, and have served on the board since December of 2015. I have worked as an organizer, a curator and gallery director, and a graphic designer, and am endlessly passionate about this school, and the experience both during and between sessions. I am so so thrilled to take this on and to continue helping our community evolve into an experience that is impactful and transformative. My hope this year at school was to be an effective but invisible facilitator, and an active and engaged participant. It felt really exciting to struggle with and begin to become comfortable with that balance in my own way, and I hope to keep serving this community in a way that makes the experience even richer for everyone involved. 


Right now we're working to form working groups for the time between sessions, to further expand the community of people making SotA happen, and to continue to expand the scope of what we can do! Please do reach out if you want to be involved in any way, big or small!


Sending love from the mountains,