Building An Intentional Community

Polis Classroom: Welcoming our First Polis Classes, Sept. 2013

Polis Classroom: Welcoming our First Polis Classes, Sept. 2013

Is it possible to create an authentic adult community in a time when we are pulled in so many different directions? Between work, family, and all of our other life obligations can we find the time for community?

At Polis we believe that not only can a busy adult find a time and place for community (if the conditions are right) but that we must.  

We know that a sense of togetherness and a feeling of being truly known are often missing from our online interactions. Despite the scope of online connection, we still need face to face conversation with our neighbors. There is evidence that having strong ties to neighbors and community members can increase our overall health and happiness.

We’ve set out to create the space and time for Bay Area adults to find and cultivate in-person community through discussion of the big ideas in the liberal arts.

Last week we ended our first ever round of courses and by all accounts the discussions proved be a strong first step in building a lasting community. One student wrote  about his experience in class, saying:

I feel encouraged knowing that I now have a community in which I can read great books and discuss great questions together, which are activities that I really care about and are important for my well-being. 

This week, members of the Polis advisory board finished writing our “What We Believe” statement. It’s worth a read because it helps to further define and solidify the ideas behind the community that we are trying to build.

Last Sunday night we had our first Polis open gathering for students, prospective students, and instructors. The get- together was low key and filled with conversation about books and ideas but also about the raw material of our lives: love and dating, children, work, and travel. The majority of Polis members who attended our first gathering did not know one another before becoming affiliated with Polis.

Building a community will take time and patience.  But, we are in it for the long haul.

Will you join us?

Ways to get involved:

  • Follow this blog. You will then be placed on our our newsletter list and be kept up to date about future social gatherings, events, and courses.

Upcoming Courses. Register Today and Join the Polis Community.

readCOURSE: The Drinkers and Great Thinkers Series

This course series offers a chance for students who cannot make the commitment to a multi-part class to experience a Polis seminar. Students will read one seminal essay or short story for a single session class and the conversation with be carefully paired with a variety of micro-brew beers. The Drinkers and Great Thinkers series provides a good balance of community and meaningful discussion.The Drinkers and Great Thinkers course series are currently planned for November (2013) and  January, March, May (2014).

November Drinkers and Great Thinkers Course: Is There Meaning in Everything? What Can We Learn From the Mundane and Routine Parts of Life? The Essays of Michel de Montaigne + Saison Farmhouse Ale

In this one session Polis course, students will discuss a set of short essays (some are just one paragraph!) written by the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne. Those who have never read Montaigne are in for a real treat. Montaigne is curious about nearly everything in his world: from the usefulness of thumbs to the purpose of love. Montaigne is a funny, pithy, and accessible writer. Our class conversation will focus on the essential question: Is there meaning in everything? We will engage in discussion about whether or not the mundane and routine parts of our lives can be instructive to us and if so, how? All classes in the Polis Drinkers and Great Thinkers series will pair the great thinker with an appropriate great beer selection that we will sample during class. In this case, we plan to pair Montaigne with a variety of Saison Farmhouse Style Ales (rooted in French and Belgian history and culture). The beer sampling is included in the course price.

Instructor: Mary Finn

When: November 13, 2013 (Wednesday) 7:00-8:30 PM

Where: The Women’s Building, 3543 18th St, SF

Eventbrite - Drinkers and Great Thinkers Series (class one: Montaigne's Essays + Saison Farmhouse Ales)

open book

Do We Have an Obligation to Help Others? What is the Basic Social Contract?

If a family member is going through a rough patch, of course we’ll do what we can to help them out, right? But what about a co-worker? Not so fast. And let’s say you’re on BART late at night and see a guy who looks like he’s had a few too many. Who among us is going to make sure he gets home safely? Of course, we can’t possibly offer help to everyone in the world who needs it. So where do we draw the line? Friends but not neighbors? Bay Area but not Central Valley? California but not Oklahoma? America but not Afghanistan?

In this course, we will be reading two classic short stories: Katherine Mansfield’s  ”The Garden Party” andHerman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener.” They are different in just about every way (for example, one is short, the other is long; one is creepy and dark, the other is sweet and bright, etc.), with one big exception: They both ask us to consider the ways we’re connected to the people around us, and the responsibilities of our shared humanity. We will discuss these weighty questions, and whatever other questions may come up.

Instructor: Daniel Herman

When:  December 3rd, 10th, 17th (Tuesdays)  7:00-8:30 PM

Where: The Women’s Building, 3543 18th St, SF

Eventbrite - Do we have an obligation to help others?


Doppelgängers: Is There Such a Thing as an Independent Individual? What Does it Mean to Claim Individuality?

The short story “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol and the novella The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad play with the notion of alternatives. What if there were another person or being just like you, but not you, who lived a parallel life alongside of you? These magnificent works explore the tantalizing, horrifying and sometimes hilarious possibilities of having a doppelganger or ghostly double whose appearance makes both characters and readers ask, “What does it mean to claim individuality? Is there such a thing as an independent individual?” During this three-week Polis session, we will examine together the sometimes mutually-exclusive notions of individuality and the longing for connections with others.

Instructor: Elen Greenblatt

When:  January 7, 14, 21 (Tuesdays) 7:00-8:30 PM

Where: The Women’s Building, 3543 18th St, SF

Eventbrite - Is There Such a Thing as an Independent Individual?

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Categories: Community Building, friday post


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