Summer Session in West Virginia

July 1 – 22, 2018Hillsboro, WV


The political climate has sharpened our need for strategic togetherness. Taking our activism more seriously means listening to each other and developing our individual and collective desires. Our response to the immediate crisis is to strategize for the long haul.


In this 3-week session, the School for Designing a Society invites you to design your resistance in the present, imagine your desired future, and plan the steps from the one to the other. We don’t have all the answers, and instead offer an environment for generating your own. Here are the questions that currently inform our organizing:


What do you desire?

What's a design that could bring it about?

As care-actor, how do you walk towards suffering?

As clown-actor, how do you use play in this walk?

As activists, how can we integrate play as we build power to address injustice?

As performers, how can we best engage our audiences in the resistance?

As students of struggle, how can we perform lessons learned from the history of organizing on the stage of our current movements?

How can we seed solidarity everywhere in our everyday activities?


Drawing from the music studio, the physical theater, the systems theory book, the story circle, the art table, the critical theory seminar, the poetry workshop, and the permaculture site, we offer tools, time, company, and encouragement: for formulating your desires, and designing your participation in the movements required to realize them.


You might start or re-envision a project. You might design your support of existing movements. You might publically reframe your current activities as solidarity. You might find a long-term collaborator or support network among our participants. We are curious and excited to discover what we will do!

What Happens?

We invite you to participate in changing the world by means of your desires---a desire being something you want that does not yet exist, that requires you and your design to bring about.

For this intensive session, we propose a hybrid methodology---mixing desire and design with caring and clowning.


This three week course teaches social change through several formats braided together: lecture, experiential learning, and group projects. In the morning sessions, using desire and design, we'll hold a thinker's workshop in brain-storming and heart-storming; in the afternoons, using caring and clowning, we'll make a daily laboratory for performances in everyday life. We will give attention and feedback to projects planned for students’ return to their home communities.


The three week session requires:

self-reflective work---the work of desiring, of looking at oneself as a wanter and generator towards that which is, as yet, non-existent;

critical and theoretical work---the work of designing, of studying design tools from permaculture, cybernetics, performance, composition, care theory;

involvement and participation work---the work of caring, of non-transcendence, of being present;

play, performance, improv work---the work of clowning, of the inventive eliciting of playfulness in one another.


We will have several opportunities for humanitarian clowning in local nursing homes, hospitals, and high schools. These excursions allow us the opportunity to try out playful, invited interventions in institutions designed to cope with the scarcity of care in our current society. It’s an easy, no-failure introduction to creative public interaction and putting social desires into practice.


Who Should Attend this Session?

This three week session is for people, like ourselves, who feel 'stuck' in uncaring systems, and who want time, tools and new ideas in order to figure out "what next?"  It's for people who have dreams, and who would like to be in a climate of other dream-makers. It's for people who have no dreams (yet!), and who would like to be in a climate of dream-makers. It's for people who see systemic, seemingly intractable social problems, and who do have a notion, a seed, for how to solve these problem--but they feel themselves too small and the problems too big, to develop that notion/seed as a way to change something.

How do I apply?

Space is limited, so we suggest you submit your application as soon as possible to guarantee your spot.

  1. First, fill out the application form. You will be contacted for a phone or video interview so we can learn about your interest and answer your questions about the program. Apply Now >
  2. After the interview and upon acceptance please pay for the non-refundable deposit or full tuition amount below. 


$1200 tuition. Includes room, board, and transportation pick up and drop off. Some partial scholarships available.

The School for Designing a Society does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Payment Options



Please Contact Us with Questions & Concerns


General Information

Facilities: Gesundheit! consists of a 300-acre pristine tract of farm and mountain land in rural West Virginia, with gardens, a multi-story workshop, mountain hiking trails, creeks, a lake, and clean air and water. The dacha, with its onion domes and Russian architecture, serves as a residence and meeting place, and has won awards for its unique design.

Travel: Please meet us in West Virginia and arrive by the evening of Sunday, July 1. You can plan to leave Gesundheit on Sunday, July 22 by the afternoon. We will only be providing breakfast on that day.