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PopSchools' work is collective work. Are you with me?


Posted on April 13, 2020

My work with PopSchools has always been about community. The problems I faced that led me to this work can only and have only been solved by collective action. As a single mom, who made a conscious decision to homeschool my children, I was missing my village and failing to thrive within a capitalist framework.

A capitalist framework is the reality of life in the United States. I observed that the work that sustains humanity, family caregiving, is generally undervalued and unpaid work. A single mother who only raises and takes responsibility for educating her family is seen as a leech on society, unproductive, and not working.

Raising a family doesn't pay the bills so I've been on a personal quest to find work that is compatible with my role as the sole caregiver in the house. I happen to enjoy working as a software developer. I have been training these skills for over 20 years in schools and through self-study. This is the path I'm currently on.

Since I've had exposure to tech for so long, I know first hand that the skills I use as a software developer are learned. I know plenty of people who have learned enough of these skills within months, not years, and are ready to enter their careers in tech. Unfortunately, being skilled and ready isn't enough.

We are met with artificial barriers to entry, bias, gatekeeping, and charlatans eager to exploit our desperation and needs. Remote work at a living wage has incredible potential to be an equalizer. For the caregivers, the disabled, the neurodivergent, and/or otherwise marginalized folks, access to well-paid careers that we can do from home is one viable path to financial independence that doesn't put our health and family stability at risk.

So what does that have to do with community? It literally can't be done alone. Bootstraps are as much a myth as meritocracy and the tech talent shortage. The talent is there and these tech skills can be trained, but people can't learn and train when their basic needs are not met. Community support is a basic need. Under capitalism, money is the way most needs are met. 

If we want to see true diversity, equity, and belonging, in our tech community we must lift as we climb. We must get the tools that unlock earning potential into the hands of people who are hungry for a better quality of life.

This is not the work of a CEO or executive team. This is the work of a collective. 

Much of my work up until now has been connecting people to each other and to resources. As an individual, I can only do so much. I can only teach what I know and give from what I possess. I have also been a person with constant unmet needs. I have leaned heavily on this community for financial and emotional support. I never wanted to do this alone but I've also never wanted to be "the boss." 

I look forward to sharing this work with the community. I look forward to being able to pull in folks with skills and life experience that I don't have myself. A top-down approach has never felt right for this work. I want to be a circle like the Open Collective video described. 

I want to work alongside people who are bringing their best, brilliant selves.  I want to work with and not have people hindered my limitations. 

Friends, are you with me? How do you want to pitch in?

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