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Interview with Blake after his work retreat in Surf Office Santa Cruz

Blake is a social entrepreneur that stayed 3 weeks in Surf Office Santa Cruz.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your current venture

I’m laying the foundation for a small, private, alternative “semester program” for teenagers that I’ve wanted to build for a decade. We’ve already acquired a large piece of property in rural Northern California near Yosemite on which we’re developing infrastructure right now.

It’s my job to create an awesome program to run on the property. Working toward that big, complicated, exciting goal is what occupies most of my time at the Surf Office.

Backstory: I grew up in both Northern and Southern California and spent many post-college years exploring the west coast and leading outdoor education programs for kids. Then I started my own company, Unschool Adventures, through which I took teenagers on 4- to 6-week-long adventures in Argentina, New Zealand, Nepal, and other countries.

Along the way I wrote a few books about how to give yourself a highly engaging and self-directed education. Now I’m ready to stop traveling so much and build my next big thing, the semester program for teens.

 

How do you find the time to do all this?

I go to bed at 9pm  😉

Blake hiking in New Zealand while leading a teen trip there Blake hiking in New Zealand while leading a teen trip there Hiking near Santa Cruz with other guys from Surf Office Hiking near Santa Cruz with other guys from Surf Office

What do you think of the new start ups popping up in education? Can you name a few that are special to you?

K-12 and higher education have been ripe for innovation and “disruption” for a long time. A few startups I’m proud to know include:

  • Mycelium: training programs for social entrepreneurs and anyone else with a big vision
  • Open Master’s: a framework for undertaking master’s degree-level studies—for free—alongside a supportive community of peers. (I’m doing one.)
  • North Star: a center that helps bright teenagers leave school and become self-directed learners, located in Western Massachusetts. They’re not a start-up anymore, but they’re helping launch lots of similar programs across North America right now.
  • Endor Initiative: a community-based startup for teenagers in Asheville, NC. Proof that you don’t need a building or seed capital to start changing the world of education.

Blake running in Zion National Park  Blake running in Zion National Park

Could you get a lot of work done during this work retreat?

The Surf Office is a fantastic place to get work done. When I need to be alone and focus, I go to the office, a local cafe, or the beach. When I need to stop working and socialize, I hang out with other people in the house. I highly recommend this place for any sort of work or work retreat.

Can you give us your chocolate brownie recipe?

  1. Go to Costco.
  2. Buy the Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownies.
  3. Prepare as directed.
  4. Enjoy!

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