Planet Waves FM: If you’re applying to college

Today’s edition of Planet Waves FM is an interview with Porter Eichenlaub, a young world-traveler who describes his process of working with mentors and creating and finding other forms of education and service. More and more young people are figuring out that this is a really good way to approach life — if you have some passion, ethics and a little discipline.

This is an interview that can only speak for itself, but I’ve created this particular edition for young people, their friends and their parents, to provide some ideas for how to grow into adulthood and professional life that don’t require going $100,000 into debt — and that might work better.

I know it would seem hard to top last week’s interview with C.T. Butler, a senior statesman of the American activist scene; think of Porter as one of the up-and-coming engineers of global redesign. At the end of the conversation, I do a reading of his chart.

By the way — I mention a broadcast from 1969 that reminded me a lot of Porter (though he’s a bunch more focused and self-directed) done by the journalist Howard K. Smith. This is a priceless news artifact, telling the story of the Beat Generation, re-posted by our friends over at Crooks and Liars from their “newstalgia” collection. You may already know of this one — it’s called The Cool Rebellion, wherein the Beatniks question the materialistic values of their parents in the context of how unhappy the prior generation seems to be.

To listen to today’s edition of Planet Waves FM in the old player, or to view the archives going back more than a year, check this link. If you listen to Planet Waves FM in iTunes, please check this letter to iTunes listeners.

Thank you!
Eric Francis

24 thoughts on “Planet Waves FM: If you’re applying to college”

  1. These didn’t go through the first time most because of the URLs attached. So here is the same message with the URLs exploded into text. Reassemble at will:


    Here’s a link to the Foundation Center’s webpage on educational grants and how to think your way through the process. slash getstarted slash training slash online slash product_online_training.jhtml question mark id=prod2110005

    Austin has a Foundation Center library (there are maybe 50 in the country) which is a HUGE resource for people seeking all kinds of grant funding. The librarians are dollar-seeking hounds, and will help your daughters dig out every imaginable resource. Go to the Fdtn page and see if there is one near you (by near, I’d say if it’s within 100 miles its worth the trip).

    h t t p :// foundationcenter dot org

    Ursula (shebear13), you too. Shamanic training is under ‘arts.’ The database for ftdn grants to individuals online is $20 a month. So worth it. Poke around…

    Read more:

  2. Re Mr Porter — not to get in the way of anyone’s amazement, but this is what young people have naturally. That is, if they’re not denuded, Christianized and made life-o-phobic. Porter is a smart young guy who is blessed to have some well formed thoughts and who learns from his experiences. He is eager to explore, like a young person should be. I’ll post his chart soon — he said we could — so we can take a look at how that works.

  3. W Yeti —
    just tried emailing you, but it bounced back. please drop me a line about the rent help campaign Mysti has so beautifully initiated at amanda [at] planetwaves [dot] net


  4. Carrie,

    Here’s a link to the Foundation Center’s webpage on educational grants and how to think your way through the process.

    Austin has a Foundation Center library (there are maybe 50 in the country) which is a HUGE resource for people seeking all kinds of grant funding. The librarians are dollar-seeking hounds, and will help your daughters dig out every imaginable resource. Go to the Fdtn page and see if there is one near you (by near, I’d say if it’s within 100 miles its worth the trip).

    Ursula (shebear13), you too. Shamanic training is under ‘arts.’ The database for ftdn grants to individuals online is $20 a month. So worth it. Poke around…

  5. WANDERING YETI six (was five) people have stepped up here or contacted me privately about helping you with the rent. Please connect with Fe or Eric if you’re more comfortable with them. We just need an address or a paypal address. Let us help!

    Or contact Amanda. *8D (thanks, honey…)


  6. carrie —

    it’s always worth researching scholarship opportunities, whether directly from a program or from outside sources — often a combination if necessary. i’m blanking on the name of the program through which porter traveled to india and ghana, etc.

    but even if that specific program does not have its own scholarship program, there may be sources for outside funding your daughter can try for. it does take a lot of research, persistence, and probably some clarity of vision for what kind of program she may hope to design for herself. but it may be possible….

  7. WANDERING YETI five people have stepped up here or contacted me privately about helping you with the rent. Please connect with Fe or Eric if you’re more comfortable with them. We just need an address or a paypal address. Let us help!



    Mysti — i’ve emailed chelsea about it, but she doesn’t seem to be online at the moment. eric is unavailable for a few hours, fyi. – amanda

  8. Show me the hat and I’ll happily throw in some money for you WY. What a wonderful gesture you have initiated, Mystes 😉

    Here’s hoping WY, that the love and the money and the sense of being part of such a unique and supportive community, go a long way to relieving the stress of your backache for starters. Getting that pain sorted out will help you look outward and in a more favourable light — we can hope at least!

    Re. the podcast: I thought it was brilliant and very refreshing to hear a young man like Porter speak with such integrity, confidence, wisdom. There is very definitely hope for our planet when we all learn to live and be in our authentic selves, brave and bold and I’d like to think, well actually I know that my son has a depth of character not unlike Porter’s!

    I’m about to turn 52 shortly but inside I feel just 17, and *I’m* about to head out on my own mini gap “half year!” Ha! Something I would love to have done when I finished high school but I had such little sense of myself and too, TOO many life pressures bearing down on me to go ahead and do it. I’m actually vacating my current apt. at the end of Sept. and heading home to Ireland for a couple of months.

    I’ve been reclaiming my celtic soul these past five years and now wish to present the real true Ursula who has emancipated herself finally from all the repressive forces that very nearly damn killed her. Forces which she now interprets were like a white, hot heat preparing her for some heavenly blacksmith’s hammer and anvil to pound and cajole her in to something more solid and fearless! 😉

    My son revealed his character to me this past w/e when he gave me his heart felt blessing for this trip! He totally understands that his Mum needs to go home on this quest of sorts and is prepared to stay with his Dad full time while she does it! He truly is my angel and I thank the heavens for his golden presence in my life.

  9. Oki, having listened to this podcast, I have a few thoughts.

    One, I am amazed that this young guy is so articulate and able to see so clearly beyond the usual social pressures to conform to the path that most feel are laid out for then at his age. He is so far ahead because of that!

    Second, I was also wondering how he was able to afford to DO what he did; I know that if one of my kids wanted to do that they would have no means.

    Third, if he was raised in a middle-class life and has the means, how wonderful that he chose to use that for exploring his life instead of causing negative damage like some other middle class kids do when they have had a good life but become bored. Remember those guys who set fires to the churches in the South? They were all from rather affluent families and instead of using their fortunate positions in life to do something positive, they channeled destructive energy instead. Porter chose to use his fortunate upbringing to make a better life for himself and others. That is amazing and gives me hope for the young people.

    Fourth, that Porter is able to be aware of these issues shows that our youth are not the foolish, sheep-like, mass-media-following bunch of unthinking consumers that are portrayed in that same mass media. He shows that there are many kids who see through all that hype and are working toward something more meaningful than what new gadget to buy.

    I also want to comment on rites of passage. I have three daughters, two of whom are 18. One is feeling so much pressure to be SOMETHING but she feels stymied by our lack of income and our lack of time to teach her how to drive because of our parental and adult responsibilities. She wants to start her life and she feels so held back.

    What can people do for our young people when we are just barely keeping our families fed, clothed, housed and educated? I mean it is all well and good for youth who come from families that have enough to facilitate their rites of passage but they are in the minority now in these economically challenging times. What are the rest of us to do? I mean imagine my daughter trying to go out there and sink or swim; if she sinks we may not be able to afford to help her much except for providing a place to come back to. We certainly haven’t the means to help her get an apartment or a car or the household goods an independent life requires.

    One of the things people with means don’t realize is that the poorer you are, the harder you work and the more intrusive government is in your life. So the year off or the time for young people to find themselves is often set aside for financial reasons.

    All I know is, there needs to be less a focus on money and that educational paper and more focus on facilitating people in living their passions and growing as much as possible as persons.

  10. Yeah, Carrie, I feel ya. And you are an *angelbaby* to do this (the woman has 4 children at home right now).

    Yes, people can be idiots about $$ – but I am fortunate in that I have never had any trouble asking and taking “Uh, no not right now” for an answer. I just thank the person and go on down the list. Artists have to learn to ask for and accept money. That’s just part of the deal. It doesn’t mean you are a reprobate, it means you are doing your work and now there is this other demand – for shelter, food, transpo. Sometimes someone else can step up.

    Here’s how it goes: “If you respect me as an artist, and the fact that making real work is an uncertain process, then you pitch in when you can. I need help now.” Period.

  11. Thank you Carrie and Stellium… Wandering Yeti, you can reach me at mystes – at – humandala dot org. I just wrote Fe and Eric trying to get a path opened up. If this is a terrible idea, let me know, otherwise the hat she is going around the room. I may try to contact the person who sent me the C note last year and see if s/he would be open to the idea.

  12. WoW. this is essential listening for sure for EVERYONE. of every age.
    and potentially Life-Saving for the young people. I was so elated to hear what that young man had to say, and how he said it. It fuels me up and gives me hope for these younger people, and kind of ties in with a knowing I’ve suspected; that a lot of these individuals are quiet aware and wise. that is exciting.

    I agree fully with the ‘gap year’ if you can swing it somehow. I believe young people need some time away from their parents, before making major decisions or start racking up debt. esp. if the home environment was less than nurturing and loving. most people have no clue what THEY want to do after the intensive conditioning received fr. early years, media, and society at large. not to mention learning to negotiate emotional/social stunting that could have occurred…..

    I don’t know. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I have found that one can enter different ‘fields’ of work, including the upper echelons of Science, without having a degree per se, in that, to rise in rank, yes, advanced degrees required, IF you want the title and pay raise. if you just want to be doing the work, being involved in the intellectual challenge, the technical proficiency, that sort of thing, there are ways. I’ve done it many times, in many diverse fields. there are ways, but yes, you have to be on point, proactive.

    but who wants to be doing that?

    great Podcast. these Podcasts are like Public Service Messages, you are doing the Work.
    Admirable. quite.

    Mysti, Carrie; Let me know, how much, where, etc. I’m IN!


    ps. just a tiny point- xtra-curricular is great if you aren’t working full time and going to school full time. I guess the point then would be, try and work somewhere in the same spirit of what you were saying.
    just sayin’.

  13. Mysti,

    I will ante up some; I just got (don’t laugh) my student loan money and I can spare some for a fellow PW in need.

    Back in 2005 and 2006 when we were “this” close to being homeless TWICE, I noticed that people avoided us like the plague; as though our financial difficulties were contagious. We could not participate in the usual things in life so we all felt isolated. This was especially hard on the kids (three of whom were in puberty and needing to be more social). I also noticed that MOST people would offer sympathy or turn away but NEVER offer any hard, cold cash.

    Then one woman who was having a hard time too actually gave me some money and said never to pay her back but to pay it to someone else who might need it. She was a single mom with two daughters and I knew how hard won that money was. So I said that if I ever heard that someone I knew was in need, I would send MONEY, not just sympathy. Sympathy doesn’t buy diapers, or toilet paper, or soap (food stamps doesn’t buy those things) or gas cards for the car.

    Oh and WY? I don’t care why you are in that position. That’s NOT what this is about; it is about people doing something to help one another. Take it and feel the love.

    So I am in; tell us where to send it and it is yours. Who else is with me?

  14. WY, this might make you flinch, but I’m gonna ask it anyway: how much do you need? If other stalwarts on this board will ante up, I’ll throw in the first $10. toward keeping you in a home while you get things worked out. In Jan. 2010 I hit a hard spot and a PW lurker sent me –completely out of the blue– $100 to help cover my rent that month. It was a lifesaver.

    I can’t do the $100 but I can do *something*. Let us help. Wavers? Who can do this with me?


  15. as a perpetual student and now educator i always talk about the difference between education and schooling. one is what we get by living and experiencing life, and the other is what the institution attempts to negate and disavow of the former as any kind of knowledge/intelligence. in other words, basically considering that you’re only “educated” if you’ve been schooled, which is clearly bullshit as this podcast/post shares. thanks Porter. education is not for everyone.

    it took me ten years to get my BA – what i ultimately graduated with was what i wanted to do in the first place (psychology), and what many in my family tried to talk me out of because it wasn’t economically inclined and they just didn’t get or see value in. it wasn’t until i got my doctorate that my dad really acknowledged me, and that’s also partial – i still don’t have a ft position (tho extremely lucky to piece one together each semester so far) and i have no grandkids for them.

    like everything else these days, all education is in the middle of a paradigm shift and much of what Porter shares is what we’re working towards as a standard, which really gets back to what education’s original purpose was. also like everything else where power and control is concerned, it’s not easy. but i also think we are coming full circle and getting back to the roots and value of what true knowledge and education are. if you come to my class, expect to be asked why you’re there but most importantly, what you want from the experience. theory (or intelligence as book smarts) and practice (wisdom, as street smarts) are not separated and we co-construct the course each time.

    speaking of – a funny aside, a recent conversation with faculty about assessment in higher ed – one prof recently wrote; “good teaching is very much like pornography–difficult to define, but you know it when you see it.” 🙂

    and woo! i do look forward to the friday edition and more info on astro happenings with family – for one, it’s my birthday but two, my parents will be visiting for the weekend – first time pretty much ever that they’ll be staying with me as an independent whole adult, the same ones who value this culture of acquisition and wonder where their grandkids are. oy.

  16. and porter is just as beautiful on the outside as he is on the inside! 😉

    what can i say: from the first conversation i had with him last year i was completely taken with him and the light that beams out when he speaks about what excites him in life. he’s pretty amazing & i’d love to see him and any other like-minded and impassioned 20-somethings and teens connect enough to get heard by their peers above the din of distractions rampant in our culture. we need them and they need us to support them.

  17. Valentina,

    you are marvelous
    the gods wait to delight
    in you.

    Those last three lines were the answer to a question/prayer that had been gestating for weeks. Only just today was I finally able to articulate it. It is no small irony for me that the answer came through Bukowski, with whom I have such a love/hate relationship, as I was holding my question/prayer with both love and hate.

    Thank you very much for sharing.

    Thank you Porter and Eric for an inspiring interview! Some of us are a wee bit older than the young Mr. Eichenlaub, but are choosing to unravel and un-learn the BA, the MBA (highly over-rated and ridiculously expensive), and chart a new course of discovery, the world our classroom.

  18. OK. I noticed that youtube doesn’t consistently play the same ads. The Levi’s ad I was talking about is at this link

    You’ll see a small box at the almost upper right that has the video arrow.

    The video features a moving recitation of Charles Bukowski’s A Laughing Heart (words in full below). What I didn’t know when I originally posted was that the ad has been pulled due to sensitivity over the London riots. Still, it’s a beautiful video clip and a beautiful recitation. Well worth the price of admission.

    (PS: Yet another cool thing for me is that I found out the poem’s author and I share a birthday – how cool is that!)

    For any who are interested, here is the poem.

    your life is your life
    don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
    be on the watch.
    there are ways out.
    there is a light somewhere.
    it may not be much light but
    it beats the darkness.
    be on the watch.
    the gods will offer you chances.
    know them.
    take them.
    you can’t beat death but
    you can beat death in life, sometimes.
    and the more often you learn to do it,
    the more light there will be.
    your life is your life.
    know it while you have it.
    you are marvelous
    the gods wait to delight
    in you.

    -The Laughing Heart; Charles Bukowski

  19. Great podcast!

    You know, really nice thing happened to me as a result. As I was listening, I was reminded of Billy Joel’s “Leningrad” (probably talk of the iron curtain, young people, I don’t know why). Anyway, that compeled me to look for a youtube of it, which I found here:

    So first off, I’m taken by the utterly incredible Levi’s ad that so complements this podcast. All about young people and the gods and goddesses delighting in their delight. After I soak that in, the video begins, which surprise, surprise shows real footage of Billy Joel and the actual guy – the “Viktor” in the song. I’ve know this song since it came out but I never realized there was a real guy. Wow! I always cry when I hear this song, now I cry more.

    Such a wonderful discovery on a Wednesday afternoon. It all comes together for me in such a delightful way.

    And here I thought I just came here for the astrology!

    PlanetWaves really is so much more!

    Thanks guys!

    PS: Following are the lyrics, in case anyone is into that kind of thing.
    Viktor was born in the spring of ’44
    And never saw his father anymore
    A child of sacrifice, a child of war
    Another son who never had a father after Leningrad

    Went off to school and learned to serve the state
    Followed the rules and drank his vodka straight
    The only way to live was drown the hate
    A Russian life was very sad
    And such was life in Leningrad

    I was born in ’49
    A cold war kid in McCarthy time
    Stop ’em all at the 38th Parallel
    Blast those yellow reds to hell
    And cold war kids were hard to kill
    Under their desks in an air raid drill
    Haven’t they heard we won the war
    What do they keep on fighting for?

    Viktor was sent to some Red Army town
    Served out his time, became a circus clown
    The greatest happiness he’d ever found
    Was making Russian children glad
    And children lived in Leningrad

    But children lived in Levittown
    And hid in the shelters underground
    Until the Soviets turned their ships around
    And tore the Cuban missiles down
    And in that bright October sun
    We knew our childhood days were done
    And I watched my friends go off to war
    What do they keep on fighting for?

    And so my child and I came to this place
    To meet him eye to eye and face to face
    He made my daughter laugh, then we embraced
    We never knew what friends we had
    Until we came to Leningrad

    Send “Leningrad” Ringtone

  20. I wish I would have heard this in 2002 when I decided I needed a college degree to be an artist. Now I’m a graduate with a shitload of debt and no job, soon to be no home either. I grok that money is a reflection of how much you think you’re worth, but intellectual knowledge can’t unwind the physical qi blockages giving rise to the emotional vibrations that continually attract failure to make money into my life.

    Funny Eric that you specifically mentioned bass players. I knew when I was 10 I wanted to be a musician and by 14 I was playing bass and knew I wanted to be a bass player when I grew up. I also considered myself a writer and an artist- all 3 career choices brashly, arrogantly dissed by my Republican, Rush Limbaugh dittohead stepdad as unfit occupations for a man. He constantly barfed up mantras saying I’m lazy, selfish and doomed to failure. Maybe if I had a Tai Ji master at that time in my life I wouldn’t still be struggling with monsters I should have left for dead long ago, but by my late 20’s when I did finally find Tai Ji the monsters had had 10-15 years to settle in. Nessus trine ascendant from 9th house Gemini I guess…it’s taken me a long time to get to the medicine and realize how easily the verbal abuse I experienced as a kid and teen can flow through a Libra ascendant ruled by a retrograde Venus not quite strong enough to resist the centaur’s force.

    I have until the 15th of September before my room gets rented to someone who can pay rent, but I’ve been focusing on interior work to heal a back injury that resurfaces whenever I’m afraid of getting kicked out, and softening the armor around my heart so head brain doesn’t go into freak out mode and drive me into another hellish room mate situation bringing the hells of my childhood home life back for another attempt at grokking.

    Who are these bass players doing so well and how do I join the club? I still play bass and even have some jazz chops, but I live in a city so overwhelmed with unemployed musicians (Portland is a magnet for artists and slackers alike) it’s really hard to get paid. There’s volunteer work under every rock. Do I need a new city? Sometimes it seems too late in the game for me to join it, and the music industry is a beast that eats musicians alive.

  21. Re typical grading in K-12 – I always stop people in their tracks with this story:

    My high school band director (late 1970’s, North New Jersey, typical public school system) graded his band students using his own pass/fail system:

    If you passed, he gave you an A.
    If you failed, he gave you a B.

    That’s right, if you failed, he have you a B. He demanded 100% from all of us, and he got it. In 4 years, I saw only 2 students get B’s. Within a month, they both quit the band. This band director was extremely demanding of us…but what he demanded most, was for us to care about what we were doing. And we did. He fostered that in us. He didn’t care if you could play like Yo Yo Ma, he cared that you at least tried your best and were a team player. If you tried your best and did your part, you got an A. If you slacked off, you got a B. You’d expect kids to exploit that for an easy B, but none ever did….because they were surrounded by kids who totally cared about what they were doing. And not everyone was Yo Yo Ma either….like I said, that’s not what he was looking for. And we played an amazing and eclectic array of music. I think I posted earlier that he demanded we care about the Star Spangled Banner every time we played it – not for patriotic reasons (he hated systems too), but for musical reasons (let Mary J. give you goose bumps rocking it here:

    Every marking period, the Board of Ed would send him a letter telling him they couldn’t believe all of his students were that good, and asked him to review his grades. Every marking period, he would post that letter on a bulletin board, laugh at it, and tell us we were that good.

    And with much due respect to super-brilliant Porter (Wow! Inspiring young man! Cheers!), this band director was on in years when he was doing this. There were several things about “the 60’s” that he disagreed with.

    Proof that old dogs can buck the system too!

  22. Eric, what a wonderful service you are providing with this interview. I cannot support strongly enough that parents and young adults give serious consideration to alternate paths to a meaningful, satisfying, productive and evolutionary future that do not include a formal college education. We all have to accept that the old rules don’t apply anymore — not in work, or the road to financial security, or in education. We are new pioneers, and that is a scary, but exciting place to be!
    I continue to be ‘blown away’ by the creativity, realism, and potential of our youth to re-imagine the future. Just yesterday I heard an interview with a young (22 year old) woman who has figured out how to make electricity using ultrasonic waves and piezoelectric crystals — which, by the way, is how crop circles are formed — to power wireless gadgets (check it out at She taught herself how to do this mostly by reading wikipedia.
    We no longer need higher education to give us information, and we cannot expect it to provide a maturational experience. Think of how many young people go to college underprepared, only to crash and burn in the flames of alcohol abuse and other destructive behaviors. I love that you are providing insight and an opportunity for parents and young adults to thoughtfully consider another point of view.

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