City streets and punk beats

Natural Creativity's Philly Teen Travelers rock out to Colorado

3 minute read
A group of teens in a classroom setting standing together, posing for a group photo
Natural Creativity teens will focus on life skills and experiences, like spending time in the kitchen, on their trip to Colorado. (Photo courtesy of Natural Creativity.)

They’ve circumnavigated Philadelphia twice, walking the roughly 100-mile perimeter of their city. Now, this group of 11 teens from Philadelphia’s Natural Creativity learning community is setting their sights a little farther: Colorado. And to help them make the journey, Natural Creativity families will host a family-friendly punk rock fundraiser open to the public this Sunday, February 4, at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia.

Learning what is meaningful

“Anybody who has had a significant traveling experience when they were a teenager, they know the value of that,” said Tess Liebersohn, teen program facilitator at Natural Creativity and co-organizer of the benefit concert. “Who knows what new things will arise because they spend these 10 days in a different landscape.”

Established in 2016, Natural Creativity is a resource center fostering community learning amongst young people engaged in homeschooling or self-directed education practice.

Enrollment comes through various channels, with 32 families currently involved. For some families, the principles of self-directed education attracted them to join the community. Others joined after trying conventional schools and facing challenges such as bullying, ableism, racism, or gender conformity.

“When given trust and support, a young person will learn what is meaningful to them,” Liebersohn, a trained school counselor, said.

Really weird human animals

At Natural Creativity, the young people are in charge of the content they want to learn, and facilitators like Liebersohn help them get there. The Germantown neighborhood center welcomes a group of young people ages 4 to 18 up to three days a week to engage with others and take part in programming.

(Use of the term “young people” is deliberate—Natural Creativity opts to use this over “student” or “child” because it is deemed more respectful and places everyone on equal footing.)

A few years ago, noticing an increase in teen participants, Liebersohn established the Narwhal group—an acronym for “nearly adult really weird human animals learning stuff.” Together, they play games, do team-building activities, and go on trips, such as the Walk Around Philadelphia.

A component of the Narwhals program is a series of 45 “flops,” or foundational learning opportunities and projects. These life skills and experiences range from learning how to change a tire to getting a state ID card and using SEPTA.

Family-friendly punk

The trip to Colorado this spring presents an opportunity to check off more of those life experiences, like spending a week away from family. The location, Liebersohn added, will also be very different from everyday life for the Narwhals, who are accustomed to living in the city and suburbs. The group will stay in cabins, use solar-powered showers, hike, and make their own meals.

In September, the idea for the benefit concert originated as families discussed fundraising to make the trip affordable. Natural Creativity parent Dave Wagenschutz—drummer for the band Crossed Keys, which will be performing—formed a lineup of five bands.

Also among those performing will be the Eglets, whose bassist is a member of the Narwhal group, adding a personal connection to the cause; the Ramoms, an all-moms Ramones cover band; and an improv troupe.

People who aren’t able to attend the event can donate online.

What, When, Where

Punk Benefit Concert for Philly Teen Travelers. $10-$15. Sunday, February 4, 2-6pm, at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street Philadelphia., with tickets available at


On the left side of the building toward the back (follow the path between Cinemark movie theater and the Rotunda), there are seven steps up to enter the venue. On the right side of the building toward the back, there is a wheelchair-accessible entrance ramp. This entrance is kept locked except during events.

The venue has an ADA-compliant ramp onto the stage; a single-occupancy, all-gender ADA-compliant restroom on the first floor; and additional, all-gender restrooms in the basement.

The venue does not have central air conditioning. There are small portable units and fans, but the venue is not considered air-conditioned.

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