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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor "Are you with me now?" 3.19.21

An old friend, Shep Seigel, asked me to review a book he is just finishing on, Tricking Power Into Performing Acts of Love. It deals with people who take kidding around seriously and how they can change the world for everyone. This is certainly tricky business especially in a world, where playfulness is marginalized. What role do our comics, humorists and tricksters play in not only getting us through tough times but making change? Rarely are the tricksters the ones in power. In BPL both in schools and in our organization, we have always attracted more tricksters (adults and students) because they don’t fit in our schools. How do we harness that power into performing acts of love?


Happy St Patrick’s Day As Darlene says, “to the world life is serious but not hopeless but to the Irish, life is hopeless but certainly not serious.” I’ve certainly experience what that means on a daily basis. Watching languages thrive and go away and come back again is an interesting phenomenon. Like in all colonized nations, in Ireland under British rule and occupation, it was forbidden for Irish to speak Irish and their language almost died. As usual with oppressors, it wasn’t just language but dance to be performed or art to be made that are also eliminated. Presently, there are very few Irish speakers who use the language daily. It is somewhere only in the thousands of users. That said, how does language come back and stick?

Here’s an example of combining the trades and language and dance. When you don’t isolate or compartmentalize culture but rather look at it holistically good things happen.

Language gets used when it has experiences to stick to. One other thing to point out here: The trades perform a kind of service in keeping these cultural norms solid. Some tradespeople have their instruments with them at work and play and talk in their native language on their breaks. I’ve experience this myself many times on many jobs. Just go on You-tube and watch what tradespeople from all over the world do on their breaks with music, dance and language.


COV-ED Long “An infusion of cash from Washington and a new determination from educators across the country are laying the groundwork for an unprecedented combination of summer programming and high-intensity tutoring, all aimed at helping children recover from what was, for some, a lost year,” now called by many Learning Loss. The outcome of COV-ED Long is going to take many forms. It will only be around learning loss if, we succumb to that language and policy. It is something we have to have a strong voice and practice around. BPL can add lots to make changes sorely needed in Cov-Ed Long. This week I had a conversation with David Berg and Jessica Gunderson about a large role BPL can play in California and other states with our internship program using ImBlaze. This work would be with schools and with expanded learning and after school. The work we are embarking on with B-unbound fits nicely with all of this. Next steps are follow-up meetings. “Networks are your net worth” That’s how the saying goes but I would like to be more accurate here by saying, networks are part of your net worth. Don’t forget the word work is also in network. What do you have in your net? You have your worth; you have your work; you have yourself and your community.


Bottoms up news: In B-Unbound we’re putting youth at the top of the chain by starting with students. They are the navigators and the drivers that we are all in support of. Our graphic clearly shows this change. This week, the BPLiving social media Healthy Lifestyle School Challenge ended. The winning school is our BPL school in Barbados – Beyond the Box. After being informed they were the winners, we received this note: "Thank you so much! Our senior girls who ran the campaign at our school are thrilled and so proud of themselves. It was a double win for us, they got everyone on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon and got engaged in a great project for themselves. We have made the decision that we would like to donate the prize money to Big Picture Kenya, we would like the money to go to a student or students there who need it more than we do." WOW! ‘nuff said.


A few weeks ago, at the NBA All-Star game there was a well-deserved focus on HBCU’s. Over the past 34 years, the NBA has given over $300 million dollars to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in support of students at HBCU’s. That’s pretty remarkable. This year, from the All-Star game $3 million in scholarship funds went to TMCF, United Negro College Fund (UNCF), National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO) and Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity. Now some history that was not mentioned in the NBA programming. This article by Ricardo Salvador and Mark Bittman is a policy piece aimed at some big change. Goodbye, U.S.D.A., Hello, Department of Food and Well-Being: This is an important opinion piece. Disparities in funding land-grant colleges that include many HBCU’s continues. The article points out the policies that could change that. Most people don’t realize the history of the USDA and think of it only as overseeing foods. But, they are responsible for loads of funding in education – funds for land grant colleges HBCU’s (included), rural electrification that funds internet access, loans to farmers that traditionally have left Black Farmers out of the mix, and the taking of Native American lands that land grant colleges are on. It’s time the Secretary of Agriculture leverages the department’s impact for more than the benefit of agribusiness. Let’s see what this administration does. It is certainly a companion to both education and health. Next week, I’m focusing on the meetings I have with the schools and districts I’m working closely with – Hawaii, Cajon Valley, Paramount, LA. Be Well! -- Elliot Washor Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

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