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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 4.26.2021

“Tonight, we exhale. Tomorrow, the work continues.” This is how Carlos ended his TGIT for the week and I’ll start mine. For well over a couple of months, I have been talking to many of you about the ability to breathe. This image protesting the murder of George Floyd with protesters wearing masks during COVID amplifies and converges on the importance of breathing from the perspective of two of the biggest headlines of the year. If you think about it, breathing is one of the few things we all share in common. We all took a first breath to start our lives and we all will take a final one.

This past year, the George Floyd murder and trial and Covid overlapped making us more concerned than ever about what it means to not be able to breathe. If you can’t breathe, you can’t speak, you can’t move, you can’t sleep and you can’t relax.

How those words, “I Can’t Breathe” will forever resonate with us.

How do we create environments in schools where everyone CAN breathe, move, relax, sleep and have a voice? Our work in schools is so much a part of the larger movement “that all students live lives of their own design, supported by caring mentors and equitable opportunities to achieve their greatest potential.”

This would be a breath of fresh air. “The work continues.”


This was a great week for inter-school student-driven work. Once again, Odyssey

students did a fantastic webinar taking a lead. This time, on their family gardens. There were connections made by students to their parents through growing food at home. To the surprise of many students, their parents knew a great deal about how to grow the vegetables they were growing but they never shared the knowledge until their children’s gardens sprung up. We will be putting the webinar on the BPLiving site shortly.

Aside from making ‘ice cream’ from fruits, the International BPLiving Student Design team developed plans for next year to get the ‘new forms’ work of BPLiving into Learning Big Picture materials a la the Learning Plan, Advisory and Exhibition sections. I’m talking with Loren next week about making this happen in time for Big Bang.

The student letter/video to Dr.Fauci urging him to emphasize how to prevent pre-existing conditions that increase the chances and severity of COVID. is almost done. Let’s see his response.


Our work on developing the Marine Trades continues. Kurt has made some excellent contacts in the Bay Area and it looks like our Marine Trades work will start next year on both west and east coasts from north to south.

We are still waiting to hear back from ASCD on our proposal around Get REAL! We know our graphic novel is filling a void. What we are working on is the marketing side.


We are setting up appointments with COSTCO vision centers and the COSTCO foundation to develop a relationship where our Project Insight Fellows can do their internships. In all of our Fellows work, we are trying to get businesses and corporations involved in supporting young people as part of a change in program design.


BPL Global - “Think with your body. Feel with your mind.”

At the BPL Global meeting, we discussed doing multiple presentations at the Venice Biennale. BPL Board member David Gersten has invited us into this event that by chance, I have been twice. It is famous for its exhibitions around design and community. The Biennale is a big deal. It attracts hundreds of thousands of people. The idea is for us to present ‘the community as school’ and ‘the student as curriculum.’ Since our school in Biella is only 4 hours by train, it makes it easy for us to have a great presence there. Both our school design and B-Unbound will be a breath of fresh air in our Plein d’air approach.

WAR ….. “I needed tools that would live up to my expectations.” Lee Oskar – Harmonica Player of WAR

This week, my synchronicity meter was on high. No sooner did someone mention a song by the group WAR on a Zoom when in the next instance, someone out of the blue sends me an email about a story featuring Lee Oskar, the harmonica player from WAR and his search for the perfect harmonica.

Who would have thought that making a good harmonica was so hard? It seems like such a simple instrument but it turns out, it is really hard to make a good one. The problem of making great harmonicas arose when the Hohner Harmonica Company hired consultants instead of relying on the craftsman in their factories for help and advice. The advice of the consulting firm was: AUTOMATE. “Then you can get rid of the workforce and make more money.” This is an all too familiar theme in our modern world. But, this story has a happy ending. Fed up with how harmonicas were being made, Oscar declared WAR and started his own company. In the end, he finally got Hohner to listen and change. They joined forces and everyone got back to making quality harmonicas and great music.

Be well!


Elliot Washor Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

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