top of page
  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 6.25.21

For me, there are very few coincidences that are mere coincidence. As we were muddling our way to thinking through where we will be in 10 and 2 years using metaphors like our North Star (mission and vision) to guide us, Frank Wilson sends me this email from the NY Review of Books on a set of new books reviewed by Robert MacFarlane - The Landscapes Inside of Us. The books are about how we find our way. This has as much to do with places as it does with values.

“Our navigational ability as a species is closely connected to our ability to tell stories about ourselves that unfold both backward and forward in time.”

I strongly encourage everyone to read this review and go further by reading the books. These books collectively frame a cross-cultural historic perspective opening up many questions about how we find ourselves in the world. Here science, art and ethics all merge as a way to figure out where to head. It is yet another example of the creativity that is coming out of COVID. On Wednesday, we will spend the full hour on this one. We’ll see what insights come up. My biggest insight for being on Zoom and Zoom’s accompanying Breakout Rooms is that there is not enough time to play and muddle through ideas aside from stating things quickly. This is not the way we do things well. As stated, when Carlos did his 360 review with Melanie, “Slowness is fundamental to quality.” I’m so looking forward to face-to-face meetings with walks and talks, objects to manipulate together and time to have 1:1’s in cafes and bars. I’m looking forward to having time to breathe between meetings where we mingle with one another and muddle through things that matter.


Just add water...

I loved having Alisha, one of our students from Mumbai facilitate two activities at BPL Home Week. If I’m right, she was the only young student present all week. Alisha, walked us through the website, social media and app for BPLiving. She knew it backwards and forwards because she was one of the students who created and produced it. Alisha showed BPL staff, the BPL student Video Letter to Dr. Fauci asking him to talk more about how health disparities like obesity, heart disease and type-2 diabetes in communities of color can be prevented and thus lowering the percentage of Black and Brown people contracting COVID.

Next, Alisha asked all staff to fill out a Call to Action on social media with a demonstration of how to do it. I’m not totally sure but something like this seems so simple to do and yet, not as simple as we might believe. Who actually did it? And, what does this say about BPL? Do adults know how to use social media? Are adults consuming and not producing social media? I’m curious. I’m going to follow-up. The other activity Alisha did was in Open Space time. This was the time to get everyone offline. She asked all of us go to into our kitchen cabinets and pull-out potatoes, yams, beans, seeds, fruits or processed foods of your choice to see which foods will germinate. Once foods are spouts their nutritional value increases. Twenty-four hours later, I’m watching my beans to see if/when they sprout.


The data below is directly correlated to ACLM’s six measures that prevent much chronic conditions.

Relationship Between Chronic Conditions and Disability in African American Men and Women

Higher Rates of Disease

Racial and ethnic minorities have high rates of debilitating disease such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, and AIDS. One of the most glaring disparities is apparent in the African American community, where 48% of adults suffer from a chronic disease compared to 39% of the general population.2


Obesity is debilitating and is often a catalyst to chronic disease. Seven out of 10 African Americans ages 18 to 64 are obese or overweight, and African Americans are 15% more likely to suffer from obesity than Whites.3


African Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.


Full moon rising

Last night, I went camping out on a beach with families from the soon to be Namahana School on Kauai. We ate different kinds of seaweed and foraged foods. We caught crabs and fish. When I say “we” it was mostly children from 7 - 13 years old. They drove and steered the boats and showed me what to do. They did it by asking me where do I think the crab trap should be placed? As if I knew. That was interesting. The knowledge they had of their surroundings and how to live off of the things we step on in the water and on land was something to behold.

At night in a multi-generational group we sat around and Talked Story. Uncle Gary told tales of what was on this beach from long, long ago. All the children and adults were fixated. And, there was one boy about 10 who got up and demonstrably took over and started his own version of Talk Story – singing and dancing as well. All were welcome to act out. This was not to say there were not issues. On the beach, a few hundred yards away there was a Full Moon Goddess Rave of wealthy women who were being disrespectful to a place where Hawaiian ancestors were buried on the beach. It wasn’t real ugly but it wasn’t real pretty either and it showed the culture clashes and the issues of socio-economic wealth and privilege and what is a stake here. Hawaiians are being priced out of their land, homes and work. Namahana School has real world issues to deal with and figure out. A lot is at stake.

Next week the group goes out camping where if, you don’t catch it or forage it, you don’t eat. High stakes testing for sure.


Creativity coming out of COVID. Learning Loss?

This rendition of Beethoven’s Ninth by a school in the Basque region could only happen because of COVID. Check it out. AMAZING.

This week on a call with Maddie and Kurt, we discussed how she is going to work with students from The Met, Big Picture Schools and the Fab Lab in Newport as her entry point for introducing young women of color to the marine trades. Her work will appear on B-Unbound’s Navigator Community as well as the Harbor Freight Fellows website. Maddie’s enthusiasm for this effort is boundless. I can’t wait to see what happens over the next few months.

Be Well!


Elliot Washor

Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

16 views0 comments


bottom of page