• Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 6.4.21

Wayback Machine Fast Forward to the present

These photos that Jeff Palladino sent from Fannie Lou Hammer Freedom School bring me back to the first days Fannie Lou opened. I was at opening day of the school filming a documentary. Fannie Lou was one of the first small schools to open in NYC under Debbie Meier’s Small Schools division. And now, 20+ years later, we are all still connected. One of the beauties of this school is this 2nd story courtyard or terrace. I wish you could see the “before and after” photos. It’s been turned into a beautiful learning environment.


A very few calls on Memorial Day Monday gave me the time to read a book someone recently sent me but I’m not sure who. Sand Talk How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta is a gem. Tyson’s explanation of the history of public schooling takes us through how imperialism (Prussian System) and modern globalization used techniques similar to how they domesticated animals. It is just one quick example I’ll share here.

1. Separate the young from their parents in the daylight hours

2. Confine them in an enclosed spade with limited stimulation or access to natural habitat

3. Use rewards and punishments to force them to comply with purposeless tasks.

There’s lots of new language here or rather language translated from indigenous to modern. Tyson creates words like extra-cognitive instead of non-cognitive. Through his yarning’s, Tyson delves into different ways of knowing that are sentient, tacit and part of cultural capital.

Tyson wrote a book that is fun, dynamic and shows ways to get to a sustainable future. Definitely worth seeing how our actions fit and play out in what Tyson is doing and how we can change.

The COVID Comeback Corner – “I went outside once. The graphics weren’t good.”


It was great to have Dennis over last week and this week Carlos stopped by for a few days. We had good meeting and meals with Eva and drove to meet Pam Roy up at Dana Point. Right before Carlos left, we put on the TV program show called Highly Questionable. I asked Carlos why this program with three people on it in a Zoom-type format engaged me so much more than the Zooms we are on every day? He came right back immediately and said, the production value. He was right. When Carlos did the discussion with Nicole Hannah-Jones, they did not use Zoom. They used a higher quality production platform. This does make a difference. When we use Zoom, we lose so much because of the production value. Would students be more present on Zoom and literally show themselves if, the production value was better? My bet is YES. Unfortunately as the saying goes, Good, Fast or Cheap, you can only have two applies here. With Zoom we get fast and cheap but not that good.

Holding this thought about Zoom but in stark contrast to what I just said, was the Zoom I attended today for my first valedictorian graduation speech of the year. Met graduate, Ashanti Reyes was awarded a music scholarship from my son Michael. There is no reason why every student in the country should not do a valedictorian speech. These last around 30 min and are amazing. Ashanti had 32 of us on Zoom and it was one if not, the most intimate Zooms I attended this year. On it, she went through her internships at law offices, music production houses and college classes. She honored her family, her mentors and advisors. One of her college courses was getting an EMT certification. Her instructor was with the Mayor of Johnston who is a retired EMT and Firefighter as the instructor. It was great to see and hear Becky, David, Alin, Terrell and so many others on the Zoom. Perhaps there is some sort of correlation: the higher the value of the relationship, the lower the quality of the Zoom can be.

I had two really important meetings this week that went really well. One was with Lisa Palmieri and Anthonette. Lisa was an Equity Fellow and now is the Executive Director the Boys and Girls Clubs in Western Pennsylvania including Metro Pittsburgh. Looks like Lisa’s work is a ‘one stop shop’ for B-Unbound, BP Living, Harbor Freight Fellows, Project Impact and ImBlaze. We have a follow-up meeting today around B-Unbound and then, we will hopefully spring into action or rather join in the action she has started.

The other meeting was with Anthonette, Pam Roy and a team from Working Nation – Art Bilger, Jane Oates and Lonia Guha. This was yet, another great meeting featuring ImBlaze and B-Unbound. Working Nation is interested in both the ImBlaze tech platform and B-U. Art is going to discuss with his colleagues and get back to us.

Our Global meeting is always lots of fun and very collaborative. We are getting more and more US nationals on the call. This week we were joined by David Bromley and Andrea who spun out a yarn to get all global participants involved in her (now our push) for local LTL’s during Big Bang.

The other day, I previewed the video letter that our BPLiving students put together to send to Dr. Fauci. There’s loads of young people power and depth that went into this video where they take a stand about the disparities in health care and ask Dr. Fauci to do more.


Be well


-- Elliot Washor Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

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