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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 8.13.21

It was a treat starting the ASU GSV week off with a gathering at my house last Sunday and ending with a gathering on Wednesday evening with Leadership Journeys. As a testament, the Sunday gathering got some shout outs during the conference for bringing people together. For me, the conference ending with Carlos & Co’s creation - Leadership Journeys was an amazing experience. This second round of Leadership Journeys was a long time coming. It differed from the first because this one took place at a conference with a broader audience than at our BP conferences and it accomplished loads.

Over the years, we have added many different parts to conferences – Advisories, Leaving to Learns are among some of our creations that change an event. These all add up to experiencing BPL culture and Leadership Journeys continues this trend by creating an environment where leaders of color talked freely about who they are, where they come from and what they stand for. But, it wasn’t all talk and that adds to the beauty of LJ’s. In between the talks, there was music, dancing and libations. It all contributed to making this venue a very different part of the ASU GSV conference. Here the content was the leaders, their lives and their relationships. It was very far away from the typica uptight panel or “pitch and pivot” talks. There was a sense of trust and intimacy with the audience. This is what we expect for BPL’s work… We make it real.



You can’t fix education within education” Anon

At the ASU GSV conference, I wanted to learn more about influencers and any new technology being promoted that wasn’t smoke and mirrors. I spoke with lots of people about broadening our work using technology and how it applies to B-U. One group called Vela shares similar ideas about outside of school learning and is a network of like-minded organizations in this space. Also, I learned quite a bit about how influencers do what they do and why followers are attracted to them.

It was also great to run into people that I hadn’t seen in 25 years. Kalem Claire was one. We are following up next week.

All this leads to developing B-U with people in places.


Harbor Freight Fellows

Independently, Charlie and I were doing lots of HFF work making connections to start off the school year. Tomorrow, I talk with someone I have known about and who has known us for years – Joe Youcha. Joe works with our schools in an incredible non-profit called Building to Teach. Joe fits so well in HFF work especially, in the marine trades. I’m looking forward to our talk. Also, I knew that an effect of COVID would be a proliferation of thoughtful books. This week two friends emailed me about their new ones. The first one, I have been talking with Doug Stowe about for decades. It is finally coming out.

The second one is written my buddy Shep Siegel who was also director of CTE in Seattle. Shep has written a brilliant book about the small minority of trickster people in the world called, Tricking Power Into Performing Acts of Love. This book is written for the vast majority who don’t understand tricksters and must if, things are going to change for the better.

Tricking Power is about how grown-ups who have retained the ability to be as playful as they were when a child. Such a grown-up will consciously or unconsciously engage with the Trickster, and Tricking Power is about what could happen if society made more of that animating force.

Given my trickster energy and the lack of acceptance of it in schools and other institutions, personally, this becomes an important book. Note: Many students and staff in our schools are tricksters because this is a place where they can be who they are.


Namahana School

Back on Kauai, a warning sign of things to come. Children are getting sick from COVID and they are closing schools. This is just an indicator of what is ahead of us this year. Is how we get ready the same as everyone else? How is it different?


Big Picture Living

Lots going on in preparation for the opening of school and BPLiving. Lots of schools and students are signing up. Dr. Marsha-Gail’s lyric video will be out soon. We will be doing a town meeting with ACLM in October and having a meeting with HBCU’s and the Institute for the Study of Social Issues. We are part of the response to COVID by staying healthy and developing a better health care system based on prevention.


This past Monday was the day The Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. In Rhode Island 76 years later August 9th is still an official day off but there is also a very different remembrance from the perspective of the people who were exposed and lived through the bombing. The two articles below tell a different story.

In Japan, they don’t use the word survivors because in Japanese culture that would dishonor those who perished. The word they use is hibakusha meaning suffered and exposed. This article not only talks about the people but also the trees that suffered – the hibakujumoku and the reverence they are given.

The other article, Art From The Ashes. Japanese Painters Summon Hope is about two artists who are hibakusha. They tell the story about how being hibuakusha made them paint only what an eyewitness can capture.

Be well!


Elliot Washor

Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

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1 Comment

Doug Stowe
Doug Stowe
Aug 17, 2021

Ellliot, the story about the hibakujumoku is a must read, and I thank you for sharing it. I tell my students that wood is a narrative form. Where there's a knot, there had been a branch, and the woodworker's art is that of allowing the wood to tell its story as we attempt to craft our own.

The story also reminded me of the tree held sacred on the grounds of the 911 memorial in New York. It is a bradford pear that stood near the collapse of the twin towers, and was nursed back to health and replanted. It had been shredded of all semblance of life. Somewhere in my photo files I have a picture of me standing…

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