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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 04.8.22

When ‘first’ places (home) merge with ‘second’ places (work) and morph into ‘third’ places we exchange ideas and have a good time. This is precisely what happened when about 40 people came to our home on Sunday evening for the start of the ASU GSV conference. It was a great way to start off the week and mingle with old friends and newcomers.

Bright and early on Monday Chris, Karla, Andrew, Carlos, I were at San Diego Met to greet two contingents totaling about 60 people. One group was the LEGO Foundation attending the conference and the other from a scheduled site visit tour from ASU GSV. These was no ordinary groups. There were researchers, funders and superintendents in the house.

As soon as we got their everyone built their LEGO Duck and of course no one duck was the same. This gave everyone the opportunity to focus through their hands on no one student being the same. These ‘Do and then Know’ activities always turn out some beautiful artifacts and reveal something to the maker and the audience.

Next all participants went into advisory and then a humanities class. After their time at these places, everyone heard from both present students and alums – Izzy and Karla from the San Diego Met and Lexi from Met Sacramento. We also had a surprise appearance by John Caine, an alum from The Met in Providence who was a keynote at the conference talking about his tech start-up. These alums talked about their post graduate experiences as they answered the questions in the slide below.

At the end, each participant built a design out of LEGOs for what they saw at the San Diego Met that was revealing to them about the BPL innovative design. All of this provoking a great discussion about scale, assessment and school design.

Throughout the conference, we received lots of nice feedback about the site visit including Katie Martin’s blog.

If the site visit set the tone for the ASU GSV conference, the finale was Leadership Journey’s MC’ed by Carlos and Melissa Agudelo. This event took the conference to another level. BPL Bd member and head of the Nellie Mae Foundation Dr. Gislaine Ngounou, Dr. Chris Emdin and Naseem Haamid, presently a law student at GW and a graduate of Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom School told and showed their Leadership Journeys. They made it real which is rarely what sessions at conferences are. This is yet, another example of making a ‘work’ space a ‘third’ space.

Watching Leadership Journeys reminded me of a Funkadelic concert I was at that got reviewed in The Village Voice in 1969 or 1970. Basically, the review was praising George Clinton’s group by saying the audience barely knows what to do with one Jimi Hendrix on the stage but what do you do when there are ten Jimi’s on the stage? ‘Nuff said.

During the intentionally placed breaks in Leadership Journeys. I had some good talk time with Pedro Noguera who was there for the event but also there to hear Chris Emdin, one of the newest members of his USC faculty.


“If it is Tuesday this must be in Belgium.”

Not really, but close. Also, this week BPL EU convened in The Netherlands with Scott Boldt facilitating. From the early days till now we have come a long way with our international work when Carlos, Eunice, Tim, Andrew, Joe B., and others would go for stays to The Netherlands. Now the BPL EU’s are off and running their own conferences. Hopefully we always work ourselves out of work and others run with it.

Speaking of USC one our BPLiving students from Odyssey, Honey Robinson and her parents Erskine and Liz were on NBC News getting her college acceptance notice to USC. To Honey “culture and representation mean everything” so she can serve as an example to other younger students like her.

And, a new video just came out on The Met students 65-day sea voyage we’ve been following.

These past few days, I’ve been working with Equity Fellow Vernon Moore and Rodrigo Arancibia on developing B-U, BPLiving, Harbor Freight Fellows and the IBPLC in Chula Vista. I’m real hopeful this is going to take off.

Be well!


Elliot Washor

Co-Founder of Big Picture Learning

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