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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 09.17.20

Dr. Marsha-Gail, Danique, Chris, Carlos, Isary, and I met to discuss a series of town meetings set for October around education, health, and community. It was a great first step for production because we were building something new based on previous work we have done with podcasts like Puzzle Pieces and When They See Us. An example that Marsha-Gail brought to the meeting was a show called Barbershop Medicine. Here, two young Black doctors dressed in street clothes meet the patrons in a local barbershop and get real about health issues that the docs and patrons don’t necessarily agree on. These docs make it real. We want to do the same thing. How do you get schools and hospitals to change? How do you make it real and visible to students, families, and medical professionals? Shedding light on preventing conditions instead of having an educational system that increases the likelihood of getting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer is a gigantic challenge. The spotlight on issues around COVID barely touches the correlation between these conditions and COVID and in many cases, the policies we have in schools make things worse. For example this week an educational headline was about the shortage of drivers. Our transportation system coupled with the time school opens contributes to a lack of sleep for students. This in turn affects their physical and mental health. If schools started at a different time a lot would be remedied but the beat goes on. The integration of BPLiving with other work continues. This week a student at Odyssey is linking the impact of sleep and poor vision. In the end, students driving changes in health and well-being is the way the change will come. Also, this week, our year-end meeting with our funder, The Fox Family Foundation went great. Despite COVID, Andrea and Carrie did great work developing the program. Now that the foundation has been poured and hardened, this coming year will be one where the Fellows part really takes off.


Here’s Board member David Gersten and me at The Cooper Union. Ahh! If all philanthropists were like Peter Cooper. The Cooper Union housed the first HQ of the NAACP, Frederick Douglas had an office there. So did Susan B. Anthony and Lincoln gave the speech – Right Makes Might that launched his national career in the Cooper Union Great Hall. All of this was intentionally designed by Cooper. We took this photo right before we went into a meeting about B-Unbound and Cooper’s Saturday program. The meeting went very well. Later that evening at dinner with Carlos, we made the connections to Here, NYC work around the IBPLC and this work. One unintended consequence of this meeting was that the Cooper students saw B-U not only as a way to be a mentor but to make connections for themselves. Given the poor track record of most colleges supporting their students and graduates in job placement B-U can play a major role here

Biden’s infrastructure plan is casting a huge spotlight on the shortage of people in the skilled trades and the high need. The Biden Administration is putting an emphasis on training women and people of color who have both been left out and in recent decades steered only to college. This is right up our alley and a great opportunity for us to influence the system.

This week, my talks with Joe Youcha from Build to Teach focused around a partnership with his group and the Carpenter‘s Union to try to get our work to have broader influence in the k-12 arena with the necessary funding attached. Listening to Joe, we don’t have a labor problem in our country, we have a wage problem. Younger people who need to work aren’t getting paid for training and therefore take work that they really don’t want to do to get the money they need to live and help their families. We have been aware of this problem from the get-go and that is why we have compensated Fellows. Next week, We will meet with Joe again and take the next steps.


“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." This quote is how we started our Wednesday Group where we invited Mark Mitton to spend time with us discussing Social Impact Bonds and Student Data. It was a fascinating conversation that opens up questions about why so much funding is given out and to whose advantage? This was not an easy set of topics to grasp but it could be that the changes we want to see happen are directly connected to how well we understand who is pulling these levers and to what end. We will continue this conversation and bring in a few more people. David Gersten being one of them. Attached to this TGIF is the Executive Summary for Harbor Freight Fellows. that Scott Boldt did. Project InSight's will come out soon and I will send it along. Also, attached is a story by Jay Neugeboren, a Columbia classmate and friend of Frank Wilson about Frankie King. We are going to use this non-fiction story as a way to understand how BPL schools would work with Frankie and family


Wherever I travel you can find me in a park. That’s one of my hobbies and my barometer of a place for what’s happening there.

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day unless you are too busy then you should sit for an hour” Japanese Gardens Kildaire Town

This was the message as I entered the Japanese Garden in Kildaire Town, IRE. This garden is considered the most beautiful Japanese Garden in all of Europe and I can see why. The design of Kildaire Garden is unlike any journey through a Japanese Garden I’ve ever been to. It was actually a pretty difficult trail with all sorts of obstacles in your way and all sorts of decisions to make about which roads to go down.

Be Well


Elliot Washor

Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

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