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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 10.01.21

“If you don’t know us how can you possibly teach us.” After a meeting with program officers from Chan-Zuckerberg about how BPLiving can be a partner in a process that develops healthy and supportive teacher-student relationships. I felt like I was thrown into one of those time worm holes that went back 50 years only to realize, it was the here and now. A day or so later, I sent their program officer this 30 second PSA BPL made 21 years ago called KNOW US! (The PSA is attached below ). He got back almost immediately to me. writing. “Wow! Can I show this to my staff?” ‘Nuff said.

Also this week, we had a meeting with ACLM’s HEAL (Health Equity Achieved Through Lifestyle Medicine) group to plan a 3-part webinar series about Lifestyle medicine that our students will play a major role in. Chris and Danique were on the call. Our challenge is to keep the heart and soul in programming that can become a very high-brow conversation when medical professionals are brought in. How do you make it all real to students, staff, families without feeling like you are presenting just data? What will move people to want to change their behaviors? If you haven’t seen it, watch Summer of Soul (….Or when the revolution could not be televised). This set of concerts in Harlem took place 52 years ago. There is great history and great performances. Overshadowed might be a long look at the crowd. What do you notice that would be different if, this concert happened in 2021?


This week I was back East with Anthonette and Pam for lots of meetings around B-Unbound and its official launch in Newport, Providence and Pittsburgh. Pam and Anthonette had never been to The Met and it was quite an experience for me to observe and be part of their experience especially since school is really just starting up again with lots of students around. Our meetings with students – Jovan, Jasmine and Angel who are working on both B-U and BPLiving were great. Their fields of interest in BPLiving were all different and yet, it was great watching them share and riff off of one another’s work. In the evening, we spent time with Dennis at College Unbound where the adult students expressed their appreciation for CU and how this college experience transformed their lives. It is no small coincidence that B-U and CU have unbound in their name. At dinner our conversation focused around future connections. The next day we were down at the FabLab in Newport where we met up their team and started the work of B-U’s in Newport and Providence. The work of taking the BPL design outside of school frees us up around time, credits and more. Here there is a place to develop interests with peers and supportive adults. There’s going to be lots of learning for all of us as we figure B-U out. For B-U, ImBlaze is going to get a re-labeling as B-U and the IBPLC will be used to link credentials and certifications coming out of real-world learning and experiences. On Friday, we had meetings at the Pittsburgh Boys and Girls Club with Equity Fellow Lisa Palmieri and her staff. Lisa is Executive Director of all the Boys and Girls Clubs in the greater Pittsburgh region that include urban, suburban and rural settings. Long and short is that we are a go and everyone is excited for the start. After the meeting, we went to meet with long-time friend Bill Strickland. If you don’t know about Bill, you should. He has done some of the most amazing and powerful work in communities all over the world. Bill wanted to support and integrate B-U in his work right away.

The two nights before Anthonette and Pam arrived, Dennis and I got together and “broke into” The Shepard Building, the first site of The Met and BPL. We walked around the floor and into the old PMU room where it was pitch black. It was great how being in the space reminded us of so many events that happened in these spaces over 25 years ago. The next morning, I spent time with the Executive Director of the Lego Foundation, Bo Stjerne Thomsen. He was blown away by the school’s design and the program. We also went to Roger Williams Park, where Andrew Coburn and his advisory showed Bo how they utilize the public space in the park for gardening, meditation, seminars, environmental studies, architecture, history, quiet spaces, and LTI’s. Parks are such an underutilized community resource especially, in these times. “As a combination of two” initiatives Pam, Anthonette and I visited Harbor Freight Fellow Maddie on board the Oliver Hazard Perry where she is a full-time crew on the ship. Maddie will be working on the B-U site running a virtual group for young women of color on getting involved in the marine trades as well as becoming a captain. Part of our conversation on board the Oliver Hazard Perry was about a dinner I had on St. John with Chirell, the first Black woman to be a sea captain of a vessel over a certain tonnage. When I told Chirell about HFF and Maddie’s work, she was eager to meet and help out. All great news. Be Well!


Elliot Washor Co-Founder Big Picture Learning

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