Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 11.5.2021
Here’s a great interview/story that Isary sent me on MetWest’s garden project that’s part of BPLiving. A day or so later, Javier and I received this email from former MetWest Principal Michelle Deiro about the interview.
"Hi there, I hope you are both well! I miss BPL! I wanted to share this out with you about the MetWest garden, all done by a parent. It's so beautiful and amazing!" Yes, Leticia Rivera is a parent/mentor. I guess Michelle didn’t realize where the article came from BPLiving. A great way to reconnect.
LA Leaves to Learn
Glad many of us are starting to gather whenever we can. This week, it was Andrea organizing a Leaving to Learn with the LA Leave to Learn group and inviting all BPL staff in close proximity to attend. Isary sent some photos over to me so, I could feel bad about missing the festivities.
Harbor Freight Fellows & B-Unbound
At the board meeting today Maddie represented The Met, Harbor Freight Fellows, and B-U. It was her journey and her choices that put all of our designs together. What if, B-U became a part of Maddie’s story? From where we started to see our design unfold through Maddie is quite frankly, a vision 27 years in the BPL making. We have students who are Advisors and students who are parents of our present students, and students who work for us at BPL. That says a great deal about how lasting change happens. My time at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation was well spent. Pam and I met with members of their staff and board around setting up B-U as part of the next step in the evolution of their work. But, first, off I want to note that their building is built right on the water and this in and of itself manifests the story of both changing climates and changing work. At our meeting, I finally got to meet Joe Youcha who is the founding director. The next day Joe, Dennis Campbell, and I had a long dinner discussion about the real skills that carpenters need to do their work enabling them to make high wages, benefits, and pensions. All this adds up to work that has meaning and matters to society. It turns out there is way too much of what schools want everyone to know and way too little of what they need to do this quality work. The lack of attention by the system to each and every student’s interests is devastating both morally and financially. So much of the system's standardized content is developed in the name of equity but with blinders on. There is a misunderstanding of just how intellectually rigorous, technically advanced, and gratifying carpentry and other skilled trades are and how they are not dead-end jobs but actually lead to so many other careers. Joe is helping us do something about this situation. I’m hoping this is a watershed year for HFF. Just as an addendum to this skill trade conversation, today at our staff meeting Brenna mentioned the proposed sea wall to be built around Miami. The building of sea walls and other ways of managing or living with the changing tides is part of the environmental component of the new skilled trades. Yes, this work has a green component to it. The BPL board meeting yesterday went really well. I felt the board made some nice contributions to the vision and strategy that Carlos and Andrew presented. Given we were on Zoom and did not have the time to really get together the evening before a lot got accomplished. Late today, Anthonette, Pam and I had a conversation with Molly Josephs about how her students programming This Teenage Life fits and/or pivots into the Navigator Community side of B-U. It is a to be continued talk with lots of promise. At my meeting with Tony Smith (former Supt of Oakland, Emeryville, and Commissioner of Ed in Illinois). Tony is now working with the San Diego County Office of Education around leadership development of the 42 superintendents in San Diego County and directing work on Innovation. He had a nice simple message as a through-line for his work: “Innovation is about eliminating bias and creating opportunity.”
Who's got the last laugh now?
The Met is celebrating its 25 years in existence but for me, there were two years before we went live where we had some of our biggest joys, struggles, and challenges and that was during our birth. Brian asked me to do a quick happy birthday video to staff and students and put me in the Wayback Machine. Even before the Met’s opening, we worked with families and students together. This is what gave us the strength to get through the tough times where it was really, really touch and go but we were going to get the school up no matter what. Looking back some of those stories are just too hard to retell. Four years later, at our first Met graduation ceremony, I started my speech off with Ella and Louis (no coincidence that my name is Elliot Louis) singing, Who’s Got the Last Laugh Now? Then and now, we still got the last laugh. Be well!
--- Elliot Washor Co-Founder Big Picture Learning