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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot's TGIF 10.13.2023

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

“Do the locomotion with me” – Little Eva

When I was in Australia I met Lucas, a student I’ve been in touch with for years who has a passion for narrow gauge trains. He has made documentaries on trains and locomotives. He can repair, build and operate them. When we met, he told me he was going to go to Durango, Colorado to apprentice with the Durango and Silverton Line. This week during my fantastic visit to Durango Big Picture, I met Jason all covered in soot and grease from head to toe who is the brother from another mother of Lucas (See photos below). Jason is in his 3rd year at our school. He already has a job waiting for him when he graduates working in the train yard. Below is a video of him operating a locomotive. Can anyone say Harbor Freight Fellow? Another set of twins are Fiona from Durango and Mikaya from New Legacy. Both graduated from their respective schools and are now working in them. In my two plus days at Durango I met many students, parents, staff and district administrators. Taylor and Sam Tower, their principal, invited me to the Grand Opening of their new school facility where I said a few words and signed books but that was just the formality. Durango Big Picture has been around for 14 years. As Loren, their former school coach knows, it is off the beaten path but well worth the visit. That said, this is one of the best school visits I've ever had. Durango has a diverse population of students with loads of family engagement. The community, school board and superintendent Karen Cheser whom Sam, Taylor and I had dinner with is 100% behind the school. The converted office building they are in is a cross between Innovations and The Met. One of their students pictured below is an extraordinary pianist. From New Jersey to San Jose families driving through Durango found this school and moved here specifically for their children to attend. Also, pictured in the photo below are two students (Kevyn and Tylor) who graduated from the school and have been best friends since the 4th grade. Presently, Kevyn is the manager of Mac Wrench and Tylor does the IT there. Both of them got their work straight out of high school from their internships. This weekend, Tyler is getting married to Fiona and their former advisor Christopher seen with them in this photo is presiding over the ceremony. Kevyn is already married to another alumni, Saundra. On the final day, a group of students and staff, myself, Taylor and Sam headed up to Mesa Verde National Park. It is one of the first National Parks and is the only park that is first and foremost about protecting the ancestral structures of people who lived here and vanished by 1200 AD. Just by coincidence or not, I was in Cappadocia, Turkey a month ago at another World Heritage site of cliff/cave dwellings and the similarities can’t be missed.

Taylor is one heck of a coach for Durango. You couldn’t get two principals more aligned than Sam and Taylor.

Jason and below his "twin" Lucas

Superintendent Karen Cheser at the book signing

Can you see the Real Me? The Who - Tommy

Although the point of this article is about the Supreme Court decision on Affirmative Action, I see something else here that is missed. What did these selective schools miss that Google saw? What if this student had an IBPLC? What if every student had one? Today, Andrea, Anthonette, Scott and I met to draft a proposal for more funds to continue the work on the IBPLC.

“The quality goes in before the name goes on.” Zenith

“Our emphasis here is on very high-quality work, we’re sticklers for quality. You have to have that; this doesn’t work if it’s not well done. You’re not building something for the next five or ten years, you’re building it for the next 100 years and beyond.” Paul Neiland - Organ Builder

I love and I mean love when someone can do things only a very few can do that give meaning to their lives and are paid for doing it. Read on! I marvel at people who take the time to build in the quality and throw away the clock. That’s mastery and meaning. It ain’t easy and it’s not supposed to be but that makes all the difference. Wexford organ builders maintaining hundreds of years of heritage – ‘we’re the only ones in Ireland who can do this from scratch’.

In many ways I feel the same way about BPL. When it comes to quality and meaning, crafts people lead the way. The day when this type of work is honored is the day we go mainstream.

Over the weekend I went to a baby shower at The Thorne Family Farm. Here’s what was on their website “big farming grows for tonnage and I grow for flavor," And, that is our difference as well.

More from Creativity and Content. What’s the difference? Plenty. This week as a follow-up to Emma Thompson. Jessica Lange chimed in and plans to retire from acting because content and corporate profits have trumped creativity and quality. Jessica Lange’s acting career has been one where she carefully chose her role. And, NO! I don’t read Variety. This is hitting the news and I’m glad.

On the international front this week, we have a new school in Ahmedabad, India and I have a call with an entrepreneur in India around IBPLC. Also, Sonn and I will be up in Winnipeg in February for a week.

Next week, I’ll be with Sonn, David, Andrea, Anthonette and Loren in Palm Springs for the Aurora Conference. Then, off to Tacoma for the Getting Smart conference where I’ll be presenting our work via Learning to Leave alongside Jean Eddy from ASA and Tom Vander Ark. By Saturday I’ll be in Providence for College Unbound ceremonies and then, back home where Equity Fellows will be gathering one of their evenings at our home.

Last Friday, after the book talk in Santa Monica at dinner, Jessica Rishe and I went over to Liza Bearman’s home for dinner. Liza’s 9-year-old son, Zev reported the conversation between his friend Ollie and his mom. "Your friends are so nice.” He said, “Mom, you will never believe what this guy’s job is, it’s to make school more fun.”

Final tale, From Liza, “When Zev told how you make schools more fun, he got all concerned and upset then asked, 'but mommy what happens to recess if you learn to leave/leave to learn?' since that’s the most important part of his 3rd grade day."

Smart kid! ‘nuff said.


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