Elliot Washor's TGIF 07.29.22
“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder
But life has a way of making the foreseeable that which never happens and the unforeseeable that which your life becomes.” Everett Hitch
First off, Zoom my ass. It is so nice to be back with everyone. After years of cancellations caused by COVID we finally came together in-person for a Big Bang Conference where we start our 28th year as a group founded on practices that do not lend themselves well to verbal explanations. We are more relational, fluid, soulful, tacit, visual, kinesthetic and interactive. This is the Big Picture. If that’s a problem for some, so be it. We will keep on working till they see the Big Picture. We not only think ourselves into new ways of living. We also live ourselves into new ways of thinking.
How is it that most networks like ours have sold their souls and/or have gone away? I know we worked on this question from the beginning and basically we created and generated a set of places, practices and relationships that people feel are worth fighting for and belonging to. It is better to be in that to opt out and you can leave at any time.
Considering I rarely think about the “why question,” I’m pretty sure our human scale meshwork has stayed together because we haven’t dwelled on a particular “why” but live in the actions of the many collective whys people are all in.
Danique & Co. did an incredible Pick Me Up to open the conference. They had stories, images, music and hard data. What more do you need? Well, changing the way people live in the world is one of the hardest things to do. It takes a community, a real community not something that is constructed for a specific reason to reach a goal and for these types of changes adults and youth are with one another about what they want to change.
To that end, I loved the opening message and the reminder from Lorraine Mizell about her participation with her Uncle Dr. Von Mizell on their Wade-In’s that desegregated Fort Lauderdale Beaches. Here again youth were with adults in a struggle for civil rights. They lived with the uncertainties of not knowing what the outcomes would be and they were sure that they were not going to be welcomed to a picnic as they waded-in. These actions are what it takes to make change. They inspire us for our Leaving-to-Learns.
I’m a long-time subscriber to the New York Review of Books and this week they changed their look and feel. Yes, there is still tiny print and columns but images are taking on a bigger presence. This is notable for lots of reasons. Chief among them is the way we communicate through the blending of text and image becoming more mainstream and signifying a shift in our modern culture. This blending by some is seen as the rise in the feminine side that brings along with it more fluidity* and peace. It also signifies a move to what books will look like and how we get information off a page or a screen which then impacts who the society views as smart in and outside of school. A humble Maker’s Mark becomes more identifiable when visuals, dance and music are acknowledged alongside of print.
The acknowledgement of all kinds of smarts gaining equity with the word became apparent at Big Bang during our awards presentation when Chris Emdin, our keynote speaker and Timothy Jones were dually acknowledged by receiving Sankofa awards for their work in Hip-Hop Education. Here, both kinds voices were equally acknowledged - Chris’ voice more about the art of the word and Tim’s about the production of the music with neither being to the exclusion of the other. It is yet another marker in where we are at on the edge of change that hopefully resonates with the middle.
*Fluid intelligence - The ability to see patterns and relationships in new situations independent of pre-existing knowledge in order to work on new problems.
I’m so glad Tanya Ringuet from Australia joined us at Big Bang. On her journey she has touched so many people in our network bringing the IBPLC to the US and into schools and B-Unbound. Coinciding with the work of the IBPLC at Big Bang, I had a call with Chris Howard, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Arizona State University. Our board member Gary Kraut made introductions and it wasn’t long into the call that we realized how many people we know in common. Chris is very interested in learning more about the IBPLC and the hope is that ASU can play a major role in its scale.
My favorite weekly meeting has become our eclectic 311 Group. This group of carpenters, educators, politicians and workforce Gets Stuff Done East Coast style. No messing and no “let’s do lunch.” We just work to resolve the next problem and as a result we have some pretty remarkable young people entering into union pre-apprenticeships in ways youth never entered before. Next is the continuation of this program throughout the year taken through B-Unbound and fitting into the IBPLC.
I had so many great one on ones and walks with people. Grateful to be part of all the love. Onto the Leadership Conference in San Diego in December.
And finally, someone who put us all to shame. Louie representing Kenya BP showing us the way through play