Elliot Washor's TGIF 11.11.2022
“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder
These past ten days, I’ve been travelling with 5 friends whom I’ve known since before we could talk. One of us got really sick and is now recovering, so we went all in and decided to be together for two weeks. Here’s a bit of background on us. Three of us were born in the same hospital on the same day. The other two were born in that same hospital between six months and a year later. Four of us are 71 and one is 70. Although we see one another in small groups, we haven’t been altogether for this long since we were teenagers. One is a trauma surgeon. Then there’s me who went to college. One never finished high school and the other two barely went to college. We are all still working. Because of World War 2, we all had older parents who had their own difficulties to deal with and probably because of this, we raised one another outside on the streets. And as it turns out, the financially most successful, worldly and most sophisticated among us was the guy who never finished high school. We are all completely different and you wouldn’t think to look at us that we would hold together. So, why did we for 70 years? We grew up in a really tough but diverse neighborhood in BKLYN and either openly or deep inside those experiences made us and connected us. From twelve years old on, our friends started dying from violence on the street. As kids we all did stuff that was way more dangerous than you might expect now. A few weeks before the trip the surgeon friend met a journalist from National Geographic and told her what he was going to be doing. She wants to do a story on us. Who knows? Anyhow, it was a great trip and in the midst of it, you could see each one of us still working. As Duke Ellington said, “Retire to what.” “ In theory there is no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is.” Yogi Berra Good news! After months of negotiations, I finally got Heinemann publishing to revert the rights of Leaving To Learn to me and Charlie. And, simultaneously Andrew (more Andrew) and I negotiated a deal with ASA to get a new iteration funded to coincide with the timing of a book Jean Eddy, executive director of ASA is writing. Both are on real-world learning from Jean’s perspective, it is policy to practice and from ours practice to policy. Jean will be writing the forward to our book and hopefully, we can piggyback on the exposure Jean’s book will get. At least that’s the idea. The challenge will be for us to write the book quickly, taking parts of the old book and adding what has happened over the last ten years as a 10th anniversary edition. It is a great opportunity for BPL to get the word out. Last week, I wrote about Steve Jobs and his legacy and this week it is Paul Allen. Two very different early tech billionaires with entirely different legacies being played out. Both will impact the world. This week, Paul Allen’s art collection was sold for over $1Billion with all the proceeds going to causes he supports. None of these beneficiaries were announced before the sales of the paintings so as not to impact what the paintings would go for. One art adviser stated that he saw in the collection “someone who had a very personal connection to the works he bought.” He added, “I find it moving that someone who has had so much impact on how the world functions today also had this strong and personal response to the artist and the hand.” For me, this statement reveals lots about people who invent and innovate tech, First off, the Japanese word Kyokan used in video gaming comes to mind. Kyokan is a state of feeling one with or in relationship with your environment and/or the people using your technology. Many of the greats have this sense and feel. Then, there is the yearning we get for something tacit, heartfelt and tangible especially when we are using technologies that remove us from a world we can walk around in. The more removed we get from the world via the latest technology crazes i.e. the metaverse, the more we will crave the human touch, that is if we remember the process of craft that we use to make them. That said, Eunice sent me an email about a group, Culture of Repair that gets youth interested in repairing things. The Repairman is probably the most important person on any expedition. Frank Wilson always told the story about asking NASA astronauts: Who is the most important person on the spaceship? Inevitably, the answer always is the Handyman. Someone who can fix and repair is invaluable and indispensable. They can take you home. Shades of our Hand Conferences of over a decade ago. Yikes! Andrea has been working hard with Becky Perez about the fate of the Odyssey School. It is one heck of a story unfolding in real time. I’ve been involved but not to the extent of support Andrea has given Becky. In the old days at the Leadership Conference no matter what the agenda was, a timely issue would supersede it. The Odyssey story would become the agenda for all of the principals both to learn from and to do something to support Becky, the school and the community. This is type of activism where we change on a dime in a thoughtful and courageous way. We are much bigger now and it is much harder but we have to figure out how to do it.
Next week the interim report for our LEGO grant is due on BPLiving, B-Unbound and the International Big Picture Learning Credential. A team of us including Danique, Andrea and Anthonette assembled it with Scott Boldt doing the evaluation and final report. What I like about this work is how things tie in and complement one another rather than being separate initiatives. This is the power of our Wednesday Group that also involves Harbor Freight Fellows, Project inSight and LALtL and work in New York. Be Well!