top of page
  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 2.16.2024

“Are you with me now” A J Ryder

“Walking in Memphis” with Sonn was a great experience for our upcoming Big Bang '24 Leaving to Learns. We started with a drive around Overton Park to understand all that goes on. Parks, not schools are always my first stop in any city. You can learn loads about a place by walking through a city park and Overton did not disappoint. There’s music, arts, farming, recreation, museums and a place to do just doing nothing as something to do.


Next, we went over to an easily recognizable rehabbed Sears Building called Crosstown Concourse. The concourse is way larger than just the Sears Building. This is a place of art, music, food and wellness where people can live and play. It is also home of Crosstown School and one of our stops in this complex. Crosstown is a school with great space stacked with loads of potential internship sites an elevator stop away. It is definitely worth a visit.


From the non-profits to the businesses, the Crosstown Concourse was made for exploration and living. My favorite stop was Memphis Music Listening Lab. This is a public space of vinyl recordings where you can select an album, go to a turntable and listen while you work or just relax. This record collection is enormous. There’s over 60,000 artifacts that you can touch and of course listen to on some great turntables and sounds systems. Sonn and I were treated to an Al Green album where just the speakers alone were $180,000. Amazing sound.


Our last stop of the day was the Memphis Youth Arts Initiative in the Southgate Mall. As a place, the Southgate Mall was the antithesis of Crosstown Concourse. It had seen way better days and we had to really go on a treasure hunt to find Memphis Youth Arts Initiative in Southgate but it was worth the meandering. This was the place both Sonn and I were looking for. This is a not-for-profit that wasn’t just connected to the community, it was the community. Without all the bells and whistles this place is the real deal and is in existence for all the right reasons. I’m going back for sure.


At dinner, long-time friend Chris Reynolds made the 3-hour drive from Nashville to be with us. Chris has been working with Sonn down in Alabama and our team at Namahana. It was great to see him after the many years of COVID. I’m hoping Chris makes it to Big Bang and brings some Tennessee friends along.


Finally, the next day we went to The Assisi Foundation. Where we met with Dr. Jan Young and Ernestine Berry Smith who know everyone and everything about Memphis. It was a joy for us to be welcomed to a city through a foundation that has given over $280 million to Memphis non-profits without any of the normal foundation formalities. Jan and Ernestine are the real deal and they are making some wonderful connections for us.


Big Bang in Memphis will not disappoint. Other BPL teams with us were just as excited about their Leaving to Learns. I didn’t even get to all things STAX or meet the founder of Mo’s Bo’s but can’t wait. This is going to be a great Big Bang with a host city we will all learn from.


Beth White’s new film produced by PBS News - How these teenagers are helping create a work-based school experience is out and is great. Habitat for Aviation is a labor of love and as a B-Unbound Center and a place for Harbor Freight Fellows, I’m so glad and honored to have played a role in incubating this space. Beth is always fighting the good fight. Even as this film is coming out, our email exchanges this week were about students not being given credit for their learning at Habitat for Aviation. Even though they were at a BPL Middle School state regs squashed it. This is all the more reason why the IBPLC and B-Unbound need to grow.


At our meeting with Pam Roy and Dr. Dixon Chibanda, Brian and I focused on the planning and implementation of the Friendship and Buddy Bench programs on the Met campus and the potential partnerships with and United Way. Also, this week we continued talks about the latest iteration of the Entrepreneurship Initiative. Both have the potential to be anchor programs for B-U.


Call and Response

Last week off of my TGIF, Al Sylvia, principal of Bronx Lab School told me about his work in AI around interest-driven real-world learning. he sent me on a test drive. It is really good and will only get better. There’s real use for this bot. It does respond to my question last week of how Policy Center

How can AI deliver on relationships that matter?



Question of the week

This week’s question of the week is from a talk I had with Andera Purcell when she said: Why are we compelling the presence of AI in a conversation about asset-based formative assessment?


Back in San Diego, I met with SD board member Richard Barerra about the 20th Anniversary of the San Diego Met and the ASU GSV meeting at the school. From the beginning, Richard has been a long-time supporter. As a lifetime community and labor organizer, he currently serves on the Board of the Center on Policy Initiatives and the California Immigration and is active with the Cesar E. Chavez Service Clubs. Needless to say, it was great to catch-up and get ready for the coming events.

Finally, over a dozen proposals for that many cities were submitted to Bank of America by Anthonette - B-U, Andrea - Project InSight, Charlie - Harbor Freight Fellows  and Danique - BPLiving. Much thanks to Mychal and MR for their support. Yikes!


Enjoy the weekend!

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page