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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 7.21.2023

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

Next week many of us will be in Kansas City for the Big Bang. This conference marks yet another start to a new beginning hence the term, the Big Bang of the Big Picture (both Big Bang and Big Picture describe the ebb and flow happenings in the universe or the bigger, bigger picture). There are probably only 3 or 4 of us attending who were at the first Big Bang which makes the saying “history is how you come to it” quite relevant. When I watched the brief and very engaging video Karla and Carlos did of laying out what lies ahead, it brought me back to the first Big Bang in Rhode Island. A few years later when we grew larger, in a matter of a week or so apart from one another, we decided to have West and East Coast Big Bang’s in Providence and San Diego. This was not a good idea. In the early days, what moved around from city to city were the BPL Leadership Conferences. It was here that we spent time in Chicago, Denver, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, and Philadelphia/Camden to name just a few of the places they were held. These were always about supporting a principal and staff with the hard work of a school start-up in these cities. At Leadership, the work was real and high stakes. We took on systems that were pushing back on our practices that allowed all students to be seen and heard for who they were, what they wanted to learn about, and who they wanted to learn from, all of which gave their lives meaning. But every summer, we returned to the Mothership for docking. Now, we can rightfully say there are loads of Motherships to go to.

Today we have added lots more initiatives that take on new ways, new forms, and new measures both in and outside of schools as well as work with adults but how we do what we do is still through our BPL practices and experiences. For that kind of enduring quality when so many others have defaulted on their vision, we have not.

“I don't want to just speak works; I want to turn them into realities and actions." Amanda Gorman

This week, there were two pieces in the press that caught my attention. One was, Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural poem being banned in a Florida school and how Amanda’s will to pick-up the fight shows her courage. For me all this harkens back to the civil rights movement and book bannings in the 60’s and 70’s.

The other was a video about Mark Ellison’s new book on building. Mark is a master carpenter in New York. His life’s work deals with “the will to overcome the stumbling blocks all along the way.” In both Amanda Gorman’s and Mark Ellison’s work having strong wills is what is needed. I would argue our work is the same. We make, create, and generate things through our strong wills. That is what it takes.

Hope to see you at Big Bang

Be Well!

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