Elliot Washor's TGIF 9.23.2022
“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder
“Science has made a house-cleaning of belief.” – Saul Bellow
On Thursday we had our first BPL International meeting of the year. A highlight was Chiara’s story about how our school in Italy was almost to the point of closing when Chiara went up to the mountains near Biella to visit the Black Madonna and sure enough the next day a wealthy parent came by and offered to support the school. Scott, Sonn and I have all visited the Black Madonna as well.
During the meeting we also spent time on the IBPLC work that Kenya, Barbados and the US are involved in developing. During that time, Gaby took us on a tour of her office in a container box on the campus of Outside the Box. You can’t make it up. And, this last weekend Colin got engaged. I loved the call.
“Landscape holds the key to culture”
This past Monday, I met Carlos at NY Penn Station and off we went via the 2 Train up to 149th and 3rd Ave to the home BPL and Here to Here. Josh Poirer was there and gave me a real nice tour of our office space. For me, the icing on the cake was the bank of full-length windows facing the street where we gazed out to get a bird’s eye view of our neighbors. We are on a high density and high activity block where I felt right at home. I knew where I was and it was great to be home and great to be welcomed.
After an hour or so of getting settled, BPL Board member David Gersten dropped in cause that’s what you do on the block. David took a bike ride from Cooper Union to the meeting. What we found out was that Cooper is on East 7th and 3rd Ave so, his bike ride was through Manhattan straight up 3rd Ave into the Bronx to 149th and 3rd. David and I met with Anthonette on Zoom and through his physical bike trip we made the connection of having Cooper students connected to youth up the street and vice versa. This positioning of B-U centers is the kind of eureka that comes when the physical gets connected to the mental through experience.
For another part of the day in our new space, Carlos and I had a chance to discuss Leadership Journeys. For me, the talk brought to mind how different Leadership Journeys is from a Ted Talk where there is a very typical professing process going on that I never really took to. This format for me is more dead than alive. In contrast, just walking into the space of Leadership Journeys is meaningful unto itself and sets the tone for the storytelling that is very different than a largely unanimated audience listening to a speaker. It is in this sort of space that you start to pay attention to landscapes both in and outside us that produce storytelling..
“Our remarkable navigational ability as a species is closely connected to our ability to tell stories about ourselves that unfold both backward and forward in time.” Robert MacFarlane
Learning Journeys certainly fits the bill of new forms and new measures. It allows leaders of color to show how they are smart, not just to the standards of the institution and system but to the higher and more real-world standards of the places they come from, where they have been and who they know. This is a community space. It is in this space that these leaders are gauged to real world standards that are accepted by the community and themselves. And, it is in this space where leaders tell their stories through their relationships to the participants and not through their institutional space. It is in this space they are understood.
To say, I enjoyed my trip to our new space is an understatement. I loved it and to top it all off Carlos invited Equity Fellow and former Chancellor of NYC Meisha Ross Porter to have an office for her new non-profit the Bronx Community Foundation at 149th and 3rd.
And now for the final Bronx Tale
For me, Yankee star Aaron Judge is the new Mae West. He is constantly foregrounding the “we” of his team over his own score. Here’s one of his latest quotes.
"You really just don't look at it. If you're checking the numbers, you're gonna get caught," Judge said after Tuesday's win. "I just keep trying to do what I can do, and the numbers will take care of themselves. If I have a good plan and have a good approach, do what I need to do in the box, all that other stuff will show up.” As we deal with a world where “storytelling” emanates from quantitative analysis, what Aaron Judge states about his potential record-breaking home run season is good advice for us. As Mae West states, “The score never interested me, only the game.”