Never too late to wake up, to love.

“It’s never too late to love yourself to purchase a new beginning.” Shout out to performer at HS Startup Weekend,¬†Malcolm London!

This is what we’ve gotta do, you see: WAKE UP. #mindfulness. #awake #love.

This is when we get to love ourselves, love others, and our communities.

This is when we get to live out our dreams. When we’re ready to wake up and love.

My dream is that we create these spaces for young people to wake up: grow and learn from this place all over the world.

3rd Stop: Startup Weekend-High School

Up in the air again, I headed¬†to a part of the country I hadn’t¬†been to yet: Little Rock, Arkansas. Exciting. ūüôā

From April 4th-6th, a group of high school students from a few different schools in Little Rock came together for an awesome event: Startup Weekend-High School, with Startup Weekend, a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs and Noble Impact,  an organization promoting the intersection between public service and entrepreneurship with high school students.

hs

High School SW

What was great about it was the space that was created for students to dream up limitless possibilities for the world.

As I sat with a group of students from Little Rock, AR, that weekend, I saw a dream, a spark in all of their eyes.

As I have with the kids in Watts, Los Angeles. Central Valley, CA. Rhode Island Ave., Washington D.C. Bronx, New York.

Though spread across the country, they have common dreams; common visions.

On the first event day, this group came up with their problem and idea to create a non-profit connecting high school students to volunteer opportunities. With the development of their projects, statements and questions arose: What’s your MVP? ¬†What’s your Revenue Model? What are your Value Propositions?

Through their Eyes.

This group pushed through, creating the “AR Dreamcatchers.” ¬†Throughout the weekend, a few challenges arose. MVP’s, User Experience, Revenue Model…

Dreamcatchers

Check ’em out! @ARDreamCatchers

Ak dreamcatchers

AR Dream Catchers website

As the process continued, I started to feel and see challenges arise. I could see that as these questions about the actual implementation of their start-up showed up, there was some pressure to alter their vision.

Time passed. It evolved.

connection

Why does everyone care about this problem?

It became something different…until they realized that this organization is still part of their own story; the story of their community.

One student remembered that volunteering is important to him because of he felt like a contributor to society when doing it.

This is why this group created what they created: it is their story and how they want to positively impact their community.

At the time of their pitch to community members, the group presented every aspect of their idea. They were incredible in their light, standing up on stage moving the crowd with their story, idea, and model.

They did it. They didn’t win in the competition pitch. Though they recalled,¬†Who says losing is failure?

They’re still working at it. They’ve got a like-minded community partner in mind. ūüôā

It’ll be awesome.

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I¬†thought about how we can allow young people to be free in being authentic as they create and build their visions. So when making decisions about MVP’s or revenue models, how can¬†we¬†continuously promote freedom and authenticity for them through the process?

When we’re teaching material, skills are developed¬†(i.e. critical thinking, collaboration, business development, strategic planning). To take it to another¬†level, how can we show that students’ stories and voices are powerful in their own light? ¬†It is from this authentic standpoint that they can create and dream up possibilities for their communities.

When¬†young people reflect on¬†themselves and honor their stories, they get to build empathy and compassion for themselves and their communities. They get to¬†perceive the world through a compassionate, hopeful lens and consistently ask themselves if what they’re creating will be good for their communities. Beyond reflecting on the MVP or user experience, how can you¬†ensure that young people are¬†consciously creating from this place?

So, when their non-profit organization and/or business is out there, they will have remained true to themselves, their visions, and what they created for their community.

So grateful to have been in the space with all of these students and a group of like-minded people across the country. Thanks for welcoming me into the space.:)

 

 

 

 

Radical Possibilities

On March 15th, I was back in NYC for the New York Radical Educators Conference. The theme for the conference was, Radical Possibilities.

It was a space where WE: where all community members got to dialogue about the experience of education.

During the event, a friend and I facilitated a workshop called “Hacking your Education.” During the event, the group of students talked about their experiences in education, what success means to them, and their passions.

One student in particular¬†shared that his passion was love and his message to the world was to love. AMAZING–already a conscious change-maker!

During the workshop, each and everyone of the students created and designed their own visions of education–without restrictions, boxes, limitations–radical possibilities were in the house and they could re-create what they saw for a just, free world where they could build skills and define success on their own terms.

Here are some of their visions:

robot teacher

A “Robot Teacher”

What we’ve got to take a look at is the word, “Robot,” in this design. Radical possibilities may include a robot, though all that was expressed is what they want in a¬†teacher, which is possible in their own present teachers. ¬†We could do this! We could make this happen. Education should look like this!

As educators (and I’m talking all community members), we have the space to create spaces for young people to grow authentically and positively change the world.

As seen here, they already want to…

internet cafe

A Live Internet Cafe

Here, the students created a “Live Internet Cafe” wherein all students get to explore the world: art, snowboarding, music, paint,balling. It’s a “circle,” alluding to the connection among themselves and resources in the community. Love it.

All education should be inspiring and relevant so that no child ever forgets that they are GOOD ENOUGH to contribute to the world.

Let’s take a look at how we can recreate education, to support¬†“Solutionaries.”

 

2nd Stop: Deeper Learning Conference

On March 25th, I flew to San Diego, CA for the Deeper Learning Conference at High Tech High.

The Deeper Learning Conference explored questions such as:

What is the intersection between deeper learning in schools and the maker movement? How can we get creative and design deeper learning experiences on a shoestring? How can we get explicit about academic mindsets – what they are, how they support deeper learning, and what they look like in practice? What happens when adults and students ‚Äúmake‚ÄĚ together in schools?

When I heard about the conference a few months ago I thought, I’ve got to go!! So, I made it happen. The day was finally here.

I’m a Social Worker with a passion to transform learning spaces¬†and a story that I want to share with the world. As in some of the spaces I’ve been in the past eight months, I was the only Social Worker at this conference. I was also one of the only people without a title, which was also interesting.

Already, I felt that I was in a position of responsibility to expand the conversation of education as one that relates to the whole world: not simply educators, principals, and administrators.

We’re a community, and there are ways to build on community assets to create spaces for young people to express their creative genius and grow authentically.

Over the next three days, it was an honor to connect with like-minded people who were passionate about creative design, social entrepreneurship, project based learning, social justice, and mindfulness in education.

It was AWESOME. I learned a ton and shared what I’m working on right now.

Here are several of the Key Takeaways from the conference (and again, this isn’t just for educators. If you’re passionate about creating spaces for young people or anyone to express their creative genius and wholeheartedly learn, check out these resources).

  • Key Takeaways:
    • Check out the¬†Teaching Channel.
    • What is a Growth Mindset¬†and how does language impact a student’s learning experience? Let’s use language that encourages the growth of the whole child, rather than emphasize whether they are “smart.”
    • How can we communicate feedback and create this growth environment in education? Through warm (positive) and cool (constructive) feedback. Is your feedback¬†specific, kind, and helpful?¬†Feedback
    • How can we integrate Design Thinking in Education? How can we integrate creative design¬†in community projects? Check out:¬†DSchool
    • How can we create spaces for young people to tap into their passions and create from an authentic standpoint? Check out:¬†Project H
    • How can we view education as a space wherein students get to create, not conform or mold into a job role?
    • What kind of pressure do we place on young people when we ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” What are we really asking?¬†How can we transition from a mindset wherein students want to grow up being happy and healthy vs. being a doctor, lawyer, nurse, etc.?¬†I want to be Happy and Healthy when I Grow Up

As you can see, we talked about a ton at the event! It was amazing and there were great people there. I’m grateful I got to experience it.

Here’s a student’s project from a¬†creative design in education workshop:

Student’s creation: Bogged down by memorization and standardized testing

Here’s another awesome video by an amazing student on education:¬†Enough?

And another by an incredible group of students and their teacher: Bored of Education

All of these projects¬†touch my heart and demonstrate¬†why I’m doing what I’m doing. ¬†Too many students’ talents and dreams fall by the wayside because of their pressure to conform to a mold that doesn’t fit who they are as whole human beings.

Wherever you are and whomever you’re impacting, continue to unleash their authentic talents, dreams and creative genius. We’ve all got ’em. ūüėČ

A StartingBloc for the journey

I attended StartingBloc¬†because it is a home¬†base¬†for change-makers. And when we’re taking on big dreams, big visions, we’ve got to support each other as change-makers.

Over the course of five days, I connected with like-minded amazing people with stories and dreams of their own. Each and everyone one of them had their own personal narrative of why they wanted to make a positive impact on the world. They all had visions, big visions that tug at their minds and hearts. It was their responsibility, our responsibility to step into these visions to create these dreams.

StartingBloc also reiterated my belief in people’s stories being a catalyst for positive change in the world.

I realize that we change-makers get to honor our own stories of why we’re doing what we’re doing.¬†We get to stop and think about how our beings are brought into every single project, organization, business, etc. we create in the world.

So, it reminded me that my story matters. Every student that I have encountered, along with all of the students I haven’t yet, stories matter. What I’m doing matters. What we’re doing matters. What young people¬†create as change-makers matters.

I also learned another key lesson that I will apply in all of my future experiences.

In my experience as an Activist and Social Worker, I frequently felt a division between the “bad” and the “good”–“they” or the “other,” the “oppressed” and “oppressor.”¬†I felt a sense of anger and distrust in the air at protests, rallies, or meetings towards so many systems created in our history.

My perspective on humanity transformed in the last eight months because I chose to step into like-minded spaces like Move the Crowd and StartingBloc.

StartingBloc reminded me that in order to create positive change in the world, we’ve got to: 0) HEAL from our own experiences and/or beliefs about systems that are not working for us right now. Embrace all of our imperfections, who we are and what we want to bring to the world 1) Understand the¬†social issue, 2) Show how this issue relates to everyone, 3) Work with the oppressor; put yourself in their shoes.¬†Thank you Scott!

I’d also add that we’ve got to hold everyone to their absolute highest possibility, every person whether they have different or similar beliefs than we do.

Then, we get to shift the world.  Otherwise, we will continue to be separate, divided, and we cannot do that as a human race any longer.

As I marched on to pursue my dreams, I challenged myself to continue listenin to the mission within.¬† I am aware that conferences and events are not forever. So, it’s important to consistently trust ourselves and our dreams. Connect with like-minded people and sustain your community!

Those five days would remain dear to my heart:¬†You all are life¬†long friends…thank you ¬†for an unforgettable experience!

 

Collaborating on building Green Program's website design!

Collaborating on building Green Program’s website design!

working hard

How does the user want to experience the website?

team

Let’s do it.

we danced

And…there was dancing. Love it. ūüėČ

If you’re a dreamer, doer, mover, shaker, check these sites out. You’re not alone and you don’t need to be as you pursue to live out your dream. It takes some work to transform, be, and do what we envision.

Take a step…and keep going when the door is shut. One will open.

Move the Crowd

Unreasonable Institute

Transformative Action Institute

1st Stop: StartingBloc

On March 5th, I jumped on a plane from New York City where I lived the last five years, to Los Angeles for a 5 day Institute.

StartingBloc is a transformative 5 day experience for entrepreneurs, activists, students, bridge-builders and other innovators (so grateful I found this home)!

While in the air, I felt liberated, excited, and slightly nervous for the unknown. I didn’t know what this conference or anything I would experience in the next four months would bring. Something I recalled learning through so many of my past experiences though, is that we’ve got to jump in the middle and let it all turn out. In order to have what we want, we may also need to¬†let go of what’s not working for us. Then, there’s room for possibilities.

Embrace the unknown.

My previous experiences into the unknown have consistently shaped who I am as a human being: traveling¬†to Central Valley, CA to learn about the United Farm Workers Movement, Mexico to learn about the genocide of women along Juarez’s border, and NYC for a year of volunteer work in the Bronx.

This is me carving my path again.

There¬†had been a dreamer, a doer inside of me waiting to unleash again. You could say I was a rebel within the system, a closet rebel, who tried following rules that weren’t working for me or the people I worked at some points.¬†The costume I was wearing in all of these traditional spaces with expectations didn’t fit me correctly. It was a mold of what society wanted me to be for a long time.

I knew there was a dreamer, a mover, a shaker inside of me that was ready to be with the world.

So, here I was: taking a leap with a game plan.

In the next four months, I would attend conferences and events that support young people to express their creative genius and be powerful change-makers in their own light. I would visit schools that promote mindfulness and social entrepreneurship.

My first stop: StartingBloc.

 

Taking a Leap

blog_take-a-leap

My story woke me up and led me to create the work that needs to be done.

After eight months of questioning, reflecting, and healing from my own experiences with cultural norms that didn’t support who I am, I decided to walk away from my 9-5 job and work towards a dream: a purposeful education, wherein all players involved in creating these spaces get to express their creative genius.

When we unlock the creative genius in people, we get to positively change the world.

When we embrace ourselves as whole and complete as we are, we get to bring this peace and passion to the table wherever we are and impact the world in a positive way.

When we take a look at the beliefs about ourselves and the world that aren’t working for us in the present moment, we get to change them and create new ones that support the life we want to carve.

As educators, teachers, social workers, administrators, we bring ourselves into the education space in every moment. Our power is immense to impact so many lives.

For the next three months, I will be visiting schools across the U.S. that are promoting mindfulness and social entrepreneurship.

Why Mindfulness? Mindfulness can lead to self-compassion and empathy for others (American Psychological Association, 2012). A child who cares is someone who learns how to help other people. They feel they can make a difference, have ideas of what actions to take to make a difference, and feels motivated to do them. (The New Heroes, PBS).

Why Social Entrepreneurship? Social Entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities to improve systems, invent and disseminate new approaches and advance sustainable solutions that create social value‚ÄĚ(The New Heroes, PBS).

Following this journey, an interdisciplinary team of passionate people will ride along to these schools across the U.S. to document students’ voices on their experiences in these education spaces (Follow me here and Twitter to hear more about this)!

I believe in the power of storytelling–in moving, touching and inspiring the world with stories. I also believe¬†that the world shifts when we shift ourselves.

I’m on a mission to see these spaces that already exist and are being created as I write.

I’m on a mission¬†to share these experiences with you, and to inspire a continued¬†dream:¬†a purposeful education, wherein young people, educators, and all players involved in creating these spaces get to honor themselves and express their creative genius.

My Story

As a young girl, I was curious about the world. I wrote short stories about a boy who advocated to preserve books in a community banning them, a girl who ran away to New York City to pursue her dream, and a girl who woke up on a cloud to begin a new journey.

At some point in my educational experiences, I began to judge myself about whether or not I was good enough to share my voice. Though I craved creative freedom in school, I was taught that my worthiness would be earned through our education system‚Äôs standards of perfection. With red marks and man-made standards, I gradually removed characters and my own voice from my imagination. I began to race along with all the others towards a vision of success that wasn’t mine.

Fast forward ten years, as an Activist and Social Worker, I met hundreds of youth at different stages in their lives: middle school, high school, and college. In my conversations with so many of these students, I saw a creative genius and dream in all of them. Their talents radiated and fell by the wayside simultaneously in the midst of standardized tests, college entrance exams, report cards, and expectations that did not align with who they were, who they wanted to be, and what they stood for as whole human beings. ‚ÄúI have to be a doctor to make a lot of money. I like painting but I don‚Äôt get to do it here. I have to graduate with an engineering degree because it‚Äôll keep me secure. I can‚Äôt do that‚ÄĒthat‚Äôs only for rich people. I don‚Äôt fit in. They don‚Äôt listen. I‚Äôm dropping out.‚ÄĚ

There‚Äôs a pattern here that we’ve got to listen to‚Ķ

What I discovered is that we’ve got¬†a creative genius in all of us. We’ve got imperfections that make us whole and complete. We are who we are before the world tells us who we should be…

So, let’s take a look at the spaces we’re creating in our education system for us to tap into that creative genius, who we really are so we can grow and learn from this standpoint.

The fears of failure and judgment are embedded and promoted in our cultural norms through our systems, into our schools, onto teachers, and built into the hearts and minds of youth. I believe these fears along with many others hinder us from authentically growing from our core and creating the realities we want to see in the world.

Tons of research shows that empathy, courage, creativity, and collaboration are practices that will lead youth to be change-makers now and in their future. It’s a done deal that we’re on the same page with this, right?

So what spaces exist in the U.S. for young people to feel good enough; to feel they can be and grow into who they truly are in the world? To create the realities they want to see in themselves, schools and communities? What spaces are we creating for young people to acknowledge their fears and embrace failure, so they can share their own unique gifts with the world?

And what are students saying about all of this? What are their experiences in these spaces? By being in these spaces, how have they experienced themselves differently? Do they see themselves as responsible citizens in the world? When they do, what are they creating?

Here’s a glimpse of what could be created in liberating, supportive spaces:

Adora writes a book