Unexpected pairings: skateboards, laundromats, and beyond

Unexpected pairings: skateboards, laundromats, and beyond

My Third-Occasional, Not-Scientific-but-Definitely-True List of Inspiring, Courageous and/or Thought-Provoking Awesomeness

As I said in an earlier post, sometimes, the medicine we need is just a gentle reminder about the kindness and courage that exists in the world. About regular people doing what they can–in their corners of the world–to contribute to a more just and humane world.

So I started a list of some of the people, organizations, artists, activists and teachers who inspire me, and I find that I keep adding to it.

Here’s the latest installment, featuring some unexpected pairings and creative connections:

College students in assisted living: In Winona, Minnesota, an assisted living home rented six empty rooms to students from a nearby college. In exchange for volunteering 10 hours a month, the students pay a low rent of $400/month, and elders of the community benefit from weekly crocheting sessions, drop-in hours for computer tech support, free manicures, and more. And the connections that form as people share meals and stories create a sense of belonging for residents of all ages. Learn more about “skateboards and backpacks bridging the Geritol gap” here.

Book nooks in laundromats: Wouldn’t it be cool if kids had something fun to do at the laundromat? With a partnership including outreach librarians, Libraries Without Borders, and the Coin Laundry Association, a Queens, NY laundromat has done just that. They created a cozy play area for kids, including a comfy couch, toys, and lots of books in English and Spanish. There are sing-alongs, story time, and more. Check out the NPR story here.

Filmmaking in history class: At Orca K-8 School in Seattle, students in the Film and Theater Academy explore history and language arts through filmmaking. As students bring history to life in a powerful, engaging, and nuanced way, they hone their analytical, collaborative, and creative skills. As teacher Donte Felder says, “The Film and Theater Academy focuses on storytelling, and storytelling is all about passing information along to help your next generation survive. When you’re telling stories through a screenplay, you are intentionally communicating a thesis statement, theme, or set of values, morals, and lessons to the reader so that the reader can learn through each character’s experience about how the character made mistakes, persevered through adversity, or successfully interacted with community. Everything in the classroom is super intentional. What we teach is not necessarily for school, it’s teaching for life… When you look closely at your world, your community, you start to identify your values and your strengths. And, when you understand that that is the fertile ground you are planted in, you start to see that you are never separate from those things, you are of those things.” Check out this short video, or read an interview with Felder here.


Photo by Max Tarkhov

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