Reshape School: Space and Place


How it went.

(USA) Portland, Oregon is a bold and great city. It’s strapline is ‘a city that works’ (the states’: a state that dreams).

‘Reshape Youth: Space and Place’ was/is an audacious event. With a focus on exploring and influencing the cities school design and education system, simply being involved is an honour and privilege.

DK and MediaSnakers brought to Portland a thoughtful, relevant and meaningful perspective of students, their interests, how they relate and
engage with each other and the world they are a growing part of. His presentation at Portland Public Schools Reshape Schools: Space & Place Summit opened adults eyes and ears and challenged us to think anew.
John Weekes, Founding Partner, DOWA

Here's how it went:

Dr Vicki Phillips, superintendent for Education in Portland introduced and contextualised the mission of the event superbly—an opportunity to ask the BIG questions, challenge and reimagine the position education/schooling within the city.

Sir Ken Robinson fabulously keynoted. Laced with passion and eloquence plus a fine dose of humour, he spoke to the heart of the issue—how education has to change to embrace creativity and not continue to harbour allegiances for the core subjects (of maths and sciences) which was designed to reflect the industrial revolution model of education (a model which has not changed since its inception). Christian has a great in depth write-up of his talk here.

Andrea Saveri from the Institute for the Future plus (recent podcast subject) Barbara Diamond from Knowledge Works Foundation gave an in-depth illustration of their Map of Future Forces Affecting Education.

MediaSnackers was up next…

Thanks to Paul (above) who did a great job of introducing us to the stage (and for teaching me a few slang words from the West Coast).

Our role was to be a ‘provocateur’—the aim was to open the digital door and allow the attendees to understand how young people are using new media and technology. Our presentation then provided the subject matter for table discussions (along with the previous presentation and also the following).

(Thanks to all the young people who gave us a standing ovation at the end of our presentation—totally touched).

After lunch, Steven Bingler, Founder of Concordia gave a great commentary to the urban design process he has been involved with in New Orleans since Katrina. Powerful and inspiring stuff.

Again, the table discussions ensued and from which, the resulting comments were collated and fedback during the following morning session. To bring the day to a close there was an onstage discussion about sustainability with thought-leaders and experts (apologies, didn’t get their names).

At the following days session, the wealth of data was sorted, processed and then fedback by the incredibly humble Dick Withycombe, a public process facilitator. Here are the five overarching themes (which are open for discussion, comment and remixing):

• Community—true partnerships;
• Teaching and learning—creative forever;
• Sustainability—think green, build green, teach green;
• Adaptability to change—continuously;
• Makingn this happen—together.

A fascinating experience to be involved in such an event. Thanks to everyone who was kind enough to introduce themselves and share their stories. Thanks to the facilitators and staff, plus the participants for being so gracious (especially the young people who chatted and introduced themselves).

Humble thanks to John Weekes (above, right) for inviting me to participate in the summit and for being a great host and provocateur himself in our many side-discussions. Appreciation and reverence goes to Christian Long from DesignShare and think:lab for being the instigator of this great opportunity (great to finally make you 3D my friend).

Thanks also to Louis and Gali who stayed a few hours at the end of the conference and shared their stories, insights, dreams, humour—keep in touch guys!

(You can check out the rest of the flickr photo-set here).

We’re actually going to unplug for a few days and enjoy the city—catch you all when we get back in the UK.

MediaSnackers is currently in 'permanent pause' mode—check out where most of the juicy action is at nowadays!