This is the online stream for sharing conversations that happened throughout the Greater Bay Area from March through June 2012 around the question:

How can we collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone?

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Soft Kick-off: February 23, 2012

Thanks for a great kick-off meeting all! Below you will find photos, notes and videos of the event!












Visual Notes:

Visual Notes

Hard at work:

February 24, 2012 Soft Kick-Off Meeting

Quilt Squares:

Quilt Squares

Your Report Outs are available here. Below are additional hand scribed notes from the meeting:

Louise’s Introduction:

  • Launching a process to think together about what our vision is for where public education will be 10 years from now, and the role of the arts in bringing out that transformation
  • Two inspirations:
    • Turning to one another by Meg Wheatley and the idea that solutions lie within us, not some other leaders, as well as simple conversations for hope
    • Collective Impact Theory
  • We are going to take some time to look at what’s been accomplished
  • Our goal is to have great conversations that inspire hope, action, and build new partnership

Timeline Reflection

what do you see?

  • Expansion, deepening, momentum
  • Spark, launches
  • The early roots that became named something different
  • Wondering what other arts programs started in here – this time period?
  • 1990 – deepening of all the work we’ve been doing, a maturity that is really interesting to consider
  • How many of these timeline items are collaborations? Not just one organization?
  • Amazing that this work has continued on with the budget crisis!
  • The alliance was critical for getting the mesage to Sacramento
  • Funding from legislation was not wasted, good work resulted from it! Which added up to a collective body of work
  • Seeing how the little pieces fir into place

What do you wonder?

  • Shelf-life for some of these things?
  • How are these things tethered? A person, an org, an institution — is it really embedded?
  • What have we learned that is guiding us through these lean times, and how can we focus that?
  • How can we systematically ensure that every child in our county has arts every day?
  • Closings are not deaths, they are seeds, little spider plants!

What did we learn?

  • Importance of professional development providing cohesion
  • Community has so many different voices which keep us alive and going
  • Commitment from leadership – if there’s no commitment from leadership and parents it can’t translate to school culture, and culture of school so important for any program to be adopted
  • Be more intentional in our impact by working together more effectively
  • Disconnect between different school environments still had to connect with integrated arts learning
  • Sustainability – fiscally as well as transferring knowledge
  • Permaculture: slow the water down, spread it out, sink it in
  • Leaders coming from multiple areas – very important
  • Mining and bringing together different tools and important resources
  • What have we learned from models around sutdent learning. Need to transition from models to widespread adoption — this is how it is done
  • There is still resistance: STEM–>STEAM is not widespread
  • Parents are on board with arts, but public institutions not all the way there!
  • Teaching creative expression instead of art
  • Art is about emotions, not rules and facts, which contributes to resistance
  • There isn’t much parent or student involvement – we need to build their leadership and expand our boundaries intentionally to make a larger impact in our community
  • Teach for understanding – art is about critical and creative thinking skills. Art is emotional and around thinking skills
  • Larger conversation needs to be had about what is learning
  • Art helps learn about vulnerability, and being safe in community
  • Emotional connection is hugely important and needs to be part of the advocacy
  • The other tension is between linear and non-linear thinking
  • Art isn’t thought of as critical thinking, but it is!
  • It’s easy to feel myopic, like this is a hard time, but there are always high and lows. We’ve learned how to stay together through this and survive
  • Engage —> persist, Stretch —> explore. Don’t Quit!
  • Seems to be a need to centrally connect artists and schools. Some centrally coordinated entity for bridging.
  • Music is the only way you can get through to alzheimers patients —- so quickly it builds community, focus, empathy

Deck – reviewing the plan

  • This is not a prediction of what will happen, it is an articulation of what we want
  • It’s a new time. We’re not just going to wait for what is coming down the pipe, but be bold and create the future
  • A conversation is a growing, emotional and thinking thing – it’s alive!
  • How does art help us have conversations, community, get past transactional discussions?
  • Interested in having those conversations in places that are hard, but would like advice on how to have this conversation in hard places ie ego driven people in the arts or school leaders whose priorities are other places
  • How are we defining community? Who is the “we” ?
  • What are the sacred cows we need to let go of, what are the principles we need to stick to?


  • Being in community today was energizing
  • Appreciated a different type of process, having the opportunity to be with people in a new way
  • How can we change our language so it’s more inclusive?
  • We didn’t put art in our vision, we put the results of art
  • In the past, we were arts ed radical. Is that our continued role? Or is there a different role where we can make this more systemic, grow it?
  • These energizing meetings always prepared me for the difficult conversations. Need the hope of this group.
  • Remember, “There’s a reason the choir goes to church”

What do you need to participate in this process?

  • Sheet of talking points?
  • Facilitators guide?
  • Are there words that came out of today that we want to embrace? Like 10 year planning? Vocabulary points seem important
  • Need organizing framework for report out
  • Also good to have a list of questions