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Glassblowing in Belfast

December 1, 2021

Blowing glass is magic – ask anyone that’s done it!

Waterfall Arts in Belfast realized that they had a unique opportunity offered to them during the pandemic. But they faced many challenges just trying to get the idea off the ground. With a positive attitude and a new partnership their journey is already making a huge impact. This is the story of how that came about and a reminder of the importance of commitment, collaboration, and believing in an idea! Without these in place the dream would not reach fruition. And, it’s only at the beginning! I recognize and celebrate Waterfall Arts and their new partnership and what they’re providing for learners of all ages, especially local high school students.

PLEASE NOTE: At the end of this post I invite you to leave a comment and/or to use the questions for a local conversation.

BACKGROUND

Veteran glass blower David Jacobson realized his well established glass blowing business, Jacobson Glass Studio in Montville, was at a crossroads when the pandemic hit. In September 2020 David approached Waterfall Arts and spoke to Executive Director Kim Fleming about donating his glass studio equipment to Waterfall. Realizing what an opportunity this was Kim enthusiastically consulted with the Waterfall board. They agreed and collaborated with David and his glass blowing colleague Carmi Katsir to transform the Waterfall Arts basement into a glass studio.

David and Carmi demonstrating

THE STORY

When I listened to their story I was amazed how quickly things happened. David first communicated with Kim in the middle of September 2020 and during the first week in October the equipment was moved into the building. In the spirit of true artists they climbed over the logs in their pathway to problem solve, research, ask questions and learn, and find ways to attack the challenges. Combined with hours and hours of work, physical and mental, and financial support from funders and the greater community they opened the studio with a variety of purposes in mind.

Before they could open the studio there were many details to figure out besides just putting equipment in place. Investing money in this project was an enormous commitment. Kim secured funding from individuals and foundations including $10,000 to be used for disadvantaged students. The budget to run the program for two semesters is $25,000. One of the bigger hurdles was how to fuel the furnace that holds 100 pounds of clear, liquid glass and is kept at about 2,100 degrees. Plus the two forges that are used to heat up the glass as a piece is being formed and is kept at 2,300 degrees. Waterfall’s philosophy includes a commitment to be as green and as carbon-neutral as possible. So using natural gas or propane was not feasible. They researched to learn how they could build the system using discarded vegetable oil that is donated by a local donut shop. There are no models in Maine so it meant communicating with people outside of the state. They also learned that along with being the only community based glass studio in Maine they are only one of a handful of programs in the entire country that offer glass classes through the public school for students.

Miles opening the glass

WATERFALL ARTS STUDIOS

Waterfall Arts ceramics, printmaking, and photography studios are well established at the non-profit organization. Adding a glass studio was an easy decision but with filled with unknowns. Kim was able to acquire funding to purchase what they needed and build on the equipment and tools that David was providing to make a studio large enough for several people. David really wants to share his love for glass blowing with as many people as possible. So there are classes available to anyone from almost any age, no matter what their financial situation. David’s passion coupled with Waterfall’s goal of reaching others, who have not had this type of opportunity in the past, is a perfect marriage. It wasn’t long after the studio was set up that they began offering classes to individuals and groups. During the summer many people took advantage of the studio.

MAINE ART EDUCATION ASSOCIATION FALL CONFERENCE

I had the privilege in September to participate in the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) conference. Hats off to this year’s conference planners Brooke Holland and Anthony Lufkin who shifted from the traditional conference at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, due to the pandemic, and planned sessions in 12 studios across the state. I was in the glass studio at Waterfall Arts and it was a spectacular and fun experience. I was so impressed with the teaching of David and Carmi. I had only one previous glass blowing experience and this was quite different and extensive compared to that one. Our abilities varied greatly and yet the participants easily collaborated and supported each other making four pieces during the 2-day workshop.

Collaborating to open the top of the glass to form the shape

WATERFALL ARTS’ STORY, PURPOSE AND MISSION

To create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts. When the founding group of Waterfall Arts formed the idea in 2000 their shared goals for the future: to create aesthetic experiences that enhance and inspire people’s creative abilities and transform their lives. An equally important goal was to reach people who had not had such opportunities before.

Along with the studios used for classes and by individuals Waterfall has 16 private studios which are fully occupied at this time. During the pandemic it was difficult for some of the artists to pay rent. Waterfall was able to support these artists by waiving 2 months of rent. An amazing gesture to support individuals who needed it most.

In addition, Waterfall Arts has a variety of ongoing programs and events that are available year round. I suggest you spend some time on their WEBSITE.

Gathering glass

BELFAST AREA HIGH SCHOOL CLASS

In January 2021 the principal, Jeff Lovejoy, contacted Kim to learn what might be available for Belfast Area High School students to take for a semester long elective class. The high school building is a stone’s throw, across the road from Waterfall, so the outreach from school is a no-brainer. Mr. Lovejoy visited Waterfall for a walk through and discuss possibilities. He got excited about the glass lab. Kim put together a budget proposal to run a semester long class, twice a year. Kim scurried to secure funding in time to promote the class for the fall semester.

Jonah rolling the glass on the marver

PROCESS

There are not a lot of tools needed for the process of glass blowing. Steel rods are kept warm and dipped into the molten glass which sticks to the metal when ‘gathered’. The ‘gather’ is rolled on a thick steel table called a ‘marver’. Color can be added by rolling the clear glass in pieces of colored glass on the marver and put into the forge to keep it hot enough to manipulate. The entire time the rod is being rotated. The next step includes sitting at a wooden bench where the liquid can be shaped sometimes with a wooden paddle, a wooden cup with a handle, shears and/or tweezers. Several times in between forming the piece it is put back into the forge to maintain the heat. When completed it is taken off the rod with a bit of water to break the seal and a tap on the rod. The entire process is magical to do and to watch.  

CLASS BENEFICIARIES

I had the chance to visit the high school class, watch David and Carmi teach, and have conversations with some of the six students enrolled for the weekly semester class. In a word the entire experience for me was IMPRESSIVE. I’m sure some of my response is based on my 2-day class in September. Part of it is based on the ease with which the seniors handled the glass and navigated the tools and space. And, a lot of it comes from the teaching and collaborative spirit of the classroom/studio culture. We know that a teacher sets the tone and David and Carmi are TOP NOTCH! The students were serious about their work while having fun. I could see their confidence growing as they went through the process. Mr. Lovejoy said: “I am thrilled that Waterfall Arts, Carmi and David have been so accommodating to make this work for Belfast Area High School. I am excited to bring students from the Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education (BCOPE, the school districts community based alternative educational program) and underclassmen into the spring semester starting in February”.

Paddling the base to flatten it

STUDENTS COMMENTS

Ronin: “I was surprised on day 1 how we jumped right into the process even without any previous experience.”

Anna: “There is so much collaboration, that is a surprise. Each class has a different goal but we’re learning techniques that I didn’t realize I would use again and again. Like the ‘starter bulb’ we learned our first week while making pumpkins. I use it every class.”

Miles: “Everybody should do glassblowing – it’s awesome. It’s less scary than I thought it would be.” Miles is only applying at colleges that offer glassblowing.

The workspace with tools

DAVID AND CARMI

I’m impressed with the level of teaching. Many successful artists are not good at teaching. David and Carmi are successful at both. Watching them in action with the high schoolers is magic. They’ve been pleased and/or surprised about the following:

  • every week the students are enthusiastic about learning
  • student team work is amazing – they’re very generous and helpful to each other
  • very dedicated
  • we communicate with them like we would with adults
  • thought they would be more ‘product’ oriented, instead they are ‘process’ focused
  • 2 hours is not enough, extended class time to 3 hours for those who can stay longer and they all do
  • students are fearless

David and Carmi will make some changes for the next semester based on what they’re learning this first semester with and from the six seniors. Like any good teacher this information will help them build and expand on the program for the future. Between the dedicated staff and the establishment of this new program I’m certain we’re going to hear about this fantastic Waterfall program for many years. Kim is working to make Waterfall Arts everybody’s place, a destination. Not just through programs but also taking care of the maintenance on the building. The capital campaign has raised funding to replace the roof, re-surface the parking lot, and plans to replace 72 of the buildings windows. The glass studio expands Waterfall’s creative involvement. Kim said: “People want to be part of something successful. Our future is bright.”

Glass with a pinched handle

ARE YOU CURIOUS?

Perhaps you’re one of those people who would like to become part of something successful or you’re curious. If so, be sure and plan a trip to Waterfall Arts. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can get involved, take a class or perhaps give someone a unique gift of a 2-hour class for the holiday please go to Waterfall’s website at THIS LINK. If you’re interested in supporting the program please contact Kim Fleming at kim@waterfallarts.org.

FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS for you to ponder, discuss with your own community, use as a starting place for a conversation to start doing work (or play) differently or by responding to the blog below in the section called ‘Leave a comment‘ or Like this post.

  • Why are the Belfast High School seniors so successful?
  • What makes this collaboration with Waterfall Arts, Belfast High School, and the glass studio so beneficial?
  • What are some ideas to make this into an interdisciplinary unit in the school curriculum with perhaps Art, Science, Writing?
  • Is there a potential partnership brewing in your community? What can you learn from the glass studio at Waterfall that might help in your partnership?
  • What are you already doing in your own work (or play) that mirror success?

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Sooooo Grateful!

November 25, 2021

Maine Arts Education Blog is Back!

I can’t think of a better day for the blog to return than Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! Even though the blog has been “away”, not a day as gone by when I haven’t thought about my faithful readers. I am thrilled to be blogging again!

APPRECIATING YOU

Now more than ever I am grateful for the work you do for, and with arts education. I know the blog readers represent a wide variety of people – all of you with a connection to arts education! You’re in small and large communities in Maine, cities and rural areas across the United States, and in countries around the world. Thanksgiving Day in the US gives us a chance to pause and give thanks. Now in 2021 it is more important than ever that we practice gratitude. Scheduling saxophone playing time, painting the same group of flowers, mindful breathing, or whatever activity you take for yourself all take practice time. During the last 6 months I’ve had the chance to pause and consider what’s important to me and engage in the art making process as no other time in my life. Along with practicing my art I’ve been practicing gratitude. Through this practice I am more joyful. I hope each of you can find the time on Thanksgiving to reflect on what you’re grateful for and what brings you joy! Please know I am soooooo very grateful for you!

My workspace

BLOG HISTORY

I’m sure some of you are wondering – how did we get here? The Maine Arts Education blog was established in the winter of 2009, while I was working at the Maine Department of Education as the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist. I worked there from 2006 until 2013 (after 30 years as an art teacher). It was David Patterson who suggested I establish the blog. I only wish he was still alive to see how his seed germinated. My initial purpose was to help build a state-wide arts education community which I found (while a teacher in the classroom) was desperately needed. Not an organization that represented the arts disciplines separately but collectively – dance, music, theatre, visual arts and later in my thinking poetry and writing. In 2013 I moved across the street and down the hill to the Maine Arts Commission (MAC), taking the blog with me, and served as the Director of Arts Education until June 2019. My View of the State House Dome continued, just from a different angle. In the fall of 2019 the MAC contracted with me to continue the blog. Three contracts later it was time for change soooooo with some communications with the Commission I am now the owner of the blog. During the years I was blogging while working for the state I posted 4,460 times. (That number still blows me away.) For the last almost 13 years the blog has been titled meartsed (Maine Arts Education) news from Argy with a view of the State House dome. For several years that was daily and I loved it! I’m so excited that the Maine Arts Education blog will continue, no longer, with my view of the State House Dome but with my view from my home across a beautiful field as you can see at the top of the blog. Many of the 4,460 posts were your stories – arts educators, teaching artists, students, schools, arts advocates, arts organizations, and others who are committed to excellent arts education for all. Blogging provided me with the opportunity to celebrate you and your daily work (and play) and I was proud to do so. Your stories are humbling! In addition to your stories I provided research, professional development information, articles, book reviews, events, announcements, interviews, pertinent arts education information, the places I traveled for educational opportunities and all types of other information. For the foreseeable future they will remain for your access and are archived below this one. If you want to search by topic I have tagged all of the posts. You can scroll down on the right side of the blog to the ‘search archives’ box and type in a name or topic and find what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re interested in reading about the teacher leaders (from the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative MAAI/Maine Arts Leadership Initiative MALI) you can type in teacher leaders and their stories will populate the front page. Or you could type in a specific teacher leader’s name and all the posts with that person included will populate the front page. (Try Rob Westerberg, Kate Smith, Catherine Ring, or Jeff Beaudry and you’ll see what I mean).

NEXT STEPS

Moving forward the blog will contain primarily stories – your stories. I will not be posting every day and when I do post the posts will be in depth. Next week the first story will be posted about the amazing and unique glass studio and the people involved in it happening in Belfast. I know that the pandemic has shifted teacher’s ideas about teaching. I know that you face challenges and joyful moments that are different than pre-pandemic. I want to hear your stories so I can blog about them so others can learn about your work (and play). And, so all of us, your colleagues, can celebrate you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Argy Nestor, with your story or suggestions for the blog at meartsed@gmail.com.

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On Hiatus

July 2, 2021

The Maine Arts Education Blog is on hiatus

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Gotta Visit the Gardens

July 1, 2021

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

If you’ve never been to the botanical gardens in Boothbay I suggest that you add it to your list of places to visit. The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has an exhibit of trolls. Now, these are not just any ordinary trolls but very large, interesting and each one has their own story. The exhibit is called ‘Guardians of the Seeds’ and the 5 trolls were created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo. Some of you know that I studied in Denmark while a junior year in college (100 years ago) so an exhibit by a Danish artist touches my heart. For me the magic of the little Scandinavian country is interwoven in the exhibit throughout the beautiful forest found along Back River.

I met music teacher Kate Smith and her family at the gardens on one of the hot and humid days last week. You might think there was a breeze since the gardens are located on the salt water but nope, not that day. We did our best to ignore the heat and to be honest it wasn’t hard since the trolls are so amazing.

The Botanical Garden makes education a priority and they do a really good job in all of their gardens so anyone can take the time and learn as they tour. The Guardian of the Seeds exhibit is no different. Walking through the woods is beautiful and at each troll there is ‘lesson’ that teaches why each part of the tree is important to the forest. Each troll’s clue helps visitors eventually find the ‘seeds’.

The Trolls

  • SOREN: Branches
  • LILYA: Flowers
  • GRO: Leaves
  • ROSKVA: Trunk
  • BIRK: Roots
ROSKVA and the Smith family and friends

It takes some time to walk from one troll to the next but well worth the adventure since each one is different and their personalities really come through. Plan about 3 to 4 hours for visits to all 5 plus the seeds.

Learn more about the trolls at THIS LINK. You can also use google to find video footage of them on youtube.

I can’t wait to go back and see this one in the winter with his beard filled with snow. The exhibit is scheduled to be there from 3 to 5 years. I do hope that you’ll have a chance to visit the trolls.

This would be a great topic to use to design stand alone and/or integrated curriculum lessons about. So many ideas popped into my head as I walked along the trails. If you can go, please do, you won’t regret it. This would be a great use of the Maine Arts Commission Ticket to Ride funding to help pay for your busses to transport students there.

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Cultural Alliance of Maine

June 30, 2021

Born during the pandemic

I’ve been reflecting on the many silver linings of the pandemic lately – not to look back and feel sad but to look forward and encouraged. Collectively there are so many and ones that we can learn from to help form our future work and play.

The Cultural Alliance of Maine (CAM) pilot project was established during the pandemic which starkly illuminated that Maine lacks structures to enable the cultural sector to learn, organize, and act as a unified statewide community .

Leaders from across the state, representing diverse nonprofit cultural organizations, came together to establish this alliance to:

  • explore models to address infrastructure gaps long-term
  • advocate for solutions to the unique challenges facing the sector now, and 
  • create pathways for ongoing peer-to-peer learning and information exchange. 

With generous support from The Onion Foundation, Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, Virginia  Hodgkins Somers Foundation, and Libra Foundation, CAM hired Carla Pugliese as the Pilot Project Director to lead the work of convening stakeholders, assessing needs, researching comparable sector-wide alliances, building bridges with state government and other sectors, and determining next steps following the pilot project period.

CAM represents their members’ interests. Carla said: “We are collectivizing the cultural voice so there is more power at the State House, at the federal level and at the local level for the cultural sector. The pandemic shed light on the need for this type of organization but Carla also said: “the Cultural Alliance of Maine “is not a pandemic response. It is about building something that is useful and valuable and rich for many, many years going forward.”

Arts organizations are represented in CAM but also included are historical societies, libraries, and both for-profit and nonprofit entities such as galleries, theaters and museums, as well as individual artists and makers. “The attempt to bring together such an encompassing umbrella organization is a first”, Carla said.

To learn more CLICK HERE and read Carla’s letter to the cultural sector which provides the plan for the pilot.

To sign up for the monthly newsletter to hear ongoing news CLICK HERE.

Carla Pugliese, Cultural Alliance of Maine Director

Steering Committee

  • Mark Bessire, Portland Museum of Art
  • Steve Bromage, Maine Historical Society
  • Shoni Currier, Bates Dance Festival
  • Ben Fowlie, Points North Institute & Camden International Film Festival
  • Hugh French, Tides Institute
  • David Greenham, Maine Arts Commission
  • Sarah Hansen, Greater Portland Landmarks
  • Stuart Kestenbaum, Maine State Poet Laureate & Monson Arts
  • Monica Kelly,  Bay Chamber Concerts
  • Nat May, Onion Foundation
  • Daniel Minter, Indigo Arts Alliance
  • Linda Nelson, Portland Ovations
  • Chris Newell, Abbe Museum
  • Bari Newport, Penobscot Theatre Company
  • James Ritter, Maine State Library
  • Abbe Levin, Maine Office of Tourism – Contractor
  • Molly O’Connell, Maine Association of Nonprofits – Liaison
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Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

June 29, 2021

Epic body percussion

Here’s what one teacher did since they couldn’t sing during the pandemic. Students of Saint-Michel-Garicoïts de Cambo School, in the Basque region of southwest France, have given a *striking* performance using their bodies. Using an elaborate mixture of claps, leg slaps, stomps, finger clicks and taps, the 185 students transform the orchestral movement into a body percussion. The sound is fascinating and to top it off a drone recorded the performance. The ensemble rehearsed in groups of 50 every day for five months during the 2020 school year. All students are masked in the final performance, one to remember as part of their pandemic learner.

The story was shared on Classic fm digital radio and found at THIS LINK.

Thanks for sharing this Sue Barre!

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Student Reflections on 2020

June 28, 2021

What would your students say?

Below is a video from TED Ed Student Talks. Students throughout the world were asked to reflect on what they learned in 2020 and share their thoughts. The comments included some of this: Climate change, Black Lives Matter, isolation, separation, high risk, losing a loved one, stopping fearing change, start leading through change, hopeful, I am not alone, extremely crucial to adapt, sanitize my hands several times through the day, focus on finding myself, sharing ideas, unparalleled experiences, reducing our footprint, supporting health care workers, something good will come out of this, people from all over the world can unite, how important it is to stay socialized and stay connected with others, pandemic give us opportunities, courage, a better world, diversity, we shall not be pitied who lost out but the generation to do better.

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World Alliance for Arts Education

June 27, 2021

World Summit – October 11-15

The World Alliance for Arts Education (WAAE) 2021 Virtual World Summit will take place from October 11-15, 2021. The summit is titled Arts Impact 2021: Context Matters, and focuses on Arts Assessment and Evaluation. The purpose of the summit is to bring together arts education professionals worldwide to share the latest research, thought, and practice in arts education assessment and evaluation. We invite primary and secondary school arts educators, higher education professionals, arts education researchers and policymakers, national, state and local education officials from across the world to come together virtually at this international event.

The WAAE 2021 summit will host one pre-summit event, the Young & Emerging Leaders Forum (YELF). This event provides a space for young scholars, emerging leaders, and new colleagues to the field of arts education to share work and develop a community of learning for expanding the pipeline of leaders in the global field of arts and cultural education. The Forum will be coordinated by Jeff M. Poulin, the managing director of Creative Generation.

Proposals are now being accepted for the Virtual World Summit and YELF.

Registration will open on July 6, 2021. If you are interested in registration information, please enter your contact information here

Please help us spread the word. At the close of this email, please find pre-written blurbs to include on social media or in organizational newsletters.

Sincerely, 

The Summit Co-Chairs

Dr. Timothy Brophy, University of Florida

Marcia McCaffrey, State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE); New Hampshire Department of Education

Jeff M. Poulin, Creative Generation

SAMPLE NEWSLETTER, FACEBOOK, OR LINKEDIN BLURB:

Call for Proposals: World Alliance for Arts Education Virtual Global Summit 

The World Alliance for Arts Education is partnering with the University of Florida and SEADAE to host a virtual World Summit from October 11-15, 2021. This event invites out-of-school time, primary and secondary school arts educators, higher education professionals, arts education researchers and policymakers, national, state and local education officials from across the world to submit proposals and attend the summit to network; share research; and examine quality structures, processes and practices. Ahead of the summit, there will be a Young & Emerging Leaders Forum on October 11. Deadline to submit a proposal is July 19, 2021, with decisions by August 30, 2021. More info: http://bit.ly/WAAE2021

SAMPLE SOCIAL MEDIA POST:

Submit a proposal now for the World Alliance for Arts Education Virtual Global Summit focused on examining quality structures, processes and practices of assessment and evaluation in #ArtsEd. The Summit will be held virtually from October 11-15, 2021.  More info: http://bit.ly/WAAE2021
— 
Jeff M. Poulin (he/him/his)Managing Director Creative Generation www.Creative-Generation.org@Campaign4GenC on TwitterInstagram, and FacebookFind us on LinkedIn

jeff@creative-generation.org

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Freedom

June 26, 2021

Jon Batiste

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Summer Stack

June 25, 2021

What are you reading this summer?

I love it – I asked my learners, what they intend to read this summer and the list was very long and varied. What’s on your list? Here’s where my list is starting and I plan to add to it as the summer progresses and you add your suggestions in the comments below this post. Thanks in advance for your help!

  • Brown Girl Dreaming – This one’s been on my list for a while so I’m moving it to the top of my pile. Written by poet Jacqueline Woodson who was raised in South Carolina and New York; it is the story of her life told in poem form. She shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.
  • Creativity Takes Courage by Irene Smit & Astrid Van Der Hulst – The editors of FLOW bring together inspiration, hands-on projects, boundary-pushing activate, and a variety of paper goodies to help unleash creativity. This is going to be partially activity book and the other part thought provoking that will give me a chance to journal along the way.
  • Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver – This is a classic memoir that helped people look at the civil rights movement and the black experience in a different way. In Cleaver’s words about Soul on Ice, “I’m perfectly aware that I’m in prison, that I’m a Negro, that I’ve been a rapist, and that I have a Higher Uneducation.”
  • Breathe: The New Science of a Lost Art – The author, James Nestor (no relation) puts together science and ancient breathing practices to present ideas around breathing. It’s billed with “You will never breathe the same again.” I’ll let you know how this goes.
  • Ten Years a Nomad by Matthew Kepnes – I love to travel and look forward to digging into Matthew’s stories about quitting his job and traveling and how it turns into his job.
  • Let’s Talk About Hard Things – Anna Sale hosts a podcast and she has taken what she has learned and written this book. She focuses on courage to talk about the hard things which lead to learning about ourselves, others and the world that we make together. I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

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