What do you get when you mix 3 architects; 2 designers; 3 design professors; 2 illustrators; 2 top school teachers; 2 school founders; 2 Hackstudio kids, 1 "innovator-in-residence"; a former derivatives trader; an urban strategist; a children's book author and an incredible spread from Evanston's Ten Mile House restaurant?
Answer: a full belly and a spinning head!
On the evening of February 23rd, the ideas were piled as high as Janey's mac-and-cheese as Hackstudio and Wonder By Design hosted a salon dinner to bring together some of our smartest and most interesting friends to build friendships and exchange thoughts around a common passion: improving the experience of learning for kids.
The event was inspired by (and held in) Hackstudio's wide-open 16,000 square foot "blank canvas" space. Knowing we have the opportunity to build anything we want to impact kids, we thought it would be fun to assemble some great minds and include them in an open exploration of possibilities. It was important to us that everyone benefit from the discussion so we expanded the topic to cover everyone's passions and interests.
The evening began in our makeshift 'living room,' with Wonder By Design's Christian Long setting the tone with a request for stories from our childhood.
With the mood light, we moved on to dinner, focusing on two questions:
"How would you improve the experience of education if you were completely free of tradition, dogma and fear?" and
"How can school be the place you go to become the person you were born to be?"
As the evening progressed, opinions flowed more and more freely. As we pushed and coaxed each other to re-examine our beliefs on identity, privilege, and the value of finding oneself, our Hackstudio kids really blew us away. Ryan Sander, our hip-hop choreographer, jumped right in and shared what it's like to be a high school junior today, freely speaking his mind in some potentially intimidating company.
As we hashed it out, Ryan Robinson and Alison Vellas of Ink Factory recorded - in drawings - everything that was being said, creating a permanent graphic artifact of our discussion. It was a major boost to the ego to look up from time to time and see a full-color illustration of a comment you made just a minute before. (The process has to be seen to be believed!)
If it hadn't been a weeknight, the discussion could easily have stretched 'till morning. As it was, the result far exceeded our expectations. Thank you to everyone who attended. To those we knew before: we're prouder than ever to be your friends. To those we met: we're so honored to know you now. We hope you gained as much from the evening as we did!
For those who couldn't be there, here's what we talked about: