Leaving New England

I’m drafting this blog post on the train as we travel from Boston to New York. The weather, which had been quite mild during our first week in DC and Seattle, has taken a turn for the sub-zero and the landscape outside is Christmas card beautiful. It remains to be seen of course whether it will seem so lovely when we get to NYC! Some of our meetings may not go ahead due to the uncertainty about the weather inland to the north-west.

Anyway for the update: we flew to Boston from Seattle last Saturday and with Sunday free and Monday a national holiday the schedule calmed down a little giving us time to recover and get our bearings a bit.

January 20th marked the 51st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. The day is designated as a day of service to honour MLK’s legacy. Many thousands of volunteers take part in initiatives that are aimed at empowering others and creating solutions to social problems. Unfortunately, as the forecast was so ropey and the Many Helping Hands service activity that was lined up for us would have been outdoors and our Boston host thought better of risking us getting frostbite! Instead we were taken on a tour of South Boston, a last bastion of the kind of “Irish America” you see depicted in films like The Departed. It was, shall we say, a thought provoking experience (or maybe just provoking!) that highlighted the continued need for bridge building in a community that is undergoing rapid social and demographic change.

In spite of the holiday, however, a number of people did take the time to meet us on Monday. We began at LearnLaunch, an Ed Tech incubator which talks about “expanding the education innovation eco-system” and provides scope, space and networking opportunities for educators and entrepreneurs to interact with each other across New England. While their office space appeared more conventional than the funky designs and salvage furniture in 1776 and Betamore, it serves a similar purpose as those in linking up like minded people to create synergies and critical mass among entrepreneurs and educators. Read more on the growing trend of Ed Tech Incubators.

Our discussion at LearnLaunch centred on the mechanisms they use make meaningful links between the two communities such as their conference and monthly meet ups. LearnLaunch also operates an accelerator programme for ed tech start ups called LearnLaunchX. The full list of companies housed in LearnLaunch is impressive. Some of them that caught my eye were: CogniiDoInk Animation, eduCanonGradeableStoryBoardThat, TinkerStories. I also spotted that if you were to knock on GreenDoorLabs you might find Cody Coltharp whom we’d met just a week ago in Artlab+ in Washington DC. New world: small world!

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