Town Hall Recap: Every Place is a Place

Every Place is a Place

Last week, the Getting Smart Team hosted our regular monthly town hall. This time the theme was place-based education, a campaign that we kicked off a few years ago called The Power of Place.


We started off with a section of A Poem on Hope by Wendell Berry:

 …Hope / then to belong to your place by your own knowledge

Of what it is that no other place is, and by

Your caring for it as you care for no other place…

Belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are

Your neighbors in it…


By this knowledge / Make the sense you need to make. By it stand

In the dignity of good sense, whatever may follow.

Speak to your fellow humans as your place

Has taught you to speak, as it has spoken to you.

We walked through the place-based design principles from Teton Science Schools, took a virtual tour of schools that effectively leverage place-based education and discussed the impact that PBE can have on summer learning. We covered everything from a new maritime school to the way one of our favorite schools, Crosstown in Memphis, asks their students “what breaks your heart about your community? What issue most speaks to you?” As always, we got some outstanding contributions from the attendees.

Attendee Contributions

Josh Reppun, host of the Most Likely to Succeed, Hawaii podcast said “Place is all about questions. Education is all about questions. There is no end to the questions that can be asked about place. Let’s support kids developing question-asking skills.” He also shared Nalukai, an  intensive tech, entrepreneurship, leadership, and design program in Hawaii. He also shared Oceanit, an organization that’s working towards sustainable engineering and putting an emphasis on the younger generations.

From Molly Ames Baker, founder of TOPOnexus: “Where am I?  What makes this place unique? Why does it matter? (To you? To your community? Past? Present? Future?)”

Sonnet Takahisa shared that the “Brooklyn Children’s Museum is co-creating an exhibition that is centered on Central Brooklyn – telling the diverse stories over time, history and diverse perspectives.”

Ivan Cestero said “Starting from scratch is a great way to improve your school”

John Gould said “to reimagine what education looks like is daunting because its demands a shift of thinking not just from the school and teachers, but the community as well.”


We received so many great contributions and questions during the event and couldn’t get to them all. We wanted to share a few of the ones that we weren’t able to answer on the town hall.

Q. Any advice for how to engage in place-based teaching and learning in an online remote learning environment? Is this even possible?

A. This is no doubt a challenge. Tools like Nepris can help learners digitally meet professionals in their area, therefore connecting them to their community. In the town hall we highlighted Cajon Valley USD’s World of Work Initiative which is a great use of Nepris, especially for K-8.

Q. Why don’t we have multi-age learning communities?

A. Great question. While we don’t have an answer, you can guarantee it will show up on our What If…? newsletter in the near future!

Q. Is place-based education all about beauty?

A.  No! While every place is a place, like the title of this event, and every place has beautiful and unique elements, true PBE is about more than just getting outside and finding awe. It’s about community, curiosity, inquiry, accountability and so much more.

During the event we shared several links and resources. You can access all of those links here.

What’s Next?

What are you thinking about? What questions does this topic raise for you? Leave it in the comments or email [email protected] with your questions or ideas — we’d love to hear from you!

You can also sign up now for our June town hall, AI in Education: The Impact of Emergent Technologies on Teaching, Leading and Learning.

For more, see:

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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