Day 1 – a distillation

Notes from Day 1 of the Faculty Institute – as reflected and paraphrased by Jennifer – added in the late afternoon with a tired brain that was no longer proofreading carefully! 

Eli started the morning by encouraging us to view these three days as an expedition:  “Go out and explore!” He also said that what happens in Vegas for this group will leave Vegas, rippling out into the world to do good.


What keeps you up at night?

  • Inequity in education – rich/poor, how to have effect as an educator
  • Scale of suffering – greed and power, consumption, health
  • Dreams for a better way

Qualities of Our Heroes:

  • Contagious optimism, e.g., Dan Eldon
  • Social change
  • Singe mother giving, generosity, sharing, e.g., open source code
  • Enduring leader – using position of power/prominence to do good, e.g., Jimmy Carter
  • Healing – working for the common good
  • Pragmatism, e.g., Geoffrey Canada
  • Fearless, e.g., Charles Darwin
  • Design thinkers
  • Remarkable visionaries, MLK


The recession was a chance for Las Vegas to re-set. (John Wagner)

There have been so many chapter 1’s written in LV; it’s very hard to get to chapter 2. Unlike, say, Boston, this is a place that’s open to all different ways to rewrite the text of the city. Let’s get to chapter 2. (Michael Borer)


[First off, check out the feature of Paul in today’s UNLV News piece about UNLV grads who are on the cutting edge of change in downtown LV]

On suburban mindset:  LV is oriented around car culture. Because people move frequently, they don’t invest in neighbors or community. You have to buy the experience of community. Downtown LV is never going to be for everyone; it is appealing to a subset. 

On the margins:  As we grow, we’ll attract more misfits – people who can’t / don’t want to live in a suburb where you have to have a car, pay a mortgage. 

On corporate urbanism – Corporations started in downtown and moved to ‘burbs. Now they’re moving back into cities at the same time that we’re gutting public sector funds for social services. 

Q:  If someone like Tony or an entity like the Downtown Project buys up a lot of land, there’s an expectation that they’ll tackle some of the social issues in that area.

Paul:  Yes … but is this fair? The DTP cannot drill a hole in a road, we can collect taxes. We don’t have the means to effect change in the way that government can.

BRIAN KNUDSEN – Community Resource Manager, City of Las Vegas

Brian talked about how the recession pushed the city to ask questions of what its citizens most want;  Security, jobs, schools, “How can I help” were the leading responses in 100+ conversation groups he led. Brian decided that children are at the intersection of multiple systems – transportation, housing, health. What came out of it is the Downtown Achieves program. It works with a series of public schools (K-12) and seeks to align resources. It engages groups of educators, students, parents, educational leaders, and researchers.

On collaboration:  You know you’re collaborating if it’s painful at first. You always have to give something when you start to collaborate. 

On service providers:   Our community is built on these one-stop shops – we expect people to come to you, come to your service. That doesn’t work. What if the providers came to the school?

On academics:   It’s really hard to work with academics. It’s hard to know how to plug in with you. What you do is so important. I almost guarantee that I can plug your research in to what we’re doing.  ….  There is so much space in our community for research to inform our decisions. 



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