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Colorful Conversations

Author: The Common Ground Experiment

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Curious kids building common ground with their community. The 4th grade students at Wesley Prep in Dallas have spent the past 4 years getting to know their neighbors across the city by inviting different groups of people to collaborate on creative projects. Now 5 years into the Common Ground Experiment, the pandemic is keeping us from connecting in the community, so we decided it is time to circle back with our neighbors via the airwaves to see how they are doing. We might also invite some new friends into colorful conversations as well!
14 Episodes
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Our guest on this episode is Daniel Roby, CEO of Austin Street Center, an emergency shelter in Dallas.  Have you ever wanted to learn more about how you can help those experiencing homelessness in our community?  Then this is the episode for you.  Daniel has had a deep compassion for those experiencing homelessness since he was a child.  He shares the story of how his calling grew over the years as he chats with Jack, John Mark and Joshua.  Along with their discussion on issues surrounding housing insecurity, Daniel gives the boys wonderful advice for other areas of life as well.  We are so grateful for his time and his example of leadership in the community. Thank you, Daniel!  To learn more about Austin Street Center, click HERE.
On today’s episode we are honored to have a very special guest,  Chairman Morgan Meyer.  He was nice enough to schedule a Zoom meeting with our entire class, and it was great!  Chairman Meyer is serving in his 4th term as a state representative.  He is the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee for the 87th legislature regular session. He authored many bills that focus on protecting children and support financing for education.  He is a graduate of SMU and lives in University Park, and he is a partner at Wick Phillips law firm. He loves representing district 108 because it is home.  We learned so much from this colorful conversation with Chairman Meyer, and think you will, too! To learn more about Chairman Morgan Meyer, click HERE.
We are honored to have Mr. Beto O’Rourke on this episode! Listen in as he shares about everything from where to find the best fried pies in Texas to how he handles life's challenges. He takes the time to authentically connect with my students during our chat, and it makes them feel so special.  Mr. O'Rourke is a native of El Paso and  has served on the city council there. He continues to support his neighbors by volunteering locally in a variety of ways with his family.  Mr. O'Rourke served as a Texas Representative for the United States Congress from 2013 - 2018, and he is currently enjoying working from home, teaching a class at Texas State University and volunteering with his non-profit organization, Powered by People. We are so grateful for the time and care Mr. O’Rourke invested in this conversation. It is one we will not forget!  Thank you, Mr. O Rourke! Click HERE to learn more about Powered by People.
This is a sweet episode because  my students had the honor of chatting with Ms. Eryn Bird.  Eryn is the amazing producer/audio engineer who edits every single episode of Colorful Conversations.  She does incredible work, she is always professional, and I have always gotten the edited episodes back in two days or less.  She is always happy to make any adjustments or revisions (which are rarely needed), and with every episode, her work becomes more and more intuitive.  If you are looking for a sound editor, please reach out to Eryn. She is an up and coming professional who has managed to birth what is now a thriving business during the pandemic, when there were not job opportunities in her field upon graduating from college.Beyond Eryn's professionalism, I am so moved by the personal attention she pays to my students.  Each time she returns an edited episode, she takes the time to write a personal note to my students telling them what she enjoyed about the episode.  They look forward to her notes each time!  When I told the class we were going to visit with Eryn and learn more about her, they were so excited.  This episode feels so sweet because it shows the beautiful power of connection we have all experienced through the process of creating this podcast.  I was quite emotional listening to my students reflect on what they've learned along the way! Eryn is such an inspiration. My students left this conversation with so many reminders of the things that matter most. We are so grateful to you, Eryn Bird, for finding common ground with us, for making our podcasts presentable, and for keeping it colorful.  If you need an amazing audio engineer or know someone who does, HERE is the link to Eryn's information. Thanks for tuning in!https://www.fiverr.com/share/GdPLq3
On this episode, Dr. Michael Horne,  CEO of the Parkland Foundation and Ms. Sandra Godina,  Director of Program and Organizing for Leadership for Educational Equity, discuss their common work for equity in the areas of healthcare and education.  In addition, they share wonderful leadership strategies and stories about the importance of family and friends.  Mia, Charlie, Liam and Ava do a wonderful job sparking this colorful and important conversation!  To learn more about the Parkland Foundation,  click HERE.  To find out more about Leadership for Educational Equity, click HERE. 
We have two very special guests on this episode of Colorful Conversations, Daron Babcock and Matthew “Trog” Trogdon.  Daron is the founder and CEO of a very special place called Bonton Farms, and Trog has been his right-hand man from the beginning.  Bonton Farms is a very special place that is so much more than just a farm.  It is a beacon of hope in South Dallas.  Daron and Trog like to say they are in the business of growing people.  They have sown seeds of hope in the community by providing jobs, access to healthy food, beautiful places where neighbors can gather in their café and coffee shop, and they are in the process of developing even more support for the community through a health clinic and more housing options.  Bonton Farms is transforming this impoverished neighborhood in south Dallas and inviting others to walk alongside our neighbors in Bonton by supporting these local businesses. There are many ways to partner with Bonton Farms, and I encourage you to explore their website HERE, and  better yet, take a trip down to the market and café one Saturday.  You’ll be glad you did!  Listen in as Joshua, John Mark, and Jack (aka the J team) visit with Daron and Trog.  Here are the two farming videos Trog mentioned during the episode:https://www.backtoedenfilm.comhttps://www.biggestlittlefarmmovie.com/Go HERE if you'd like to watch the unedited video of this colorful conversation! You will see what a difference our wonderful editor, Eryn Bird makes!  Thank you, Eryn, for cleaning up our show for us every week! 
I first heard Michelle Kinder speak at the Changing the Odds Conference hosted by Momentous Institiute,  the non-profit for which she was the Executive Director at the time.  She was so inspiring and engaging ,  I began to follow everything she posted.  Michelle is a nationally recognized expert in the field of Social Emotional health. She is a speaker, leader, executive coach, and a writer. As a fellow of the Op-ed project, she has articles published in several national publications such as the Washington Post and TIME Magazine. She is also a poet, and she has co-authored a book with Rex Miller, Bill Latham, and Kevin Baird entitled Whole – What Teachers Need to Help Students Thrive.  Michelle is an eternal student. She is a curious and passionate lover of life who navigates through the world with mindfulness, and intention seeking balance in the hopes of creating a more equitable and just future for all. Truly she is one of those people that makes the world better simply by being here! I am so grateful she took the time to chat with some of my 4th graders!  To learn more about Michelle, you can find her website HERE. 
On this episode, our guest is Aelicia Watson, better known as Chocolate to her friends. Chocolate is the Founder and Executive Director of Redeemed Women, a non-profit she created in South Dallas  with a vision of transforming women to lead independent lives by building relationships and addressing their spiritual, physical and vocational needs. Chocolate is an incredibly wise and passionate community leader.  She is an elevator and a bridge builder, and our community is better because of her investment of heart, soul and resources.  Her spirit is infectious, and it is impossible not to love her as soon as you get to know her.  I know Lillian and Allie certainly agree with me!  Listen to their colorful conversations with Chocolate and you'll see.  If you'd like to learn more about Redeemed Women, go to https://www.redeemedwomen.org/. You can also follow Redeemed women on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @redeemedwomendallas. 
This week our guest is Paige Chenault, founder of The Birthday Party Project.  Her mission is to bring joy to children experiencing homelessness through the magic of birthday parties.  Paige reminds us of the importance of slowing down, dreaming big, and leaning in to make others feel valued and loved.  Listen as Ava, Amara, Grayson and Mia chat with Paige about the things that matter most.   
Mr. Jerry Conatser President of Conatser Construction Management group, chairman of t Cook Children’s Child Study Center and former Chairman of Cook Children’s Health Care System is our guest on this episode.   As he shares stories about his life, it will make you want to be a better version of yourself.  He is the epitome of what it means to live with intention. Somehow he has managed to successfully run a large construction company, give his time and resources to help many charitable causes, and still maintiain a childlike sense of wonder and zest for life. What a gift it is for my students to be able to interview people like Mr. Jerry Conatser!  I can only hope some of his wisdom, generosity and whimsy will rub off on all of us! I hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did. Mr. Conatser's granddaughter, Avery and her friend, Charlie were the hosts of today's show, and they did a fantastic job! 
This week our guest is Cimaje Best, Program Manager and director of fellowships for the OpEd project.  The Op Ed project is an organization  working to amplify the voices of the under-represented by empowering them to take thought leadership positions in their fields (through op-eds and much more); The Op Ed project’s goal is to provide a diversity of voices working to solve the world’s biggest problems because when we become more inclusive, we collectively become more intelligent, free, and just.  Cimaje has spent her professional and personal life doing capacity building work, even before her position at the op ed project.  She is a strong, calm, force for good in this world, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for her example for my students and our guests.  I'm so inspired by her, and I know you will be, too! Interviewing her on this episode are Sophia, Emma and Ellagrace. I hope you enjoy this colorful conversation with Cimaje as much as we did.  To learn more about her work with the OpEd Project,  click HERE.  You can read Cimaje's Huffington Post article HERE.
This is such a special episode!  My students and I were fortunate enough to have a colorful conversation with Jad Abumrad, creator and host of the incredibly popular WNYC podcast, Radiolab.  He graciously shared stories and pro-tips with us and gave us a glimpse into a day in his life as a musician,  peabody award winning journalist and all around wonderful human being. You can learn more about Jad HERE.  Check out his TED Talk HERE.  Listen to Radiolab HERE, and listen to his amazing 9 part series, Dolly Parton’s America HERE.  I hope you listen to this inspiring episode and check out all things Jad!  You’ll be glad you did!  Thanks to Angela Ross, Emily Hartmann, Jad and all who made this special moment happen for my 4th graders. I’m so grateful.     
Mrs. Cousino and some of her former students discuss the origin of The Common Ground Experiment and how each project unfolded.  These students share what they've learned through cultivating common ground in the community, and they offer advice to the current 4th graders.  Hope you enjoy!The book we created during our most recent project, HEART WORDS, is still available and would make a beautiful Christmas present for all the children on your list!  It is an alphabet book filled with inspiring and empowering words that was written collaboratively by the 4th Graders of Wesley Prep and the Wildflower students of Heart House.  100% of proceeds from book sales will benefit Heart House.  Give gifts that keep giving this holiday season!  Purchase your copy HERE. 
James, Mills and Preston interview Rebecca Bruff, Author of Trouble the Water and Stars of Wonder.  They talk about life and writing and Robert Smalls, whose incredible story Mrs. Bruff told so beautifully in her first piece of historical fiction, Trouble the Water.  I hope this episode sparks your interest in Robert Smalls, a Civil War hero you may not have learned about in school, but certainly should have.Rebecca also has a new children's Christmas story coming out called Stars of Wonder.  It is a beautiful and timely story that would be perfect for all the children in your life!  Learn more about Rebecca and order her books HERE.Learn more about The Common Ground Experiment and support the Colorful Conversations Podcast HERE.
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