By Holly Kragthorpe, Graves Ventures Director
I remember sitting shoulder to shoulder with my friends on the Icehouse balcony at my first EDTalks in October 2015. It was a sold-out event with Peggy Flanagan, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota and soon-to-be state representative, who spoke on “Knowing Where We Come From”, along with teacher Tom Rademacher and student Arreanna Whitley, who co-presented on “Students Lead in Anti-Racist Classrooms.” As someone who had taught in Minneapolis Public Schools for the prior 14 years, this event filled me with pride and hope, both for the teaching profession and for our community.
Today I’m the director of Graves Ventures, a project of the Graves Foundation. In this role I get to work with Minneapolis civic and nonprofit leaders on new projects as effective agents of social change. Graves Ventures is designed to invest in innovative community leaders in Minneapolis, and we know that EDTalks is reaching and amplifying these kinds of leaders at each and every event.
As EDTalks celebrates its tenth birthday, Graves Ventures is excited to join Achieve Twin Cities as event co-presenter. We share Achieve’s vision that all young people should have full and equitable access to thriving adult lives and we’ve enjoyed partnering with Achieve for several years with our Minneapolis Educator Leadership Awards.
EDTalks has been such an important part of our community for the last ten years, and I believe it is one solution to a problem that’s only gotten worse over the past decade. Rhetoric is more divisive than ever, and K-12 education is situated at the epicenter of volatile and polarized camps of people who often aren’t interested in hearing from other points of view. As a result, many folks have withdrawn from public discourse.
One way to get ourselves out of our own ideological silos is to increase our listening. This is my hope for the future of EDTalks: to continue to grow a community of people who are willing to listen and to be part of refreshing, real and substantive discourse in an atmosphere that fosters community and deep respect.
Partnering with EdTalks is also personally meaningful to me as a longtime EDTalks Fangirl. The energetic sense of warmth and strong community keeps me coming back to EDTalks because these events continue to elevate the most important issues that students, parents, educators and leaders face in education policies and practices.
A big congratulations to EDTalks for its first ten years! Graves Ventures is honored to collaborate with Achieve Twin Cities in this outstanding community event, and excited to see what the coming decade will bring.