Designing on the edge

Last month ten early childhood policy and thought leaders converged on the rural west Alabama town of Newbern in Hale County to engage with the work of Auburn University’s Rural Studio, the design-build program of Auburn’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture.

Among Capita’s roles is curation — creating space to span gaps and build bridges across disciplines, sectors, and ways of knowing — by creating temporary communities of passionate and thoughtful people representing different points-of-view and diverse expertise. Last month’s trip to Alabama — which provided an extended opportunity to dialogue between early childhood and architecture while allowing participants to disconnect from their day-to-day— is a prime example of the why curation is valuable to continuing to build the knowledge necessary to cultivate the future for children and families.

Capita welcomes Lucy Davidson to Board of Directors

Last week the Capita Board of Directors elected Lucy Davidson to their number. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Lucy is the CEO of Future Tracks, a new social enterprise designed to attract and support the next generation of early childhood teachers by providing strong career pathways, mentoring and leadership opportunities to students while they complete a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education.

5 questions with Wendell Berry

“It is human nature that has to be taught somewhat intentionally and deliberately: justice, prudence, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope, love — all the qualities of heart and mind that place us above our animal nature.”

Wendell Berry (b. 1934) is a poet, novelist, social critic, and farmer in Port Royal, Kentucky. Among the most respected American humanists of our day, Berry is notably distrustful of technology and a fierce advocate for agrarian values. Berry has won numerous awards including the National Humanities Medal, the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle, and the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement AwardBerry served as the Jefferson Lecturer in 2012 at the invitation of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

5 questions with Boston’s Kimberly Lucas

“For us, good design must thoughtfully take in the context residents are in, allows us to fully articulate or fulfill the goal at hand, and invites all of us to interact differently — person to person, person to institution, person to city. We consider what we do as ‘acts of civic design’ in that they invite us all to participate in the future of our city.”

Kimberly Lucas is the Civic Research Director in the City of Boston’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Part researcher, part practitioner, and part muppet, Kim has consistently kept one foot in the ivory tower and one foot on the ground, pairing research with practice to seek real solutions to social policy and planning problems.

Kimberly will be featured at Childhood by Design on November 6th in Atlanta. Presented by AIR Serenbe and Capita, Childhood by Design brings artists, architects, urbanists, and designers together with early childhood experts, policymakers, and the general public. This public conversation on stage at the Rich Theatre in the Woodruff Arts Center will explore and harness the power of art, architecture, design, and placemaking to reimagine the unique experience of childhood, to improve outcomes, and to co-create a brighter future for all young children and their families. More information and tickets are available here.

Investing in Interstitial Zones for the Flourishing of Children: An Interview with Margie May Morris

This is the first in a series of interviews and photo essays by the North Carolina-based artist and educator Kathryn Ervin exploring the experience of childhood and the nature of caregiving in the American South. We believe that traditions of caregiving — both good and bad — provide a resource for innovation, renewal, and perspective for best meeting the challenges facing children and families today and in the future. 

Capita featured in Quartz

Earlier this year we launched Capita to explore how the great cultural and social transformations of our day affect young children, and to foster new ideas to ensure a future in which children and their families flourish. We are pleased to see our work and ideas featured today in Quartz. Read the full story at Quartz.

The delights of play: a path to wisdom?

Play teaches a child a great number of things: self-regulation and self-control, organizational skills and resilience, to name a few; yet, we do not often think of play as teaching wisdom. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of Medieval philosophers, suggests we should think of play much more deeply than we do.

5 questions with Harvard’s Mario Luis Small

"The United States has a strong tradition of encouraging people to pursue their interests, aspirations, in spite of the obstacles that may be on the way. This can-do attitude has benefited the country immensely over the years. In this context, it is important that we create and support both private and public institutions that support people’s ability to meet their aspirations, that facilitate their access to other people and their resources."

Mario L. Small, Ph.D., Grafstein Family Professor at Harvard University, is the author of award-winning books and articles on networks, poverty, organizations, culture, methods, neighborhoods, institutions, and other topics. He is currently using large-scale administrative data to understand isolation in cities, studying how people use their networks to meet their needs, and exploring the epistemological foundations of qualitative research. His latest book is Someone To Talk To (Oxford). A study of how people decide whom to approach when seeking support, the book is an inquiry into human nature, a critique of network analysis, and a discourse on the role of qualitative research in the big-data era.

Mario serves on Capita’s Advisory Board and spoke with me recently about leveraging early childhood education and care programs to build social capital, his latest research, and what he thinks is healthiest about America today.


5 questions with the Perigee Fund’s Dr. David Willis

"All parents want the best for their children, often worry about the future for their children and welcome parenting information and support. Thus, the time is now for advancing the wellbeing of the next generation of young children with targeted and state of the art efforts. Hence, this is space where the Perigee Fund seeks to have influence."

David Willis, M.D. is the Executive Director of the Perigee Fund, a new philanthropic endeavor based in Seattle, promoting early relational health, improving young children’s social emotional development and advancing infant early childhood mental health in Washington State, the northwest and nationally. Prior to joining Perigee, David served as the Director of the Division of Home Visiting and Early Childhood Services within the Health Resources and Services Administration, within the Obama Administration. Boarded in Pediatrics and Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics, Dr. Willis was a clinician for 30 years in Portland, Oregon and long-standing early childhood leader in Oregon and nationally. Dr. Willis was a Harris Mid-Career Fellow with ZERO TO THREE, past President of the Oregon Pediatric Society, an executive member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Early Education and Child Care, the first Chair the AAP’s Board’s Early Brain & Child Development Strategic Initiative and a previous member of Dr. Jack Shonkoff’s Frontiers for Innovation at Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child.

A great friend of Capita’s, Dave shared his thoughts on his new role, the importance of early relational health, and why he remains optimistic about our country’s — and our children’s — future with us last week.

Rethinking Early Childhood Policy: Finding our way out of the silos

A more comprehensive public policy agenda would help spur investment and collaboration between and across public sector agencies and departments, but also private, philanthropic, and academic stakeholders who are just as critical in ensuring that the proper resources and supports are available for children to develop and thrive. Without such a policy, significant service gaps will continue to exist — gaps which no one service provider can be expected to fix.

5 questions with Takao Watanabe

"When new digital technologies emerge, typically the risks are not well communicated or assessed due to a lack of evidence. Parents would benefit from accessible and reliable information sources which tell what are known positive/negative factors to date and what is still unknown in order to determine their preferred usage of digital technologies."

Takao Watanabe is Co-founder and CEO of MITSUGO, where innovation for early childhood development has been cradled. One of the products, Language Jungle, has been selected as one of the Top Ideas in Early Childhood Innovation Prize on openIDEO. He has 10+ years academic and industrial experience of research and development in human/robot interaction.

5 questions with Cinelle Barnes

"Having a child in your arms reminds you that you are holding, quite literally, the next generation — the next set of characters to people this world, and you, along with your DNA, values, and habits, are passing on, most of all, generational memory. I thought that perhaps if I released all this information, this trauma, onto the page, transformed it into something physical (like a book), even something beautiful, I wouldn’t have to transfer it to or into my daughter. Instead, I could create something that could serve as a roadmap for her, and coincidentally, for other people, so that we do not repeat history — personal and political at that."

Cinelle Barnes is an essayist and memoirist from Manila, Philippines. She has received fellowships and scholarships from Kundiman and Voices of the Nations Arts, and is the incoming writer-in-residence at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. Her work has appeared in Catapult, Buzzfeed, and Literary Hub, among others. Her debut memoir, MONSOON MANSION (May 2018, Little A), has been an Amazon Bestseller and Amazon First Reads Editor’s Pick, and a Booklist Starred Review. Her forthcoming essay collection, ORACLE, will be out in fall 2019.