Dreamline and UN SDGs–a clear and present voice for change

With the Smurfs and the millennials and the UN and the media groups and the power of Dotsub behind our student dreamers, I can’t wait to get started….


E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-16
Dream as a bird in the sky, soaring high freely in space.
Waiting for an achiever to be the beginning of peace.
By a high school student in Morocco

E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-04
People lose thing in their hearts
People become crazy
Books make people understand
What is true, the good and the beautiful
By an elementary student in Shanghai, China

The Sustainable Development Goals, known as the SDGs, were adopted by the Heads of State and Governments at the United Nations in September of 2015.  They cover 17 key areas for positive global change, from an end to hunger to gender equity to clean air and water. Their target for realization is 2030, 12 years from now.

Last August from the 13th to the 21st, 1000 millennials gathered in Copenhagen to brainstorm and realize paths to achieving these goals. The event was created and supported by UNLEASH, a consortium of global commercial and nonprofit organizations.

From September 25th to the 27th, the UN held a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit in New York City attended by 150 world leaders and convened as a high level plenary meeting of the General Assembly.

The week before, PVBLIC Foundation hosted its Media for Social Impact Summit in New York City, focusing on the UN SDGs and supported by Spotify, IMAX, HBO, Sony, Angry Birds, and dozens of other major media enterprises. Their One For All campaign, gathering corporate pledges to support one SDG, is sending this message:

On October 14th the animated children’s series Thomas & Friends, which is aired in 110 countries in 33 languages, announced it will be including 5 of the UN Sustainability Goals in the storylines of upcoming episodes. Earlier in the year, Sony announced integration of UN SDGs into it’s Smurf animation programming:

So what does this have to do with Dreamline? Plenty.

When we look at our students’ dreams, the theme of peace and justice is easy to find. So is good education, a healthy environment, meaningful rewarding work, and nearly every other area identified in the SDGs.

We can see from the beta testing on Dreamline that our students are already dreaming about these kinds of changes we need for the good of all–expressing them in words and art that are original and powerful.

To see what we’d find, we tagged all of the student dreams posted in Dreamline to date so they can be searched by any SDG. Just go to our Gallery, put in any SDG (for example #SDG4 for Quality Education) and you’ll see all of the flags that address that issue.

Here’s what we found:

TOP 5 from our sample of student flags from USA, Belize, China, Morocco, and Tanzania

E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-16 16.5%
Students dream of a safer world and an end to fighting and war. Students dream of a world that’s more fair.

E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-15 14.8%
Students dream of a healthy environment for plants and animals everywhere. Many students are especially concerned about treatment and habitat of animals.

E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-03 12.7%
Students dream about a cure for cancer, about healthy family members, and about access to compassionate care.

E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-10 11.6 %
Students dream of a more fair world and especially a more inclusive world.

E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-08 9.9%
Students dream of having a job that is meaningful and of their family members having jobs that can support them.

And here’s the big picture…Dreamline SDG Graph(3-c)

In the sample flags of our students we see and hear a clear and present voice for change,  beautifully expressed in art and poetry. We can see areas where educational programs can add to students’ current awareness of topics.

Our students’ dreams are a rich resource for inspiration and positive change. They come organically from the heart, across cultures and ages.

And in the larger world? In the world of 50 million teachers with their students globally? In every language?

Through our new partnership with Dotsub and the vision of its founder Michael Smolens, we’re forming a future where students can share dreams with each other and the wider public in any language. Dotsub enables stories told in any language to be available in any other language.

We’d like to see at least 10,000,000 student voices declaring and sharing their dreams on Dreamline well before 2030.

We’d like to tag them with SDG alignment, adding their collecive voices–unqustionably sincere and urgent–to the chorus calling for positive global change at a time when we need it most.

We want to offer our students connection to each other through those SDG alignments. We’d like to engage our students in age appropriate SDG-aligned colaborative projects (such as those already available through iEARN,)  transforming their shared dreams into  goals, and helping make those goals our shared reality. Before 2030.

Can we do this?

With the Smurfs and the millennials and the UN and the media groups and the power of Dotsub behind our student dreamers, I can’t wait to get started….

iEARN & a World That is Green

by Ahmed Alalou

This IMPACT story is contributed by student Ahmed Alalou who lives in Larache, Morocco. Ahmed participated in the Dream Flag Project when he was a high school student in Larache, and Marouane El Baida was his teacher. Ahmed is now a third year college student in Morocco, studying biology. In July of 2017, Ahmed co-presented with me and Marouane El Baidir at the iEARN International Conference and Youth Summit held in Marrakech, Morocco.  –Jeffrey Harlan

Our presentation was the best thing I’ve done as a student, to offer everyone the chance to be a part of our dream land, a land where borders and superiority according to race, color or religion are just illusions.

Whenever I hear the word dream, I think of a world that is green. When I heard of the Dream Flag project, I thought of it as a way to connect the world via each other’s dreams, though it might be hard for some of us to share their secret desires that are held deep inside us.

One of the many things I have learned during my experience with the Dream Flags Project is that everyone’s dreams are positive despite no one ever telling us that it should be. And it takes courage to share them.

As for my participation in iEARN’s 23rd International Conference and 20th Youth Summit last summer,  I will always be proud of presenting alongside my teacher and mentor Marouane El Baida and Mr. Jeffrey Harlan who came all the way to Morocco for the beautiful purpose that is making everyone’s dream our dream, and showing the world that we, as human beings, can always create a beautiful line of hope when attaching our dreams together and holding each other’s hands through poetry.

Our Presentation was the best thing I’ve done as a student, to offer everyone the chance to be a part of our dream land, a land where borders and superiority according to race, color or religion are just illusions. I think that we were successful in informing the audience about our project and our application. I enjoyed the smiles and the beautiful impressions on everybody’s face in a room where students and educators from more than 10 countries joined together and showed appreciation for our work and willingness to be part of this beautiful project.


Getting to know Mr. Jeffrey Harlan, the creator of the Dream Flag project and the Dreamline application was definitely the most inspiring thing in all this journey which has just started, for he is a mentor who has a heart big enough for everyone’s dreams. It was my pleasure to show him my beautiful country and help him see life through Moroccan eyes. Even though it was just for a short duration of time, it was the best duration of time.

My favorite part was when we hung all the Dream Flags in Mr. Jeffrey’s hotel room and took this funny video:

I want to thank Mr. Jeffrey Harlan for his visit to Morocco and for including us in his incredible project which I’m most honored to be a part of.

My Love for The Container Store

OK. I have a confession to make. I love the Container Store, and I recently realized it’s for the same reasons that I love Dreamline.

So I’m comparing my life’s work as an educator with a chain store in shopping malls?

Yes, actually. But here’s how I got there….

At this time of year people in my hemisphere are getting ready to go back to school, to get stuff that’s for organzing and getting set. So among other places, my wife and I found ourselves in The Container Store this past weekend. Rows upon rows of ways to store things in your closet, your desk, your kitchen, pretty much everywhere.

So how’s that connected to Dreamline?

Well at the Container Store, no one is telling you what clothing to wear, no one is telling you what to cook or eat, and no one is telling you what to write at your desk. You decide. But with good organization, you get efficiency, the chance to integrate with other parts of your life, and the capacity to change over time. All true for Deamline and Dream Flags.

But let’s go a little deeper. To the lunch container section. My favorite.

I did find an absolutely terrific new lunch container. Here’s what it looks like.

And, as you can see, it has great features.

  1. It’s sturdy and closes securely, to protect my lunch from getting smooshed.
  2. It’s the right size to hold what I want to eat.
  3. It’s an easy shape to pack and carry to the lunchroom where I eat with others.
  4. Also a good shape to wash so I can use it again next day.

You can see this demonstrated in the next 12 seconds by clicking below:

In short, it reflects my values, both for myself and my community. And it brings me out into the world as I eat lunch with others

This is what Dreamline does. No wonder I like it so much!

  1. The flag is a safe place to pack my dreams.
  2. I pack my flag with my deep desires and things that are good for me–my dreams to share with the world.
  3. What I pack  fits on a certain size piece of cloth, connected to a line–that makes it easy to take out into the world and share with others–on Dreamline and in other places.
  4. My dreams benefit my community and me; they change as I change, and I can make a new flag next year–through the same program.

That’s how the Dreamline works. How it grows and is growing.

So that’s my back-to-school reflection.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you already realize this has been an exceptional summer for Dreamline. More great blogs on that coming soon from friends in Morocco and elsewhere.

But if you’ve been reading headlines, you also realize that there is an urgency for helping our students in the direction of their dreams like nothing before.

A great start in that direction is to tap into Character Day on Sept. 13 in whatever way you can.

We already have a “container,” a Dreamline, to carry and connect the heart melodies of our students, this year and every year. But the box is meaningless without its content. Because of Dreamline teachers who invite and support students as they declare and share their dreams, and because of who our students really are, that content is transformative again and again. And we all need it now.

Wrapping Dreams in a Blue Cloud-Cloth

by Kelly Cordero

I’m happy to introduce Kelly Cordero, the author of this week’s Impact blog entry.  When I received the video below a few years ago from Kelly, it knocked my socks off! Now a few years down the road, Caleb Greenwood students are declaring and sharing their dreams more than ever–most recently in a live open mic Skype between their Kindergarteners and a hundreds of students gathered at The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia for our celebration on May 13.  Here’s a window into Kelly’s world as she masterfully engages even the youngest students in learning to make aspiration and global awareness a habit of mind and heart.  –Jeff


I am happy to be part of such a global sharing of spirit and humanity.

–Kelly Cordero
International Baccalaureate Coordinator at Caleb Greenwood in Sacramento, CA

“Is this a happy poem or sad poem?” asked the wide-dreamflag2eyed Kinder sitting at the edge of the checkerboard rug.

“What do you mean?” I asked, wondering how my reading of Langston Hughes’s The Dream Keeper sparked this intriguing question.

“Well, in some parts it’s scary but other parts are nice,” she explained. Other students nodded their heads in agreement as if she were speaking for the group.

“Tell me about the parts that sound scary,” I nudged.

“Well, I don’t like the ‘too-rough fingers.’”

“And the nice part?”

“Wrapping dreams in ‘the blue cloud-cloth.’ I like that part.” Again, the nodding heads.

“Ok, so now you tell me. Is this a happy poem or a sad poem?”

“I guess it’s kinda both. I don’t like that someone might take our dreams, but it’s nice that we can keep our dreams safe.”

And so began this year’s Dream Flags with our Kindergarten classes, and the marking of our fourth year of participation in the Dream Flag Project. During the last four years, our participation has ranged from a simple lunchtime open mic in our school cafeteria to 500 flags exhibiting at our State Capitol Building.

cropped-dreamline_color__5.jpgThe Dream Flag Project was especially compelling this year as our Kinder students added their voices to their flags using the Dreamline app. Students were intrigued by the idea that people all over the world could see and hear their Dreams.

Hearing their words played back to them elicited gasps, smiles, and giggles. A handful of students also participated in the live feed Heartbeat Event on May 13. Some became shy with the awe of connecting with students in another part of the United States as well as another country. But the overall consensus of the experience by all was “So Fun! Let’s do it all again!”

My personal journey with the Dream Flag Project began with my work as International Baccalaureate Coordinator at Caleb Greenwood in Sacramento, CA. I was looking for a creative way to connect with other students globally and stumbled upon the Dream Flag website.

The Project has now become a school tradition and my involvement has grown to helping organize the Dream Line App Kickstarter video, being a member of the app Design Review Team, live video participation at the Heartbeat event, and to recently beta-testing the new Dreamline app with Kindergartners at our school.

I have also recently learned that I am recipient of this year’s Dream Angel Award. Thank you, Dream Flag Project, for the recognition. I truly believe The Dream Flag Project is a wonderful way for students to connect to other students, their dreams, and to the words of Langston Hughes. I am happy to be part of such a global sharing of spirit and humanity.

And here’s me reading the Dream Angel Award citation from Angel Padulo for Kelly at the National Constitution Center on May 13, 2017. Thank you, Kelly! -Jeff

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