Isolated by Differences

My friend Michaela took this pic of a moon over Nebraska.

For years I’ve been explaining the separation I felt from people and places when I was growing up as border crossing. Yesterday I learned differently.

When I was a kid my family moved constantly. My dad had frequently incapacitating post traumatic stress disorder and couldn’t keep a job, so my family – 4 kids and 2 parents – moved from motel to motel between the US and Canada. Cars constantly breaking down, often filled with the motto “If it doesn’t fit in the trunk it can’t come along.” In the nine youngest years of my we lived in 12 different cities; in the first 4 years of school I went 7 different places.

When we finally landed it was because our car broke down 3 times in one week and we couldn’t afford to go any further. My dad got began lifelong treatment for his PTSD and we eventually got a house. Moving into a neighborhood where we were a racial minority among economic peers, it was hard to fit in. I was a goofy Canadian boy in cowboy boots and corduroy pants singing “Rhinestone Cowboy” while everyone else wore parachute pants and air jordans and sang “Billie Jean.” To say I didn’t fit in is an understatement.

For the rest of my youth I struggled with belonging and joining. I prided myself for establishing a unique group of friends who shared that sense of non-belonging, but somehow I never quite learned how to fit in. As a card-carrying member of Gen X, I held it was my duty to flip off the establishment and eff-up the system from within, which I tried to do through my 20s. I managed to create a career in a space where there was barely a field, and I established an identity as an outcast of sorts, so I was comfortable at least!

Along the way I read about Henry Giroux’s concept of “border crossers,” people whose identities are constantly in flux. We learn the codes and become code breakers; we find the barriers and circumnavigate them. Reinforced by reading some of Zygut Baumann’s works on liquid culture, I prided myself on this identity over all others. I had a sense that not belonging and staying apart was my superpower.

Then yesterday happened.

It turns out that at the root of it, that displacement is isolation. I was listening to a podcast with a writer from The New York Times when he was talking about the angst experienced by refugees in America, people who were stripped of their lands and cultures and identities only to be thrown into the cauldron of suffocating sameness that is mainstream American culture. While I wasn’t escaping war or a repressive regime, my family were mental health exiles forced to extreme escapes from the seemingly inevitable pauper’s prisons awaiting failed consumers in the 1980s.

As an adult, I’ve discovered that the suffering I experienced because of the isolation I lived in childhood and nurtured through my adult life was a healthy response to a traumatic experience. My child brain didn’t know how to cope with the differences repeatedly forced onto me by circumstances far beyond my control, and without therapy or even seeing that clearly as an adult I carried the burden of isolation for years.

That isolation affected my work, my friendships, my romantic relationships, and of course my family. Only now am I beginning to see that my own calls for conscious engagement with the worlds within ourselves and around us were a desperate plea for me to connect with what mattered most to me. Now that I see that clearly, I am beginning to see how to move forward. I’m also saddened for the younger person I was when I struggled so much, so righteously to have the belonging I didn’t.

That is yet another reason why I do the work I do today, to connect people wholly throughout the whole lives they live. Its a heck of a mission, and it comes from a true place.

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Spheres of Engagement

Spheres of Engagement Adam Fletcher
These are the Spheres of Engagement, including Family engagement, Community engagement, Cultural engagement, School engagement, Spiritual engagement and Social engagement, all surrounding Personal engagement. Copyright 2012 Adam Fletcher. All rights reserved.

These are the Spheres of Engagement:

  • Family engagement: Choosing the same things intentionally where we live everyday
  • Community engagement: Surrounded by people who share purpose in a variety of ways
  • Cultural engagement: Being deliberately connected with heritage, customs and history in our lives
  • School engagement: Connecting with action and outcomes to increase learning on purpose
  • Spiritual engagement: Finding passion and belonging within ourselves for greater purposes
  • Social engagement: Seeing beyond our individual selves to connect with the greater world around us

Our opportunities to choose the same things over and over provide is a hundred thousand million Spheres of Engagement that endlessly overlap towards infinity, showing the unstoppable, unfathomable sustainability of all things. There is no limit to the ways we picture our engagement.

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Saying YES to the Future

A wonderful thing happened the other month. At the beginning of December 2020, I took a position as CEO of a national nonprofit organization. For the first time in a decade, I’m working full time and loving it!

This organization is called Youth and Educators Succeeding, and it focuses on youth empowerment, leadership, and learning. Over the last 25 years, it’s helped more than 2,500 K-12 schools across the US and around the world transform the roles of students in schools.

Of course, I’m bringing my nameplate programs into the org. Freechild and SoundOut will have a a serious foothold in the new configuration of the nonprofit and I’m really excited.

The next steps are making themselves clear as I walk on. Today I’m in Seattle for a personal appointment after starting yesterday speaking at a conference in London. Tomorrow, who knows?!

Anyway it goes, I’m happy and satisfied with the goal I continue to pursue, to radically re-envisioning the roles of young people throughout society.

Forward! Wish me luck!

Remembering Lois

My friend Lois Brewer has passed away.

On Sunday, April 12, 2020, Lois Brewer’s family announced her passing. Seattle’s strongest champion for service learning, Lois began her advocacy and involvement with the movement in the 1990s. After that, she became involved in the local, state and national levels promoting high quality, authentic, equitable and powerful service learning experiences for students.

Along the way, she and I wove together a tapestry of mutual respect, friendship and determination. We met in 1999 when I was an AmeriCorps Leader in New Mexico and presented at the National Service Learning Conference. Lois came to me after my session and said we should work together when I got back to Washington state, and I excitedly agreed. The next year we became friends through involvement with the Learn and Serve America grant at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. After that, she and I collaborated on literally dozens of projects, building activities from scratch and fighting the good fight as comrades.

A microbiologist by training, Lois’s love for learning led to her involvement with Seattle Public Schools and a decades-long career in service to others. More than 30 years ago, Lois established and led a program called Service Learning Seattle. Through it, she guided dozens of K-12 schools citywide as they created powerful, effective opportunities for students to learn through service. In addition to convening a large annual symposium for hundreds of student and educators to attend, Lois was also the engine behind some of the earliest efforts in King County to focus on the south side of Seattle. She was also a grant writer for students at Stevens Elementary and Cleveland STEM High Schools. Her support was also given to AmeriCorps and VISTA while she helped dozens of members towards success through the years. 

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can do.”

Arthur Ashe

Lois was active in the service learning movement throughout her career. A frequent presenter at the National Service Learning Conference, she was a founding member of Service Learning Washington, the Seattle Youth Engagement Zone, and the King County Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre. She was also a member of SOAR and Civics for All, and a champion of student equity, STEM, civic education and much more.

We conspired on things a lot, and she frequently brought me into spaces I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. Early in our efforts, Lois helped me with presentations at the National Service Learning Conference. Throughout the years, she gave me keynote opportunities at conferences for Seattle Public Schools, let me facilitate workshops at several of her annual symposia, and worked with me to develop her organization, Service Learning Seattle, as well as the Seattle Youth Engagement Zone and more. We sat on SOAR’s Partnership Board together for five years, and she funded some of my best work, including the SoundOut Summer Camps in Seattle; the Youth Media Summer Camp, and; the King County Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre.

The last time Lois and I talked was January of this year. We sat in her beautiful Craftsman style home at her gorgeous oak dining room table on a sunny winter day. Along with discussing racial equity, youth engagement, service learning and changing schools like we always did, she doted on her grandkids in New Mexico. It was always the best to hear her enjoy them, along with her love of her son and daughter. She was so proud of them all. While we sat there her husband Don was in the backyard doing a project, but came in and said goodbye to me when I left. Lois waved me out the door, smiling like she always did, and I felt good about where we were: On fire with the love of helping schools be better, and engaging youth in making the world a better place.

Lois lived by the Arthur Ashe quote, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can do.” She would have wanted nothing more than for us to honor that message in her memory.

Goodbye Lois.

Elsewhere Online

Serving the School as Community

Originally published as:
Fletcher, A. (2006) “SoundOut: Serving the school as community,” ServiceLine Journal 16 (1). Page 3. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The agenda of schools is routinely set by adults.

“Educating the future workforce,” “Promoting abetter tomorrow,” and even, “Making a better democracy,” are all goals found plastered across schools throughout Washington. Recent statistics show that 92% of any given school’s total population is made of students themselves, and that students routinely spend anywhere from six to ten hours a day at school.

However, when was the last time students themselves had a voice in determining the goals of education?

I founded SoundOut in 2003 to respond to this inequity. After carefully studying research supporting student voice, I held informal conversations with students, teachers, administrators, and other allies across the country that helped me form a new vision of education. At its heart, this vision is service-learning: it centers on infusing radical democracy throughout the education system, where adults partner with every student as they learn, teach, and lead democracy throughout society.

SoundOut has several projects, including a growing Internet resource center for educators, school-wide leadership training for students and adults, and student-centered programs for schools. Our most successful project so far has been the SoundOut Student Forums. With the support of the HumanLinks Foundation in Bothell, Washington, SoundOut has worked with more than 500 students and educators in 12 schools from each corner of the state to foster student involvement in school improvement.Working with a principal-selected cadre of traditional and nontraditional student leaders in each school,SoundOut trains participants to solicit, analyze, and aggregate student voice centered on changing schools.

Using these findings, the student leaders partner with teachers to design and implement action plans responding to the most urgent student concerns.In some cases students also correlate their findings with their school’s formalized improvement plan, increasing the efficacy and sustainability of their findings and action plans.I have found that students are more than willing to share their thoughts, emotions, ideas, and dreams about school – when given proper respect, encouragement, and safety.

One of the biggest roadblocks I’ve experienced hasn’t been students’ reception; instead, it’s been adults. When told that their students are going to be encouraged to speak frankly about teaching styles, classroom curricula, or the learning environment, a few teachers in each school actually act aggressively towards their students, using their authority to threaten students.This serves to extinguish any enthusiasm students may have felt for the project; worst still, it encourages other teachers to do the same. More than one school building leader has approached me excitedly about hosting the SoundOut Student Forums in theirschool, only to leave their students “hung dry”when teachers complained about the outcomes ofthe forums.There have also been some glorious occasionswhere you could almost feel the culture of a school change.

In a 2005 training event sponsored by OSPI, the assistant principal of a rural high school led his students towards a SoundOut training event pragmatically, privately revealing to me that, “We’ve got to find some way to connect with our kids, in a massive and real way. They’re moving out of town too fast, and we need their energy to keep the town alive.” That sort of desperation falls heavy on any facilitator’s shoulders, and I am adamant telling people that I don’t offer any “silver bullets” for their schools, let alone entire communities. However, within two days the students from this school left the training charged, committed to helping their peers see the necessity of staying in town and making it a better place. Moreover, the school’s principal showed up at the closing of the event to thank me personally, because, as he said, “I could feel the energy of [the assistant principal] and the kids over the phone!” Calling in on them recently reconfirmed my hopes, when the “Student/AdultPartner Committee” leader (a student) told me that everything was going excellent at his school, because of the SoundOut training.

The SoundOut Student Forums embody a powerful model of service-learning by engaging students as full members of their school community.This authoritative position actively builds on students’ interpersonal communication and critical thinking skills, as well as building their sense of civic responsibility by extending their notion of community.Students work extensively with adult partners and their peers to identify real community needs within education; this strengthens the collaborative process at the heart of effective service learning. The entirety of the project is contingent upon student voice, and embeds reflection throughout.Recently, SoundOut became a program of anew national nonprofit organization formed in Olympia called CommonAction.

Focusing on promoting democratic youth-adult partnerships throughout society, SoundOut fits perfectly withinCommonAction’s mission. We are actively seeking new schools to participate in our training and programs, as well as funders to help the project take wings. With luck, the notion behind SoundOut will grow well beyond our meager number of schools; we only hope to support this movement as it goes there. I would love to hear what you think.

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Adam F.C. Fletcher Bibliography

This is a list of books, chapters for edited books, academic journal articles, magazine articles and other materials Adam F. C. Fletcher has written independently and for publishers.

Chronological listing

  1. (forthcoming) Democracy Deficit Disorder: Learning Democracy with the Next Generation (with J. Cynthia McDermott). New York City: Peter Lang Publishers.
  2. “Sabotaging Meaningful Student Involvement,” (April 2020) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 242. Pages 23-26. ISSN 2202-4908.
  3. “Youth Voice at home,” (April 2020) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 242. Pages 26-27. ISSN 2202-4908.
  4. (Winter 2019) “Welcome to the Movement for Meaningful Student Involvement,” LeaderBoard 5(1). Michigan Association of School Boards. Pages 18-21.
  5. “Walking with Terry in Northern England,” (August 2019) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 238. Pages 23. ISSN 2202-4908.
  6. “Chapter 6- Beyond Revolution: Transforming Whole Schools to Foster Student Power” in Wurdinger, S.D., McDermott, J.C., Harell, K. and Smith, H. (eds) (2019) Empowering our Students for the Future Encouraging Self-Direction and Life-Long Learning. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1475845808.
  7. Parent Youth Engagement Seminar Curriculum (2018) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 192 pages.
  8. Student Voice Revolution: The Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook (2017) Olympia, WA: CommonAction Publishing. 374 pages. ISBN 978-0692954447.
  9. North Omaha History: Volume One (as Adam Fletcher Sasse) (2016) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 274 pages. ISBN 978-1533361981.
  10. North Omaha History: Volume Two (as Adam Fletcher Sasse) (2016) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 282 pages. ISBN 978-1539578635.
  11. North Omaha History: Volume Three (as Adam Fletcher Sasse) (2016) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 292 pages. ISBN 978-1539973614.
  12. “Roles for students throughout the education system,” (October 2017) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 227. Pages 22-23. ISSN 2202-4908.
  13. (Fall 2016/5777) “A Short History of North Omaha’s Now-Abandoned Jewish Community” (as Adam Fletcher Sasse) in Western States Jewish History, vol. XLIX no. 1. Pages 57-65.
  14. Facing Adultism (2015) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 190 pages. ISBN 978-1517641238.
  15. “Before You Were Alive: A Taskforce on Student Involvement,” (June 2015) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 213. Pages 22-23. ISSN 2202-4908.
  16. A Short Introduction to Youth Engagement in the Economy (2015) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 81 pages.
  17. Freechild Youth Action Program Curriculum (2015) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 129 pages.
  18. The Practice of Youth Engagement (2014) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 294 pages. ISBN 978-1501001758.
  19. A Short Introduction to Youth Rights (2014) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 14 pages.
  20. The Guide to Student Voice (2014) Olympia, WA: CommonAction Publishing. 66 pages. ISBN 978-0692217320.
  21. School Boards of the Future: A Guide to Students as Education Policy-Makers (2014) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 54 pages. ISBN 978-1502983442.
  22. A Short Guide to Holistic Youth Development (2014) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 28 pages.
  23. “10 things you can do to advocate for student voice,” (August 2014) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 208. Pages 20. ISSN 2202-4908.
  24. A Short Introduction to Youth Engagement (2013) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 22 pages.
  25. A Unique Introduction to Youth Engagement (2013) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 23 pages.
  26. The Freechild Project Youth-Driven Programming Guide (2013) Scotts Valley: Createspace. 56 pages. ISBN 978-1482607727.
  27. The Freechild Project Youth Action Guide (2013) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 52 pages.
  28. “Cascading leadership among students,” (June 2013) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 201. Pages 21-22. ISSN 2202-4908.
  29. “51 ways to tokenize student voice,” (February 2013) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 199. Pages 19-20. ISSN 2202-4908.
  30. Suffering Love, Laughing at Myself (as Adam Sasse) (2013) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 60 pages. ISBN 978-1492244653.
  31. “Full personhood for all,” (April 2013) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 200. Page 21-22. ISSN 2202-4908.
  32. “Students as education advocates,” (February 2012) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 193. Pages 22-23. ISSN 2202-4908.
  33. SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum (2012) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 378 pages. ISBN 978-1483941394.
  34. “Convenient or inconvenient student voice,” (October 2012) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 197. Page 18-19. ISSN 2202-4908.
  35. “Student voice as a Trojan horse,” (April 2012) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 194-195. Pages 24. ISSN 2202-4908.
  36. “Students as education decision-makers,” (December 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 192. Pages 15-16. ABN 98-174-663-341.
  37. “Students as education evaluators,” (October 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 191. Page 32-33. ISSN 2202-4908.
  38. “Keeping an eye out: How adults perceive students,” (August 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 190. Page 27. ISSN 2202-4908.
  39. “Students as researchers,” (June 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 189. Pages 22. ISSN 2202-4908.
  40. “Students as education planners,” (April 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 188. Pages 20. ABN 98-174-663-341.
  41. The Freechild Project Youth Voice Toolkit (2011) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 105 pages.
  42. “Typical engagement?,” (February 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 187. Pages 24-25. ISSN 2202-4908.
  43. The Freechild Project Youth Engagement Workshop Guide (2010) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 71 pages.
  44. “Rules of student engagement,” (October-December 2010) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 185-186. Pages 33. ISSN 2202-4908.
  45. “Meaningful student involvement in the USA and Canada,” (August 2010) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 184. Page 20. ISSN 2202-4908.
  46. “The Architecture of Student Ownership,” Educational Leadership 66 (3), 96. (Fall 2008) Pages 23-29.
  47. “10 ways to kill student engagement,” (August-October 2007) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 166-167. Page 3. ISSN 2202-4908.
  48. Washington Youth Voice Handbook: The what, who, why, where, when, and how youth voice happens (2006) Olympia, WA: CommonAction
  49. Guide to Social Change Led By and With Young People (2006) Olympia, WA: Freechild Project.
  50. Fletcher, A. (Fall 2006) “When youth voice grows up,” ServiceLine Journal 17 (1) Page 5-6. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  51. Fletcher, A. (2006) “SoundOut: Serving the school as community,” ServiceLine Journal 16 (1). Page 3. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  52. Meaningful Student Involvement Research Guide (2005) Olympia, WA: SoundOut.
  53. Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change (2005) Olympia, WA: SoundOut.
  54. Guide to Cooperative Games for Social Change (2005) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 48 pages.
  55. Fletcher, A. (Fall 2005) “Learning from failure,” ServiceLine Journal 15 (2). Page 10-11. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  56. Fletcher, A. (Spring 2005) “Students reflect on learning through service to the environment,” ServiceLine Journal 15 (1). Pages 10-11. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  57. “Meaningful Student Involvement: Reciprocity in Schools through Service-Learning” (2004) The Bridge: The Journal of University Promise. University of Minnesota. Pages 96-114.
  58. Stories of Meaningful Student Involvement (2003) Bothell, WA: HumanLinks Foundation and SoundOut.
  59. Meaningful Student Involvement Resource Guide (2003) Bothell, WA: HumanLinks Foundation and SoundOut.
  60. Meaningful Student Involvement: Guide to Inclusive School Change (2003) Bothell, WA: HumanLinks Foundation and SoundOut.
  61. Fletcher, A. (ed.) (Summer 2002) ServiceLine Journal 12 (3). Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  62. Firestarter Youth Empowerment Participant Guidebook (2001) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 40 pages.
  63. Firestarter Youth Empowerment Facilitator’s Guide (2001) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 12 pages.
  64. Fletcher, A. (2001) Meaningful Student Involvement: An Idea Guide for Schools. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  65. Fletcher, A. (Fall 2001). “When youth have a voice, school climate changes,” ServiceLine Journal 11 (3). Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  66. Fletcher, A. (Summer 2001) “Students have big say at new school,” ServiceLine Journal 11 (2). Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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Different Ways to Change the World

There are a lot of ways to change the world. For hundreds of years, people young and old have been moving and striving and fighting to make a difference using these different ways.

This image illustrates different ways to change the world
These are different ways to change the world by Adam Fletcher.

Here are some different ways to change the world.

  • Change Communities—When people connect because of their identity, their locations, their cultures or beliefs, their work, their recreation or many other reasons, they are forming community. One of the ways to change the world is to change communities, including neighborhoods, institutions, faith-based groups, and other places. Here are some examples of people changing communities »
  • Change Actions—The ways we behave, including our actions, reactions, responses and motivations, can be changed in order to change the world. Whether addressed alone or in groups, the actions we take can impact ourselves and others, small groups or large ones, and so on. Here are some examples of people changing communities »
  • Change Individuals—No matter how a person identifies, including their age, race, gender, socio-economic status, education or otherwise, it takes individual people to change the world. When groups of people change, more of the world changes. As the entire world is affected, the whole world changes. Here are some examples of people changing individuals »
  • Change Issues—The topics that matter most to us are the issues we can change. Addressing a specific issue can take a lot of different kinds of actions, diverse numbers of people and various communities. However, it can also simply require the power of one person in one community taking one action to address one issue to change the world. Here are some examples of issues changing the world »

Deciding how to change the world isn’t exclusive to just one of those approaches; sometimes you have to use all four. Do you have thoughts, concerns or questions about these ways? Leave a comment below!

Once you’ve decided what to do, then get to work. You might like this guide I wrote »

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King County Superior Court Parent Youth Connections Seminar

The Parent-Youth Connections Seminar, or PYCS, was a project of the King County Superior Court with primary focus on early intervention for low-risk youth involved in the court system. Focused on providing fun, interactive seminars to low-risk youth offenders and a parent or other connected adult, Adam Fletcher facilitated the program throughout 2018 as a principal consultant with The Athena Group.

Together, youth and adults explore youth engagement, community empowerment and social change. They explore the skills, knowledge and actions needed to change their lives and the world around them.

Project Description

In this project, Adam designed and facilitated a 12-hour research-driven program designed to engage and empower families to change their lives. The Parent Youth Connections Seminar used intensive hands-on, interactive and focused activities, to engage parents and youth as they worked together to learn new knowledge, explore previous practices and grow new possibilities for their families. Over two-days, each session featured four workshops for learners of all ages including adult-only and youth-only groups.

The purpose of the Parent Youth Connections Seminar was to engage youth and caring adults in critical topics that would empower young people to make better decisions, be leaders in the future and change their lives in positive ways.

Workshop topics include:

  • Youth voice
  • Community involvement
  • Facing stereotypes
  • Changing communication
  • Establishing and maintaining power, trust and respect
  • Individual and Family Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Action planning and problem-solving everyday
  • Finding real adult support

During each seminar, Adam ensured that participants were actively involved, heard engaging stories, completed challenging activities, participated in powerful reflection, discovered useful resources for the future and more.

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Seeing Poor People in the Pandemic

The other day I saw a note that said poor people are more mentally prepared for the pandemic than anyone else in society. I don’t want to romanticize poverty, and I know that statement was ultimately made to alleviate the pain people are facing right now.

However, growing up as a homeless kid then in a poor family, I knew what it was like to be stuck at home and not being go out. I knew what it was like having empty cupboards and skipping meals because we didn’t have food. So I see the validity of that point, too.

Poverty makes people invisible, and when you’re poor it can feel like you’re left behind by everyone else in society.

During this pandemic, middle class people and upper class people are panic buying toilet paper and stuffing their pantries full of excessive groceries, they’re using their internet and subscriptions to saturate their minds with high-quality entertainment; buying online tutors for their kids; working out in their home gyms; paying all their bills on time; and so much more.

Meanwhile, poor people living without money are struggling to stay housed; suffering from hunger and poor nutrition; faced with anxiety because of overdue bills; living without healthcare; and all the way around, frequently struggling with overburdened responsibilities undue to their station in life.

To think of all the people living that way right now, you have the power of your survival and I know you’ll stay strong. I see you, and I believe in you.

To the people working to stop the pain of people living poor right now, I’m glad you are working so hard to alleviate the suffering people face in all the ways they are. If you are doing that, thank you for doing what you’re doing. I see you, and I believe in you, too.

Today, I need to do something. The other day I offered all of my services at free or reduced rates to nonprofits, K-12 schools and government agencies. I know I can do more, and I’m figuring out what that is right now.

In the meantime, leave a comment below and let me know what you’re doing and what you think I can do to be of more, better, deeper and more effective service to the world in these times.

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