New Youth Voice Toolkit!

Announcing a new resource for Youth Voice activists and practitioners around the world: The Freechild Project Youth Voice Toolkit! The Toolkit includes:

  • Youth Voice Glossary
  • Assumptions about Youth Voice
  • Principles of Youth Voice
  • Keys to Youth Voice
  • Cycle of Youth Voice
  • Guidelines for Youth Voice
  • Honoring Youth Voice
  • Youth-Adult Relationships Sprectrum
  • Cycle of Youth Voice
  • Discrimination Against Youth Voice
  • Myths About Youth Voice
  • Youth Voice Assessments

There is also an extensive collection of resources and other tools. Explore it at http://www.freechild.org/YouthVoice

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Notes on Youth Forums

Here’s my answer to an email I received today.

In our town this spring there will be three public issues forums/town hall meetings and we want to include youth voice. Two forums are on youth and alcohol and the third is on public education. In your experience, does it make sense to include youth in these forums or to hold separate youth-only forums?

The following is my response:

About the youth-exclusive versus adult-inclusive forums, here are my thoughts:

1. Create the climate. Its all about creating the climate reflecting your expectations for the forum. Regardless of whether you do or do not integrate youth and adults, you must make clear to all participants that you are striving to create a safe, inclusive environment – but before you do that you must actually think about what that means, particularly in comparison to what young people experience everyday. You know, the houses where parents encourage kids to be themselves and then frown when their teen goes goth. The schools where teachers preach to students about preparing for the future and then ban them from accessing the Internet. So create the climate that will engender the experience you want to foster.

2. Consider the essentials. Who is coming? What is allowed to be said – both overtly and subversively? Who is listening? Before you begin consider all the questions at http://soundout.org/framework.html

3. Examine the messages. What is communicated to a roomful of youth who have one adult at the front attesting to adults wanting to listen to youth voice? What is communicated to a single youth member of a BOD when the adults there say they value -all- youths’ voices? There are a lot of messages communicated intentionally and unintentionally, and we have to be aware of what is said.

4. Consider the outcomes. If you have a roomful of adults listening fishbowl-style to a group of youth those adults are going to be free to dismiss or ingest any one part of the experience however they want. If you have a roomful of youth with ten adults circling them those adults won’t get authentic voices, and if they do they may feel able to censor and edit at will. I mean, there is a lot of nuance and consideration here, but the point is what do you really want to see happen from the event. I would suggest that the most authentic dialog between youth and adults happens in small group settings – 6 to 8 participants – with one or two adults. There should be a technological recording apparatus that avoids adult or youth filtering what is said, along with individual note paper where participants can take their own notes.

5. Make accountability priority. I think that our society is so imbalanced because of the amount of accountability with foist onto young people – succeed in school, stay out of trouble, don’t stay out after 11pm, etc. – without any mutual accountability for adults. That’s not to say youth should have a say in setting adult curfews; rather, when was the last time students could hold their teachers accountable for failing to teach them? When was the last time youth could hold their parents accountable for treating them unfairly? And so forth.

So I didn’t give any direct answers; rather, I encourage people to consider their own specific needs for the activities they want to embark on.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Enough Rope To…

What does it mean when youth voice programs send young people into situations where we know there are hostile adults or complex problems that need preparations that young people don’t have?

Recently a close friend told me about a situation where her brother had the opportunity to speak in front of the city council about homeless and foster youth, which he had experienced. Rather than his program spending any time preparing him to speak strategically about his experience they let him go and talk. You know, they patted him on the back when he went up and said, “Good job!” when he was done – but honestly, he flew off the handle. Scrambling around his emotional landscape this young advocate poured his life’s experience on the floor. For some reason the program that brought him trusted that to be enough for him to have a positive experience, and they trusted the city council enough to make sense of his testimony and let it inform their decision-making.

I would wager that the city council was dismissive of him, at best. Its relatively easy to simply listen to youth voice, and then congratulate ourselves for that effort. Rather we need mechanisms in place that ensure the engagement of adults and youth in response to those voices. That’s what I try to illustrate in my Cycle of Meaningful Student Involvement – I just don’t know if I succeed.

Oftentimes I fall back on the metaphor of the 16-year-old and the keys to the car: We don’t just give a youth who wants to drive the keys and allow them to barrel down the Interstate at 75 miles an hour, and we shouldn’t do that with youth voice, either. Unfortunately I’m afraid that is also an excuse to simply dismiss youth involvement as needing too much work, but hey…

Let’s stop handing out just enough rope for young people to become sacrifices on the alter of youth voice. We have an obligation to do more than that.

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Why I Love the CRC

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most popularly accepted legal instrument affecting youth voice and involvement in the world today. Two countries haven’t ratified it: Somalia and the United States. Great company. Of course, the Campaign for US Ratification‘s model of youth involvement is poor itself, so there is a ways to go…

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Article 12


  1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

  2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

Article 13

  1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.

  2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

    1. For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or

    2. For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, CONSCIENCE, AND RELIGION
Article 14

  1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

  2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

  3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY


Article 15


  1. States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.

  2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Article 17

States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. To this end, States Parties shall:

  1. Encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child and in accordance with the spirit ofarticle 29;

  2. Encourage international co-operation in the production, exchange and dissemination of such information and material from a diversity of cultural, national and international sources;

  3. Encourage the production and dissemination of children’s books;

  4. Encourage the mass media to have particular regard to the linguistic needs of the child who belongs to a minority group or who is indigenous;

  5. Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions ofarticles 13 and 18.

SPECIAL SUPPORT FOR DISABLED CHILDREN
Article 23

  1. States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.

  2. States Parties recognize the right of the disabled child to special care and shall encourage and ensure the extension, subject to available resources, to the eligible child and those responsible for his or her care, of assistance for which application is made and which is appropriate to the child’s condition and to the circumstances of the parents or others caring for the child.

  3. Recognizing the special needs of a disabled child, assistance extended in accordance with paragraph 2 of the present article shall be provided free of charge, whenever possible, taking into account the financial resources of the parents or others caring for the child, and shall be designed to ensure that the disabled child has effective access to and receives education, training, health care services, rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities in a manner conducive to the child’s achieving the fullest possible social integration and individual development, including his or her cultural and spiritual development

  4. States Parties shall promote, in the spirit of international cooperation, the exchange of appropriate information in the field of preventive health care and of medical, psychological and functional treatment of disabled children, including dissemination of and access to information concerning methods of rehabilitation, education and vocational services, with the aim of enabling States Parties to improve their capabilities and skills and to widen their experience in these areas. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

EDUCATION FOR PERSONAL FULFILLMENT AND RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP
Article 29

  1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

    1. The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

    2. The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

    3. The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;

    4. The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;

    5. The development of respect for the natural environment.

  2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

These sections were originally delineated in Roger Hart’s 1997 publication, Children’s Participation: The theory and practice of involving young citizens in community development and environmental care, published by UNICEF. Learn more about the CRC at the official UNICEF webpage.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Recruiting Youth

I consistently get questions at workshops about recruiting young people. It can feel so hard to well-meaning adults to bring children and youth on board in the projects, organizations and communities where we so desperately want and need them to be involved. Today I drafted a tip sheet on recruitment for the Cloud Institute for Sustainability, and I want to share some thoughts I’ve had about recruiting youth for youth programs.

Lesson One: Market Your Brand.

I have learned that recruitment shouldn’t just be seen as a once-yearly activity shared in a little flyer and then forgot about. When its done best youth recruitment is seen as an ongoing process, just like advertisers do it: rather than simply launching Coke as a summer drink, its a year-around refreshment.

  • Raise Expectations. Instead of telling us about Cloverfield the month before it came out, movie watchers were bombarded with ads a year before it came out. By building a constant presence and a regular energy these products enforce their brands in the lives of youth. Youth programs should be branded in that same way by establishing a constant presence in the lives of young people.
  • Name A Value. In the same way that Sprite markets excitement and urbanity, youth organizations should market values, too: positive experiences, powerful ethics and pragmatic outcomes should be at the core of the message. Only then will we not have to market to youth based on benefit; instead the programs designed to serve them will be as ubiquitous as Coke, and something that all young people expect in their lives.

Lesson Two: Keep Youth On Board.

First off, let me say that YOUTH ARE NOT YOUR CUSTOMERS. They are not buying anything, and no, they are not consuming your programs. Consumption implies that they have no role in the development, production or re-invention of whatever you’re marketing. Young people must have a greater role than that.

  • Create Opportunities. The way to keep youth involved is by treating them as equal members in your activity, program or organization. Create opportunities for them to lead and grow through your activities. Engage young people in program research and planning, administrative leadership, facilitating and training other young people, evaluating activities and organizational governance.
  • Get Past Stereotypes. Make open communication and intergenerational transparency the norm in all of your activities. Young people can feel the investment your organization is making in them when they receive quality training and support throughout your activities, and when they have meaningful opportunities for reflection and evaluation. Only then will they want to stay involved, and for a few different reasons, the primary among them being the feeling of being involved. Experiencing power feels like everything else; sharing it feels like nothing else, because there are so few places in our society where that actually happens. Make it so.

Lesson Three: Engage Youth as Recruiters.

Maybe the most important method anyone can employ to recruit young people is to actually engage children and youth as recruiters.

  • Acknowledge Their Ability. My experience has consistently shown me that young people are more consistently more effective at recruiting other young people than adults are. Its seems so logical, because young people know how to relate to their peers and how share the issues with them in ways we don’t. They also know where and when to reach them. Make sure youth recruiters have all the information about your program you can give them, including information about sustainability, your program or organization, and the expectations and outcomes of activity.
  • Increase Their Knowledge. Every recruiter should be able to tell young people why they should get involved, who else is going to participate, whether there is going to be food, and how many people will be coming. Practice recruiting before doing it. That includes going over the approach, the message and the wrap-up.

There are a lot of other important considerations, too, and this is just a start. Let me know what you think are some other things to think about!

Expanding Youth Participation

A group in the United Kingdom just put out a useful PDF documenting a “pathway to participation.” YoMo is a “community interest company” that is committed to youth participation. Their work across the UK looks great, and I am enjoying reading their website and blog, and looking forward to reading their materials soon.

In the meantime, I have dug into their PDF and the blog entry about it and have decided that they are on the way to discovering something powerful. The author talks about creating this “pathway”:

The ‘pathway’ is the ‘journey’ that young people are able to take through the organisation – its how young people are able to progress from their initial involvement and then on to whatever positions of responsibility/involvement the organisation can offer them.

The challenge for me here is the linear thinking represented by the imagery of a “pathway.” One thing experience has shown me is that youth participation – in all of its vibrant, divergent and chaordic ways – is not linear. That means that in no way can – or should – young people and adults working together in partnership be expected move from “here” to “there” in a predictable way, no matter what adults want. There are rhythms to their involvement, patterns that emerge and submerge that can be sussed out and made obvious. But as for a pathway, I think it may be too elusive, to say nothing of confining, to predict.

Hart’s Ladder of Children’s Participation is predicated on this notion of linear involvement. The dilemma inherent in that popular tool is that sometimes it may appropriate for young people to merely participate as consultants rather than full partners – just as the opposite is true, too. We have to move past this kind of oversimplification and recognize that if the building is burning down we don’t need to build consensus – we just need to get outta here. The same is true at different times in different parts of our communities, and these types of models just don’t evidence that reality.

My most concentrated attempt thus far is the Freechild Measure for Social Change By and With Young People. In this piece I simply reinterpeted Hart’s rungs and laid them out in a spiral form. When I originally laid this out in 2005 I thought it was fine, but now I see that there is a lack of elegance and applicability in it, and perhaps that what draws me back to Hart’s Ladder itself. Its also why I can appreciate YoMo’s thinking, because frankly, I have tried to say the same thing myself.

We need new dreams, new visions for how to move this movement forward, instead of spinning our individual and collective heals, no matter which side of the world we’re on.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Expanding Youth Participation

A group in the United Kingdom just put out a useful PDF documenting a “pathway to participation.” YoMo is a “community interest company” that is committed to youth participation. Their work across the UK looks great, and I am enjoying reading their website and blog, and looking forward to reading their materials soon.

In the meantime, I have dug into their PDF and the blog entry about it and have decided that they are on the way to discovering something powerful. The author talks about creating this “pathway”:

The ‘pathway’ is the ‘journey’ that young people are able to take through the organisation – its how young people are able to progress from their initial involvement and then on to whatever positions of responsibility/involvement the organisation can offer them.

The challenge for me here is the linear thinking represented by the imagery of a “pathway.” One thing experience has shown me is that youth participation – in all of its vibrant, divergent and chaordic ways – is not linear. That means that in no way can – or should – young people and adults working together in partnership be expected move from “here” to “there” in a predictable way, no matter what adults want. There are rhythms to their involvement, patterns that emerge and submerge that can be sussed out and made obvious. But as for a pathway, I think it may be too elusive, to say nothing of confining, to predict.

Hart’s Ladder of Children’s Participation is predicated on this notion of linear involvement. The dilemma inherent in that popular tool is that sometimes it may appropriate for young people to merely participate as consultants rather than full partners – just as the opposite is true, too. We have to move past this kind of oversimplification and recognize that if the building is burning down we don’t need to build consensus – we just need to get outta here. The same is true at different times in different parts of our communities, and these types of models just don’t evidence that reality.

My most concentrated attempt thus far is the Freechild Measure for Social Change By and With Young People. In this piece I simply reinterpeted Hart’s rungs and laid them out in a spiral form. When I originally laid this out in 2005 I thought it was fine, but now I see that there is a lack of elegance and applicability in it, and perhaps that what draws me back to Hart’s Ladder itself. Its also why I can appreciate YoMo’s thinking, because frankly, I have tried to say the same thing myself.

We need new dreams, new visions for how to move this movement forward, instead of spinning our individual and collective heals, no matter which side of the world we’re on.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Youth are Segregated

Adam’s note: If you’re a subscriber, sorry about filling up your inbox. I’m cleaning out half-finished blog entries and want to make sure the ones from today hit the streets. Notice the dates; a lot are from January 2008. Hope you enjoy!
The underlying assumption behind all youth involvement programs is that youth are segregated. American society has relied on the ongoing and consistent alienation, isolation and institutionalization of young people for more than 10 decades now, only to the detriment of families, communities, and ultimately, democracy.

Youth segregation happens throughout our lives. Starting from the first moments of a child’s life, newborn infants are oftentimes removed from their mothers immediately after birth. Incubated like chicken eggs under glaring lights, babies are immediately wrenched away from the healthy grips of the mother-child bond, and mothers are immediately trained to believe and trust that the segregation of their children is a normal, acceptable, and even beneficial thing.

As children grow they continue to experience this alienation and abandonment. Daycare, schooling and many community programs all rely on the isolation of children and youth from adults, and worse still is that our adultcentric economy relies on this isolation as well. In addition to serving as captive audiences for promoting violence, consumerism and nationalism, these programs oftentimes also become the many purveyors of social values for young people, effectively negating the ability and responsibility the larger community has for “raising its own,” as Hilary Clinton professs in her book It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us.

Schooling is the main vehicle for reinforcing the youth segregation throughout our society. As John Taylor Gatto powerfully explains in Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, schools have long succeeded at teaching and reinforcing segregation for young people. Reflecting on his 25 years of teaching in public schools, the premise of his book are the following seven lessons:”

“The first lesson I teach is, Stay in the class where you belong… The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch… The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command… The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study… In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer’s measure of your worth… In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched… The seventh lesson I teach is that you can’t hide.”

Between those seven lessons, which Gatto suggests all teachers follow to varying extents, is the moral of a story: young people are segregated. After we acknowledge that we can begin to identify how to defeat that segregation; but we must start by seeing it and naming it what it is.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

My Review of “Bringing It Together”

Bringing It Together: Uniting Youth Organizing, Development and Services for Long-Term Sustainability was written by K. Zimmerman, M. Chow and T. James for the Movement Strategy Center. This is my review for The Freechild Project.

 

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the a rush of youth-led activism in America, focusing a variety of issues including social justice, school improvement, and so-called “youth liberation”. The issues were highlighted through a variety of actions, including protest marches, rallies, and teach-ins, with riots, arrests, and curfews as regular results. Analyses within various efforts identified corporatization, militarism, and elitism as the forces to fight against.

Unfortunately, many people today- including youth and adults- bemoan the lack of those specific actions in these dangerous times. Many well-meaning liberal activists collectively yearn for the action embodied “back in the day.” However, after leading The Freechild Project for five years, I have consistently found that while youth activists share analyses with the past, the actions of youth organizations are more sophisticated than ever before – and that’s a good thing. A new report from the Movement Strategy Center calledBringing It Together: Uniting Youth Organizing, Development and Services for Long-Term Sustainability gives ample evidence that youth activism has “grown up” – and beyond a hunch, they show exactly why that is right and good for young people and communities today.

Similar to their popular youth co-created report Making Spaces-Making Change, [read a review here] in Bringing It Together the Movement Strategy Center spotlights six organizational case studies from youth-led and youth-driven organizations on the West Coast. As the subtitle of the report states, there are many correlations between youth organizing, youth development, and youth services. Throughout this piece the authors show how a growing number of organizations are intentionally uniting those approaches to provide a more holistic, supportive, and sustainable model of social change “as part of a very long-term vision for social justice movement building and healthy living.” If only more youth-serving organizations were so intentional.

The organizations featured here work in diverse communities, including Latino/a migrants, African American teens, an American Indian reservation, inner city communities, and LBGTQ youth. The issues are just as disparate: cultural awareness, women’s empowerment, education reform, voter registration, immigrant rights, and a bevy of other topics. That is what makes the authors’ findings about the common approaches to innovation between these groups that much more startling: the threads weave together to create a strong, empowering, and sustainable course of action. More importantly, they form a brilliantly effective strategy for social change on multiple fronts, including community organizing and cultural awareness, youth development and community services.

Throughout the report, the depth of analysis and possibility for field movement becomes startlingly clear. By clearly delineating each program’s history, goals, approaches, structure, partnerships, and progress, the authors continually move beyond the current rhetoric and postulating popular among numerous youth organizing intermediaries. Their observations and recommendations succeed in creating a vibrantly accessible and teachable framework for an integrated approach to youth action.

Through very approachable writing and research methods, the authors call the failure of many youth-serving organizations to put their work into a larger context to task in a very subtle way. As Paulo Freire often wrote, there is nothing neutral about our presence in the world, and before we can begin to change the world, we have to name it and critically understand it. Youth workers reading this report may find the authors’ explanation of the “Resource Power Triangle” particularly effective way of transforming their regular approaches into non-traditional action.

Getting back to the history: within 20 years, by the late 1970s, many observers and former participants from said that the American “youth movement” was dead. The American Indian Movement and the Black Panthers had been brutally suppressed; Students for a Democratic Society and Weather Underground imploded; Youth Liberation morphed, hippies became yuppies, and the rest is history.

Or is it? Since the late 1980s and early 90s the new movement has been growing. Today’s activists are standing on the shoulders of giants, yet creating space for themselves as well. The authors of this report note that “we are living at the end of the era of the New Deal.” George Bush’s so-called “ownership society,” paralleled by the increasing promotion of the importance of “social entrepreneurship,” is tearing apart the historical fabric of public responsibility in the US. This study shares scholar Henry Giroux’s analysis of the effects of neoliberalism on low-income youth and young people of color, as schools close, prisons swell, health programs end, and public programs become privatized.

The Movement Strategy Center’s new report illustrates- without a doubt- that youth-led community organizing is responsive, effective, wide-ranging, sophisticated, and powerful. This document is a vital contribution to further understanding, growth and hope for the future of our communities.

 

Title: Bringing It Together: Uniting Youth Organizing, Development and Services for Long-Term Sustainability

Authors: K. Zimmerman, M. Chow and T. James

Publisher: Movement Strategy Center

My Review of “Making Space – Making Change”

Making Space – Making Change: Profiles of Youth-Led and Youth-Driven Organizations was written by the Young Wisdom Project of the Movement Strategy Center. This is my review for The Freechild Project.

 

Responding to a crisis is not easy work. People who spend day in and out working for the good of other people are often taxed to the extremes: selflessness and empathy override their commitment to themselves. That is why it is so rare to capture a succinct yet powerful overview of youth activism today: democracy is in crisis mode, and those who are struggling for its life are being pushed to the extremes. That is why this is the most important document focusing on young people and social change to come out in recent times.

This new publication from the Movement Strategy Center in Oakland profiles five youth-led and youth-driven organizations from across the U.S. It provides insightful details on how these organizations started, how they build youth leadership and power, deal with challenges, and how they make real change in their communities. For readers of Paulo Freire, bell hooks, Peter McLaren, and other critical educators, there are many familiar points- but with an important focus on social change led by young people. Early in the introduction to youth-led action, the authors state,

 “Instead of approaching the question of youth-led organizations as an either/or situation, it’s helpful to think about youth leadership and governance as a continuum with a spectrum of possibilities – something that can develop and change over time.” (p 15)

This echoes bell hooks recent book, Teaching for Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, where hooks extols readers to look beyond either/or and towards with/and. The authors of this report provide an important bridge to many critical thinkers, applying much-needed theory to the powerful, practical work of youth activists.

Rather than simply providing another toolkit, this report allows the details to tell the stories. The feature on the Lummi CEDAR Project, as all of the stories, paints a vivid portrait of a community responding to the dilemma of keeping cultural pride and community alive by engaging youth. This project highlights the power of belonging and identity, a trait that consumerist culture increasingly denies to many young people. As in other stories, the report is frank about the challenges facing the CEDAR Project: Creating a youth-led structure for an indigenous context; adapting organizational development models; and creating a culturally relevant youth organizing model in a rural Native community.

However, the summaries are always hopeful – realistic, for sure – but hopeful. As one of the youth directors said,

“It’s really awesome to me because our community is a small tribal community, and we have eighty young people trained now. So we have a broad network living a healthy lifestyle, caring about their community, inspired, motivated, and have this drive to make a positive change in their community. And that impacts their family… We’re just building a collective movement…” (p 41)

Making Space – Making Change is an important tool for young people and adults allies who are ready to put their principles into practice. It is a more important tool in the growing library of publications that support young people leading social change. Important analysis, detailed findings, and powerful personal connections can only promote a stronger, more effective future for social change led by and with young people. Thank you to the Young Wisdom Project – we’re all moving forward because of your work.

 

 

Title: Making Space – Making Change: Profiles of Youth-Led and Youth-Driven Organizations

Author: Young Wisdom Project of the Movement Strategy Center