“I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it’s humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.” – Eduardo Galeano
Eight years ago I met Heather Manchester, who introduced me to the Eduardo Galeano. A radical activista from Oakland, Heather had worked in a number of organizations, including AmeriCorps, in the Bay Area of California before taking the position of YES Ambassador with Youth Service California. That’s when I met her. Joining with her and Mishaela Duran, we formed a contigency carrying on a minor tradition of critical thinking in youth involvement that was started a long time before us. Our work during that time was’t easy, and between the three of us connections were tight, along with several other Ambassadors, including LaNovia Meuse and Gina Zanin. Later Heather helped me form The Freechild Project, and has served on the Advisory Board since then, along with Mishaela and LaNovia.
Since then Heather has continued to expand her commitment to social justice, youth empowerment and freedom for all people. She worked with the Oakland School District for several years, including work as a Disciplinary Hearing Panel Case Manager and as a case manager at the ROOTS International Academy. Heather has been working for restorative justice in all of her work, and her efforts have been recognized.
Recently Heather moved to Derry, Northern Ireland, where she’s completing graduate studies in peace and conflict studies. Heather Skyped me this weekend, and after talking for two hours she sounds excellent. Better yet, she’s discovering the broad extent of youth action in Northern Ireland. Here are some links I found for her; feel free to make any suggestions! Oh, and Heather’s still committed to Galeano’s notion of solidarity – and thanks to her, I am learning, too.