I’m Enmeshed in Busy-ness

Hey all. I’ve spent the last two weeks enmeshed is strategic planning for two state agencies, writing a Summer of Service guide for a national nonprofit organization, action planning for a state coalition I help run, and rewriting an internationally-renowned guide to getting youth on boards. My brain is exhausted and my fingers are numb… which won’t stop me from blogging! It just slows me down a bit. In all of this I’ve continued twittering as best as I can, and you can see my thoughts are meandering across the topics I’m addressing on any given day.

As I’ve delved into inter-agency relationships at the state level here in Washington, I’ve extensively considered the roles and applications of meaningful youth involvement within the state government apparati. It seems daunting, and has caused me to fall back on the question, “What would youth do?” Well, in order to answer this I am going to convene the first meeting of a statewide youth cadre here in Washington soon. The dilemma with that, as always, is who is at the table, and what their interests are. Promoting the homogenization of youth voice seems inevitable in these types of activities, and that is an inherent challenge in involving youth in state and federal government decision-making.
The work of operating a statewide coalition is challenging, to say the least. For the last year I’ve been the co-chair of Washington Action for Healthy Kids, a group of volunteers who are challenging obesity by promoting physical activity and nutrition in schools. Its been a reach for me, as my interest in the topic is tangential at best. I do see the value of it, as my own daughter attends public school and I do have the opportunity through my position at the state Department of Health to learn more about the effects of these issues on the education of young people. The experience of operating this coalition is what I’m after. So far I’ve learned a great deal so far, but this last few weeks has been a heap of learning for me as I’ve worked with our national team service rep to create an action plan for the state. Its interesting to think of the sophistication and deliberation of so many of these types of groups in relationship to their actual operation: instead of a finely honed instrument of democracy actively engaging 1000s in the operation of a movement, its one guy and one woman on the phone and Internet carving out a plan that will affect the masses – if its approved. Fascinating.
Finally, Youth On Board has contracted me to rewrite the wonderfully short and accessible guide to involving youth on boards they originally wrote for BoardSource in the late 1990s. Its a real pleasure to work with Karen Young on this, as her guidance and our conversations have helped shape and drive my work in new directions over the years. I do have to admit though that whenever I work on their materials I find myself challenged to stay focused on the topics at hand: my brain spins in so many directions whenever I think about engaging youth in decision-making. There are so many nuances and subtlties that I know Youth On Board understands as an organization, but that I think youth-serving organizations don’t understand in general. Those are the issues I want to address, that I regularly blog about, that need curricula and guides and websites dedicated to it. If I could find the funding or the interested organization that is surely the route I’d go.
I will unpack all this more in later posts, as I tend to see each of these activities as a potential rabbit hole; note my treatment of the Summer of Service section, which was so nice it had to be its own post. However, this is meant to catch you up on where I’ve been and where I’m going – look for more soon.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

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