Another exciting week for CommonAction. I had an exciting conversation with Shawn Biggers from the Multnomah Youth Commission, who is exploring starting a nonprofit in Portland, OR, focused on youth voice. Ironically, I also spoke with Jacqueline Raphael at the Northwest Regional Education Lab (NWREL) in Portland. She is interested in exploring how we could work together via SoundOut. Ingrid at the California Fund for Youth Organizing also got in touch, and we’re exploring an alliance that will explore youth activism in California.
I also attended the Reel Grrls 2006 premier this week. In an hour and a half I saw a dozen shorts, streamed together in an awesomely powerful video that I would recommend to anyone interested in cultural studies, youth media, and youth empowerment. This is the second year I’ve gone with my friend, Adrienne Wiley Thomas. Adrienne has worked with Reel Grrls in some capacity for the last 4(?) years; her long history with youth-created media reaches back to Chicago with Street Level Youth Media in the 90s.
All of this illustrates, yet again, that the issues Freechild addresses are all interrelated. Between Reel Grrls, NWREL, CYOF, MYC, and the myriad other individuals and organizations we interact with daily, young people address creativity, arts, censorship, graffiti, hip hop, music, economics, commercialism, community development, globalization, poverty, education, students rights in schools, identity, ephebiphobia, homelessness, intergenerational partnerships, urban issues, youth activism, community youth involvement, youth rights, media representation, foster care, adultism, social discrimination, juvenile incarceration, nonviolence, racism, youth development, and more.
(The issues addressed by young people are ultimately complicit in the course of society: as Dr. King said, “All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent.”)
There are amazing possibilities for connecting these efforts in solidarity, while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the decentralized leadership of this unobvious movement. The questions I want to address are “Why should…” and “How can the youth movement be made more obvious?” I don’t believe that a website called “Freechild” is going to usher in broad awareness for youth-led advocacy for social change; however, that wasn’t the goal of starting it. What are the next steps?