“The Table”

Everybody has an analogy for youth participation that has something to do with “The Table”. We want to “make room” at the table, pull a chair up to the table, force a seat at the table – anyway it goes, we just want youth at the table. But what is “The Table”, what youth are actually at the table, what is being said at the table, who is listening, and what is being done because of what has been said?

The Table
I’ve discussed this a bit in past blog entries, but I think its important to continually examine the “tables” where youth can actually be involved throughout our communities – especially because those places change everyday. Some groups are dedicated to politics as being the place where youth should be involved; others see technology and media as being the places where youth can be involved. A lot young people are committed to being involved in social justice activism. [One delicisiously healthy “Table” actually serves food.]

Other groups reach beyond a single issue, working with young people to identify and work across Tables. That’s where Freechild is situated: straddling broad platforms for action and identifying broad ranges of action where young people can affect change. What Table do you sit at? How can we work together to join tables, or at least get peoples from your table to sit at the next table? That is movement building.


  1. I wouldn’t at all say that NYRA believes politics is the place for youth. Most of our positions cover non-political areas of life. As with any relevant campaign we need to make choices and priorities. The voting age is our priority, however we don’t embrace that while ignoring all other ways in which youth are excluded.

  2. I think there’s a bit of a misunderstanding here. In this post I’m identifying NYRA as struggling against politics as a social force. The struggle that NYRA seeks primarily regards rights, which are, in these modern times, granted solely by political force thrust upon society. The right to drink, drive, vote, drop out… these are all granted by the State – and therefore, they are all political.

    I don’t mean to identify NYRA as a political institution-actor type, because I understand that NYRA isn’t that – and that is a good, right, and just thing. The means that NYRA employs to fight for youth rights are generally solid, and not reliant upon the forces of politics as an institution.

    The difference between politics as an institution and politics as a social force are important – we should all explore them for ourselves.

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