A National Youth Union?

Recently I’ve been talking with Richard Lewis, a community activist in California who is leading a group called Grupo Amistad. Richard has been piling together a pile of youth-oriented organizations from across the US in the last several months, working to develop several initiatives towards creating a national youth union. In my discussions with Richard, he’s elaborated on a vision of a group similar to the American Association of Retired People (AARP). This group would lobby Congress on behalf of all American youth, and according to Richard’s vision, would be modelled after the work of Caesar Chavez and Dr. King.

Aside from it’s best intentions, I guess that I’m leary of any organization that purports to represent the interests of ALL youth, despite its best intentions. To be frank, I don’t think that the interests of ALL youth can be represented by any ONE group, let alone a group formed and led by adults. Call me a purest, or radical, but I just don’t see this as an authentic model for advocating for young peoples’ interests. Another point of concern that I have stems from the “steam” behind Richard’s proposal, which is the idea of having every American youth contribute one dollar towards the cause. I mean, sure, a battle chest of $50,000,000 would make any lobbying effort substantive, and likely effective; however, this just isn’t a reasonable scheme for funding a national youth organization of any kind. I also look at this model in suspect because of its inherent scope: any organization that is this ambitious will inherently be corporatized quickly, and if it was actually successful, the leadership would be quickly suseptable to influence from corporate donors, who are usually out to prey on young people themselves.

I guess I would regard any attempt at forming a national youth union as a suspicious cause with questionable outcomes. That much said, I’m signing up. Richard has asked CommonAction to begin developing the Internet platform for the National Youth Union (NYU), and we’re going to take that on. With the right website tools, the NYU could be a democratized experience, and lead to popular referendums by young people addressing the issues that affect children, youth, their families, and their communities – we’ll see.

Let me know what you think.

Published by Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker, writer, trainer, researcher and advocate who researches, writes and shares about education, youth, and history.

3 thoughts on “A National Youth Union?

  1. Since this is the first of what I hope will be many comments and since today is the date of the birth of our great nation I must say that you have raised the siteto begin what’s wanted and neededto empower what exists.If but 64 signed what today we holdas a National Holiday then we needat least that number to source thedeclaration and it started with butone: Count me in!This is Richard….and thank you for your stand.”In takes but one to make a difference, be the one!Adam your sites are of most helpto me and speak to our common ground for a solution.My action steps are to make knownto the data base the question andyour blog. The next two months will be one of research and theongoing “one conversation at a timeto move forward the vision”.While AARP is a good example of what’s possible my outcome is morelocal, & from the inside/out.Let’s leave the national lobby upto what’s in place now…follow themoney. What they miss is “grassroots activism”. Our standthat while a AARP for youth voiceand empowerment would be but onemore perhaps doing good but not thesolution. As you know I hold thatwhat’s missing is collaboritiveUniversity sourced local publicdomain initiative.The fact that AARP now exists in atime when Senior/Youth strategiesand funding is in place can onlymove forward the vision.While a collective process mightcreate as you see a war chest, asthe 37,000,000 members of AARP theidea of but $1 or more membershipin the Grupo Amistad Vision wouldalways stay within the local voiceand collective alliance that creates the process. For example in Olympia itself, one individualcan source the team of youth.The idea of a Union exists all overthe world…the UCSC campus has aStudent Union. Cesar created theUFW but what many don’t know is that he also created the Union ofthe community.www.lupenet.orgSo this comment is to thank you, &so I’m a stand that a structure iswanted and needed.The movement exists as your sites so clearly speak to. A web sitefor a empowering struture, one that seeds local public domain initiatives, youth run and controled would create a “hub”of possibilities.The “mission” of such a structureis up to those who share the “count me in” intent to createa solution.The question of the day?If not a National Youth Union, what structure can move forward the movement now in place that Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of when he said “In the future all youth will cometogether to make this a better world”The AFL/CIO and it’s partner’s inCanada and the planet are allies &can jump start the needed process.The “Student Leader” the publication of the Australianuniversity students calls itselfthe National Union of Students.www.unistudent.com.auHere in the USA the ASGA and itspublication “Student Leader” openup future outreach to its 374 membership members in 49 states &DC to explore your question.I hold myself a organizer and myrole to but start the conversation.Yes at 69 years young I can choosehow I spend my time but if you hadthe vision I’ve shared with you then your full time plus would bein moving it forward.Many people are out there who havepassion and visions. Look forwardto making known to our data basethis but one “Action step” to visit your blog, check out the sites of YoungWorld.org and Freechild.org and add their comment to yours.In closing I can only speak to thefact that ASGA with it’s membership and readership has aresearch poll in which they askedthe question “What percentage of the student body do you usually have for a Student Government election? As on today there areno response and I hold that aNational Youth Union would changethat (check out prior participation on their polls)visit their site…www.asgaonline.comYour’s like their question is needed. In my progressibe countywith the local Junior College theinstitution where the local youthmovement leadership exists eitherin past attendance or current.Added the large number of UnionMembers, staff, and resources buta small number vote or participatein it’s yearly elections.It’s my stand that this example ofcivic responsibility or in California where in the last election for key state and localpositions but 28% of the votersparticipated in a big “F”.Giving voice and empowerment toyouth not only through Service Learning but in what Wendy Leskoand your stand speaks to is wantedand needed.If we start with people like bothof you then only something good will come out of this blog you have started.Please build on that conversationfound within the book:The 26% Youth Solution by WendyThe National Clearinghouse forYouth Activism 1-800 Kid Powerwww.youthactivism.comIn regard to building on both Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. and CesarE. Chavez there are two existingcenters that now move forward their Legacy.www.kingcenter.orgwww.UFW.organd follow the links to the CesarE. Chavez FoundationA series of Action steps are wanted and needed, most of all theprocess and leadership of residents themselves, nieghborhoodalliance’s empowered through themodel of University participationnow policy to which can be buildedon.The impossible is possible!Action!/ReactionThe truth is that I’m not clear what is HTML tags or up to thisweek had no printer but with youthnow inrolled like Jacob, Matt, &others will speak in the futureas I have….We need King/ChavezLegacy Teams. They should startas ad hoc teams on any Universityin Sept/Oct 2006. The outcome aseries of end of the month community conversations in Jan, Feb. and March 2007 to which linkup the lives, dreams, aims, stands, and values of both men inany community that see’s value inthis idea.Is the word Legacy is very adultthen just create a “team” but oneoutcome should be a initiative togive voice and empowerment to thearea’s children and youth.One thing takes place when you reach the age I have…senior moments and you talk a lot.You honor me to take the time toread this comment…ThanksPlease respont to this post andmake it known to your social network.Special thanks to Diana Lee who as a team of two…has kept thevision alive.If you like me are concerned withthe reality in America within thespecific neighborhoods where gangbangers and want to be have a strong hold…join this idea of aGang For Good!check out our choice for processand TA work in Oakland, Califoniawww.ncdinet.orgAs of 7/4/06 there were no comments yet.My stand is to see at least 64 adeclaration to “count me in”.

  2. Since this is the first of what I hope will be many comments and since today is the date of the birth of our great nation I must say that you have raised the siteto begin what’s wanted and neededto empower what exists.If but 64 signed what today we holdas a National Holiday then we needat least that number to source thedeclaration and it started with butone: Count me in!This is Richard….and thank you for your stand.”In takes but one to make a difference, be the one!Adam your sites are of most helpto me and speak to our common ground for a solution.My action steps are to make knownto the data base the question andyour blog. The next two months will be one of research and theongoing “one conversation at a timeto move forward the vision”.While AARP is a good example of what’s possible my outcome is morelocal, & from the inside/out.Let’s leave the national lobby upto what’s in place now…follow themoney. What they miss is “grassroots activism”. Our standthat while a AARP for youth voiceand empowerment would be but onemore perhaps doing good but not thesolution. As you know I hold thatwhat’s missing is collaboritiveUniversity sourced local publicdomain initiative.The fact that AARP now exists in atime when Senior/Youth strategiesand funding is in place can onlymove forward the vision.While a collective process mightcreate as you see a war chest, asthe 37,000,000 members of AARP theidea of but $1 or more membershipin the Grupo Amistad Vision wouldalways stay within the local voiceand collective alliance that creates the process. For example in Olympia itself, one individualcan source the team of youth.The idea of a Union exists all overthe world…the UCSC campus has aStudent Union. Cesar created theUFW but what many don’t know is that he also created the Union ofthe community.www.lupenet.orgSo this comment is to thank you, &so I’m a stand that a structure iswanted and needed.The movement exists as your sites so clearly speak to. A web sitefor a empowering struture, one that seeds local public domain initiatives, youth run and controled would create a “hub”of possibilities.The “mission” of such a structureis up to those who share the “count me in” intent to createa solution.The question of the day?If not a National Youth Union, what structure can move forward the movement now in place that Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of when he said “In the future all youth will cometogether to make this a better world”The AFL/CIO and it’s partner’s inCanada and the planet are allies &can jump start the needed process.The “Student Leader” the publication of the Australianuniversity students calls itselfthe National Union of Students.www.unistudent.com.auHere in the USA the ASGA and itspublication “Student Leader” openup future outreach to its 374 membership members in 49 states &DC to explore your question.I hold myself a organizer and myrole to but start the conversation.Yes at 69 years young I can choosehow I spend my time but if you hadthe vision I’ve shared with you then your full time plus would bein moving it forward.Many people are out there who havepassion and visions. Look forwardto making known to our data basethis but one “Action step” to visit your blog, check out the sites of YoungWorld.org and Freechild.org and add their comment to yours.In closing I can only speak to thefact that ASGA with it’s membership and readership has aresearch poll in which they askedthe question “What percentage of the student body do you usually have for a Student Government election? As on today there areno response and I hold that aNational Youth Union would changethat (check out prior participation on their polls)visit their site…www.asgaonline.comYour’s like their question is needed. In my progressibe countywith the local Junior College theinstitution where the local youthmovement leadership exists eitherin past attendance or current.Added the large number of UnionMembers, staff, and resources buta small number vote or participatein it’s yearly elections.It’s my stand that this example ofcivic responsibility or in California where in the last election for key state and localpositions but 28% of the votersparticipated in a big “F”.Giving voice and empowerment toyouth not only through Service Learning but in what Wendy Leskoand your stand speaks to is wantedand needed.If we start with people like bothof you then only something good will come out of this blog you have started.Please build on that conversationfound within the book:The 26% Youth Solution by WendyThe National Clearinghouse forYouth Activism 1-800 Kid Powerwww.youthactivism.comIn regard to building on both Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. and CesarE. Chavez there are two existingcenters that now move forward their Legacy.www.kingcenter.orgwww.UFW.organd follow the links to the CesarE. Chavez FoundationA series of Action steps are wanted and needed, most of all theprocess and leadership of residents themselves, nieghborhoodalliance’s empowered through themodel of University participationnow policy to which can be buildedon.The impossible is possible!Action!/ReactionThe truth is that I’m not clear what is HTML tags or up to thisweek had no printer but with youthnow inrolled like Jacob, Matt, &others will speak in the futureas I have….We need King/ChavezLegacy Teams. They should startas ad hoc teams on any Universityin Sept/Oct 2006. The outcome aseries of end of the month community conversations in Jan, Feb. and March 2007 to which linkup the lives, dreams, aims, stands, and values of both men inany community that see’s value inthis idea.Is the word Legacy is very adultthen just create a “team” but oneoutcome should be a initiative togive voice and empowerment to thearea’s children and youth.One thing takes place when you reach the age I have…senior moments and you talk a lot.You honor me to take the time toread this comment…ThanksPlease respont to this post andmake it known to your social network.Special thanks to Diana Lee who as a team of two…has kept thevision alive.If you like me are concerned withthe reality in America within thespecific neighborhoods where gangbangers and want to be have a strong hold…join this idea of aGang For Good!check out our choice for processand TA work in Oakland, Califoniawww.ncdinet.orgAs of 7/4/06 there were no comments yet.My stand is to see at least 64 adeclaration to “count me in”.

  3. Hi Adam, I admire what you’re up to. I am in contact with Richard and am inspired by what he’s up to as well.The youth hold the future in their hands, and are for me the most exciting segment of the population to work with.I submit that the greatest untapped resource for the youth and for everyone–and our greatest access to power–is not government force or what it can do for us; but rather what I call vision force.Vision force being the innate power of human beings to find something worth standing for, to take a stand, to see a vision born from that stand, and to heroically be true to that vision until it exists as reality.To me such a person is, like you, a visionary. This person has the power to call their teammates and even their adversaries to greatness, i.e., to rise about their fears and doubts to stand for what’s worth standing for.It occurs to me that we can impact the world around us through our own entrepreneurial ventures and visionary projects, in effect practically ignoring government as a force for change, and instead being that force ourselves.I just returned from Kenya where I worked with youth there, spreading the revolutionary idea that they themselves have the power to change the world around them. As an idea, perhaps it’s an old one and not that revolutionary, but when a young person sees it on the level of vision it is indeed revolutionary.Michael Skye, Vision Force Academy

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