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.

3 comments

  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 site
    to begin what’s wanted and needed
    to empower what exists.

    If but 64 signed what today we hold
    as a National Holiday then we need
    at least that number to source the
    declaration and it started with but
    one: 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 help
    to me and speak to our common ground for a solution.

    My action steps are to make known
    to the data base the question and
    your blog. The next two months will be one of research and the
    ongoing “one conversation at a time
    to move forward the vision”.

    While AARP is a good example of what’s possible my outcome is more
    local, & from the inside/out.

    Let’s leave the national lobby up
    to what’s in place now…follow the
    money. What they miss is “grass
    roots activism”. Our stand
    that while a AARP for youth voice
    and empowerment would be but one
    more perhaps doing good but not the
    solution. As you know I hold that
    what’s missing is collaboritive
    University sourced local public
    domain initiative.

    The fact that AARP now exists in a
    time when Senior/Youth strategies
    and funding is in place can only
    move forward the vision.

    While a collective process might
    create as you see a war chest, as
    the 37,000,000 members of AARP the
    idea of but $1 or more membership
    in the Grupo Amistad Vision would
    always stay within the local voice
    and collective alliance that creates the process. For example in Olympia itself, one individual
    can source the team of youth.

    The idea of a Union exists all over
    the world…the UCSC campus has a
    Student Union. Cesar created the
    UFW but what many don’t know is that he also created the Union of
    the community.
    http://www.lupenet.org

    So this comment is to thank you, &
    so I’m a stand that a structure is
    wanted and needed.

    The movement exists as your sites so clearly speak to. A web site
    for 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 structure
    is up to those who share the “count me in” intent to create
    a 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 in
    Canada and the planet are allies &
    can jump start the needed process.

    The “Student Leader” the publication of the Australian
    university students calls itself
    the National Union of Students.
    http://www.unistudent.com.au

    Here in the USA the ASGA and its
    publication “Student Leader” open
    up future outreach to its 374 membership members in 49 states &
    DC to explore your question.

    I hold myself a organizer and my
    role to but start the conversation.

    Yes at 69 years young I can choose
    how I spend my time but if you had
    the vision I’ve shared with you
    then your full time plus would be
    in moving it forward.

    Many people are out there who have
    passion and visions. Look forward
    to making known to our data base
    this 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 the
    fact that ASGA with it’s membership and readership has a
    research poll in which they asked
    the question “What percentage of the student body do you usually have for a Student Government election? As on today there are
    no response and I hold that a
    National Youth Union would change
    that (check out prior participation on their polls)
    visit their site…
    http://www.asgaonline.com

    Your’s like their question is needed. In my progressibe county
    with the local Junior College the
    institution where the local youth
    movement leadership exists either
    in past attendance or current.
    Added the large number of Union
    Members, staff, and resources but
    a small number vote or participate
    in it’s yearly elections.

    It’s my stand that this example of
    civic responsibility or in California where in the last election for key state and local
    positions but 28% of the voters
    participated in a big “F”.

    Giving voice and empowerment to
    youth not only through Service Learning but in what Wendy Lesko
    and your stand speaks to is wanted
    and needed.

    If we start with people like both
    of you then only something good will come out of this blog you have started.

    Please build on that conversation
    found within the book:
    The 26% Youth Solution by Wendy
    The National Clearinghouse for
    Youth Activism 1-800 Kid Power
    http://www.youthactivism.com

    In regard to building on both Dr.
    Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar
    E. Chavez there are two existing
    centers that now move forward their Legacy.
    http://www.kingcenter.org
    http://www.UFW.org
    and follow the links to the Cesar
    E. Chavez Foundation

    A series of Action steps are wanted and needed, most of all the
    process and leadership of residents themselves, nieghborhood
    alliance’s empowered through the
    model of University participation
    now policy to which can be builded
    on.

    The impossible is possible!

    Action!/Reaction

    The truth is that I’m not clear what is HTML tags or up to this
    week had no printer but with youth
    now inrolled like Jacob, Matt, &
    others will speak in the future
    as I have….We need King/Chavez
    Legacy Teams. They should start
    as ad hoc teams on any University
    in Sept/Oct 2006. The outcome a
    series of end of the month community conversations in Jan, Feb. and March 2007 to which link
    up the lives, dreams, aims, stands, and values of both men in
    any community that see’s value in
    this idea.
    Is the word Legacy is very adult
    then just create a “team” but one
    outcome should be a initiative to
    give voice and empowerment to the
    area’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 to
    read this comment…Thanks
    Please respont to this post and
    make it known to your social network.

    Special thanks to Diana Lee who
    as a team of two…has kept the
    vision alive.
    If you like me are concerned with
    the reality in America within the
    specific neighborhoods where gang
    bangers and want to be have a strong hold…join this idea of a
    Gang For Good!
    check out our choice for process
    and TA work in Oakland, Califonia
    http://www.ncdinet.org

    As of 7/4/06 there were no comments yet.
    My stand is to see at least 64 a
    declaration 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 site
    to begin what’s wanted and needed
    to empower what exists.

    If but 64 signed what today we hold
    as a National Holiday then we need
    at least that number to source the
    declaration and it started with but
    one: 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 help
    to me and speak to our common ground for a solution.

    My action steps are to make known
    to the data base the question and
    your blog. The next two months will be one of research and the
    ongoing “one conversation at a time
    to move forward the vision”.

    While AARP is a good example of what’s possible my outcome is more
    local, & from the inside/out.

    Let’s leave the national lobby up
    to what’s in place now…follow the
    money. What they miss is “grass
    roots activism”. Our stand
    that while a AARP for youth voice
    and empowerment would be but one
    more perhaps doing good but not the
    solution. As you know I hold that
    what’s missing is collaboritive
    University sourced local public
    domain initiative.

    The fact that AARP now exists in a
    time when Senior/Youth strategies
    and funding is in place can only
    move forward the vision.

    While a collective process might
    create as you see a war chest, as
    the 37,000,000 members of AARP the
    idea of but $1 or more membership
    in the Grupo Amistad Vision would
    always stay within the local voice
    and collective alliance that creates the process. For example in Olympia itself, one individual
    can source the team of youth.

    The idea of a Union exists all over
    the world…the UCSC campus has a
    Student Union. Cesar created the
    UFW but what many don’t know is that he also created the Union of
    the community.
    http://www.lupenet.org

    So this comment is to thank you, &
    so I’m a stand that a structure is
    wanted and needed.

    The movement exists as your sites so clearly speak to. A web site
    for 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 structure
    is up to those who share the “count me in” intent to create
    a 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 in
    Canada and the planet are allies &
    can jump start the needed process.

    The “Student Leader” the publication of the Australian
    university students calls itself
    the National Union of Students.
    http://www.unistudent.com.au

    Here in the USA the ASGA and its
    publication “Student Leader” open
    up future outreach to its 374 membership members in 49 states &
    DC to explore your question.

    I hold myself a organizer and my
    role to but start the conversation.

    Yes at 69 years young I can choose
    how I spend my time but if you had
    the vision I’ve shared with you
    then your full time plus would be
    in moving it forward.

    Many people are out there who have
    passion and visions. Look forward
    to making known to our data base
    this 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 the
    fact that ASGA with it’s membership and readership has a
    research poll in which they asked
    the question “What percentage of the student body do you usually have for a Student Government election? As on today there are
    no response and I hold that a
    National Youth Union would change
    that (check out prior participation on their polls)
    visit their site…
    http://www.asgaonline.com

    Your’s like their question is needed. In my progressibe county
    with the local Junior College the
    institution where the local youth
    movement leadership exists either
    in past attendance or current.
    Added the large number of Union
    Members, staff, and resources but
    a small number vote or participate
    in it’s yearly elections.

    It’s my stand that this example of
    civic responsibility or in California where in the last election for key state and local
    positions but 28% of the voters
    participated in a big “F”.

    Giving voice and empowerment to
    youth not only through Service Learning but in what Wendy Lesko
    and your stand speaks to is wanted
    and needed.

    If we start with people like both
    of you then only something good will come out of this blog you have started.

    Please build on that conversation
    found within the book:
    The 26% Youth Solution by Wendy
    The National Clearinghouse for
    Youth Activism 1-800 Kid Power
    http://www.youthactivism.com

    In regard to building on both Dr.
    Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar
    E. Chavez there are two existing
    centers that now move forward their Legacy.
    http://www.kingcenter.org
    http://www.UFW.org
    and follow the links to the Cesar
    E. Chavez Foundation

    A series of Action steps are wanted and needed, most of all the
    process and leadership of residents themselves, nieghborhood
    alliance’s empowered through the
    model of University participation
    now policy to which can be builded
    on.

    The impossible is possible!

    Action!/Reaction

    The truth is that I’m not clear what is HTML tags or up to this
    week had no printer but with youth
    now inrolled like Jacob, Matt, &
    others will speak in the future
    as I have….We need King/Chavez
    Legacy Teams. They should start
    as ad hoc teams on any University
    in Sept/Oct 2006. The outcome a
    series of end of the month community conversations in Jan, Feb. and March 2007 to which link
    up the lives, dreams, aims, stands, and values of both men in
    any community that see’s value in
    this idea.
    Is the word Legacy is very adult
    then just create a “team” but one
    outcome should be a initiative to
    give voice and empowerment to the
    area’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 to
    read this comment…Thanks
    Please respont to this post and
    make it known to your social network.

    Special thanks to Diana Lee who
    as a team of two…has kept the
    vision alive.
    If you like me are concerned with
    the reality in America within the
    specific neighborhoods where gang
    bangers and want to be have a strong hold…join this idea of a
    Gang For Good!
    check out our choice for process
    and TA work in Oakland, Califonia
    http://www.ncdinet.org

    As of 7/4/06 there were no comments yet.
    My stand is to see at least 64 a
    declaration 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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