Nurturing Communities through Culture and Communications
We focus on outreach, collaboration and strategy, undoing boundries that too often exist between neighborhoods, age groups, issues, organizations and scenes. We build community, communications, collaborations, leadership and friendship. Drawing upon the tradition of contemporary youth and student movements for community service, peace, justice and human rights, the YLSN connects the past with the present.
Together, we create opportunities to develop our ideas, address concerns, problem-solve, share talents, and nourish relationships. Our city is often host to major national and international demonstrations, events and conferences. We work to connect our local community to these events (and vice versa) and ensure that DC youth voices are heard. YLSN supports and corresponds with youth programs throughout the world.
Everything we do is intergenerational because young people are the most important voices to be heard and respected by adults. Likewise, adults and especially elders have life experiences and perspectives that are valuable to our youth. It is important for everyone to support youth leadership and youth-driven projects.
How We Do What We Do
Together we explore the "how's" of movement building and community empowerment. We create safe neutral space for people from diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences to meet each other to share talents, strategies and aspirations drawing from past and present experiences of youth activism.
We explore how to best support each other, share ideas and social time, and increase the visibility, effectiveness and abilities of our ideas and our partners in our communities, our nation and the world. Our strengths, including art and music scenes, community engagement, youth programs -- are often invisible even to ourselves, let alone the majority of young people in the area. We are many communities and all very busy. This participatory process is a small part of bringing together what is already going on around us and within us. It is a capacity-building and coalition-building experiment that harvests memories and helpful evaluations: homegrown food for thought.
This is process is called “popular education” which means a participatory, non-hierarchical approach to community education, collective thinking and creative problem-solving. It places emphasis on the process of the people involved (the “how” as much as the “why” or “what”) and pays attention to the recruitment and retention of people new to being involved at whatever level they are comfortable. It is an experience that redefines perceptions of reality and thus realities themselves. Stories unfold, trains of thought connect, collective thinking leads to collective action leads to collective consciousness… and communities can become replenished rather than redeveloped. The struggles we face are real and the answers lie within walking distance.
We have been very responsive to the needs of youth groups in our community, national and international events and have created the opportunities to explore community organizing in neighborhoods where we live. Most of all we have an incredible network of people a wide variety of skills and talents who are always willing to join together, often on very short notice, to make a positive contribution to their community. Over the past ten years we have been responsive to local and world events as they affect our community, and have piloted several innovative approaches to youth organizing and mass visibility, including neighborhood peace parades, banner painting, puppet-making and rhythm workshops, media trainings, intergenerational youth activist summits, performing arts productions and workshops addressing issues that youth feel are important to their growth and education.
© 2013 Youth Leadership Support Network