Friday, September 9, 2011

Lift the Load of Poverty

Young people have the right to accurate and complete information and access to services, and to a voice in decisions that affect their health and lives, as well as the future of their communities. In fact, adults have the responsibility to show young people how to participate and lead the way to the development of action and policy that affects their lives. The only way to create real humanizing work for young people is to work in partnership with them to sincerely express their concerns and take actin to hold the old, established, rules to account for the modern times. The load of poverty is made heavier by the silence institutionalized and delivered through city hall. You may not be mayor of the poor, but no one else needs your ear more. Money had robbed the young blind and left them to fend for themselves. And they will... Traditionally we think of students waiting for teachers, such like: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". But the students have been waiting too long. Stilled in the flames of impotent voice and burned by the fires of poverty, perhaps now when the teachers are ready, the students will appear. They will appear with whole bodies ready to think, negotiate, and act. They will be ready to listen and debate, no more violent eruptions from the ghettos despite their seeming inevitability because the young will be prepared/trained to produced meaningful results rather than passing on the flames to the next house or the next body on the street. How do we train the young to lift the load of the future? Is it just through public speaking, community research, recruitment, persuasion, mapping, and strategizing? Where does the compassion and love and fun fall? Is the load too heavy for all that? The students may be ready to lift but are the teachers? Those young deserve the chance to try to lift that load and we teachers deserve the chance to help; to redeem ourselves. The load of the future will not be lessened to ease the burden. The young must see the problems we have left behind for them for what they truly are. The risk of overwhelming their young imaginations is outweighed by the potential of their working as a team to grow larger and more powerful than the problem we know. It is the responsibility of the teachers, the trainers, the authorities to forge new relationships with the young and expand the boundaries of what's acceptable for kids to do and say. These relationships and these unbowed children will be the making of a future so bright and dynamic that forecasters will scramble to delay our work. The Work: A. Teambuilding: Each youth will need the support of their cohort. Not unlike a sport's team, the performance will occur in the mind and on the field of action. The interactions between community and advocate will wear on them; their character will be tested and they'll need courageous peers to stand with. B. Persuasion: Each youth will understand the basics of persuasion, in particular the three modes of persuasion (logos, ethos, pathos). C. Strategizing: Each youth will know exactly how to plan an effective advocacy action. D. Community Research: Each youth will have the opportunity to collect data within the community they are advocate regarding the issue. E. Political Education: Each youth will know specific policies governing their "food system reality". F. Recruitment: Each youth will practice building coalitions The different aspects of work set out here comprise that long journey to find the strength to lift a load you never thought you could. It's not until you bend down and reach for the do you see the many other hands surrounding that same load. You lift your eyes from the boulder and seemingly from nowhere have come the faces of others working to lift. This boulder will never lift itself, like Atlas we can never shrug. Fortunately for us, that lifting is the kind of humanizing work we need to feel more like a community and more like real humans who want to live as a family.