Beyond Tokenism_Youth Leadership in the Food Justice MovmentPresentation Transcript
Beyond Tokenism: YouthLeadership in the Food Justice MovementRegional Environmental Council(R.E.C.)Worcester, MAwww.recworcester.org508-799-9139
Let’s break that ice!
What is the R.E.C.?• Founded in 1971• Grassroots environmental justice non-profit organization dedicated to building healthy, sustainable and just communities in Worcester.• Two major programs: Environmental Health and Justice and Food Justice
Where are we?• Located in: – Worcester, MA – 45 miles west of Boston – 4 hour drive from New York City – Second Largest city in New England – Home to 181,045 people!!! We are here!!
• Over 36% of Worcester residents live below 200% of the poverty level, 50% higher than the statewide average• 63% of Worcester Public School students are low income versus the statewide average of 28.9%• In the 14 lowest income Worcester census tracts, 1 child in 3 lives in a family unable to meet basic needs for food. 1 in 5 children under the age of 12 is hungry or at risk for hunger.• In 2008 Worcester Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens served over 50,000 people and 1,000,000 meals.• The amount of hungry people in Central Massachusetts has risen 40% over 5 years.
What is R.E.C.’s Food Justice Program?• Mission: Increasing accessibility to healthy food through location, affordability and empowerment• Cornerstones: youth employment, self-sustainability/ entrepreneurship and grassroots organizingCurrent Projects: YouthGROW UGROW Community Gardens Network REC Community Farmers Markets Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters™
What is YouthGROW?• Urban agriculture program• Youth employment• Leadership and Community Organizing Curriculums• Two farm campuses in low income neighborhoods• Year Round Programming• 50 teenagers
Summer Fall•6 week urban farming • Monthly unpaid retreats: summer program recreational and•8 hour days, 3 days a educational •Fall internships available in week College Access,•Wednesday field trips Cooperative Business, to other farm sites Farm Work, and School •Hourly pay through Gardens. state funding •Stipend offered. Winter Spring • Retreats,Junior Staff are hired. Internships, and They hire Youth Volunteer Leaders and Opportunities stillthen both groups hire offered Youth Mentors and • Strategic Program new Visioning core youth. for next season
Team Projects Food Justice SupportProjectFocuses Internships Program Visioning & Advising
Beyond Tokenism: YouthGROW’sYouth Leadership Development Model• Youth Leadership Track• Consensus based decision making
Youth Leadership Track 21 Core Youth – 7 Youth Leaders – 4 Junior StaffCore Youth• After 1 year as a core participant in summer farming and year round after school program core youth can qualify through increased year round requirements of community service, retreat attendance and internships to apply to be a youth leaderYouth Leader• Increased after school paid work through spring to plan specific of summer program and engage in a leadership curriculumJunior Staff• 2 Assistant Farm Managers and 2 Assistant Youth Coordinators work year round on specific agriculture and administrative program supportApplication and training support for youth through leadership track
ConsensusConsensus based decision making method isutilized for all major program decisions including :• program structure development• seasonal planning• policy including behavior contract development• disciplinary issuesWe train in consensus tools and concepts withyouth leaders and large group discussions. Wepractice examples for small issues.
Consensus and Youth Leadership in Practice; Case Studies
Case Study 1Jonathan is a popular YouthGROWer that has been apart of the programfor two years. He began his second year as a youth leader, and wasrecently promoted to Assistant Farm Manager. He was chosen torepresent YouthGROW with three of his peers at a national food justiceconference out of state. At the beginning of the summer season, eachYouthGROWer is asked to sign and agree to a group generated agreement.Additionally, each conference participant was asked to sign a contractspecific to the conference rules and regulations. On the third day of theconference, the hall monitor on Jonathan’s floor smelled marijuanacoming from the room Jonathan shared with Calvin, an adult YouthMentor. When confronted by program and conference staff, both Jonthanand Calvin denied that they were smoking. As a result of the incidencethe entire group was asked to leave immediately. The group decided tobring the issue back home to the larger group, in order to hold a councilmeeting to come to consensus on the issue.QuestionsHow do you think the use of consensus would be beneficial in this case?Can you identify any influence that identity, or biases that may affectindividual perspectives?
Case Study 2Tiana, a youth leader been consistently late to planning meetings in the preseasonspring term in violation of the program behavior contract. A staff member hasgiven her a warning about her tardiness. After an additional late arrival a staffmember pulls her aside and ask her why she’s been showing up so late. Tianashares that her 1 year old child is dropped off from daycare at her programhousing at 3 when she gets home from high school. She then has to take the busto drop off her son at the fathers house and then walk to the meeting.After two more late instances, other youth in the prgram begin to show up latethinking it is acceptable. The staff member decides to call a council meeting toaddress the issue.QuestionsHow do you think the use of consensus would be beneficial in this case?Can you identify any influence that identity, or biases that may affect individualperspectives?