MVYLI’s Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development: June 22- 28, 2013
The MVYLI Annual Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable
Development was held from June 22-28. The Summit inspires,
educates and empowers young people to take initiative in their
lives and on their island. This year’s Summit was dedicated to
Nelson Mandel. Each day we chose a Leadership Theme:
Connection, Intention, Joy, Commitment, Compassion, Courage.
Vineyard youth (ages 14-21) were
nominated by schools, non-profit
organizations, and community leaders to
serve as delegates. During the weeklong
intensive leadership training youth
envision their personal, professional,
island and planetary goals. This year’s youth delegates aspire to become entrepreneurs, doctors,
psychiatrist, and physical therapist, sustainable architect, interior designer, pastry chef, scientist,
dermatologist, biomedical engineer, public relations, music industry, technology, international
relations, political science – and “at least a Senator.”
Youth started with a reflective walk on Lucy Vincent Beach, where they sang a chant to honor
Mother Earth; found a “magic stone” and designed a beach mural that represented all island youth
delegates. It was the most diverse Summit – with flags representing youth delegates from 16
countries and U.S. states. The Summit featured three Skype video sessions – starting with MVYLI
youth leader Lucy Norris in Argentina. Trevor Tanaka shared his successful journey with his
Sustainable Education Resolution. Hawaiian youth thanked Ian Kitajima, Oceanit for his support
in getting airline sponsors for their flights to the Summit. Lilly Neville brought gifts from Spain!
Sustainable Vineyard Tour
The Summit began with a Sustainable Vineyard Tour. Vineyard youth met the Island’s leaders including Wampanoag
entrepreneur Juli Vanderhoop at Orange Peel Bakery, award winning organic groundskeeper Jeff Carlson at
Vineyard Golf Course, business owner Steve Bernier, Cronig’s Market Solar Project, Richard Saltzberg, Eliakim’s
Way, Keith Wilda at Thimble Farm whose 5-year plan is to feed the Island’s school children. On Sunday, youth
ventured out on kayaks to learn about the fragile beauty of the Island’s waters with Kate O’Donnell at Trustees of the
Reservation at Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge and finished with lunch at the Chappaquiddick Community Center. By
learning first-hand about the Island’s green projects, youth were inspired to help make them happen!
Joe Kevin Burchill
Sherry Anne Pancho
Vineyard Sustainability Best Practices
Signe Benjamin shared the Vineyard Conservation Society’s goal of “Vineyard lawns” to reduce
the use of chemicals that pollute our lakes. “There are 25 people that have the ‘Vineyard Lawn’ sign
on their lawns,” she said. After hearing Signe speak, Vineyard youth were empowered to encourage
their families to have chemical free lawns. They all went home and asked their families “what do you
put on your lawn.” They even came up with the idea of creating a stamp or a blue ribbon commission
to encourage more people and businesses to adopt chemical free landscaping.
At Island Grown Schools Kaila Binney has encourages Martha’s
Vineyard schools to tie their gardens into a curriculum in the
classroom. Youth are learning how to garden while learning about local foods and
promoting the locally grown food movement on Martha’s Vineyard.
Youth learned about global issues and sustainability initiatives from around the world. Boston University graduate student
Ben Thompson inspired youth with the 350.org’s Fossil Fuel Divestiture Campaign to join the climate movement and
find their own ways to make a difference. Emily Nuss presented Funding Your Dreams describing how she raises
resources for Kids to Kids, a non-profit she founded in the 6th grade to help children in Dominican Republic and
Rwanda, Africa. Alex Frost, a leader of sustainable island best practices Hawaii, Island of Wight, England, El Hierro
Island, Spain, New Zealand and Iceland.
What Sustainable Practices Are Happening in the World?
After listening to these amazing presentations, youth delegates had a roundtable discussion about the sustainable practices
in the world today and what they could put to use. Buy local foods or grow your own foods; buy smart, be aware, spread
awareness; encourage less packaging; reduce paper at school; ride bikes and take the bus; conserve energy (turn off lights,
less A.C., etc.); efficiency; reusing clothes; electric cars; Pinterest for Do It Yourself projects; and support 350.org’s
Fossil Fuel Divestiture Campaign. When Alex Frost asked the question: “How do we make green living affordable?”
Youth reflected on the importance of inviting those who actually have the resources to adopt green lifestyles (electric cars,
solar panels, etc.) as well as to invest in green projects and companies that are building a more sustainable world.
Professional Development Workgroups
Each afternoon, youth delegates worked with seasoned leaders and college students to
explore their dreams for their lives. MVYLI Alumni Julia Cooper shared her experience
with MVYLI’s Job Shadow Day and Bella El-Deiry encouraged youth to sign up for the
MVYLI College Prep, Field Trip & Scholarship Program. Emerging Leaders from the
island of Vieques, Puerto Rico shared their 10-year success stories. Top model Kassandra
Castillo shared her journey with successful business ventures and Josue Cruz, a second
year law student spoke of Youth Leadership Opportunities – and encouraged youth to make
the most of MVYLI’s year-round program.
Youth joined professional development workgroups to explore their career options with
seasoned youth and professionals. These discussions allowed the youth to really dig deep
and think about the steps they needed to take in their lives to realize their dreams for
their life. They were encouraged to develop a 5-year action plan to help keep them on
track. Business & Entrepreneurship, Kassandra Castillo; Political Science/Law,
Josue Cruz; Public Health, Nicole Garrity; Global Health, Emily Nuss; and
Technology, Marsha Reeves-Jews.
Signe & Bella
What is My 5 Year Action Plan?
Youth delegates were asked to envision the steps towards their dreams – from 1 to 5 years – for their personal,
professional, and island dreams. They were encouraged to think about who they would like to invite to be on their
Sustainability-In-Action Project teams – and which mentors might be supportive and strategic.
Sustainable Vineyard Map & 2020 Project
Mary Ollen, Isabel Smith and Nathaniel Horowitz are championing the Sustainable Vineyard Map & 2020 Project. They
are building on MVYLI Visioneer Emma HallBilsback’s work started two years ago with her team of Cerina Gordon,
Eva Faber, and Andrew Randall. The MVYLI Map & 2020 Project group will spotlight sustainable businesses on the
Island -- restaurants that buy local, green hotels, farms, renewable energy sources, as well as culturally sustainable places.
“We hope the MVYLI Map will encourage “green tourism” on the island and promote Martha’s Vineyard as a model for
sustainable living, encouraging tourists and Islanders alike to support their growth and development,” says Mary. “Next
year the map will be available in an online format through Google Earth as at the MV Chamber of Commerce.”
Cultural Sustainability Project
Lucie Dougherty-Soares was the scribe for the MVYLI Cultural
Sustainability Project with Amoy Ferguson, Taynara Da Goncalves,
Silas Berlin, Toron Deluz, Marcelle Alves, Oshantay Waite with
Kassandra Castillo and Marsha Reeves-Jews. We at the Martha’s
Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative believe that our Island and
community benefits greatly from a culturally diverse population. We believe
people should embrace their culture and show it off to the community. Having a diverse community
influences people to do and try things they would have never dreamed of doing. Every culture in the
world has different arts, foods, traditions, and ways of living, each of which should be taught and
shared worldwide. We are organizing a Multicultural Festival to showcase the wonderful diverse
island and world that we live in. It is a family and all-island event, open to anyone who wishes to
learn and experience a variety of cultures through activities, stories, literature, art, music, and
history. We want to help people realize out of many people we are one, and what it means to all of us
to be apart of this diverse beautiful world.
For the last three months, MVYLI Visioneers have met weekly to develop this year’s Summit: Isabelle El-Deiry, Sivana
Brown with Mary Ollen and Isabel Smith. Last fall, Bella El-Deiry invited Brazilian youth leader and Tufts University
graduate Ana Carvalho to speak at the Multicultural Assembly with re-known civil rights activities, Charlayne Hunter-
Gault. For the Summit, MVYLI Visioneers reached out to Brazilian youth. Lucy Norris invited Lucas Amirans. Sivana
nominated Marcelle Alves, a 9th
grade honor student who aspires to become a lawyer. “When I came to MVYLI my first
thought was the Brazilian youth on Martha’s Vineyard should be involved in a great program like this too,” says Marcelle
who nominated Taynara Goncalves. “It really helps me have dreams and care for my future if I am supported by other
people who believe in me and can help me accomplish my dreams for the world.” In May they organized a luncheon to
invite Brazilian youth to learn about MVYLI. “With the island being a meld of so many diverse cultures, it's so important
to celebrate and open up to every single young person, “ said Isabel Smith. “It was amazing to hear all of the inspiring
dreams of the students,” said Mary Ollen. “I look forward to hearing more about their aspirations and to helping their
dreams become realities.”
Institute’s Sustainable Islands Technology Initiative
This year’s Summit included youth delegates from the Island of Hawaii and Lana’i who are
planning a Youth-Community Leadership Forum to share their Sustainability-In-Action
Projects with their island’s leaders and invite them to join them in realizing them. MVYLI
youth will stay connected to the other island delegates through the Institute’s Sustainable
Islands Technology Initiative.
Thank you MVYLI for such an awesome experience. Meeting new people and building new relationships has been the
highlight. I am thankful to be a part of such a great group! Charlotte McCarron