I jumped into the last hour of the 2nd session of the Silk Screening Class, and right away pulled out the camera to document this weeks progress, and let me say that from the get, these youth didn't mind at all that I was documenting their process, asking them questions about their day, about their process and progress, or as Einar S. so deftly asked, "Isn't our progress our process?"
Mind you, I wasn't giving them the third degree, calling them out, what have you - I suppose it's a guilty pleasure of mine to ask all the youth that I've worked with to explain what it is they're doing, how they're going about it, etc. All with the interests to vindicate any naysayers to public service/civic engagement/youth work. It's damn affirming when any one youth can explicitly articulate the structures that be and how to work said structures in interpersonal relations with no half-steppin' and no slippin'.
PODER (People Organizing to Demand Environment & Economic Rights), is a grassroots organization based in San Francisco's Mission district. In a neighborhood that's continually evolving with/against/forwards/sideways/backwards with gentrification, organizations like PODER and their allies work with the immigrant and low-income residents with the intent to build and foster empowerment through campaigns that serve the interests of many of the folks involved. I could go on and on, with citation after another about their campaigns, but I encourage everyone to peep their website, learn a little. Common Roots is the program that bridges the youth from CPA (Chinese Progressive Association) with the youth from PODER in efforts to solidify their coalition, and build up the next generation's leaders.
I sat with Fabiola R., Ingried S. (who proudly stated that her three brothers were in the mix), Yosei, S., Juan S., Christian S., Fernando M.R., and Einar S., and they broke it down for me. The PODER youth meet weekly at El Centro Del Pueblo, and I was told that the showing to the classes are nothing but a fraction of the youth that gather in their small space in the back of the offices, where they hold educational workshops that speak to their communities and campaigns.
They recently had a block party replete with free burritos, an urban art-faire, and was an overall "positive space," as Fernando affirmed with a charismatic smile.
I asked about their progress/process in the classroom and asked them to break down designing for me:
I dunno about y'all but I was impressed with their forward thinking. A way of working the involves implementing political education and empowerment, in addition to economical education and empowerment. It's certainly one thing to drop knowledge on inequalities, it's another to be able to hustle to keep the coffers full so that you can continually learn and drop that knowledge. Dope.
Keep posted for a vid with the CPA youth....
Oh and if you do read this in time, come out for the rally in front of City Hall today -- see flyer in previous post.