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2011-2012 Teen Community Organizing: Taking Action!

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Teens gather in the Learning Center at St. Stephen’s for their weekly organizing meeting, December 2011

During the 2011-2012 year, the St. Stephen’s teen organizing team has been part of a number of exciting leadership development initiatives!  From our meetings, which were primarily led by teens, to the work with YMORE (Youth of Massachusetts for a Reformed Economy) and finally to developing our own local campaign the teens have put in a tremendous amount of work!

This January, after many meetings where teens learned about the building blocks of community organizing, they developed a survey to find out what issues their peers and members of the community cared about.  We sent out over 100 surveys and the results showed that pollution and environmental awareness were the issues that many people in the South End care about.  The teens immediately wanted to take action.  Armed with this information they decided to join YMORE and work on the larger city wide diesel reduction campaign to get hospitals and construction companies reduce their diesel emissions.  The teen also knew that leadership and changed starts at home, so they started a green campaign and environmental awareness program at St. Stephen’s!

Last Wednesday May 16th, Frankie Bruny, shared her story of why we must fight to reduce asthma causing diesel emissions in front of 250 people at the Cathedral of St. Paul during YMORE’s spring action! (See her television debut here!)  Many other teens from the St. Stephen’s also led a training at the beginning of the action about the importance of engaging the crowd to create excitement.

On Saturday May 19th, Michael Cordero, Priscilla Alcantara, Shatell Maddrey, and Anna Rodriguez led a workshop about youth leadership and teen organizing at the Boston Area Educators Social Justice Conference at the Mary Curley School in Jamaica Plain.

On Sunday, May 20th, the teen organizing team proposed a list of changes that would make St. Stephen’s a greener environment to the Executive Committee.  The presentation was led by DaShawn Saunders, Franklin Ortiz, Priscilla Alcantara, Anna Rodriguez, Michael Cordero and Frankie Bruny.  The teens had a big win!  The congregation is going to use coffee mugs, instead of styrofoam, for coffee hour, we are going to bring back composting and compost food waste, we are going to lead workshops during the 2012-2013 year about the importance of recycling, and we are going to work SSYP staff to bring about a cultural change around conservation in the youth programs.  Stay tuned for more information!

 Posted by Meg McDermott, Community Partnership Organizer

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