Leadership is Serious Work

…but we try to keep it light whenever possible! Youth Leaders practiced their communication and teamwork skills in a friendly game of Cup Stack. With only a modified rubber band tool to assist them, they had to work together to create a cup pyramid. The game’s variations required them to complete the task without touching the cups with any of their body parts and without speaking.

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Utter concentration.

 

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A collaborative touch

By using play, we build positive relationships with each other and break down the barriers to difficult conversations. We debriefed afterwards and used the game as an opportunity to explore our own communication and leadership tendencies.  Listen to the ways these Youth Leaders are coming to understand their relationship to teams and the power of their voice:

I like everybody to get along. Say there’s a group of people and you know there’s some that don’t like each other, it creates tension. I don’t like that so I always just try to help everybody get along. –Coliea

I like to challenge people’s thinking. Like make them think outside the box. Sometimes someone will say something and someone else says, ‘Oh, I agree.’ And I want to know, do you really agree or are you just saying you do because your friend said that. I want to know what they really think. –Melanie

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If you get really upset about something and you show how mad you are. That might not really help you in the future. You just have to sort of deal with it and move on. -Alonzo

I used to dominate things in a group, but now I try to get people involved. Because, say you’re working on group work, and I’m the only one talking and doing the work and people are getting upset, talking about, “Oh, he doesn’t give me the chances to say my ideas.” But I just want to be a leader and when you involve others in decision making, you have more ideas, so that can change the way you think of things. -Tishaun

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MLK Day of Service

YLP made MLK Day a day on, not a day off. They participated in conversations about duty to service and community and completed a service project in Franklin Park.

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DaHana stands atop a chair to “elevate” her voice as she reads a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote and explains how his message is relevant to her life.

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Cleaning up trash on Schoolmaster Hill.

 

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Sun gave way to clouds, but the beauty of Franklin Park remained.

 

Deepening Civic Engagement

Meet and greet with Conservancy docents

Meet and greet with Conservancy docents

The cold winter months require us to work inside, but that doesn’t slow us down. Youth Leaders who have spent the summer and fall in the parks, turn their attention to understanding the work that goes on behind the scenes in city governance to keep our city running and conserve and promote the Emerald Necklace. This work of Deepening Civic Engagement goes hand-in-had with service to the parks, environmental education, relationship building and connection to community to foster their stewardship mindsets.

Stewardship Clover Model

Just as in the summer, Emerald Necklace Conservancy Youth Leaders learn by doing. Here are a few ways that they are actively practicing civic engagement:

Youth Participatory Budgeting — 2 YLP members applied and were selected to serve on city-wide youth Steering Committee.

Youth Lead Boston: Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee meeting at City Hall

Youth Lead Boston: Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee meeting at City Hall

Participatory Budgeting is an innovative, democratic process that gives young people the opportunity to help decide how to spend a portion of the Boston city budget. Steering committee members meet monthly to oversee the entire youth PB process including researching and developing proposals, planning public meetings and PB events, as well as conducting outreach and education with diverse constituencies.

Mayor’s Youth Council, Committee on the Environment and Open Space

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YLP attends My Brother’s Keeper launch and hears speeches from (L-R) Travis McCready (Vice President for Program at The Boston Foundation), Mayor Marty Walsh, Michael D. Smith (Special Assistant to President Barak Obama), and Felix Arroyo (City of Boston Chief of Health and Human Services).

The Mayor’s Youth Council provides Boston’s young people with an active role in addressing youth issues. As a partner organization, YLP youth have an increased opportunity to participate in municipal decision-making and are positioned to mobilize peers around the issues of parks and environment that they deeply care about.

Out early for a community forum on Saturday morning to participate in focus groups on Education, Public Health and Safety, and Youth Employment

Out early on a Saturday morning to participate in a community forum. YLP members participated in focus groups on Education, Public Health and Safety, and Youth Employment

 

Mapping Our Environment

Thinking of the word, “Environment,” brings a different image to mind for each and every person. YLP recently took some time to think of what environment means to them and depict what their environment looks like. Melanie gives this explanation for her drawing:
Env Map - Melanie
The portrait above is the city of downtown Boston and how I perceive it. It shows all the crowded buildings and fast food restaurants together and how over crowded city life is. There isn’t much green space in the portrait, not a lot of trees or flowers or grass. There is a lot of moving cars and people crossing the street, so you can imagine how hectic it is. Because of the cars there is a lot of pollution in the air that’s causing lots of dust and smoke which leads to pollution! And possibly global warming. What I tried to show in my portrait is that because of all these buildings overcrowding places and having unnecessary fast food restaurants it takes up green space and can lead to people getting sick and just feeling un-relaxed. Being in the city isn’t calming and is loud and just makes you anxious and want to leave. The people in my portrait aren’t happy to be in city because of the disgusting smell since there isn’t fresh air circulating since there isn’t a lot of trees.
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Introducing the 2014 YLP Cohort

YLP is underway and we are excited to introduce ourselves. We look forward to working, serving, and learning together over the next several months and are happy to have you with us on the journey!

 

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Alonzo has joined YLP to build a greater understanding of the outdoors as well as gaining a new experience with gardening and landscaping. He especially enjoys the season of summer because of the hot weather. Alonzo also plays sports and wants to grow up to become an architectural engineer.

 

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Annmarie completed her summer at the Franklin Park Coalition. Excited to give back to her community and continue working outdoors, she joined YLP. Annmarie enjoys the sense of accomplishment after completing a work project.

 

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Coliea chose to participate in YLP because she likes to help the community and wants the opportunity to become and Assistant Crew Leader. She likes the fresh air and has a disdain for being indoors all day.

 

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DaHana has camp experience and enjoys working outdoors. She especially likes the fresh air, planting flowers, and getting away from technology. She has a can-do attitude and wants to go to college, but is undecided on her major.

 

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Melanie enjoys the refreshing, calming effects of nature. She chose to participate in YLP in order to build on her experience as a Green Team member where she learned how to take greater responsibility for her contribution to the community and the environment.

 

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Rayzheen has returned to the ENC after a successful summer as a Green Team member. She also believes that it will help her reach her dreams of becoming a zoologist. She enjoys the stillness of the outdoors.

 

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Takayla enjoys the fresh air and seeing different kinds of birds and bugs. She hopes the YLP experience will help her build her resume and prepare her for future jobs. She wants to go to college for criminal justice.

 

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Tishaun joined YLP to build on his prior landscaping and gardening experience. He loves the feel of the wind on his skin and hopes to become an engineer or architect.

 

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Winsky has enjoyed two summers of working for the Green Team and enjoys the fresh air and listening to the sounds of nature. His favorite season is fall because he enjoys the scenery of the leaves changing colors. He wants to study medicine or engineering in college.

 

Catching up with Alumni Accomplishments

Last week I enjoyed a visit from a couple of Youth Leadership and Green Team alumnae. Both participants have continued building a career dedicated to environmental stewardship and returned to share their experiences.

Judy worked with the Youth Conservation Corps (a program of the United States Forest Service) and Xioayan with Branching Out (a program of the National Parks Service).

Below are some highlights from our conversation.

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TK: Last year at this time, you were just beginning YLP. What did you learn in that program and what have you taken with you?

Judy: I loved Green Team and YLP. I learned so much from the Emerald Necklace Conservancy — going to work everyday was exciting. Not only did I learn about plants, the Emerald Necklace, and this neighborhood, I also learned how to be a more responsible and independent worker. I started to have pride in what I did. It felt good looking at what my crew and I had accomplished.

TK: Why did you decide to pursue more environmental work with the Youth Conservation Corps?

Judy: The Green Team helped expose me to the environmental field and I enjoy it very much. Being in YLP helped me build up my leadership skills and also the courage to try out new things. I learned to get out of my comfort zone, which is why I had the courage to work with the Forest Service.

TK: After your involvement in YLP, you were accepted into a National Parks Service program at the Olmsted Center for Landscape Design. Tell us about your experience.

Xiaoyan: After finishing YLP school year program, I got the opportunity to continue my environmental work at Branching Out. Working at ENC had strengthened my skills and prepared me [to move] forward. I got to meet new people, connect with great co-workers, and build long-lasting relationships. Not only that, I got to learn more about invasive species and ways to protect the environment for the future generations. I am grateful that I got this opportunity. Without YLP, I wouldn’t have been able to work at Branching Out.

TK: Say more about that. How did YLP prepare you for Branching Out and what you’re doing now.

Xioayan: YLP had a great influence in my career. At first, I had no idea what I wanted to major in, in college, but once I started working at ENC, I began to see the positive impact I made in my community. I also realized that in order to promote the “green” environment, working outside removing invasive species is not enough, we need to education people through media, so that people will understand their impact on the environment. This way, ideas will not only spread in Boston but globally. That’s why I choose marketing as my major; I want to promote and advocate for the “green” environment worldwide.

 

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Thank you Xioayan and Judy for the work that you did and continue to do!