Open Space Ideas @ DERC

So part of my thinking regarding another research project has been around the idea of open spaces and self-organizing groups and how they link to ideas about personal empowerment and community change.  I just interviewed my third teen at DERC today and it is seem clear to me that this space has some profound impacts on the teens there.  All three have talked about the space being welcoming, like family and caring.  At the same time each has articulated a journey of growth as well as expressed some profound ideas about political agency — “I have a voice, ” “I am more tolerant of diverse settings,” and “I’ve come into contact with others I never would have.”

This space is pretty informal in the way it operates, but at the same time it has a lot of the same elements as the 119 Gallery space.  There is a space.  It is open and welcoming.  Individuals there create an atmosphere where you can try and explore.  The staff and space are responsive to individual needs and ideas, but at the same time express interest in the individual growth and development of each teen.  The staff share their own stories and struggles.  There are bonds built.  I need to explore this more, but it was an amazing “ah ha” to me.

Some other things that came to mind as I was driving back from DERC:

  • Programs should capture young people before they are of working age and create a bond for them — having fun things or volunteer “jobs” seem important.
  • There should be ladders of increasing responsibility
  • There should be centers close to the homes and / or schools of teens
  • There should be multiple opportunities — work, academic achievement, chill time, fun learning, etc
  • Duration seems to be key as well

Again the importance of family that engages with the news.  And this brought up an insight about the news:

  • news should link human interest to global problems