Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Youth Day in Mound Bayou

 Yesterday was our monthly youth day in Mound Bayou.  During the summer, our graduate class will be working with us several times each month, and 23 students joined us for the day.  We had three options yesterday: art, dance, and adventure.  One group opted to lead the adventure activities, and began the day with a Web of Life exercise.  It's about the connection and relationship, and what each of us brings to a community to make it stronger...and what happens when we lose those connections in the web of life.
 Art has been one of their favorite activities.  Creative work is powerful--not just for the one doing the creating, but those who view the work of art, and take some meaning from it for themselves.  Since our first youth day in the community, back in October, it has been fun seeing the things that these young people value, as demonstrated in their art.  Regular readers may recall the walking tour we did through the community, and photographing it through the eyes of these young people as they shared what was important to them.  Not surprising, and a validation of who I have come to see these young people are, it was about relationship--with each other, and with the community itself.
 In addition to art classes, dance work was one of the activities on the list for what they wanted to do this summer.  One of the graduate students is a Zumba instructor, and she had quite a group going with a variety of dances.

We will be setting up an Art Gallery in order to display the photography and painting that the students produce over the summer.  We'd like to share some of their vision with the community members as well.  I'll take you on a tour of the gallery once it's ready for the public, and you can see the finished products!

We had another first yesterday, when we had five young children join us.  One of the teenagers had called to ask if she could bring her younger siblings, and of course, this being all about inclusion, Mrs. J told them yes.  When they walked in, without my saying a word, three of the students invited them to join in the art work, and there they sat working on their own drawings...which they wanted to take home to show their family.  We had not expected younger kids, so our door prizes were not appropriate for their age.  Undaunted, my friend whipped out her stash of dollar bills and we held a separate drawing for door prizes for the younger table.

Some of the graduate students had been with us before, on prior youth days, and in the two classes I have taught there when we stay in the community for a week.  Some were not concerned about what the day would bring because that is just the nature of who they are.  A few were a little anxious about how they would be received by the youth and the community, and not sure what I expected of them.  What I always hope it offers is the opportunity to see that even when you plan, things happen and you have to adjust.  You have to be willing to make mistakes and for something to fail, but just as important, you have to be willing to succeed.  I tend to believe that it always turns out.  When we are in it with heart, for the relationship, not in it for the technique and the daily headline, it does always turn out.  Kind of like our work for 6 years in Riverside.  We may not always see the end results, but one thing we do know is that sowing the seeds is the beginning step...nurturing the growth all along the way is a process.  Working in communities is not about a photo op and saying "Look what we did."  If it matters at all, it's about saying "Look what you did."  As Si Kahn used to say, "What about the potlucks?  What about the music?  What about the photo albums?"  Keeping a record of what we do is part of the process: it is about documenting the history of our work together and our relationships.  We are blessed to be able to work in this community, and it never fails that on our trips back home, Debra and I are talking about that blessing, and what it means to us.  There is something about sitting down with one another that strengthens us as we walk this road in our lives, and sustains us as we continue walking down the road.

Remember the 125th Anniversary Celebration during the week of July 8-14!  We hope to see you there.  The brochure with the list of events is posted below.

For more information, check the Official City of Mound Bayou Facebook page, or City of Mound Bayou website.

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