The June InterGen Café was a sneak peek into the summer program curriculum and a chance to experience a key part of the EFC approach: small group discussions centered on different aspects of voting. Jane Sapp, education director, started off the presentation by explaining why Montgomery, Alabama, is the site of the 2024 Encampment.

“I was one of the people pushing for us to go to Montgomery since it’s an election year and a very defining election. We want our young people to experience that, in spite of Jim Crow laws and the terrorizing brutality and lynching that my people knew would happen if they stepped out of line, people still fought back. We still fought back. We knew that confrontation would mean a tremendous risk, sacrifice, and courage. With the risk, sacrifice, and courage was a strategy introduced to Southern organizers  by Martin Luther King, Jr.: nonviolence. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the birth of Civil Rights Movement. We want the young people to see the extent to which the Civil Rights Movement engaged young people and how much young people wanted to be engaged. We want to emphasize how much it took to fight back and oppose a system that was oppressive. In this country now, we are seeing some of this oppression come back — reproductive rights, the push-back in terms of schools and what books you can read, the tightening up of people’s rights. I want young people to know: You can fight back. It may seem hopeless, and you may think, what will it matter? Well, it will matter. I hope that in this experience of going to Montgomery and the Black Belt of Alabama, you will see, hear, and meet people who fought then — many of them can talk about then and now. I hope it will be Inspiring and young people can reach deep inside of themselves and find out what they are willing to sacrifice for and find courage to do, and find their inspiration.”

Program Director Jesus Salcido presented a slideshow of some of the summer program highlights. Click to view. He also talked about the EFC approach to the curriculum, which involves speaking to the people who were and are involved in direct action in the communities, asking questions, and looking at how this relate to the issues in their community; marking the intersectionality of issues and how past struggles relate to current ones.

Community Life Director Evelin Aquino spoke about the intentionality in the EFC’s approach to relationship- and community-building. Click for a short video of her comments. She ended with: “It’s beautiful to work to create spaces where we can heal and share and dream and hope and look for ways to create a different world … for everyone.”

Jesus introduced the breakout groups by saying, “We’re going to do what we do at the Encampment, which is basically have meaningful conversations — life-changing conversations. The theme is voting and your relationship with voting.”

If you would like to hear the music played during the break, use this link to the playlist created by alum Charles Shapiro on Spotify. (You will have to sign up for Spotify to use it.)

While the real impact of the breakout groups is in the conversations themselves, brief highlights were reported to the whole group afterward.

Jane, Jesus, Anne, and Antonio discussed the discourse in schools about voting. Answers ranged from not speaking about voting in segregated schools because “they didn’t want people to get too excited and think, ‘I have the right to this,’” since it wasn’t an option at that time for Black people; two other members of that group said there’s a lot of resentment about voting in their communities because people who don’t have documents can’t vote. They don’t get a say in this process and they are at the bottom and exploited. Antonio added that, “We should get past that resentment and help to bridge to some form of hope, in the sense that voting is a power that can be used to say something.” Another participant said that voting was the way it was as she grew up in a politically active family — they talked about it and the idea was, how could you not vote?

Elliott reported for his group, which included Dyanne, Jamie, and Evelin, that the comment was made about having a moral obligation to generations who have gone before and fought so hard for this right [to vote]. This was deeply moving for him. He remembers that discussions about voting rights when he went to school were focused on white women with no discussion of native or immigrant people, or people who had gotten in trouble with the law. He ended with, “Voting is like a muscle — use it or lose it.”

In Roni’s group, the focus was on the extent of disinformation we are experiencing and the level of discouragement that leads people to choose not to vote, making the breakout group participants desperate to convince their networks to vote.

Jaden brought up how dangerous the 2025 Project (the conservative presidential transition plan) is, saying how crucial it is to educate ourselves and vote to prevent the plan becoming reality.

Aaron, Steve, Andrea, and Maxwell spoke about issues with the younger generation and voting. For instance, posting online is seen as the be-all and end-all of activism. Andrea wanted to know what is reality of young people and voting. Aaron said there is a disconnect for people sitting in their political views and a tendency to be performative when posting — attempting to show they are on the right side of the fight. He said, “The Encampment forced me to sit with my beliefs and to tell people honestly how I feel …Young people do not have the spaces where you can sit with that un-comfortability … It all comes back to the Encampment. I was given that opportunity ‘to sit with people who know nothing about what you know and people who know much more than you. You’re just going to have to sit and talk with them and form a government.’” To hear Aaron’s comments, click here.

Board member Steve Davis, who is coordinating the InterGen Weekend near the end of the summer program, encouraged everyone to register. He said, “It’s the culmination of the summer and all the experiences that the staff and Encampers have had. We get to share what we’ve learned with the alums and supporters. We bring the generations together to really listen to each other and share perspectives. That’s a skill that you get at the Encampment that begins the whole transformational process. The next thing is being able to reflect on each other’s lived experiences and perspectives, and exchange insights and ideas among generations — that process is almost magical.

“The final thing is the takeaways — we all walk away different … I encourage folks to come on home!”

He then shared the InterGen schedule.

Click to register for the In-person InterGen Weekend. You must register by July 10 to participate in person.

Unable to join us in person? Registration for the virtual InterGen experience will open soon. To see which portions of the schedule will be live-streamed, click on the schedule and note which sessions are labeled “hybrid.”

We are happy to announce that alum Miles Rapoport, executive director of 100%Democracy, will be joining us for the weekend and has consented to be one of the featured speakers on the Sunday morning discussion about “The Urgency of Voting.” Stay tuned; the other speaker will be announced soon.



We are excited to keep building community with you all!