In week three of the 2022 Encampment, the Encampers continued their social justice journey and began the process of integrating what they have learned and articulating it. They took a day-long trip to Limuw (or Santa Cruz) Island in the Channel Islands, accompanied by local Chumash representatives. Odette Moran, an organizer from the local organization Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), presented a workshop about canvassing about social justice issues. The Encampers discussed the importance of art in shaping culture with poet and activist Hausson Byrd, and put that inspiration into practice at the InterGen(erational) Weekend.
Encampers Explore a Rare Environment & its Indigenous History
As part of our environmental justice focus, we traveled to Santa Cruz Island, part of the Channel Islands, a national park site. The Encampers were accompanied by descendants of the original inhabitants — members of the Chumash people — who are lobbying to have the island’s name changed back to Limuw Island. On the ferry trip, some Encampers saw dolphins for the first time and others commented on the peaceful beauty of the island. Click for Encampers talking about their Limuw Island experience.
The Encampers welcomed Odette Moran, an organizer from CAUSE, who engaged the young people in a presentation about canvassing. EFC Program Director Jesus Salcido Chavarria remarked, “Most of the young people did not know what canvassing was when we asked if anyone could give a definition. After going through the presentation, Encampers paired off and practiced with each other with scripts brought by Odette.”
Afterward, they held a contest in which two Encampers would try to convince a stubborn Salcido Chavarria to get out and vote for their propositions. Moran was the judge, and the winner would be the Encamper who applied the tips and strategies learned during the presentation. The two participants were chosen at random. They both did a good job of appealing to the cynical, unmotivated Salcido Chavarria and were eventually able to convince him to vote “yes” on protecting water from oil companies. Moran gave some great feedback and deemed it a tie. To view CAUSE’s PowerPoint about canvassing, click here.
The Importance of Art and Culture in Youth Organizing
EFC alum Hausson Byrd (2014, Chicago) led a conversation about the importance of art and culture, and the role of youth in redesigning the future. He spoke about the role of youth historically as an inspiration for change through the sacrifice of their bodies, and said that trend still carries true today with such deaths being recorded and shared in social media. “We discussed how art, culture, and technology can be vehicles to create and spread change, while combating negative social perspectives and messages, by promoting ourselves, our talents, and positive messages about who we are as the next generation,” he said.
“We also talked about how negative messages and stereotypes against youth are being funded and pushed by particular entities, and that we must push to control our own narratives, especially since art is historically attacked by fascism and capitalism as a tactic to destroy peoples’ connection to their culture.
“In closing, we landed on the fact that capitalism is destroying the world and if we don’t do something, who will? As youth, we did not create these conditions or problems, but we must be the solution or we will be the ones to suffer the consequences. However, our art, our passions and talents, are ways to embody, create, and spread change while healing ourselves and others, as opposed to having to put our bodies and lives in harm’s way to move progress forward.”
Encampers were inspired by this powerful conversation:
“Hausson inspired me to continue making videos and films as a way to resist. No matter how much they try to defund art programs at schools, we can’t let them stop us.” – Basil
“Hausson had the biggest impact on me because of the way he uses his words to get his point across. He’s a genius when it comes to word play and poetry, and that’s something I am interested in.” – Ariella
Creating Powerful Songs
The 2022 Encampers created two songs during this year’s program: a lyric video and “You May Think.” We spoke with the talented educators/artists who helped the young people bring forth these powerful musical statements.
“It was fun and it was a powerful experience, hearing the reflections absorbed in their souls,” said Jane Sapp. “None of the initial group were singers, but we had a discussion of the impact of the Encampment on them — what were their takeaways and feelings about what they had heard and seen. As they spoke, I wrote down what they said and I chose sentences that sounded poetic — that had possibility, like ‘You’re not going to scare me off!’ and “On this ground we will stand.’ We collaborated on the melody and Alvin (Encamper) played the piano. After the song was formed, we added a spoken-word piece from the hip-hop group and invited some more people to sing with us for the InterGen presentation.” Click to hear this song recorded at the InterGen.
Jesus Salcido Chavarria led the hip-hop group. The process involved responding to a group of questions as prompts for a free write:
- Who are you?
- What do you have to say?
- What do you need to say?
- Who do you need to say it to?
- What would you tell to somebody who is not here right now (an ancestor, family member, friend)?
“From that we chose a beat — a basic tempo 1, 2, 3, 4,” said Salcido Chavarria. “Then we worked with staying in line with the measure and practiced clapping on 2 and 4. We took time to listen to the beat, and on taking the raw material and rhyming. I worked with each one individually when they were ready and wanted help. We set up a studio in one of the pods with recording equipment. Some people would be recording while others were finishing up their rap. They weren’t used to hearing themselves on headphones and had to make the leap from speaking to having energy in their delivery. It took awhile, but everyone was happy with their part. Then we started working with Basil (Encamper) to make the lyric video and we sent off recording to a friend who mixed it and put text in for us.”
2022 InterGen Program
The 2022 InterGen launched on Friday with the traditional opening circle, led by Mabel Picotte (1992 California) from South Dakota. “A circle is really significant,” she said. “If we are sitting in a circle, that means we are seeing everybody in the room; nobody is not being seen and acknowledged … to make it known that you are important and every person in the room is important.” We were on a hybrid Zoom with Encampers and staff in a circle at the site and everyone else on Zoom. She urged Encampers and supporters to remember that we are all important and to hear each other. She referred to the Indigenous practice of “passing the feather” “so our voices will carry far and high.” Lastly, she urged us to remember that we are making a path for the younger generations who are coming and asked everyone to respond to this prompt, using three key words: How are you walking and paving the path for the younger generation?
Some responses were:
- education/compassion/working hard for social justice;
- involved in social media and numerous clubs at my school and learning more about social justice through books and articles;
- diversity, love, and respect;
- environmental justice, social justice and human transformation
Saturday’s Session I presentations included panelists addressing topics ranging from Evelin Aquino on education and restorative justice; Hausson Byrd, the impact of youth culture; Litzy Hernandez, immigration; Robert Hirsch, policing; Dyanne London and DeVera Jackson-Garber, social justice and mental health; Shauna Marshall, the law as a vehicle for social justice; representatives of the Pesticide-Free Soil Project, environmental justice; and Jason Warwin of Bro/Sis, education and community organizing.
The presenters gave inspiring examples of their social justice work, while confining their remarks to five minutes each so the bulk of the session would consist of breakout groups based on the Encampers’ interests. The speakers echoed many of the themes of the summer program: the need to get involved in issues that concern us; the power of collective action; the role of art and culture in creating change; the lifelong commitment that is necessary for social justice action to move the needle — sometimes in very small increments and often have to be repeated; the importance of self-care for social justice activists.
The panelists offered several written resources: Willful Defiance by Mark R. Warren; Colorizing Restorative Justice by Edward C. Valandra; We Do This ‘Till We Free Us by Mariame Kaba; and The Little Book of Youth Engagement in Restorative Justice by Evelin Aquino, Heather Manchester, and Anita Wadhwa (https://andreagibson.bulletin.com/mental-health-tips-for-activists/; https://caps.umich.edu/article/self-care-tips-student-activists-advocates-and).
There were deep conversations in the breakout groups and then between the members of the breakout groups once they reassembled. There is only space for a few comments here from this powerful intergenerational session where people shared their experiences and resources, touching the participants’ hearts and minds:
“I’m part of the Environmental Justice group and … we had a pretty great discussion with two members of the Pesticide-Free Soil Project. I asked questions about a phenomenon I have noticed with a lot of social justice movements where there is a generational gap. There was lots of activity in the 1960–70s, the rise of these great movements then in the ’80s and ’90s. There’s a lot of fear and destruction that happens to them and then youth are not educated about these tactics. Programs like the Encampment exist to try and educate the youth about this. [This gap] has led to feelings of hopelessness, a lack of control, a lack of community, and a lack of being seen. … Especially with the growth of climate change, a lot of youth are noticing, wow, there was media and films and cartoons and music and pieces of writing all about climate change 40 to 50 years ago! Why aren’t we talking about it? Where did it go? … Even if we don’t know what happened to the environmental movement to cause that gap, we can look at what we can do now. We discussed different tactics we can use to connect with the land. We can have land recognitions in groups, in person, or we can install plaques on buildings to recognize different tribes … This land has a meaning to people and we should respect it — we should be connected to it.“ – Ursa
“[Part of the Social Justice and Mental Health group] I brought up that I learned there is a stigma in POC communities around mental health due to racism and how they treat POCs who are going through mental health issues … I hadn’t known why before, so it was a new perspective.” – Sonisai
“As leaders, we often ignore or push aside our own mental health for the sake of helping other people … we really need to focus on ourselves before we can help others.” – Max
“I was in the Education group. We talked a lot about organizing groups, education reform, and how to reach out to people who don’t necessarily care about or know how to be part of social justice … talking to allies — we have allies in most of our schools — they are not the majority of the population, but they are there. We should be really reaching out to them and making sure they understand the work we are doing so they can spread that knowledge to people who look like them.” – Jason
“We also talked about bridging the gap and realizing that change can be made and I, myself, could be the person to make that change, and encouraging youth to do that. It takes a couple of steps … it’s important to do because every youth is capable of making change [even if] the programming that is American society has made us believe we are not. But we are — so it’s good to see there are things we can do to realize that again.” – Jessica
The conversation continued with participants discussing ways to do self-care for the long run; the importance of art and culture; the many different ways that education reform is needed; the impact of the educational system in terms of stress on the mental health of young people; its relationship to the larger societal systems; and examples of successful reforms in Finland and Amherst, MA. This was a spirited discussion, with many people joining in to share experiences and knowledge.
“I was able to facilitate the breakout room for immigration, policing, law, and social justice with Shauna [Marshall]. Being able to listen deeper to her journey as a social justice lawyer and educator, I found a deep connection to what I want to do with my future. My mom even asked a question in the breakout room about how can she as a parent support me throughout my social justice journey. Shauna truly was inspirational. When she spoke, it felt like she understood what I am going through and how I feel.” – Melanie
“Bob Hirsch [was my favorite panelist] because he was speaking about a topic that I already knew quite a bit about, so it was easy to follow him. He also seemed like he was having an ongoing effect … when it comes to policing, especially concerning people of color.” – Xola
“Jason Warwin had the biggest impact on me because he grew up in a community similar to mine. We share a lot of the same past and experiences. He was able to turn his experience into opportunity, which is something that I was very grateful to hear. Listening to his experiences on how he was able to organize a community made me realize that I can do the same exact thing!” – Jason
“Hausson Byrd was the most memorable for me and definitely had the greatest impact because he reminded me that it’s important to get to know the people around me, even if it’s just the little things.” – Alvin
Videos and Comments from InterGen Zoom participants, Session 2
The Zoom coverage of the Encampers’ presentations had technical difficulties, so we are inserting a few clips that show just some of what the Encampers presented to give you a sense of the issues that the young people are concerned about and their creative responses.
2022 EFC MURAL
Encampers talk about their individual paintings that make up the mural you see to the left.
Click for this lyric video shown at the 2022 InterGen.
Sandy: “Thank you for getting me up, physically, mentally, and emotionally! ‘And Now’ — this song — love it!”
Pinky: “Awesome! So glad that our young people are learning truth and history!”
Sadeqa Johnson: “My heart is full! So amazing!”
Monique Moody: “Amazing work!”
Andrea R: “This is beyond wonderful.”
Steve Leibman: “Awesome! I’m loving your courage and creativity!”
Eloise Paterson: “Our future is so bright with all of you as leaders!”
Click for Sunday’s rousing keynote and Q&A by Miles Rapoport (100% Democracy) and Nse’ Ufot of the New Georgia Project on the importance of voting, voter suppression and its relationship to systemic racism.
A shout-out to all the Encampers and staff for making the 2022 Encampment a learning community filled with creativity.
Thank you to Ruth Thaler-Carter for her copyediting skills that make our text more readable. We appreciate her years of service to the Encampment. Any mistakes here were made after her edits.
Thank you to Adriana Campos-Ojeda and Elibet Valencia Munoz for their photo/video skills that enliven our text, letting you see and hear the Encampers. You can reach Ms. Campos Ojeda at email@example.com and Ms. Munoz at firstname.lastname@example.org