12565 CE: Greenhouse Fellowship: Co-Constructing Spaces of Love, Equity, and Justice with Youth Re-Writing the Future of a Post-Industrial City
Organizers: Asif Wilson
Presenters: Joi Gillespie, Alexis Irvin, Jazmine Freeman, Kaylah Davis, Juvenal Enriquez, Adrian Saavedra
This proposed panel seeks to explore the theories and outcomes of Greenhouse Fellowship, a year-long experience for recent high school graduates that leverages the intrinsic power within youth to remain in their cities and act on them in justice-centered ways. Composed of the administration and the six fellows themselves, we will lead the audience through the theoretical framework of the fellowship–constructed through the lenses of participatory action research (Kemmis and McTaggart, 2007; McIntyre, 2008) and praxis (Freire, 1970; Duncan-Andrade and Morrell, 2008)– and the use of digital tools within the fellowship to organize and act on a city. The administration will highlight the negotiations that take place within the co-constructed environment as well as the role that adult allies play in the creation of radical spaces of healing for young people coming to terms of their conscientization within the neo-liberal context. The fellows–all of whom are 18-19 years of age–will present their own narratives of conscientization, while also highlighting the use of digital tools to read and re-write their worlds.
Implemented in the fall of 2014, Greenhouse Fellowship is an organization committed to cultivating power within East Chicago youth to act on their worlds. Seven recent graduates of East Chicago Central High School are staffed as fellows for one year. While gaining hands-on experiences in select local non-profits, the fellows refine and develop theories and actions that promote unity, social welfare, leadership, knowledge, responsibility, justice, equity, and love. Through exploration of self, community, theory, and action the fellows hope to construct new ways of being and acting on the world. The fellowship seeks to leverage the power, experiences, and innovation intrinsic in young people to create change in a post-industrial city.
As fellows build and construct their own individual and collective theories of change—driven by input from the community—they are encouraged to act on these theories in an effort to create a more sustainable, caring, and just world.
The fellows, out of their own interests to investigate and act on their world, have taken action to transform their local library back into a public space of inquiry, idea sharing and creation. They have used social media to gain the input of the community, used digital research skills to gain sources of information counter to the narrative of the library adminstration, explored new innovative library spaces like YouMedia in Chicago’s Harold Washington Library, and begun to develop a comprehensive plan to present to the library’s board and director to turn a decaying, exclusive, punitive public space into a technologically advanced space of idea production, action, and community. The presentation will lead viewers through this experience, one which is initiated by the young people but moderated by adults. This project provides a unique example of the role of adults in youth-lead movements.