Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

For updates on Stowe Center programs and events, sign up for our enews at http://harrietbeecherstowe.org/email.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Event Recap: Training the Next Generation of Social Change Leaders

How do mentorship programs inspire and guide the next generation of social change leaders?

Michelle Cote: Founding Director of The Purpose Project
  • Wanting to make a change in the world, ideal scenarios, lots of energy, and the guidance they needed created the Purpose Project.
  • The Purpose Project identifies those who have wisdom and connects them to the next generation
  • The first Thursday of the month during the academic year, the Hartford Courant publishes their work on inspirational people
  • Face to face dialogue is key. Once a month seasoned and emerging leaders come together to discuss issues of the community in the "Bridge the Gap" discussions.
  • The best way to leave a mark is to equip those who come next. It's a great exchange.
Camilla Marquez: Program Coordinator for Peace Jam Northeast
  • Making connections between youth and nobel laureates all around the world.
  • For younger children it's about character traits of these leaders and inspiring them to take on these traits. Each laureate has a trait to study such as compassion or anger management.
  • For older students it is the steps towards activism
Colleen Kelly Alexander: Program Manager for Peace Jam Northeast
  • Peace Jam is involved in issues such as racism, equal access to health care, and women's issues
  • It's about finding what you are passionate about and how to do something.
How important is it to track how many youth you work with and what they do?
  • For Peace Jam, former participants bring back great success stories to the organization and attribute their impact to their involvement in Peace Jam.
  • The Purpose Project is still a young organization, still building their audience. Keeping track of those involved is the goal.
It takes a lot of courage to take risks. How do we confront that?
  • Most powerful part is highlighting personal examples and making role models human.
  • Change doesn't happen overnight. Michelle stated that, "It's the long arc of effor that yeilds results."
  • Purpose drives you. It's the little wins along the way that make you continue.
  • Sometimes issues seem so grand, we don't know where to start, and it's easier to put it off. It is important to understand the power of the individual.
How do you make your approach?
  • Work in schools, faith based groups, and community organizations. Networking!!
  • Purpose Project's "Bridge the Gap" community discussion puts people of all ages together to encourage the next generation to make change.
How do you teach children to be activists?
  • You look at character traits and methods of real activism to inspire action.
  • Most have never had this experience; it is a learning opportunity. "There is no failure."
  • Purpose Project has a curriculum to give students the opportunity to decide whether activism is what they want to do and find out what their passion is. It takes passion.
  • Exposing children to other backgrounds can be done without travelling the world.
What barriers do you face putting mixed generations together?
  • Stereotypes, differences in language and expectations.
  • Stripping away those divisions and coming together for a common purpose is the goal. 
  • You may have a different approach (social media vs. door-to-door canvassing), but you have a common goal.
How do you connect people from different backgrounds?
  •  Networking and ginding people your work resonates with.
  • Getting your messageout there, asking and providing an outlet opens it up to involvement.
  • It's about embracing differeneces because they shouldn't be ignored, they should be celebrated.
What are young people doing?
  • University of Hartford's class, Designing Global Change, brings art students together iwht social organizations.
  • A non-violence mural project on Albany Avenue in Hartford brought together students, the local community, Hartford Police, and the Urban League.
  • Communicating peace, hope, and community was the goal of the class' mural project.
How do the events occuring now inthe Middle East impact our action here?
  • Some wonder why our country's youth isn't standing up the way they are.
  • There's a  breaking point people have to reach; there's a point where it becomes intolerable.
  • We are too comfortable and our lives are not in jeopardy enough for an uprising.
  • Hopefully it doesn't take hunger or suffering to get us to action.
What are our issues? How do we act?
  • Climate change, oil, and economic instability are concerns we have limited time to address.
  • Poverty is related to all of us. There are deep deep problems that need answers. The answer may be hidden, but we can find it. A national and global movement is needed.
  • Take the risk to have dialogue. We need to make the effort to engage in conversation.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. Start small.
  • Reach out to children when they are young. Children soak up information.
  • It's not dependent on one person, it takes spreading that persons words and actions.
  • Solidarity, not charity. It's not enough to donate and believe you made a difference.
  • Sacrificing some of your comforts and privileges to take action and standing in solidarity makes a difference.

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