“Organizing,” what’s that? Well, I’ll try to explain the way I see it. Organizing is basically the act of identifying an issue that affects you and finding strategic ways of going about changing it. For example, there might be a policy or a rule that you feel affects you or a group of people negatively and you want to create change. You would then begin to organize with people who felt the same way and identify those who have the power to change the problem. This is called the collective process, meaning that the change is made by and for those affected.
Usually, students receive report cards from their schools grading their progress, but in late 2008 we decided to survey 500 Albuquerque youth and ask them to grade their schools on how well they felt information pertaining to sex and health education was being taught. We released those results and got the attention of the people who had the power to change the situation.
So, what’s so special about youth organizing? What does it mean to be a youth organizer? The issues that interest the youth are not the only unique aspects of youth organizing. Youth organizing is also special in the way that youth call attention to their plights; oftentimes youth incorporate art into their organizing actions. For instance: In December 2008 one of our members, Amber Archibuque, was released from the county detention center in the middle of the night in downtown Albuquerque without access to a phone. She was found dead from overdose just hours after being released. At Young Women United we wanted to call attention to the incarceration of women and in order to do so, we held vigils to remember Amber and the West Mesa 13. Wanting to commemorate the loss of Amber Archibuque, Kirbie Platero painted a mural of Amber’s portrait. In the portrait, Kirbie painted Amber surrounded with a rose and a bumblebee, things Amber loved.
Incorporating art into organizing actions is something that is often done at Young Women United. Another example of this is in our campaign for comprehensive sexuality education where we choreographed a step routine and performed it in front of school board members.
There are plenty of youth organizing projects in New Mexico that use art and creative thinking as tools to get noticed and make change. Youth organizing is different from youth advisory councils or even a board with only one young person on it, it’s groups of young people who decide what change will be made and how they want to do it while taking direction from no one.
So, what is it to be a youth organizer? A group of people can make big changes. Change doesn’t have to be a tedious process as long as there are passionate people involved. You can make the change you want, and it can be fun. If you’re down to get involved call me, Avicra Luckey at 505-831-8930 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Avicra Luckey, Community Organizer at Young Women United.