Fresh Tracks is not just about training young adults to be leaders. It’s about preparing leaders to take action in their home communities. That was the core message in a final-day session on community organizing led by Fresh Tracks Trainers James King, Jr., Christie Wildcat, and Trenton Casillas-Bakeberg.
Working in action groups, the Fresh Tracks crew broke down the basics of community mapping, asked critical questions about institutions that claim to invest in communities, and explored characteristics of past and present community organizers - from Martin Luther King to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Youth Council. Several participants also shared their personal visions for community impact.
Later, the Fresh Tracks Midwest Training returned to the outdoors. Participants engaged in a “trust hike”, in which team members were blindfolded and communication was limited. This prompted them to rely on one another to safely arrive at their destinations. As participant Michael Charles reflected, the trust hike taught leaders “to slow down when others don’t have what you have.”
The midwest training culminated in an exercise that tied in all the weekend’s lessons about identity, culture, community, and civic engagement. Groups of participants worked together to create a model program or resource that would improve their communities. They pitched their ideas to a mock city council made up of Fresh Tracks staff and leadership, who offered supportive critiques on each idea and approach. Participants walked away with tangible feedback that will help them make strong cases for the changes they’ll work on back home.
We’re grateful to everyone at the Dunes Learning Center for the hospitality, to the Trainers who embody youth leadership, and to all the participants for their passion, energy, and commitment to improving lives. You’ve all given us great momentum as we prepare for the final Fresh Tracks Regional Training of 2018 - the Southwest and Intermountain Training in Abiquiú, New Mexico (September 14-16).