Fresh Tracks Northeast Training Expedition

A New Era Begins!  

This is the start of an exciting new era for Fresh Tracks.  In early June, we held the first Fresh Tracks regional training expedition, a three-day cross-cultural learning experience that brought together aspiring young leaders representing urban and indigenous communities from Boston, Philadelphia, Hartford, Chicago, upstate New York, and Oklahoma. Please read the full expedition report below! 

We are grateful to the partners and sponsors who are making these experiences possible: 

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People, Place, and Purpose

With the natural beauty of coastal Massachusetts as a background, a diverse corps of Fresh Tracks youth trainers led a series of interactive workshops focused on personal narrative, leadership IQ, civic engagement, and community organizing - all skills the participants used to develop community action plans for their communities.

Fresh Tracks was also honored to welcome several powerful guest speakers, including Cecilia Gutierrez, National and Local Program Strategist, My Brother's Keeper, Obama Foundation, and Conan Harris, Deputy Director of the Mayor's Office on Public Safety and Director of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Boston.  

You have to find spaces that fully embrace who you are, that allow you to bring your collective life experiences to the work. Those lessons shape who you are and help to define your calling. You bring your uniqueness, unapologetically, everywhere you go. And remember, you have a responsibility to those who have been left behind, to sit at the table. Standing on the sideline, when so few of us make it, is not an option. Sit at the table - you’ve earned it - you belong there.
— Cecilia A. Gutierrez, Manager, MBK Network and Partnerships, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, Obama Foundation

Step Up. Stand Up. Speak Up.

Saturday began with words of inspiration from Kimberly Pham, a leader with Opportunity Youth United, who drew on her own life story to encourage the participants to appreciate how expanding knowledge starts with bringing minds together.

This message was amplified by Fresh Tracks Trainer Sonny White, a member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, who gathered the participants in a shaded corner of the beautiful Essex Woods property to explore how tools for personal narrative - including music, writing, social media, and poetry - are used to shape and share perspective, understanding, and history.  

Later, Fresh Tracks moved to the low ropes course, where the power of the outdoors helped create new trust and friendship among the Fresh Tracks family.  Those  connections were deepened in the afternoon as Devin Edwards, a Fresh Tracks Trainer from Boston, modeled how effective leaders motivate teams to move as units toward shared goals. 

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Sharing cultures, igniting futures

In the evening, Fresh Tracks Evaluator Dr. Sharoni Little, a professor at the USC Marshall School of Business, emphasized how recognizing and overcoming implicit bias can reframe how we see each other. Dr. Little's workshop led into a moving culture share driven by the participants, followed by more community-building around the campfire.

In one of the final sessions, Fresh Tracks Trainer Anthony Tamez, a Sicangu Lakota leader, shared the tactics that have helped him become an accomplished community organizer in his hometown of Chicago. Finally, before a closing ceremony, the participants worked in small groups to develop community action plans that will guide how they use their enhanced leadership skills to bring positive change to their communities. 

 

Fresh Tracks is helping me remember that the issues we face individually are really on a global scale. It’s something we all face, and it unites us.
— Madison White - Fresh Tracks Participant

The real work begins

Fresh Tracks is not just a program. Fresh Tracks is a network of support - a platform that offers participants ongoing opportunities to develop community action plans and to become trainers at future Fresh Tracks expeditions. The training expedition at Essex Woods was a springboard to the real work of driving positive change back home. 

That message was reinforced by Conan Harris, Deputy Director of the Mayor's Office on Public Safety and Director of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Boston, who urged the participants to carve a personal path to leadership, to navigate obstacles with confidence, and to embrace their own self-worth. 

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Fresh Tracks has a mission to invest in you. I hope you are taking the opportunity to learn everything you can while with them, and plan on staying connected, because when you leave here, that’s when the real work begins. Be steadfast, and decide what you want for your life, and always make sure to leave an open hand for the next person.
— Conan Harris, Deputy Director of The Mayor's Office on Public Safety, Director of My Brother's Keeper Boston

Thank you

The success of the Northeast Fresh Tracks training expedition has shown that the Fresh Tracks regional model works. We're looking forward to our next regional training expeditions in California (Long Beach: July 13-15) and the Midwest (Chicago: August 10-12). And, we're grateful to all the partners and sponsors who are making these experiences possible.