At long last. A blog post!
Things have been changing and busy in YSI-land these last eight months. I’ve been thinking for a long time about what my first YSI blog post would entail. What story it would tell. There will be many more stories told through this blog in the future, but for now, I wanted to say hi. I’m Myia, the Network Lead with YSI. And I’m in the stew of figuring out all the working mechanisms of YSI and how to push it and let it breathe and learn from how people can work together.
Since I’ve decided the purpose of this blog post is to let people know what’s been happening, here’s what’s been happening!
At the beginning of 2016, YSI received a Grow Grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation (thanks OTF!) for three years. For this period of time, we are concentrating our work in Toronto, Algoma and Thunder Bay/Northwest ON, continuing the Nest-building we’ve been learning about through our work in Algoma the last two years. We want to understand more about what it takes to build a Nest in different places, and connect those Nests, and what kinds of structures can help make that happen across the province.
I started in the role of Network Lead at the end of February and jumped into our Core Team Retreat in March at Children’s Peace Theatre in Toronto. This was my first official introduction to YSI and I felt overwhelmed; connected; responsible; with family. Our Core Team Retreat brought together YSI-ers from Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation, Algoma, Toronto, Ottawa and other parts of Ontario, and set the tone of exploration and where to focus our energies for the next year. The Grow Project Committee, the Core Team, Nest teams and YSI staff have been holding different aspects of the work as we've been learning and growing together.
In May, YSI-ers from Toronto and Algoma went to Thunder Bay to meet and introduce YSI to people doing powerful community-building work there. We held two circles and had the chance to build a sense of connection and where the urgency is felt. Lake Superior was with us as the recurring theme of water emerged again and again - water as connector, water as healer. The YSI spark and flame felt in Algoma spread to Thunder Bay as a lake wave.
In June, YSI Algoma folks came together to share their learning and figure out next steps for the Algoma Nest.
In July our Regional Leads in Algoma and the Northwest were hired in collaborative, cross-provincial fashion - Krista Bissiallon based in Sault Ste Marie, and Sarah Nelson based in Thunder Bay. We started the adventure of working together as a remote team, building up the structure of how we work and communicate together as we go.
In July we also had a What's Up with YSI Nest-building?! hangout in Toronto to open up the question of how YSI-ers in Toronto support Nest-building in other places. This has been an ongoing experiment to figure out how the people of YSI work together and communicate in meaningful ways over distance and time.
In August we created our Youth Leadership Circle as an experiment to guide our learning about incubating youth leadership, to ask questions inwardly about understanding our impact as a Network, and to reach outward into community to support individual community learning projects.
We are now in the process of supporting ongoing Nest gatherings and youth social infrastructure-building in Algoma and Thunder Bay, and planning for an Art of Hosting training in partnership with 4Rs Youth Movement for young leaders and adult allies in Thunder Bay in December (stay tuned for more!)
As we move forward, we'll continue to use this space as a place to share reflections and learning about ourselves as individuals and as a Network; about our failures and confusions; and lessons in supporting youth organizing work.
More of this soon, and thanks for sticking with us in the beautiful mess and richness of transition!