100 Youth Voices: A Powerful Dialog

A room full of committed people.  An atmosphere of engaged concern.  A mix of friends and strangers, a few passionate speakers, some excellently facilitated discussions, and a lot of good food.  One Hundred Youth Voices was an event designed to inform, inspire and empower young people to become involved in an issue of great local importance.  This may have been the first forum for teenagers to engage in a major issue like the Gateway Pacific Terminal… but given the huge success of 100 Youth Voices, it won’t be the last!

We are very grateful to the 92 teenagers and 35 adults who attended our forum, and special gratitude goes to our presenters and facilitators.  David Roberts led off the evening with an informative talk about the nature of the project.  David used images and graphs to illustrate his points, including a very compelling montage of aerial images of Cherry Point.  This was followed by David Warren, who made the case for development of the shipping terminal, and Lindsay Taylor, who highlighted reasons for not pursuing the project.  Then the discussions began!

In three breakout sessions run by adult-teen facilitation teams, participants got into the core of the issue.  What kind of health effects can be anticipated with such a project?  How will air quality, fisheries, upland habitats, and other aspects of the natural environment be impacted.  How many jobs will the project generate, and how can we calculate the multiplier effect to understand how those jobs will impact our economy?

After delving into these issues and raising questions and concerns about each, our participants reconvened in a large group session called Collective Voice.  There, key points about the terminal project — relating mainly to health, economic, and environmental outcomes — were considered by the now-informed young people.  Again, good facilitation helped participants to take a position and articulate it, while also hearing divergent views.  Careful notes were taken from the Collective Voice session that will be passed along to local decisionmakers so that they know how young people within their constiuencies feel about this important issue.

The event closed with live music and an impromptu dance with a band called Walking Stick of the Giants.  Participants were also invited to give videotaped statements for our project; some form of these statements, once edited, will also be made public.  We offer immense gratitude to all who participated, to our presenters, and to the team of professional facilitators that worked in partnership with our students:  Mary Dumas, Liz Jennings, Sheri Russell, Micah Shanser, Emily Wilson, and Calhan Ring.  We also thank The Majestic for making the space available, to Subway for discounted food, and to the Dispute Resolution Center for their support.

We also thank Gateway Pacific Terminal and ReSources for their informational assistance!

Some comments from participants:

It was really cool that people came and were willing to give their opinions.

I thought it was a really successful event with meaningful discussion.

People really took the event seriously.

More people came and more people got involved than I thought would.

We had good discussions even if some people held back on being fully involved.

It really got me going when we tried to give out flyers at the public high school and they kicked us out!

I was surprised at the depth of the conversations; people really got into it!

It was really fun; everyone got to say what we really think!

Explore posts in the same categories: Outreach, Perspectives, Sustainability

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