Young People Regaining Power

I am Arlo, a young person going to college in Bar Harbor, Maine (USA). I have been thinking a lot lately about conservation work, national and state parks, and how we can empower young people (in RC and out) in the direction of care of the environment. 

When I was fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen I spent my summers at the Conservation Corps in Minnesota and Vermont (USA), working hard on building hiking trails and staircases, removing invasive species, and doing other cool* projects. This last summer I was a crew leader for two four-week work sessions full of awesome young people. There are many different opportunities like this all over the United States and the world. These kinds of programs are super great—they bring young people outside, they foster great communities—but they are still part of an oppressive system. Patterns of young people's oppression, sexism, and racism (along with other oppressions) still appear lots and often go unaddressed. These patterns make it hard for people to think about young people very well.

As babies we all understand our true power, but because of young people’s oppression we often feel quite discouraged and frightened and it’s hard to act boldly in the face of interesting and restimulating problems. So to most effectively solve problems such as global climate change and capitalism, young people’s liberation has got to be deeply involved in the process! I personally find that exciting. 

Recently I’ve been learning how to blacksmith. It has brought up all sorts of feelings for me to work on. Working with tools to change the environment around me has been a critical part of my re-emergence. It’s given me a space to understand that despite the oppression, I am powerful after all! We are powerful! 

After a project at the Conservation Corps, the crews say things like, “Look at that trail! We built a good trail! Let’s do this again!” Projects like these have been particularly helpful for me because I have been able to discharge old discouragements and take action in a present-time situation. This combination of discharge and action has been a springboard for me.

During a session last night I was able to connect human liberation to my experience and passion for tool building. I left with this commitment: “From now on, I am deciding to live my life with no tolerance for oppression of any kind. My tool of choice is love, which I will use thoughtfully, effectively, and efficiently, while working toward building a world where humans are not separated from each other.” 

This work gets me so excited. I’d love to hear thoughts, ideas, directions that have worked for you, things this posting made you think of, appreciations, or anything else!  

Arlo Cristofaro-Hark 
Bar Harbor, Maine, and
Northfield, Minnesota, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion 
list for leaders in the care of the environment

* "Cool" means great, wonderful.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00