No Responses to “Activity

  • Dear Zunneh-bah,
    I love this… Love the life I feel in the repetition of “How can I help?” and the momentum that comes from the repetition of the Discrimination lines. The piece has a chant quality to it that makes me feel your power as an amazing human being, and as a word-wielder. .
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Dear Tom,
      A’hé’hee (thank you) so much for your support and encouragement! 🙂

  • Dear Dixie,

    You’ve been spot on for the many years I’ve known you about needing to attend to “a new conception of literacy.” It’s wild how conventions and utility of language change under our feet, and how our systems are so slow to adapt and to get beyond colonialist, static, notions of good writing and good literacy. I lead one of those systems, and am under plenty of pressure to keep it in tact. I keep thinking how versions of the Lawrence Bill of Rights might help us to leverage change in institutions where the structures of accountability keep the status quo.

    But what is that new conception, specifically? I get that agency needs to be more highly valued and supported and catalyzed by schools. I think about that a million times a day. But what are the literacy nuances and valued traits in “advocacy literacy” — literacy that gets things done? What kinds of rhetorical tools help us get ideas to action?

    Hasta tomorrow,

  • Dear Mikayla,

    I’m glad you found us again! Love that you found your way in here with such determination. When you speak, by the way you light up a room with your determination. I can’t wait to see what you do in the context of the Next Gen network!


  • Dear Lil,

    Thanks for these intriguing thoughts. At the Poetry Freeforall tonight the moderator quoted WH Auden on the power of creating “useless” things (art). I wonder if anyone remembers the quote.

    One facet of your post that just inspired some connection for me is your reference to “our reach” — both in person and digitally. I wonder how we might use “analytics” from digital tools as just one strand of data gathering. I know Kip from Louisville got some great analytics on our last Twitter chat. Maybe someone among us is interested in learning how to analyze (and optimize) that dimension of our reach.

    I was more like Kid A than Foxy G as a teen. What about “all of y’all” ? (Did I do that right, Southerners?)


    • Thanks Tom. I was also a Kid A, but I could appreciate the work of Foxy Gs around me. Their work is needed and we need to value it.

      I also really love the twitter stories and I think they could be a powerful tool for capturing and summarizing exchanges, big ideas, and actions.

  • Dear Dewight,

    Teaching is challenging. Most of us entered the profession because we love kids and love some field of learning. Early in the process (and sometimes later in the process!) of learning to teach, teachers often struggle with designing structures and routines to get young people to be interested, to try their hardest, to stretch, and, ultimately stretch to do what they might not have thought they were capable of.

    Silence (shutting up) –like Rex gave us a healing dose of this morning– sometimes creates openings for chaotic, off-task behaviors when young people are not engaged. Also, many teachers are extroverts and many in education often feel pressure to manage students through quick pacing, lots of redirection, etc.

    So, what would be your advice to teachers (including your college professors) in finding that balance between sharing their expertise, and stepping back / being quiet enough to allow students to generate that energy you mention in your post?

    Thanks for thinking out loud. It’s a great contribution to our community.

  • Dear Doug and NextGen Fam,

    I love that you echo James’ phrase “democratic pedagogy” here.. I’d love to know what our various interpretations of that phrase might be. Who’s up for giving your definition of what that means?


  • Dear Sameia,

    Your clear and direct words pierced me.

    “We’re not just clueless kids. We’re people with dreams. Dreams that we’ll be able to make our hometown much better than what it is now. .”

    It’s hard to imagine a more concise and authentic mission statement for our NextGen work, and CLEARLY you are FAR from being a “clueless kid.” I sense a great combination of humility, eagerness to learn from others, and conviction in your thinking here. I love that you believe in making our local communities proud.

    I hope everyone in NextGen reads this and thinks about this powerful source of hope and change y’all are when you think in terms of civic pride, in terms of doing what’s good for entire communities.

    THAT is rocket fuel!

    What is it, Sameia, or others, that makes you want to do good for your community? Do you have some chances to do things for the community at school now?


  • Dear Elijah,

    I’m pausing to savor this comment, ” I’m dedicated to freeing human brains and deleting the illusions in a persons life.”

    That, my friend, sounds like a recipe for a lifetime of good work!

    So, Elijah and others, what social or educational experiences have you had with others that have helped you to realize this kind of liberated, freed, feelings? I’d love to hear about some of the influential people you know personally who have given you that kind of freeing and disillusioning experience. . Who are they, and what did they do?

    Here’s to cage-free human brains!

  • Dear Nick,

    You’re probably aware of this, but I’m not quite as smart as you so I found this really inspiring and energizing and just plain cool. Look at how your written phrases show you’re mindset. You wrote…

    I am unsure
    I have a theory
    If I am right
    If I am wrong

    Nick and everyone, Dixie used the phrase “advocacy literacy” in our opening session in that “slightly cramped” (I might have said “jam-packed,” Nick) room at Frothingham, on Wednesday.. How might phrases like these be key to identifying the kinds of thinking that make up “advocacy literacy”?

    If I am right, I will confirm my theory that Nick and many of you are smarter than I am! (You should see — or maybe you shouldn’t –the schlock I was writing in high school.

    What do you all think of those simple phrases? How would you describe the kinds of thinking they show?


  • Dear Alisia,

    Since we have had a few good (in my register, at least) conversations, I feel like I can give you my first reaction to this post: WHO ARE YOU? : ) I say that with absolute reverence. A math teacher who spits hairs (and not infinitives) over were vs. was, and who has at least somewhat voluntarily come to learn the secret agent handshakes where nary a mathematician has tread.

    We’re so glad you’re here. And we need you!

    You wrote, ” Teaching computer programming to minority girls, in addition to learning it myself this summer, has been a life-changing experience for me, ”


    Programming is a field that crosses several disciplines and almost immediately gives people the power to DO. Tell us a bit more about that experience? I’d love to hear about the girls’ (and your own) reaction to the experience. What WAS most striking about it? If you WERE to distill the kinds of empowerment you experienced into a few words, what would they be?

    I see programming like geometry–a place to apply really creative and yet pragmatic reasoning skills. How do you (or any of you) experience it? And what potential does it have to engage people who are otherwise not easily engaged in more abstract academics?


  • Dear Akwelle,
    I hope everyone in this space reads this reflection:

    “Within two hours of being surrounded by all the incredible individuals here at NextGen, I was drafting a poem and planning a documentary exploring a group of people who need exploring by me, black LGBT youth. If I wasn’t here, I would’ve been scared to put myself out there and do a project that is, for me, extremely intimidating. But seeing everyone unapologetically put themselves out there for the people, communities, and ideas they care about made me want to do the same.”

    You ARE inspiring. Have you shared that poem yet? Would you consider it?

    I love hearing about how your arrival was different from what you expected, by the way.

    See you soon!


  • Good Morning, Makayla,
    I’m interested in what you’re thinking about your learning style when you say ,”The other students and I don’t have the same learning/teaching.” Tell me more about what you’re thinking here. How do you learn best?

    • Good morning, well when i say that i was taught differently means exactly what it means. If they speak about traditions or anything that someone might be curious about then they can’t speak for me. The same goes for me, I can’t really speak for them.
      Mikayla- M.I.K.A.Y.L.A

  • Good Morning, Robbie and NextGen Friends,

    I love these questions:
    “She is absolutely right. If this is the case, that we have come here to establish a new network, how will this ‘network’ work? How do we communicate and what will that communication look like? Feel like? What good can it do? Do we meet every now and again, or is it a long distance thing?”

    How would you answer these in terms of what YOU would like to see? I’d love to hear your thoughts, Robbie, but others, PLEASE chime in!


  • PS … I think you have a disemboweled animal story to tell?

  • Hi Emily,
    I love that you welcome complexity and that you are persistent in thinking through and about complex issues. Since you created this post, have you been thinking any further about the kinds of work you want to do with NGLN? Who is your thinking partner and what are you proposing to talk and think together about?
    Looking forward to learning more,

  • Thanks, Katie. What are you and Alani ( @awilliams ) going to be talking about and thinking about together?
    Dad : )

  • Katie, Thank you so much for this beautiful, thoughtful post. My breath caught in my chest when I read: “Not only are the students motivated within their groups, but it’s also beautiful to see how students can inspire other students who live on the other side of the country.” This is beautiful and inspirational. To be in this space and to have the opportunity to work with youth like you keeps me moving. Thank you.
    I do wonder about your comment: “Once this structure is laid out, hopefully students will be able to frequently and productively connect with others, sharing ideas and furthering their work as a young leader.” Do you think we will ever get this structure “laid out”? I wonder….
    Thank you again, Katie. Working, writing, and laughing with you is a joy.

  • WOW!!! This is awesome Zunneh-bah! What a profound piece.

  • Wow, Zunneh-bah! This poem is so powerful. You express your passions and yourself so wonderfully. I can’t wait to read more of your work!

    • A’hé’hee (thank you)! 🙂 I can’t wait to read more of your awesome work too! 🙂

  • You’re right. It time to make donuts!!! I cant wait to see the “good trouble” that you and your site members will make over the course of the year.

  • I disagree. Yes, it is true that opening up the floor for complete self direction can evoke chaos. However, we are not an regular group of students, as we are repeatedly told. ‘Democratic Pedagogy’ would more or so help this group achieve more while we are together.

    • Hey Robbie. I agree with your disagreement here! What I was trying to do is represent what some teachers fear. I know there is a better way, as do many teachers. And I absolutely believe intros drop as achievers and path-builders in Democratic Pedagogy. So keep speaking up and asking for clarification or presenting opposing viewpoints, please!

  • Hey Eva,
    This is a powerful reflection–thanks for sharing! Interesting idea about the loss of guided intellectualism–it seems obvious to me that you’ve been empowered in the past few years to be able to continue being a deep thinker with out without the structure of WTS or similar programs. I’ll look forward to hearing from you as this project unfolds..


  • WOW!!!! Im totally feelin’ this Lillian. In the words of 3Stacks (Andre 3k) DA SOUT HAS SOMETHIN” TO SAY! We have to stay in connection over the course of the year as thought partners. I’m looking forward to startin’ some good trouble. 🙂

  • Zunneh-bah,
    Your presence, your voice, and your actions not only demonstrate that you are here, but they also help us as we navigate this road together, respectfully and bravely. We are here together, in this space, in this world, in this universe and together we can work to preserve and honor all. Thank you for leading the way.

    • Dear Ceci,
      A’hé’hee (thank you) for your support and encouragement! 🙂 We are together and we are uniting! United people power!

  • Dewight,

    This is an amazing analogy! Its interesting to think of it this way because of how strategic and complicated the approach of all of our different topics can get.

  • I really like the photos that you have in the blog. The questions that you incorporated into the blog is amazing. I would say that this is better then what i posted as it is longer and has more pictures. i also give you points for adding captions to the photos or at least one of them, that is an effort that i myself i did not think about at the time but after seeing your post i will take it to consideration to have that done.

    Great Job!

  • It was nice to read your thoughts and reflections! I cannot wait to see what work you come up with next!

  • Hey! Amber your entry was amazing, its great how confident you are with your language and even though I don’t fully understand it , I like the idea of me trying to understand. Also when you translated it and I found its meaning it felt poetic as if where you were from wasn’t a place on Earth but some place unique and enriched in its own culture. You did an awesome job!!

  • @tmckenna Hey, we have decided to work on getting children interested and invested into learning. In our communities students go to school because they’re obligated by law. We want kids to actually enjoy learning and going to school.

  • I have to agree completely with Tom, Sameia. I love what you’ve written here, I am inspired by your defiant determined words, and I see and feel the connectedness you are already building between you and your peers, Allendale and the everywhere else. I admire the confidence your voice brings to our collective, I admire how clearly you know and believe we all have something to give and take from each other, and I believe in your belief that we are rising on the tide of each other’s gifts, talents, skills, passions.

    I love the idea of inspiring others to seek and to know hope, to spread it with audacity, and watch it grow. What tools do you hope to use to bring other young people to join you in this powerful work? And how can community members in and out of the schools aid you in your efforts?

  • You’ve made a pretty large impact on our group the past couple of days, it’s been great getting to know you and I would love to collaborate with you in the future. I’m excited to see how your work with Elevated Thought brings life to NextGen!

    • Omg stop, Y’ALL have inspired me!!! I loved getting to know you guys! Let’s plan that collab soon ;P

  • I’ve never experienced anything like this either! We will make things happen in Allendale County first, and then we’ll take it further. I am anxious to see what you and Sameia will bring to our community.

  • You did an awesome job describing the examples of the problems were facing. I like how I can feel your motivation and drive through your words it makes me want to hear more problems from you. Keep up the good work!

  • I love how your personality really shines through in this post… albeit short… just like us (LOL!). I think it’s really important for all of us to understand that we come from all different walks of life and cultural backgrounds. We need to be aware of that and not just assume we have all gone through the same upbringing, education system, or even the same America. The sometimes brutal and honest truth is something that will help this group grow and mature and I’m glad you’ll be the one dishing it out!

  • I’m elated that you believe that you are the catalyst for the change that is about to come to Allendale! You and Alani are going to do wonderful things in our community. Make it happen!

  • Are you sure you are not a reincarnated philosopher… perhaps Hubert Henry Harrison???? You have really impressed me this week and I can not wait to see the wonderful things that you and your other team mates will accomplish over the next year.

  • Alani,
    Your writing here has really moved me. I love more than anything that you got on a plane and flew to Vermont to find out what NGLN is all about, to contribute to this awesome collective, and to see yourself and others here as change agents. You have chosen such power descriptions of who and what this collective is: “we’re starting a movement and I’m thankful to have this opportunity to be here”. I love this line from your post because it illustrates your belief in the future of this work, this collective, and in our ability to impart change where ever we are.

    I also love that you’ve observed that the barriers between adults and young adults have been lowered, everyone here is learning from everyone else, and everyone’s voice is valued and changes what we do even in the moments we are doing it.

    What can we do to make relationships like this possible for other young people in Allendale and beyond? If not in school, where? You are the leader we’ve been waiting for.

  • Dear Eva,
    What a thoughtful post. I wish I had more time to respond, but at the moment I want to capture your telling phrase, “my whole world slowed.” Isn’t that what Rex did for us yesterday (in just five minutes)? It seems like you’ve discovered a deep level of passion and interest and commitment that makes time slow because, maybe you give it so much of your attention?
    Anyway, love the phrase and all of the thinking leading up to it. I think this slowing is a mindset we could use more of in my world, at least.
    Thank you.

  • Michael,

    I am so immensely proud of your progress and consider myself lucky to be apart of your journey into young adulthood. Continue to challenge yourself to not be afraid of your “greatness” as you have so much to offer this world! I am so excited about our ATL NextGen team and I am looking forward to us making some “Good Trouble” together. #ATL4LIFE #RELUV

  • Yes yes yes Tangee. John Lewis — good trouble is the best kind. And definitely. We have to stick together.

  • You and your NGLN are on fire, Monica. The poetry, the posts on this website, the conversations you’re all…you’re all creating a new world, one no longer dominated by oppression and fear, a world filled with love and justice. This fills the older generation with hope and joy. We’re blessed to be a part of your work.

  • On fire indeed, Monica. In almost three decades of professional work with young people, I’ve never seen or felt the kind of energy, articulate communication, and care you all brought to Bread Loaf, and created there together. This is important! Don’t let the momentum die!

  • I love this! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • When you presented this poem, I was blown away. You better represent your roots. Stay proud!

  • Wow, Michael! This is powerful. I love reading this ode to your mother in a poem titled “Father Figure”. Even though you demonstrate your anger and frustration at not having a father/man in your life, you circle back to the strength of your mother and how able she is to fill any need or void you might feel. I got chills when I read the last lines —

    “I always thought my mother was the man of the house…oh wait/ SHE IS.


    Would you say Father Figure is an ode or a praise song for mothers?

    I love the conflict — and resolution — in the title of the poem and the poem’s content.

  • Absolutely, Elijah! Please sign me up for anything that involves freeing human brains! Yes yes yes.

    I love what Tom and Tangee have written in response to this post, too, because both comments get at the complexity of what you’ve written and how applicable it is to what we are trying to accomplish in our network and what we hope to see in our communities.

    I love the idea of making lists of experiences that have freed us, that have made us or helped us believe that anything is possible. This sounds like a generative and rewarding path to follow.


  • Nice Michael!

    I also liked reading about how you are plugged into a couple of different places where you are finding encouragement and motivation to make a difference in your community. I also really like the idea of all of us behaving in ways that will help others feel motivated, too.

    I am inspired by the urgency that you use to describe what you’re hoping to do with this group. What other ideas do you have about how we can stay on track and to keep moving forward?

  • Wow — this is very helpful Tangee. I like a good bulleted list! I especially am drawn to your comments about how we much build our relationships — online and in person — to ensure the success of this work. Absolutely.

    Also — can we talk about “broaden the life lens” of participants? What a powerful conceptualization of what we working toward in our collective. That is a powerful way to establish a foundational description of what is happening in this space — and beyond. I really like that.

    Consistent access…I am thinking about this, too. I love the groupme messages and I love the blog posts. I hope we can fuel these flames, though, by building capacity and sustaining responses to student writing and mentor writing – and lots of DOING.

    Thanks for these wonderful insights.

  • Wow Natasha. I love what you’ve written here. I think you’ve done an amazing job capturing the essence and the feeling of what it means to work with and learn from peer groups. There is this building and guiding level of comfort that we were all beginning to experience and I think that, like you said, fed oil to the flames and made us confidence that as individuals and as groups we have serious ideas about how we can address, look at, document, and know some of the most pressing issues in our areas.

    I also really love that you framed this as storytelling; we all gathered at Bread Loaf for storytelling. We shared experiences and art and ideas — and those stories alone seemed to already be forming the solutions. Wow. Storytelling as solutions. This is very interesting to think.

    What were some of the solutions that really stood out to you?

  • Akwelle,
    Thank you for such wonderful tips. I am going to put reminders on my phone right now. The journal idea is brilliant too. Sometimes when I am walking, I think of things and then I get home, start talking with my family, playing with the dog, or doing household chores. Guess what happens to those ideas? Nothing! I found that if I have my phone with me, I can talk and walk at the same time (this is a big deal for this rather clumsy gal). The notes I speak into my phone can then be emailed to me. I love technology!

  • Alisia,
    It is hard to believe that you have not taken a creative writing class since 10th grade. Your use of language, expression, and punctuation are enviable. 🙂 As I was reading your post, I thought of the dissonance that is probably existing in all of us right about now. On the logical level, we know what we are doing here. As you claimed: “We are the network.” But personally, what does that mean? This concrete idea of being a member of a network is in competition with the more nebulous, ethereal idea of what it means for me to be a member of a network and an agent of change. I am right in this network boat with you and as we travel, I am hoping the fog will lift a bit and we will see more clearly. The good news is that we are not on this boat alone! I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with you. Math instructors don’t usually hang around with my kind. haha!

  • Nick,
    There is no way in the world that I am worried; you all are in control driving this bus of awesomeness! Thanks for leading the network. Great film.

  • Oops, I mean Robbie! Sorry. I had all the Nick images in my head. Great videography. I see why you are so passionate about your camera. You are a magic maker, Robbie.

    • Robert Spencer
      1 year ago

      Haha thanks Ceci, it means a lot to me to hear you say that. ?

  • Paul,
    As you head out on your global travels, know that we will continue to ” seek clarity in our purpose as humans, learners, and community members.” You may be on the other side of the planet, but you will remain in our hearts, and hopefully in the network – inspiring, challenging, and supporting the network although you are on your travels. Be safe, friend.

  • Wow wow wow James.

    I can hear this poem so well.
    I understand your passion and your commitment to the Dominican diaspora. I see your tri-racial America; your poem abundantly welcomes me to see, to hear, to feel across difference.

    I want to know these streets.

    *snap* *snap* *snap*

  • Robbie, this is beautiful work. Thanks for sharing it here, and in the GroupMe conversation. Could I feature this in the Bread Loaf Teacher Network Journal, scheduled to be published this fall?


  • I love this set of reminders, Akwelle, especially your reflections about carrying a journal.. I won’t soon forget your free write in response to the color yellow. You are a keen writer with a distinctive voice. I’ll want to read anything you share.

    School is coming fast for me, too, with my first official day on August 2.

    Looking forward to how we shape NGLN together!


  • James,
    Speak your truth because it is a truth that transcends space, time, and ethnic borders. It is a truth that rises from the ancestral silences that precede you, but that live in you. Thank you for sharing theirs and your voice!

  • Zunneh-bah, thank you for attaching these incredible videos on this post. They reinforce the notion that we MUST do something for our communities. It is not enough to do it for ourselves; it is imperative that what we do must have a longer reach. I appreciate all the various ways these youth are claiming agency and providing tools for the members of their communities – be it music, art, awareness. You are part of this and I am so grateful that you are part of NGLN. You have much to teach us about advocacy. A’he’hee’

  • Michael,
    I am floored by the understanding you have of what it means to be a man, a father, a support for a family. This is profound knowledge, Michael. I realize that it comes a great cost, however. I feel the pain. Thank you for writing this and sharing it. What do you think you can do about this issue? I believe you might not be alone in the feelings and experiences that you have had.

  • Iishe,
    This sounds phenomenal! I hope that I will be able to access the zine and the blog that you all are writing. Women’s health issues are so important and as we have seen, they are the first things on the medical bill chopping blocks. How can we get teenage girls to recognize that their bodies are theirs, not the medias or someone elses? I am so happy your group is working on this. Thank you. If I can be of any help, just say the word.

  • Nick,
    Bingo! “we are here to brainstorm solutions on how to attempt to solve problems in each of our communities and to talk about how we can each become better leaders in our communities and in general.”

    You are right on track. We are here to brainstorm solutions, AND….we are here to discover ways to implement them when we get home. I am so excited about all the possibilities that are stemming from your writing, discussion, and application. Keep me in the loop. BTW, I have emailed you my phone number, please hook me up to GroupMe.

  • Please – Mikayla! We would love to see/read them. Thanks!

  • Eva,
    Wow! My heart is full with the wonder of your learning and the ways in which you describe it. Having a community of learners with which to have these deep conversations is not only important, it is essential for producing change within ourselves and our communities. NGLN is the vehicle to take you to the next stop along your journey. I am sure of that. I want to be in on the ride, too! Will you pick me up and we can travel together? This is what I envision when I think about the network – and yes, we are the network!

  • Alani and Katie,
    Woohoo! Going to school because you want to, not because you are obligated to is a great project. How do you think you might get youth to want to go to school? What immediate reaction can school provide for these youth?

  • Mikayla,
    It feels like winter here today and yesterday. As a matter of fact, yesterday was so cold, I thought it was going to snow!
    So happy you found your way to the session. It must be nice to be back home. Have the monsoons started?

  • Zunneh-bah,
    As you prep for your trip to Australia, could I ask you to include your work with the Maori in your reflections this semester? I think your international experience will really help us to understand that there are issues that are global in nature. I am so excited for you.

  • Okay Akwellé I see you! Awesome post, and a great reminder to all of us on how to get. things. DONE!

  • Dear Doug and all BLTN NextGen friends:
    There are so many questions here that you ask, Doug. Now that we have gone our separate ways, I think it is even more important to search for ways to answer them. How can we sustain each other and our work in our diverse locations? When and how can we write and showcase our narratives? How can we become a voice in this crazy world we are living in? I am ready and eager to learn from you all.

  • Douglas Wood
    1 year ago

    These are all excellent questions. I’m having dinner tonight with Fred and Vickie and I want to bring your questions to them and encourage them to also post a response. More later my friend!

  • Dewight,
    Yes, I believe the pieces are in the motion and the game has begun. I also know that I find it incredibly difficult to keep my mouth shut. Haha! You already know that about me. Please remind me.
    I look forward to finding out what you want to do and will do with this precious network you have become a part of on this mountain.

  • Lil,
    Count me in as a thought partner. I, too, would love to keep the ideas flowing, the motions rolling, and the heads spinning. We need to write our stories. We need to create our futures. We need to be in our present.

  • Amber,
    I am so happy that you are NGLN. This is fascinating and fabulous. The issue(s) that you address, the outreach that you will perform, the changes that will be made in your community have the potential to spread and spread, much like the pollen of corn. Together, as a network, we have the potential to reshape this crazy place we call home.

  • Elijah,
    I appreciate your post. I have been struggling so much this year trying to understand or learn how to free the internal colonization that takes place when people have been oppressed for so long. How do we free our minds, our mentality? The law books may claim we are all free, but increasingly, I am finding that many people are enslaved by the notion of who they are in comparison to someone else.
    I look forward to working with you to break these self-constrained chains. Help me to free my own mind. I am in!

  • Mikayla,
    We are all different. I sometimes wish I had been “taught” as others had been, but then I realize that what I know is exactly what I need to know at that time. Sometimes I wish that I could “teach” as others need, and then I realize that as a teacher, I do what I can do at that time. Right now, as you mentioned, we know what is happening on our ends, and together we can pool that knowledge to change our world.
    Happy to be on the journey with you today!

  • Michael,
    Thank you. I know that many of us are facing similar problems in our communities. I live in the desert where water is scarce and precious. There are developers who believe they can come in, bulldoze our habitat and make a profit selling homes to rich people who hate the winter. I get it. I live in a beautiful place that is warm and wonderful. However, there is not enough water to sustain these homes and the damage to the environment is incredible. Instead of desert plants, we have concrete and rocks. Who wants that? Something that really draws me to your entry is that you name the problems, but you write in the solutions. I want to do that. I want to live in the solutions. Will you help me?

  • Natasha the world traveler,
    Thank you for bringing your perspective and understanding to our network. When you wrote: “thats not history thats extinction,” my heart skipped. My dissertation work is on women of Mexican heritage who lived, participated, and provided for their community, but have been absent in the historical annals of the community. They were at the risk of becoming “extinct” because the history of the town did not and would not include them. I am passionate about this topic and I am dedicated to working right alongside you as we protect and preserve the histories of people and places that risk extinction.
    In solidarity,

  • Robbie,
    Liberation through creation – Lily’s and Elevated Thoughts motto is something I can really wrap my heart around. As I view your choice of pics to tell your story about NGLN I am taken by Nick’s unbridled joy jumping in the meadow. YES! Let us all be unencumbered, free, and joyful as we head out together to get this network networking.

  • Gladdys,
    As I was reading your entry, I thought of all my friends in Lawrence and how rich that community truly is. Perhaps economically it is not as rich as say Andover, but in ways of culture and caring, no city can beat Lawrence. This wealth and this passion are just a few of things you all bring to the NGLN network. Add literacy skills, art, and creativity and you all have the full package. I am so excited about all the wonderful things we will be able to do together.

  • Zunneh-bah, there is no way to calculate the profound impression you and your NGLN (Tyler, Amber, Dewitt, and Mikayla) cohort made upon the Lawrence youth and adults you worked with in Lawrence and at the Bread Loaf School of English. “I Am Still Here” is a stunning piece of advocacy writing and a beautiful poem. We feel privileged to work with you and your crew and look forward to the spring conference and to you all coming to our Lawrence workshop next summer.

    There is no doubt: you are still here!

  • I really love this, too, Akwelle. It definitely reminds me that I am in on something bigger than my usual routine and I need to start making time in my schedule JUST for the awesome work of NextGen. I love the recommendation for the calendar or the journal. Is anyone journaling online?!

  • Zunneh-bah,
    It is difficult to read your post and see these videos and not feel pulled into and utterly inspired by this powerful work. I love the idea of Generation Indigenous and I am thrilled that you are part of it, leading this generation (and those that have come before) into public spaces and dialogues about the power and impact of activism. Wow wow wow. I love nothing more than you and the Obamas sharing a spot in the national spotlight; it sounds as though both were tremendously moved and impacted by their experience with this powerful group.

  • Beverly Moss
    1 year ago

    I wish I had you hear with me to remind me to sit down and write when the ideas come to me. I do not honor my calls to write. I need to carry the journal and use the calendar. Thank you for the inspiration and for the practical steps.

  • Beverly Moss
    1 year ago

    The work that you’ve shared, the video clips, your work, your activism are examples of the kind of advocacy that the rest of the world needs to know about. What I like is the many ways that you. are “going public.” You have made the most of the platform that you’ve been given and that you’ve built.

    You and the Obamas! How fortunate they were to be in your company.

  • Beverly Moss
    1 year ago

    I love “Street Spanish” for the beautiful and powerful poetry that it is, but I also love it for the strong argument it makes about language, identity and culture.
    Thank you!

  • Beverly Moss
    1 year ago

    Possible questions:
    What are the leadership qualities that young people must demonstrate to have a voice in their communities?

    What would like to change about the way that youth are portrayed by media outlets, adults, and other groups in your community and nationally?

    How do you think that BLTN NextGen Leadership initiative will impact you and your community?

    Why do you want to be a leader in your community?

  • Thanks, Beverly. Others? T.

  • Hi Nick,
    I’m interested in your thinking here and glad you’ve shared thoughts about the forthcoming Op-Ed article, and about a documentary. On the Op Ed, please feel free to use our group as a resource for sharing drafts. I’d love to respond. I’d think a short documentary piece on the heat islands themselves could be really powerful.
    When are you going to start this work?

  • Lily! What a fresh account of a cool experience. I admire you for investing your talent, vision, energy, and time in this work. I’d love to know why the young people suggested for library design features that would be more engaging for teens. Also, wouldn’t it be cool to document–via video or even still photos– where those free libraries end up?

    Keep up the great work, and tell us more when you can!


  • Here’s the sequence of questions for tonight’s chat:
    Welcome to the BLTN Twitter Chat on Advocacy Literacy. Please introduce yourself and where you are tonight. Don’t forget to include #bltn in each of your tweets.

    Q. 1: Why Advocate?
    For NextGen Youth: Why do you want to be a leader in your community?

    Others: How do you invite and promote youth agency in your teaching or other work?

    Q.2: Leadership Qualities
    What are the leadership qualities that young people must demonstrate to have a voice in their communities?

    Q. 3: Media Portrayal
    What would you like to change about the way that youth are portrayed by media outlets, adults, and other groups in your community and nationally?

    Q.4: Literacy
    Take a look at the Anticipated Outcomes of the Ford Foundation Youth Opportunity and Learning site:
    What kinds of literacy does this work require?

    Q.5: Impacts
    How do you think that BLTN NextGen Leadership initiative will impact you and your community?

  • Nick Koenig
    1 year ago

    Of course we don’t have to answer all of these but here are some of the questions I would like to know.

    Q1: How can we make sure we all are making progress?

    Q2: Is our current communication system effective?

    Q3: How often should we do blogposts?

    Q4: What are some ways we can make sure we, individually, are making progress?

  • These are ESSENTIAL things to discuss, Nick. I don’t think we’ll get ’em in to tonight’s chat, but we need to organize to think together about ’em. I’ll make sure everyone sees these and we’ll be in touch soon about a group to help make these decisions.
    Talk to you soon!

  • Man, I wish y’all were in my school, Sameia. Great to see you get right to work. Do you have a next step? Keep us posted, okay?

  • Ceci Lewis
    1 year ago

    This is wonderful news! I am so happy to see the action taking place already! Wow. You guys are a force to be reckoned with, no doubt about it.

  • Ceci Lewis
    1 year ago

    The ABL writing leader movement is a powerful model that many communities should adopt,. Recognizing and utilizing the power of t;he youth as agents of change in their communities is exactly what our nation needs. You all are a great inspiration.

  • Ceci Lewis
    1 year ago

    I am impressed by the vision of your trajectory. Yes! I, too, would like to respond to your op-ed piece and help any way that you might need. Just say the word.

  • Ceci Lewis
    1 year ago

    I thought for sure I had responded to this wonderful post. I am ready and eager to help get this business going. The format for you post is creative and fun! We have to keep our creativity front and center, right? I am looking forward to reading more from our meeting maker!

  • Monica,
    I didn’t see this beautiful post from all those long weeks ago in Vermont! I have to say, today, I needed to read this call to action! It is a powerful and thoughtful reminder of the work we have ahead of us and also it is an affirmation of what is possible when we work as a collective, rising to meet each other at our best.
    Fearless leader, message received!

  • Lou Bernieri
    12 months ago

    James, this poem is already a classic. It’s insistence on cultural and linguistic liberation is deep. Most importantly, is the beauty of the language, the poetry!

  • Lou Bernieri
    12 months ago

    That’s a wonderful video, Robbie! Without a narrative to distract us, the viewer is mesmerized by the imagery and music. The camerawork and editing are excellent.. I know a bit about film….the editing, where the film is made, is especially impressive.

    It would be interesting for people who didn’t know the story to view the video and react to it. What do you feel is going on from the music and imagery?

    Great work! No doubt you need to pursue your talent in film.

  • Lillian, I loved this post. I’m looking forward to the meeting next week in Allendale.


  • The ABL Library Writing Camp is already a resource across NGLN: thank you Amaryllis. One of the great things about the ABL Library Writing Camp, aside from its immediate and ongoing benefits to all involved locally is its value and spreadability. Most community, rural and urban, have libraries that could be used as a NGLN social action site – serving many purposes – and with transformative potential. Please send notes, quote, advice, and updates to all of us who want to follow and follow-u. xxxDixie

    • Preach! I’m so thankful to have been able to have experience ABL as a kid and now have the honor of sharing that Bread Love everywhere I go. I’ll be sure to update more!

  • Lou Bernieri
    12 months ago

    Folks, I’m not sure where to post this, but Dixie asked me to put it up. It’s a Lawrence BLTN meeting we had. Our youth had a Lawrence Youth Council meeting, but everything mentioned in the meeting notes involves youth and the NGLN cohort.

    Tue Oct 3, 2017, 6pm 
    Upstairs at El Taller 
    Present were Mery Lizardo, Julia Perlowski, Rich Gorham, Christine Jee, Kendra Bauer, Karen Kravchuk, Lou Bernieri, Joshua Alba, Yaneris Collado, Darianna Guerrero  
    Next meeting: Tue Nov 7, 6pm, El Taller 
    1. Fall Conference at Boys and Girls Club – Sat Nov. 4, 11:30am-3pm 
    For youth. In collaboration with Lawrence Youth Council  and ABL Writing Leaders
    Title: Culture: Be My Teacher 
    Guest artist: Harlym 1-2-5 (Jamele Adams, Brandeis) 

    Workshops (all done with youth leading or partnering) so far: Yaneris Collado, Lawrence Arts House, Julia Perlowski, LHS Writing Lab, Elevated Thought, Mery & Kendra on Food Literacy. Possibly Christine Jee, possibly music therapists.  
    2. SLICE program: every Tuesday 5:30-6:30, run by Writing Leaders 
    3. Si Se Puede with Julia, James, Carolin and Monica, Tuesdays 5-6pm 
    4. Manos Felices, Wednesdays 4:30-6pm, with Lawrence Arts House, Gladys, and other WLs 
    5. Writing and Arts Camp at Lawrence Public Library for middle and high school students. Next session October 23, 5-7pm. We are looking for partners to run a workshop.  Writing Leaders will collaborate or lead.
    6. South Lawrence East School / Phillips Academy workshops: 35 Phillips students with Darianna and Lou at South Lawrence East School 2nd grade, every Thursday, 1:50-2:20pm, reaching 150 kids.  
    7. Lawrence High Writing Lab at South Lawrence East School 4th grade, 25 LHS students reaching 150 kids 
    8. Writing Prompt: What do I hope for this school year?   We had a great sharing.  We vowed that we would write in every meeting this year. 
    9. Boys and Girls Club College Fair, Wed Oct 11, 6:00-7:30pm, open to all youth, 25-30 colleges 
    10. Unity for Puerto Rico event featuring performances, Thursday Oct 5, El Taller, 8pm, $5 donation 
    11. Library Open Mics, third Wednesday of each month, Wed Nov.15, Wed Dec 20, etc. 6:00-7:30pm, hosted by Yaneris Collado.  (These are in addition to the El Taller Open Mics on 3rd Thursdays) 

    12, Rising Loaves school year program to begin this month.

    13. Lawrence Writing Leader Jiberly is leading a writing project between the private school she attends in CT (Westover Academy and another CT private school (Chase Collegiate). Jiberly is mentoring Journey, and 11th grade Writing Leader from Chase. They’ve done writing workshops at both schools and will soon begin working with Waterbury elementary school students. ABL alumnus, Tim Watt, is helping to organize the project.

  • Lou Bernieri
    12 months ago

    One of the more fascinating phenomena of an intergenerational social action community is the powerful influence older youth have on younger ones. Imagine being a middle school Puerto Rican girl from Lawrence, being in a room of 100 youth, and hearing dozens of poems like this onr from Amaryllis EVERY DAY by your older brothers and sisters (literal and metaphoric)? Imagine as you grow older, each year you hear more and more of this kind of social justice poetry and language? What happens to you?

    We’re going to do a study on this. When the (African American) professor from North Carolina visited the workshop this past summer and asked us, incredulously, “How did this happen? How do so many of your youth, even young ones, have such an elevated consciousness?”, we talked to her about the Writing Leaders, the culture they create in ABL, the way they love and nurture their younger peers, and the way, each year, the level of consciousness and love in the whole workshop deepens.

    Adults can talk until they’re blue about social justice, but there’s nothing more transformative than youth on a mission to love and educate other youth.

    Dixie Goswami writes:

    ♪ Se mira Maria on the corner
    thinking of ways to make it better ♪
    but the US aint never helped us get any better
    only took our ports to make them richer
    la isla will be headlining news for a couple days then your president will drown it out
    the Red Cross with proclaim themselves saviors and wipe away our blood with Benjamins 
    turn our pain into currency
    make a meal for themselves out of our hunger

    ♪ Maria Maria ♪
    she cries for help
    ♪ stop the looting, stop the shooting 
    Uncle Sam pick pocking on the corner ♪
    ahora vengo mama cause
    her daughters have been uprooted and planted in a different son every year
    every year the sun gets a little hotter
    and now there’s plenty of water to put out the fire

    it’s been a week since I’ve written this poem and nothing has been done
    ♪ Ni gota de esperanza ♪
    F*** Elaine, this shit ain’t a good news story
    your satisfaction ain’t shit when my people are dying
    when laws are in place to benefit you first before us

    like y’all just gonna claim a whole territory and then forget it’s yours
    debt be our housewarming present and
    the only time we be American is when we’re on the front line 
    you’re not on our front lines
    it’s clear that we are not on your minds
    cause getting angry about people taking knees for police brutality is more offense than ignoring millions of Americans in need

    ♪ Maria Maria 
    she reminds me of a west side story ♪
    Of a modern day colonizer 
    Something like a punishment 
    A slow pulse
    A muted drum line 
    like the heart of the Caribbean ain’t screaming in an empty all-inclusive resort storage room,
    smiling for tips 24/7
    while you sip on your drinks 24/7
    for the next 6 months there will be no power 24/7
    is there any light left in your hearts?

    ♪ Borikén, you know you’re my lover
    When the wind blows I can feel you through the weather
    And even when we’re apart
    It feels like we’re together ♪

  • Lou Bernieri
    12 months ago


  • Ceci Lewis
    12 months ago

    Bam! Your poetry, filled with heart and logic, hit harder than any hurricane. If there is one thing we can be grateful for, Maria blew away any pretense that 45 had of being a caring, empathetic individual. The world knows the truth. Thank you for keeping the fire lit.
    As for US/Mexico race relations. Come visit me. I will give you an up front and personal tour. You can stay at my house. I will feed you. 🙂 My house is just about 10 miles away from the international boundary, and I grew up even closer to line than that. As you will learn from Anzaldua, everyone’s border is a bit different. Te espero.

    • Wow… thank you, Ceci <3

      I just might take you up on that offer this winter or spring break. I miss you so much and any opportunity to learn from you is an opportunity that shouldn't go to waste!

  • Ceci Lewis
    12 months ago

    Thank you for the post and the pics. I am so happy when I can see the places people are. Although I have driven by the exit to Aiken as I was headed west this summer, I now know where I want to turn off and visit. It sounds like you all are pretty busy, and although there is an hour drive between you all, you are still managing to make this work. Thank you! I look forward to reading more soon.

  • Ceci Lewis
    12 months ago

    We will look forward to seeing you this year, right here. 🙂

  • AMaryllis,
    Have you hear from Andea Lunsford? Let me know – she’s trying to reach you.

  • Poetry as social action – I’m been re-reading Jame, Amaryllis, Rex, others….
    James, Amaryllis,all BLTN poets and activists,
    Please figure out how to publish poetry as an ongoing “series” at the heart of BLTN NGLN. AS a gift to Tracy Smith, beloved member of the BLSE faculty and US Poet Laureate: we
    ‘ll ask Tracy for ideas. Google Tracy K. Smith, please.

    Ideas welcome: Poetry is at the heart of BLSE, BLTN, and BLTN NGLN. Next Steps?

    Beverly and Lou: and all: powerful statements. James’s poem is already classic. James, would you submit for publication to ENglish Journal?

    Poetry – most powerful social action across BLTN NextGen and local and global.

  • Lou Bernieri
    12 months ago

    I think Dixie has her finger on the pulse (again). If we can bring poetic self-expression to the center of NGLN, the network will rock like no other. Young people producing and sharing poetry (Spoken Word or prose or whatever), will create a literary community fueled by explorations of identity and social justice. The youth from the different sites will learn quickly about the issues each individual and group faces and how they are responding to those issues.

    We need an online and hard copy NGLN literary magazine. No need for it to be focused exclusively on poetry.

    It needs a hot title…I’m sure the kids can come up with one.

    The next youth summit can feature 2-3 intense writing and sharing workshops and probably should culminate in an open mic.

  • Dear Amaryllis,

    I’m going to Allendale this afternoon (10/11) at about 2 – for the first time since Vermont – we’ll spend a few hours together at the Community Center, hear what’s planned for the Southern Education Foundation conference in November (SC rural and Louisville, with Jackie Royster will be panelists in Atlanta in November), meet new BLTN NGLNs! and read “Maria Maria” together. You’ll be there. We’ll also read James’s “Street Spanish,”

    We’ll think about your words and what poetry means to us.


    Poetry is the only medium I know that can effectively educate and on hard topics and conversations in an inclusive way. With poetry, everyone is involved whether you are listening or performing everyone in the room brings the poem to life and there for the words cannot be ignored and you can never say you weren’t aware.

  • Lou Bernieri
    11 months ago

    Hi Sameia, Exciting news that you’ll be working with the little ones! See if they will allow you to write and share some simple poetry with them. If you do that, you’ll see how quickly you can build a little literary community. I have some very easy prompts I could share that work with little kids and big ones. Keep up the great work!

  • Beverly Moss
    11 months ago

    The plans for BLTN NextGen Atlanta look great. The trip to Tuskegee is an incredible opportunity for young people to connect with the legacy of Booker T. Washington and to see how they fit within that legacy..

  • Great to hear from you, Paul, and from Tbilisi, no less! I took a quick trip over to your “Roads and Revisions” blog and I encourage others to do so as well.


  • What a list, Lou. I’m amazed at the volume of work and the critical role of young people in all of it. Beverly ( @bmoss ), Monica ( @Msim ), and Amaryllis ( @amaryllisl ), would you tell us about your plans for the NCTE pres. Any way the rest of the NextGen crew might be able to support you?

    The new video doc deserves its own response. Coming soon!

    Blown away by the Lawrence movement!


  • I appreciate this update, Jackie ( @jroyster ), and NextGen-ATL crew. I’d love to hear young people’s reflections from the trip to Tuskegee, and/or the Southern Education Foundation panel.. Keep us posted, please.


  • Jacqueline J. Royster
    11 months ago

    Thanks to you both.

    Yes, the students will be doing a little bit of writing on the bus ride back. Unfortunately, I can’t go with them but the person who is escorting them believes in journaling about field trips, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing the impact and results of the trip. I will be glad to let the group know how things go.

  • Great to hear of all of this activity, Kip and team. Please post notes and reflections from the cross-site visits!
    Best from Alaska,

  • Nice to read your post here, Lena. Since we’ve been corresponding a bit about this, I know a bit about your own inquiry process in WtS. I love reading about your thinking and participating in discussion about the relationships between milk production and veal harvesting in VT.

    For this post, I want to pick up on the phrase, “humanization of the classroom” and your thoughts that the WtS process. I think you get at that when you write, “It was the remembrance of the importance of WtS, the sense of power, and motivation that the program provided, and my passion on the subject that I researched the year before, that really ignited my readiness to join What’s the Story? once again.”

    Here’s a question for other NextGen folks: what does “humanization of the classroom” mean to you? Are you having any experiences in which you’re getting a vision of a more humane feeling classroom or education? Or are you pushing against some kinds of dehumanizing elements in your education systems?

    Would love to hear from others.


  • Ceci Lewis
    11 months ago

    It appears to me that NextGen-ATL is in full swing. The cross-site presentation, the trip to Tuskegee, and the plans for Westside Youth Speak sound absolutely incredible. I, too, want to hear from the youth about their experiences, both on the panel and on the trip. Thank you for the energy.

  • Ceci Lewis
    11 months ago

    Thank you for this post. While reading your entry, I was thinking about what the humanization of education means to me. The idea that you were able to experience that in a classroom essentially without walls is what I see when I think of the humanization. Connecting our learning with our lives, making our education our life, and not separating them out is what I think the humanization of education should be all about. Thank you for this post!

  • Ceci Lewis
    11 months ago

    This is great news! You are truly thinking globally and acting locally. I can hardly wait to hear all about your connection with India, Additionally, I am eager to learn more about the MUHS presentations. Do you contact individual teachers and present to their classes, or do you present to a larger group, like an assembly? Please keep us informed. The work that NGLN-VT is doing is important! Thank you for the leadership.

  • Ceci Lewis
    11 months ago

    Eva!!! So good to hear from you. I agree with Dixie; you are right where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing. Lucky us that part of what you are doing is sharing your experiences with us!
    Run, jump, and spread that mud around. We could all use a dose of it.

  • Ceci Lewis
    11 months ago

    NGLN-KY is on the road and moving! I can hardly wait to see what Robbie and Khamari think about the ABL conference and all the other wonderful things you all will be doing. Exciting times ahead!

  • Ceci Lewis
    11 months ago

    Hi Paul,
    Glad to read that all is going well for you. While you may not be in the traditional classroom this fall, you are still in school. The major difference is the world has become your classroom. I look forward to read more – will visit your blog.

  • Ceci Lewis
    11 months ago

    Lou and crew,
    You all are blowing it out of the water – President of the Senior Class; President of the Alianza LatinX Group; critical thinking classes, literacy writing nights, and the list goes on. We need to bottle you all up and sell this action!
    Thank you for keeping the fire burning!

  • Hi!

    I’m excited about meeting Tuesday, November 7, with the NGLN SC Social Action Team. Tomorrow we’ll meet at the University of South Carolina Aiken (our host for SC NGLN), with guests who are our partners and community mentors, to hear about ideas, actions, and plans. We’ll hear about Semeia and Alani’s and Christine and Lillian’s presentation next week in Atlanta at the Southern Education Foundations “Reimagining Education” conference: their panel: Youth Leadership and Social Justice.

    Never was a meeting more anticipated: we need in this time of another tragedy to be together.

    More soon….

  • Lou Bernieri
    11 months ago

    Amaryllis is an ethical and creative tsunami. Her love and imagination overwhelm all kinds of alienation and oppression.

  • Thanks , Dixie, Lill, Sameia, Alani and SC crew! Please report on the Southern Education Foundation conference as you can.

  • Khamari,

    I can’t wait to hear about your experience. You have really come into your own this year. Believe in yourself. We believe in you…you are a world shaker, my man.

  • Lou Bernieri
    11 months ago

    I love all your comments but especially the ones about “humanizing” education, Elsa. When youth and adults begin with the assumption that education should be humanizing, the discourse about education immediately transcends the narrative we hear over and over again about the importance of standardized testing and of standardizing the curriculum. So many things about the “data-driven” , standardized education that has strangled the nation’s schools are dehumanizing, destructive, and idiotic. Young people need to demand that their education is personal, joyful, empowering, community-based, and humanizing. One thought I had is that students might create a national Student Bill of Rights that NGLN can get behind and disseminate. How can we bring more youth into our conversations and activism? (The Lawrence Student Bill of Rights might be a place to start. )

  • Ceci Lewis
    10 months ago

    Ceci here. How are you and how are things on the western front? 🙂 I hope your fall season has been going well. What projects are you working on and how are they coming along? I would love to read all about what you are doing.

  • Ceci Lewis
    10 months ago

    Dear Sameia and Alani,
    Thank you for sharing poetry and time with your community. As ABL has demonstrated, we can change the world one poem at a time, one poet at a time. The youth you will be helping, pending principal approval. I hope they agree.
    Please let us know how your efforts continue. Also, how are you all doing yourselves? Is there any way this network can assist you?

  • Ceci Lewis
    10 months ago

    I am just catching up on the BLTN NGLN website and I was so happy to read your post. It is wonderful to read about the energizing work you are doing with your youth and VT WtS. This is awesome. I hope all is well in the north land! I hear the retreat went really well. I have been reading the blogs. Awesome reflections occurring, along with strong critical thinking. Wow. You all rock.

    • Fallon
      9 months ago

      So good to hear from you, Ceci! Thank you for the kind words and guidance this past summer. This is such an inspiring community of learners and mentors to be a part of. Hope you are doing well!

  • Ceci Lewis
    10 months ago

    Dixie, Lil, Sameia, Alani, Christine, and the whole SC crew,
    Thank you for this report. I can feel the energy and the urgency needed to ensure that SC NGLN gets a good base going. As Dixie writes” :The trip to Allendale yesterday reminded me that being /being present is at the heart of BLTN NextGen, ABL, BLTN…all we do.” As I read this, I was reminded that being able to listen and hear what is needed and how we can help is also essential. I cannot be in SC at the meetings, but if I can help by making flyers and sending them to you all, I most certainly will. I am not crazy creative, but I do have Publisher and I can dream something up if you will send me the information.
    I am ready!

  • Ceci Lewis
    10 months ago

    We have not met in person, yet – but we do share a commonality – we both love Lawrence! Imagine that, an old gal from the Southwest having something in common with you. 🙂 Yup. It is true. We are also members of BLTN NGLN and that is huge! We are now family. I look forward to meeting you in person and sharing favorite Lawrence stories.

  • Lou Bernieri
    10 months ago

    Thanks for posting this, Lil. What a fascinating experience for your youth!

    This isn’t necessarily something you need to answer, but can we think of the structure of the project as a model for other NGLN sites? What can we learn from HOW the youth did what they did? Talk about access!

  • Hey, Sameia! Good to hear from you and to get a report from the Southern Education Foundation conference. I’d be curious to know about an idea or two that you all took home to South Carolina. Any big ideas come home with you?

    Best from Juneau,

  • Hi Don,

    Tom McKenna here in Juneau, Alaska. I do communications work for the Bread Loaf Teacher Network, and I help to guide the BLTN NextGen Leadership Network.. It’s great to get to know you a bit through your post about the Southern Education Foundation conference. Sure wish I had been there with you all .

    Can you give us a sense of any ideas that you all are talking about in Louisville, in connection with the conference? I’d love to know what’s alive in your conversation circles, and what work might be influenced by those conversations.

    I hope to visit Fern Creek some day. I’ve always been impressed with young people I”ve met from your school, and with the education leaders there.

    Hope you’re enjoying a good holiday break!


  • Dear Rameka,

    I’m glad to know that the Atlanta visit was positive for you, and that you were particularly inspired by Nikole Hanna Jones. I noticed she’s a recent MacArthur Genius Fellow. What an amazing honor. I just listened to this three-minute video of her talking about her work: As a school administrator myself, I”ll be thinking about her statement that our racial divides in our schools are the product of daily intentional decisions. I’ll start the new year asking my self how my decisions may or may not empower or disenfranchise students and families.

    Do you recall specific parts of her talk that resonated for you in Atlanta?



  • Ceci Lewis
    8 months ago

    SC, ATL, and KY folks, Thank you for this post. What a wonderful, positive experience for all of you. Your participation at this event is evidence of how your voice is needed and respected. I thank you.

  • Tom McKenna
    8 months ago

    Dear Kapono and Team Aiken,

    It’s great to hear of this plan. As an elementary principal, I would welcome an initiative like this–one that sounds like a great mix of fun and academics, and maybe even fun academics– to my school. Please keep us posted on all of it. I’m curious, for example, what you have in mind for the mentoring portion of the sessions.

    With admiration,

  • Louis Bernieri
    8 months ago

    This is mad cool, Lil!

  • The revolution may not be televised but that won’t slow down our youth in ngln. They’re the future. And they’re getting it done!

  • Thanks for the SC entry! It’s so great to read the thoughts of our young leaders!

  • Day One— March 16
    Early Morning Into Day

    Our trek to Canyon de Chelly began as a gathering of strangers, acquaintances, reuniting of friends from close and far. It led to an intimacy seldom felt outside a Bread Loaf inspired community.

    A group of 25 or so attendees caravanned to our final destination of Canyon de Chelly. Small talk began tenaciously but soon spun into likenesses and deeper conservations about the purpose of including students in the larger message and how participants could continue the good work already begun. The hour and a half drive seemed much shorter than anticipated…and suddenly we were there.

    Our first stop at Spider Rock and our later hike down into the canyon culminating at White House gelled in a better understanding of how we are interconnected through our humanity and our purpose in both time and place. Writing is the equalizing factor.

    Rex Lee Jim led us to finding ourselves through writing. He began with the Navajo story of Spider Woman and then challenged us to connect with one another; connect with the tiniest of insects— to find meaning in the smallest of creatures so that we can find meaning in the larger self. And so began this weekend journey of time and place and written truth.

    Day One— March 16
    Early Morning Into Day

    Our trek to Canyon de Chelly began as a gathering of strangers, acquaintances, reuniting of friends from close and far. It led to an intimacy seldom felt outside a Bread Loaf inspired community.

    A group of 25 or so attendees caravanned to our final destination of Canyon de Chelly. Small talk began tenaciously but soon spun into likenesses and deeper conservations about the purpose of including students in the larger message and how participants could continue the good work already begun. The hour and a half drive seemed much shorter than anticipated…and suddenly we were there.

    Our first stop at Spider Rock and our later hike down into the canyon culminating at White House gelled in a better understanding of how we are interconnected through our humanity and our purpose in both time and place. Writing is the equalizing factor.

    Rex Lee Jim led us to finding ourselves through writing. He began with the Navajo story of Spider Woman and then challenged us to connect with one another; connect with the tiniest of insects— to find meaning in the smallest of creatures so that we can find meaning in the larger self. And so began this weekend journey of time and place and written truth.

    Evening—NGLN Dinner
    (Next Generation Leadership Network supported by Middlebury College and funded by the Ford Foundation)

    After a day of exhilarating introspection, dinner to greet and reunite NGLN leaders from South Carolina, Kentucky, Vermont, Atlanta, Lawrence, and Navajo was the culminating excitement of the day. Walking into the Green Room of the Quality Inn was a pure visualization of a dream come true. Some forty faces shone with excitement, smiles stretched ear to ear, eyes shining brighter than celestial stars.

    As Sonlatsa Jim-Martin welcomed attendees to Navajo, the buzz of excitement hushed to respectful anticipation. Each person listened attentively to individual introductions, not only putting names to faces, but connecting individuals to like purpose. Over and over, themes of unity and collective progression found their voices around the room.

    Once individual introductions were given, Mike Schoenfeld, Senior Vice-President and Philanthropic Advisor at Middlebury College, aptly juxtaposed the 100 year history of Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English with that of the centuries old history of the Navajo Nation. Yet, he said, both are situated under sacred mountains and punctuated the fact that the union of both school and nation was a natural fit. He thanked NGLN for the privilege to attend the writing conference and offered his continuing support of the program.

    Doug Wood, Program Officer in the Ford Foundation’s Youth Opportunity and Learning Sector, reiterated the sentiment of his thankful participation and support while bringing an air of familiarity to the room by recognizing his connection to Bread Loaf and his participation in the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. His recognition of long standing friendships with individual fellow attendees and his love for all things Bread Loaf-ian united the group with congenial purpose.

    Rex Lee Jim was last to speak. His pride and love for the project was visibly evident in his broad smile and his sometimes breaking voice. Never have I seen him so happy. He beamed as he illuminated his and Ceci Lewis’s ageless vision of Stories Walking: Reclaiming Rhetorical Sovereignty. He voiced his palpable hope of reclaiming our voices, strengthening our voices as individuals and as communities. He marveled at the strength and tenacity of those in attendance and reveled in the assurance of a dream come true.

    And so Day One came to an end.

    Please add your comments to these thoughts.

  • Thank you so much, Susan, for this wonderful post. We can be sure that nothing like this is happening anywhere in the world. This is a movement already in motion. Bringing together many of the youth leaders who are at the forefront of this movement was a crucial step in building its strength and momentum. I have no doubt that if we can continue to have conferences and events like this one that bring our youth leaders together with the adults mentoring them, young people WILL lead us out of the darkness. They’re already doing it! What a miraculous antidote to the violence and despair that plagues our country right now! Love, community, understanding, and compassion rule in the Bread Loaf Teacher Network, all informed by our passion for social justice. And what better place in the universe to have this conference than in the Navajo Nation? Many thanks to the the conference the hosts and facilitators, our Navajo brothers and sisters. We are enriched and enlightened by your wisdom and humanity.

  • Thanks for capturing part of that amazing day, Susan! You asked about adding photos and comments… I do not think that’s possible on this system… Maybe we can create a Google folder.

  • All: If you have some great photos you want to share, please upload them here: We’ll make a gallery.

  • Lou Bernieri
    5 months ago

    Fallon and Lena, your comments about your trip to Navajo are vitally important to NGLN and to us all. Our country is now segregated by race and class as deeply as it was before the 1964 Civil Rights Act and desegregation. Most of us — poc and white — live in dramatically homogeneous communities. We don’t have experience with diversity. Your posts witness what happens when people gather in a supportive community in safe spaces to share their stories. Your honesty and insights move NGLN forward as a transformative network that can bridge differences between races and classes. Thank you.

  • Fallon,
    March seems so long ago, but as I read your entry tonight, I am place right back at the conference, feeling the energy, hearing the voices, sharing the love. What an incredible experience that conference was. Keeping the momentum going, amid all the demands of our jobs and lives, is the challenge we face today. I am sure you are doing just that!
    Have fun in Oxford!

  • Tim,
    I can feel the Bread Love! Whether it is in Lawrence or Middlebury, Family Literacy Nights are all about the love. When we share stories, words, community – then love follows. This is an impressive first event! 100! Wow.
    Thank you,

  • Lena,
    You and all of the NGLN members are the answers that we have been waiting for! As you mentioned, the trip to Window Rock opened a window in your heart and mind that hopefully will never close. This is what we need in order to effect any real change in our world. We need to move beyond the comfortable space in which we reside and really see the world. You have done that. Please don’t stop! We need you!

  • Sheri,
    Thanks for posting these pics. Isn’t it wonderful that so many individuals wanted to hike during an “in-law storm”? To experience the Southwest, we must be in the Southwest, and that means hiking in the snow. I will always remember your comment about seeing snow on a cactus for the first time. It was great to be with you that weekend.

  • Na’Zae,
    I hope you all haven’t given up on that APP. I need it! Particularly the reminders, etc. I can hardly wait to see you in June!

  • Kelly Cleveland
    4 months ago

    Zunneh-bah, you are phenomenal. Your strong words are a reflection of your warrior spirit. I can relate to the diversity within my own life (Dine, Bad River Chippewa, Spanish, Ute, Hopi, Danish & Irish) – it only strengthens you as you have invaluable insight and balance of many different nations. Nizhoniyee, shideezhi! Nihil baa hozhoogo!

  • So awesome to see this re-intrepretation of literacy practices from one site to another.

  • Lou Bernieri
    2 months ago

    That’s such a wonderful poem, Zunnebah! We need to get you back to Lawrence next summer. Keep writing!

  • And as I sat next to Elsa on that small plane, from Chicago to Burlington, sharing earbuds, and jamming to some good music, while watching the expanse of the Earth, basking in sunlight, pass below us, I thought about all the beauty in the world, and where that beauty comes from. Even with the social and political chaos and division that is occurring throughout our country, I left the weekend feeling optimistic for the future. Thank you so much to all of you that made this workshop possible and for the overall experience. It instilled in me new found confidence and hope for the future.

    Dear Lena,

    You put into words what B:LTN NextGen means to me: “confidence and hope for the future.” Thank you. Dixie

  • Sorry, my sentence got cut off. Lien worked with several Writing Leaders and Ricardo and Jineyda, the Directors, to construct the questions in the survey.

  • Thanks for your post, Jackie. We are SO excited to work with you in Atlanta. and to learn more about the Data Dashboard and Communities Who Know.

    We want to invite your crew to our fall conference. Details are below.

    Looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta this year!

    Who are we?
    Reclaiming ourselves through writing and the arts.

    A conference for middle, high school, and college youth.

    Guest artist: Denice Frohman
    Admission and lunch free

    Date: Nov 3
    Place: Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, 136 Water Street, Lawrence, MA
    Time: Registration and lunch 11:30
    Conference 12-3:30

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