One of the conversations I have with my students in the Youth Work Classes at the Community College of Philadelphia is about their #legacy. At the beginning of the semester as we are getting to know each other and I am learning about WHY they are interested in this work, I ask them to consider what will be their legacy in the field of youth development? What will be their contributions? I tell them, that THEY are part of MY legacy in this work and that I am counting on them to take what they learn in our class and apply it in the field with intention, compassion and caring.
Dr. Femi Vance, who you 'met' in a previous post, and I recently had a conversation about legacy specifically with regard to the youth development workforce... For a very long time, the field of youth development, like many 'helping professions', has been top heavy with talented, caring, middle class, white women and it's time for us to start planning for and preparing for a future without us exclusively in the lead.
1. One way we can do that is to check our own positions of power, including opportunities to decision-making, and access. And then take note of who is sitting next to us (literally) in those spaces. And make note of those who are not in the room. The next time we are invited to the table or have the power to create the invite list, be sure to take stock of who gets a seat.
2. We also need to get comfortable being uncomfortable with the idea of no longer being needed, of no longer being the person who has all of the answers or the best way to do 'that thing'. We can celebrate and acknowledge the work we have contributed to grow and nurture the field to this point. And then we have to be willing to let others take it from here.
3. And then, we need to consider being a mentor. For some of us, we can create space in a meaningful, respectful way to mentor younger youth development professionals to ensure that they have access to the spaces we do. Eventually that will mean giving up OUR seat at the table. (see above about being comfortable being uncomfortable)
We MUST do this in order for our field to become more equitable, more just, more creative...more, more...
There will still be room and space for us and our contributions, it just might not be at the head of the table or even in every room where the decisions get made. But we CAN be the people who support others in their discomfort as this intentional shift happens; we CAN support new leaders and new ways of leading. And we can do so knowing this was our legacy and one more way we contributed to the field we care so much about.
I'd love to know: What do you consider your #legacy in this work? Tweet me @rebeccafabiano