Alumni Raise Their Voices at the 2017 Youth Summit

July 07, 2017  |   Posted by :   |   Blog,Projects   |   Comments Off on Alumni Raise Their Voices at the 2017 Youth Summit»

The 2nd Annual Green City Force Love Where You Live Youth Summit was a resounding success! The Green City Force Youth Summit is our annual convening where we put leadership into action to advance a shared vision of youth-led change. The Summit centered on the theme of VOICE, focusing on the importance of young people finding and raising their voices to shape a more just and sustainable future. The Summit brought together over 120 people from the GCF family including alumni, current Corps Members, staff, GCF Board Members, elected officials and other special guests. More than 35 alumni ranging from Cohort 1 to the recently graduated Cohort 13 attended the summit to stay connected and share their ideas for the growth of GCF. During the Summit, alumni and current Corps Members showcased their multifaceted talents with original poetry, dance and music.

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Energy remained high throughout the day as attendees participated in brainstorming activities, listened to inspiring speakers, networked with representatives from mission-aligned organizations, and reconnected with each other. GCF alumni Precious Colon kicked off the event by emphasizing the importance of the GCF community and rallying the group with GCF call and response. Board member P1110074-minMark Miles and Director of the Urban Farm Corps, Jennifer Tirado both shared how they found their own voices and the multitude of ways to raise one’s voice in a meaningful way. Executive Director Lisbeth Shepherd led us in a thought-leadership activity focusing on what it would look like to double GCF’s size by 2020 to 200 Corps Members per year. Attendees brainstormed ways to improve the efficacy of recruitment, expand the requirements for who can be a Corps Member, develop new service projects and define roles for the growing GCF alumni network to play in the future of GCF. One of the most inspiring parts of the day was when a panel of GCF alumni representing all aspects of the green economy took the stage to share their journeys and words of wisdom on making it as young professionals. The GCF alumni who spoke are Domingo Morales who currently works with at New York Compost Project, Krystal Ruiz who works at GRID Alternatives, Mariah Adamson with BlocPower, Gaston Acevedo with The Electrical Workers Union, Layza Velazquez with C+C Apartment Management and Paul Philpott who founded and runs Gateway Greens urban farm with Square Roots.

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We were honored to have many exciting speakers join us for the Youth Summit. NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye emphasized the key role of young people in making the NextGen NYCHA plan a success, and she spent time listening to the ideas of Corps Members and alumni. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joined us to speak about the new green economy and praised GCF for taking action in making green jobs a reality. Former NFL player Sergio Brown shared his own journey towards working to helpP1110264-min others and called on the Corps Members and alumni to stay strong and focused. People’s Climate March organizer Sondra Youdelman walked us through an exercise on bringing together our voices to effect change in our communities. City Council Members Ritchie Torres and Costa Constantinides joined board member Micah Kotch in a panel discussing public housing, environmental protection and the importance of young people getting involved in local government and policy making.  Attendees also participated in speed networking event where they had the chance to meet with representatives from different mission-aligned organizations to learn about their work and opportunities to get involved. The organizations represented were GRID Alternatives, Big Reuse, WEACT, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Civic Corps and NYC Service, Participatory Budgeting, Green Worker Cooperatives, Department of Sanitation and Grow NYC. All guests were presented with gifts homemade by the current Urban Farm Corps Cohort 14, including a vinaigrette, lip balm, potpourri and bath bombs!

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Together, the group took the Walk the Talk pledge to dedicate ourselves to modelling the values GCF promotes and continuing to serve others. The Summit closed with an open and honest hopes ceremony where staff, alumni, current Corps Members and even board member Mark Miles shared hopes for the GCF family moving forward. The event showed what makes GCF special – our incredible community – and that as we continue to grow as an organization we will be led by the courageous voices of young people.

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Thank you to 32BJ SEIU for graciously hosting our summit and to Secretary Treasurer of 32BJ Kyle Bragg for joining us. A special thanks goes out to Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito and the whole NYC Council for providing the funds the make the Youth Summit possible!

Visit our Photo Gallery for more photos from the 2017 Youth Summit.

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