Program Structure

The structure of the program is the following: 

  • 5-day Institute to learn the fundamentals of nonviolence 
  • 6 weekly video calls to integrate the 6 principles of nonviolence into your way of life & assess a conflict in their life or community and make a plan of action for transforming this conflict.
  • A presentation at the end of the summer of what the personal & collective learnings are for friends & family & community leaders. 

pedagogy

“All problems can be solved by negotiation, friendship, giving in, letting go of ego and going into eco. Let us make a shift from from self-interest to mutual-interest of whole human society.”
— Satish Kumar

We draw on several frameworks from mindfulness, social justice, systemic oppression, & Gandhian/Kingian nonviolence.

The program is highly experiential, creative, and interactive in nature, drawing on music, mindfulness, theater, text-based readings, & discussions that draw on the whole body, mind & spirit.  

At the heart of this journey is an embodied experience that is designed to help us shift from a consumer species to a restorer species--an evolution of humanity that helps restore all aspects of nature and humanity.    Through the power of community and solidarity, we will step back into right action that reflects our love and gifts we have to share.  

We ask our fellows to engage in two levels of change:   

inner change  

Fellows are asked to get present and look within.  They identify small acts of change they can incorporate into their lives--which could be acts of kindness, self-care, acts of resistance, and love that they practice monthly and regularly to integrate into their lives.  Although they have an idea for service, they themselves feel an internal shift in their own development as leaders.   They feel greater compassion, empathy for themselves and others.  They feel a stronger sense of self and purpose.  They feel in flow.   They feel joyful.  They feel determined.  They also become the MODEL for the kind of change they want to see in the world.  They do not create a divide between who they are and what kind of change they want to see in the world.

outer change  

As the fellows integrate mini-acts of love & change into their lives, they also set their intentions on more strategic level change on a cause that matters to them.  They will assess a level of conflict within themselves, or within a relationship of importance, or more systemically or in society.    They will then embark on the 5 steps of nonviolence.  They will understand how to gather information about the causes they care about, how to connect with the broader ecosystem so they do not work in isolation, and how to educate others on these causes.  They will learn to both negotiate and dialogue with leaders from the other side, and also how to use direct action to resist.      

The inner work is not a by-product, but directly linked the external work being done in the community.  Once the inner work is flowing, the outer work will also come into alignment.  Is it not enough to try to "save the world" and even good intentions can even harm others, so we teach our fellows to be very conscious & aware about the steps they are taking, linking their own personal development of change to systemic change.   Presentations will occur on at Saturday at the end of the summer on our Community Presentation Day & will follow up during the year.

Examples of Projects/Actions Taken by our Youth Leaders  

  • Organizing a petition with nearly 1500 signatures and presenting these results at local City Council meetings
  • Speaking at local churches and taking concrete action with other housing organizers to continue to advance work around housing issues
  • Organizing kindness in the park and doing kind acts for random strangers particularly those displaced in RVs
  • Creating an organization for STEM in education and leading a camp over the summer for middle school students
  • Creating a video that highlights the personal side of housing displacement to demonstrate empathy for all income levels in Mountain View
  • Gathering nearly 500 survey data points to better understand mental health in youth
  • Gathering several hundred data points around sexual assault for young teenagers and launching consent week at the high school
  • Writing a feature in the newspaper around sexual assault
  • Organizing a blog & leading a workshop for middle schools students around being aware of sexual health and body image
  • Launching a school club that is about wellness & connecting with yourself across
  • Presenting a proposal to school leaders to launch a student council as a separate body for informing school decisions, in addition to relying on ASB. 
  • Creating a video & social media campaign to highlight the differences in realities for community members at different economic levels
  • Working with another local garden project to get youth involved in the creation of a new community garden
  • Setting up a forum for students to talk to their teachers about issues that might be bothering them about how their classrooms are being run particularly around diversity, equity and inclusion

REad about our 4 core values here

skills

The leadership skills our fellows can be applied in any context.  Students will learn 21st century leadership skills relevant for the global community we are apart of, including such skills as self-awareness, self-management, empathy, conflict resolution, & understanding how to transform moments of difference into opportunities of innovation, creativity & stronger relationships.  These skills will apply in any career the fellow chooses in life and will complement academic excellence to amplify the impact that leader has in the world.   

We will learn about what it means to be apart of and lead vibrant communities and social change movements, and draw inspiration from historical and current social change leaders, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, & others. 

Read what Harvard has to say about these sort of skills matter for college.