Staff Letter

YES! Community Summit Preparations in Final Stages

Join YES! for Intergenerational Workshops in Santa Cruz and the SF Bay Area

Global Youth Leadership Collaborative Comes
Together Again

Jam Alumni March United with National Leaders in
Selma, Alabama

Nice ‘n’ Native Brings Indigenous Activists Together in Aotearoa (New Zealand)

Rajasthan Youth Leadership Jam Creates Conversation and Community

An Expression of Gratitude and an Invitation to
Support YES!


Staff Letter

Dear Friends,

We hope you are all doing good and feeling well since our last connection. Spring has fully arrived providing us with much growth, gratitude and spirit! Thank you for your ongoing support in the creation of a more just, thriving and sustainable future. YES! finds itself deeply grateful for our current place of organizational self-exploration and internal development while continuing service and collaboration with visionary partners all over the world.

We are looking forward to YES!'s upcoming Community Summit: Coming Together, Visioning our Future which takes place in May as we continue our learning journey as an collectively-led and co-created endeavor which you will read more about in this newsletter. Also in this newsletter, you will find updates on the Rajasthan (India) Youth Leadership Jam, Aotearoa/New Zealand Nice 'n' Native gathering, and Jam Alumni Jennifer Awingan's fight for human rights in the Philippines. YES! is honored to play our role in the amazing and courageous work that is happening around the globe in the name of peace, justice and the environment.

There is so much activity with Jammers, in fact, that we have decided to bring more articles and stories for you straight from the source! You will notice this and future newsletters having more presence and the distinct voices of our "Jamily". Yet we still don't have enough space to share all the news and information that is so important.   For example, Ibrahim Youssef El-Ali wrote a beautiful, heart-breaking yet inspirational piece about his experience as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon that we posted on recently. Visit the website if you would like to hear more about or deeply engage with the Jam community.

Please feel free to share this newsletter with your friends, family and anyone in your life who believes in "being the change that you want to see in the world".

In appreciation,

Ocean, Michele, Tiffany, Lorin, Jenny, Nga and Devinder, YES!'s Staff

YES! Community Summit Preparations in Final Stages


Planning of the Community Summit: Coming Together, Visioning our Future continues for the convening of 30+ staff, board and key program partners from five continents May 28-June 1 in the Santa Cruz Mountains to build community, deepen relationships, and contribute towards YES!'s strategic planning. For the last two years, we have been working to develop methods of modular empowerment and incorporate them into a cohesive leadership structure. We are also navigating the transition from a founder-led and founder-dependent organization to an increasingly sustainable, broad-based movement that incorporates democratic and transparent leadership principles.

The Community Summit was borne out of the desire to garner input from the full range of people who are associated with our organization and who have diverse roles and perspectives. This gathering is essential, timely and ultimately reflective of our belief that all who are impacted by a policy need to have a voice in determining what that policy is. Our stated objectives as developed by the diverse and representative Community Summit Planning Team:

  • To build relationships of trust and common purpose between the diverse stakeholders (including staff, board, and organizing partners from 5 continents) within YES!,
  • To explore the key questions facing YES! as an organization with the diversity of perspectives necessary to see the whole picture; and
  • To contribute to the development of a written 3+ year strategic vision and plan for YES!'s future.

If you have any questions about the Community Summit, please contact Lorin Troderman, Operations Manager, at

Join YES! for Intergenerational Workshops in Santa Cruz and the SF Bay Area


YES! invites your presence and participation in a series of 4-hour experiential workshops in California's Bay Area that share cutting-edge tools and methodologies, build community and partnership, and provide a forum for learning, healing, and for positive social impact. These workshops aim to provide wider access to the ideas and community resources we have been blessed to experience through the years of alumni of YES! Jams. We hope that by holding a space filled with good energy and inspiration, participants will leave with a spark of transformational social change and a greater sense of being a part of a larger community of people who envision a more just and sustainable world. For further information on these and other YES! programs, visit

Global Youth Leadership Collaborative Comes Together Again

After much conversation, research and exchange (which is still on-going) over the last ten months, the Global Youth Leadership Collaborative has decided the time is right to convene. Following up on an inaugural meeting in May of 2006, the Global Collaborative members, who are Jam facilitators from five continents, will convene June 3-6 in the Santa Cruz Mountains at the Quaker Center. This meeting represents the completion of an initial phase (supported by a Fetzer Institute grant) in which Global Collaborative members have dialogued and brainstormed together, experimented with ideas and projects, explored and established partnerships, and are now visioning how the group could work together in the future and what direction to take.  

As a natural next step, this coming together will help reconnect members more deeply with one another, reflect on the exchanges and collaborations that have taken place, harvest the learnings from our experiences and discuss what we want to do together in the future. The Planning Team is still working on the content and flow but the process will include all members' input and feelings on what is exciting them most about the collaborative and its future formation.  

YES! is also offering itself in service of the collaborative as the central organizing body in addition to providing three YES! staff as members. The Global Collaborative is comprised of:   Malika Sanders (AL, USA), Tad Hargrave (Edmonton, Canada), Kiritapu Allan (Aotearoa / NZ), Evon Peter (AZ, USA), Salim Mohamed (Nairobi, Kenya), Motaz Attalla (Egypt), Shilpa Jain (Rajasthan, India), Ocean Robbins (CA, USA), Michele Robbins (CA, USA), Tiffany Brown (OR, USA), Osmar Filho (Brasil), and Coumba Toure (Dakar, Senegal).

For more information, please contact Tiffany Brown, Programs Manager, at

Jam Alumni March United with National Leaders in Selma, Alabama

In March, Coumba Toure joined Malika Sanders, both Jam Alumni and Global Collaborative members, to attend the 42 nd annual bridge-crossing Jubilee is Selma, AL, which is organized by the National Voting Rights Museum (an organization founded and directed by Malika's mom, Faya Rose Sanders). Jubilee is an annual commemoration of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march that is now known as "Bloody Sunday", on which police beat demonstrators on the Edmund Pettus bridge as the demonstrators sought to embark on the voting rights march.  

This historic march became a profound symbol of the struggles and victories of the movement, as eventually 20,000 civil rights activists led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. completed the march with national guard support, leading to the signing of the National Voting Rights Act . Now, 42 years later, the march again drew enormous international attention as it was attended by Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton, along with many thousands of marchers.   Coumba joined with Malika for dozens of celebrations and strategy sessions with civil rights movement leaders, and the two of them also enjoyed some time planning for future collaborations.

If you would like to read more about Coumba's experiences in Selma over the years, go to for a moving piece she wrote after the march.

Nice 'n' Native Brings Indigenous Activists Together in Aotearoa (New Zealand)

By Kiritapu Allan


Conscious Collaborations, with support from YES!, hosted Nice 'n' Native, February 17-25, a wananga (gathering) of indigenous peoples committed to the struggles and survivals of indigenous communities at Motakotako Marae, Tainui, Aotearoa. Over 40 indigenous nations were represented by the participants as well as 15 non profit organizations including Black Mesa Water Coalition, Native Movement, Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network and Te Mana Motuhake o Tuuhoe.

The week began with a powhiri (traditional welcome) and was solidified by the sharing of breathe as participants, organizers and the hou kainga (home peoples) pressed noses in a hongi before engaging in a week of physical, mental and spiritual transformation. The week was woven together the with sharing of knowledges and struggles, paintball and touch rugby, traditional weaving, organic gardening, ceremony, stories of the plants, mountains and waters, a reggae festival and indigenous vibrations, sharing forum and a lot of laughter, dancing and singing.

Participants ranged from new born babies through to kuia and kaumatua (elders) and together for the week slept in the wharenui (big meeting house), ate together in the whare kai (eating house) and listened to each other to learn and be shifted as peoples who are committed to raising the consciousness of their communities.

All in all, Nice 'n' Native was a positive experience not only for the participants but the communities that the whanau (family) of Nice 'n' Native 07 engaged with as well. Conscious Collaborations will host Nice 'n' Native '08 in the Tuuhoe Nation in March 2008.

"Nice 'n' Native was the first time I had the opportunity to sit and share in a indigenous space. I felt a mutual understanding without words being spoken...and felt humbled in the presence of such strong Rangatira (leaders) from other countries around the world.   I also came away with a clear vision and am done wasting time. Time is precious and now my energy is being given to my own, the ones who need it. Nice 'n' Native is an experience that empowered me and recharged me to give more back to my people." – Tia Taurere, 30, Greenpeace, Nga Puhi

Rajasthan Youth Leadership Jam Creates Conversation and Community

By Shilpa Jain


The first-ever Rajasthan Youth Leadership Jam was held March 7-11, on a natural farm near Udaipur, in northwestern India. Called ' Asha Ri Got' which means 'a gathering of hope' in mewari, one of Rajasthan's 200 local languages, the event drew 18 participants from different parts of the state. There were six organizations represented by the participants, ranging from 18 to 38 years, who are working on a diversity of issues: rural youth development, rural health, rural income generation, community media (puppetry) on Gandhi's story, anti-globalization, and swaraj ("self-governance") in an urban setting.  

The Jam proved to be a wonderful platform for making new friends, engaging in meaningful conversations, reflecting on their personal visions and life journeys, and experimenting with healthy and vegan food. The Jam participants also explored together what swaraj means for both their personal lives and Rajasthan, especially in the light of growing environmental exploitation, industrial 'development' and social upheaval in the context of rapid westernization. For all involved, it was a new experience -- sharing oneself so deeply and openly and discussing many challenging issues in the social change sector, including questions about organizations, funding, and the model of development as a whole.  Many of them were delighted with the unique experience and expressed a desire to be a part of more such gatherings. Enthused by the response, we at Shikshantar are looking to organize another Rajasthan Jam (tentatively planned for November this year).

"This was the first real opportunity I have had to reflect. I realize that in my daily work, there is no space for thinking, reflecting, considering deeply, my life or my work. I hope to carry this kind of spirit forward - to share it in my work and with my friends at home." – Lalit Dancharan, 29, Activist, Bikaner, Rajasthan

An Expression of Gratitude and an Invitation to Support YES!


YES! is blessed with many partnerships in the work we do because real social transformation can only be accomplished by coming together in solidarity and action.   Thank you to each of you who are bringing your resources and gifts - whatever they may be - into our collective journey towards a brighter future for generations to come.

The programs described in this newsletter, like all that we do, are committed to empowering, inspiring and connecting young leaders. If you are interested in contributing to YES! and helping young visionaries to build a better world, go to

If you have any questions, please contact Nga Trinh-Halperin, Development Manager, at

In addition to prayers, love, and financial contributions, YES! enthusiastically welcomes donations in kind, including particularly:

House Party Hosts • Airplane Tickets • Frequent Flyer Miles • Printing Services • Natural, Vegetarian Food (for YES! events) • Sites For Jams (beautiful spaces for groups of 30-60) • Quality Apple Computers & Printers • Hosts for Future Events • Interns and Volunteers • Transportation to and from airports • Non-profit Accountant • Global Travel Agent • Fundraising Associate • Event Planning Assistance • Graphic Designer • Web Designer • Skilled Web Database Programmer • Skilled Videographer • Good Vegetarian Chefs

Board of Directors:

Rev. angel Kyodo williams
Spiritual Director, New Dharma Meditation Center for Urban Peace, Oakland

Aqeela Sherrills
Founder & President, Community Self-Determination Institute, Watts

John Robbins
Board Chair Emeritus Author, Diet for a New America and Healthy at 100, Santa Cruz

Michele Bissonnette Robbins
YES! President, Santa Cruz

Richard Glantz
Attorney, Corte Madera

Advisory Board Members:

Evon Peter
Chairman, Native Movement, Flagstaff/Arctic Village

J. Manuel Herrera
Trustee, East Side Union High School District, San Jose

Kimberly Carter
Co-founder, Clear Compass Media, Santa Cruz

Laura Loescher
Co-founder, Changemakers, San Francisco

Special Thanks to Design Action Collective, Oakland, CA,


YES! is a nonprofit organization that connects, inspires and empowers young changemakers to join forces for a thriving, just and sustainable way of life for all through: Global Leadership Jams, the Leveraging Privilege for Social Change program, grantmaking, public speaking, and a global support network.

We work at the meeting point of internal, interpersonal, and systemic transformation.

Since 1990, YES! has spoken to more than 650,000 students and organized more than 90 week-long gatherings for visionary young leaders from 65+ nations. You can find more information at