Message from the Staff

Thoughts on the 2008 World Jam, Chinchero, Sacred Valley, Peru, June 1-8

Global Collaborative Meeting Reflections

Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jam, July 13-20, 2008

Free-Write by Austin Willacy

Update on Middle East Youth Leadership Jam in Amman, Jordan

Arctic Institute for Indigenous Leadership Report

Ocean Robbins Accepts Jefferson Award for Public Service

YES! Community Gathering, Saturday, August 23, in Berkeley, CA

Save the Date: "Generation of Hope" Fall House Parties

Expression of Gratitude and Invitation to Participate


Message from the Staff

Dear Friends,

We hope you are enjoying good health and times, and that your lives continue moving towards your deepest dreams and visions.  At this moment, we are writing with much gratitude for your love and support.  Many staff and partners are immersed in the most intense time of YES! programming, so we feel very connected to our larger community that makes all this work possible.

As you can read from this newsletter, we have just completed two major programs, the 2008 World Jam in Cusco, Peru, June 1-8, and the sixth annual Leveraging Privilege for Social Change in W. Virginia, July 13-20.  We feel so blessed for each Jammer, for the gifts they bring and learning we create together.  In the midst of an ever-changing world, their passion for and commitment to a better future seems like a reassuring constant.

In addition, YES! is pleased to report that our organization continues to thrive and grow.  We are restructuring and will add a Development Coordinator and Program Coordinator to the staff team end of August.  In an effort to share our message with more people, YES! has also designed and printed our first-ever brochure (also viewable on our website).  If you are interested in copies for friends and family, we are happy to send some along!

With warmth and appreciation always,

Ocean, Tiffany, Romy, Lorin, Nga, Jenny and Kirsten
YES! Staff

Thoughts on the 2008 World Jam, Chinchero, Sacred Valley, Peru, June 1-8

By Kiritapu Allan, Co-Founder of Conscious Collaborations and Co-Organizer and Co-Facilitator of the World Jam

If you can imagine being as high up in the sky where across valleys, where you can see snow rest on the breast of Mountains that have guarded the Andean peoples for as long as story stretches back, hiking up mountains with old grandmothers to give offerings with fire and to be sitting with 30 friends who have heart, creation, struggle and a commitment to change that seeps beyond this lifetime embedded in spirit, then this was the 2008 World Jam...

Hosted by the community of Chinchero, 30 people from the four winds gathered for eight days to step out of their daily lives and movements to step into a brief moment of sharing of self, culture, movements, dance, food, song, story, relationship, struggle, dreams, and life. From the desert of West Africa fighting against modern day slavery through to growing organic food in urban gardens in Brazil the participants who gathered in Chinchero offered an insight into the world that we live in from the eyes of those who stand in life on the frontline.

For some a complete transformative experience, for others a time of deep reflection in a world that offers no time to slow down. For others a time to laugh and release shoulders that for far too long have carried far too much and for most a time to grow and be held in the arms of brothers and sisters that seek a better world.

Community was a theme that played many times in the conversations that unfolded and it is these 30 communities that reap the full rewards of this World Jam, warriors that return home with the strength of many warriors. The 2008 World Jam was a gift that allowed for many seeds to be planted in the spirits of all who came.

Global Collaborative Meeting Reflections

"The heart is the purest eye."
– Puma Quispe, Peru

In the shadow of Macchu Picchu, in Aguas Calientes, Peru, we sat together.  The solstice was nearly upon us.  The sunlight warmed our bodies and filled our hearts with gratitude for this beautiful moment. Our spirits were as high as the altitude.  And the mountains reminded us of ancient truths; they held us in their strength, as we held each other in ours. 

From June 11-14, 2008, 12 of the 15 members of the Global Collaborative gathered for four days of reflection, visioning, and connection. The Global Collaborative consists of past, present and future World Jam facilitators, who are committed to an on-going dialogue about what is happening in the world and each of our roles in it. Among us, we support the organization and facilitation of the World Jam. We come from 12 different countries and meet once a year to dialogue about what we are creating, exploring, learning and unlearning in our various communities. We also share a flow fund together, in which each member has $3,000 per year to distribute for events, projects, people and exchanges that are in alignment with the spirit and purpose of Jams.  We have recently prepared a document describing the GC in more detail.

Our meeting began with sharing our sense of the pains and possibilities that we were seeing in the world.  Concerns over food insecurity, oil dependency, the widening gaps caused by capitalism and development, environmental disaster, and communal violence and conflict were shared, as were our hopes for greater localization, cultural affirmation and spiritual guidance.  We looked at how we were trying to create balance in our personal lives, so that they reflected the world we want to see, and how important having a community of friends for support and reflection was for us.  We talked about the value of slowness, of simplicity and of contemplation, for preparing ourselves for the present moment and for the challenges to come.

As members of the GC, we also spent time looking at what was happening with Jams around the world, and with the larger movements we and they were a part of.  The importance of matching responsibility with authority, of choosing representative leadership, of defining what leadership means to each of us, of setting intentions clearly, and of hosting the Jam in community, was all explored.  We saw that Jams have been offering a unique reflective and personal space for people all over the world, and how they are being adapted according to local contexts and participants.  It was inspiring to see and feel the diversity of what is being created by the Collaborative.  

This sense of joy was also palpable, as we shared how we were using our flow funds.  Everything from cross-continental Learning Exchanges, to film projects, to unique new Jams, to supporting community activists, was happening.  We could feel how the vines of the movement were continuing to grow across the world, and how our linkages were a part of that happening.

The GC meeting closed with a committment to continue to walk our path together.  We will be fundraising for another flow fund for 2009, planning another World Jam (in Thailand) and producing a publication of Jam alumni stories and experiences.  We left Macchu Picchu not just with the excitement of these plans, but also with the blessings of the mountain and with the inspiration of Incan/indigenous cultures, to continue to nurture our dreams for a better world...

Please contact GC coordinator, Coumba Toure if you would like to learn more.

Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jam, July 13-20, 2008

By Ocean Robbins

Thirty young changemakers from Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, Senegal, and ten US States gathered for a week of honest, healing, and transformative dialogue at the sixth annual LPSC Jam. Held at the beautiful Lick Creek Farm in Green Sulphur Springs, WV, surrounded by lush mountainous forests and clear streams, the Jam participants delved into issues of class, race, gender and power, explored the many sides and experiences of privilege, and created an environment of deep honesty and profound love. Participants brought diverse forms of privilege including generally recognized opportunities like monetary fortunes, prominent professional positions, philanthropic resources, elite educational backgrounds, and public attention, as well as other forms of privilege such as culture, family, community, life experience, freedom, wisdom, and inner strength. The Jam participants, more than 2/3 of whom were people of color, shared their struggles, commitments and dreams, and built a community of healing and support.

Feedback on the Jam has been extraordinary. Immediate post-Jam participant evaluations show that 100% of Jam participants believe that the Jam will lead them: to a healthier lifestyle; to be more conscious and confident in their life and work; to have deeper relationships with people who are different from them; to be more effective in their organization / organizing efforts; to be more effective in their personal work; to forge social connections and peer networks with other young changemakers; to have a deeper understanding of their privilege; and to use their privilege more effectively for social change.

One of the themes that emerged at the Jam was that of community. With most of the Jam participants coming from the United States, a nation where the dominant culture places such value on individualism, many participants commented on feeling deeply moved by a sense of being held and supported by a community. Jam participants created a community that could catch us when we fell, could help us learn and grow, and could challenge, enlighten, and befriend us. Now that the Jam is over, and the participants are spread around the world, we are all challenged to build on the Jam experience not only with the other participants, but in our own lives and communities.

Free-Write by Austin Willacy

In April 2008, we organized a Leveraging Privilege for Social Change workshop as part of our YES! to Life: Connecting People, Communities and Movements series. One of the facilitators, Austin Willacy, was inspired to pen these words after that day:

i want to leave the world with a legacy of love that makes people know that they are sufficient, that they can do enough, that they are smart enough, that if they ever do something they think is wrong it’ll be worked through and talked out in a loving, respectful way. i want everybody to have what they need to thrive, not just survive and i want everybody to know that no matter who they are, where they live, what they wear, how they look, how much they weigh, what color their eyes or hair or what language they speak that they KNOW that they are as important as anybody else, that they are exactly who they are supposed to be and that they are perfect, beautiful and profoundly loved.

i want to leave the world with music that reminds people that they are seen, heard, held and loved whenever they forget their singularity and songs that remind the singular into a collective so that the injustices visited upon people anywhere cease because people everywhere don’t feel the inclination to abuse their brothers and sisters and because it wouldn’t be tolerated even if they did.

i want to leave the world with time to heal itself.

Update on Middle East Youth Leadership Jam in Amman, Jordan

By Anas Alabbadi, Co-coordinator, the Middle East Youth Leadership Jam

Greetings friend!

A unique gathering to be organized in Jordan from October 22-29, 2008: the Middle East Youth Leadership Jam! This Jam will connect 30 diverse, engaged and committed leaders from around the region, for a week of deep listening, sharing, self-discovery, systemic inquiry and community building.

The Jam will be a place to share and reflect on their life journeys and their work in the world. It is a time to replenish, recharge and renew, and to gain specific and practical tools for self-care and personal sustainability. It is also an opportunity to grow in self-knowledge, to ask meaningful questions, to unlearn our fears and blocks, and to co-create new possibilities together.

We come together to share our cultures, our stories and our struggles with each other, to deepen in our understanding of each other and of ourselves. The Jam values diversity and seeks to bring together as diverse a group of people as possible. During the week, we hope to discover our commonalities and celebrate our differences. Given the conflicts happening in the region, it is not always easy to hold onto a vision of unity and cooperation that exists beyond the narrative of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. The Jam seeks to create dialogues that build on what is common among us, in which our differences are engaged. We see the Jam as a chance to move from the ‘demon-ization’ that is so prevalent today, to the ‘human-ization’ we so desperately need for a healthier future for all. The intention is to build trust and friendship, in a meaningful (not superficial) way. This means challenging stereotypes, being present with each other, speaking truth, working through tough places and being open to giving and receiving support. We feel that the more authentic our relationships are, the stronger the foundations we will have for developing new collaborations and synergies within our region.

Through the Jam, we become clearer about our vision and work in the world. We get a chance to link issues that aren’t commonly linked, to notice crucial intersection points, and get a clearer picture of the whole. We come together to learn from each other: about what is working, about what mistakes we have made, about where we need help. We have a chance to share tools and ideas to support one another. In turn, we hope this helps us to generate a body of collective wisdom for activism in the region. We also hope it will enable each participant to feel deepened in their capacity to affect meaningful positive change and carry their dreams forward.

The Middle East Youth Leadership Jam is being organized by a team of partners from throughout the region, and the local host is Youth Spirit Center in Jordan. For more information, or to contribute to a much-needed travel scholarship fund, contact: Anas Alabbadi.

Arctic Institute for Indigenous Leadership Report

Cathy Rexford, Director of Native Movement – Alaska, Jam Alumni and YES! Program Partner

In March of 2008, the first cohort of twenty-eight Alaska Native leaders completed the Arctic Institute for Indigenous Leadership (AIIL), held in Chugiak, Alaska. The goal of the AIIL is to support the personal and professional growth of young leaders while providing an opportunity to build a statewide network. The Institute was effective in building trust, common understanding, and mutual support among the community.

The success of AIIL was tied to the contribution of its participants. The skills and resources of the AIIL participants include grassroots organizing, grant-writing, advertising, campaign management, cultural leadership, music producing, film production, and beyond. Among the participants were lawyers, professors, executive directors, administrators, artists, media experts, and traditional leaders.

These young leaders met for two week-long sessions, the first session, held in August, focused on the history of western governmental, corporate, and institutional impacts on Alaska Native peoples, lands and cultures. In addition, this first week also focused on translating our culture, language and traditional values into a means of healing in our work, communities and lives.

After laying a solid foundation and gaining a shared understanding of our past, the second week-long session focused on using community based organizing, language, traditional values, art and media as tools for change, as well as strategizing and visioning in our work.

Traditional foods, song and dance, stories, and ways of being were intertwined in the learning and in our sharing. Guest presenters included Jerry Isaac, Dorothy Shockley, Earl Polk, and Cherilyn Holter. The holistic approach to the Arctic Institute not only encourages people to examine their surroundings, but empowers our people to recognize that the tools and skills we need to maneuver in our contemporary world rests in our own hands, hearts and minds.

Native Movement will gather the second cohort of young Alaska Native leaders in 2009. More information can be found on our website at

“I truly valued the opportunity to work with such a diverse and inspiring group of individuals in an intimate forum setting. I particularly valued the various conversations and activities we engaged in during AIIL that expanded our collective awareness of differing perspectives from across our vast state. Such interactions led us into new and productive spaces for problem solving issues facing our generation specifically, as well as those issues facing the Alaska Native community as a whole. This experience has had a profound affect on my life, and I look forward to developing the relationships and projects facilitated by this Native Movement institute.”
- Jessica Bissett, Eugene Cota Robles Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles

Ocean Robbins Accepts Jefferson Award for Public Service

Ocean Robbins, YES!’s Founder/Director, received a Jefferson National Award at a black tie gala event on June 17 in Washington, D.C. Ocean was the winner in their category of Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Younger. The Jefferson Awards were established in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and several other prominent philanthropists. The board of the Jefferson Awards prides themselves on being cross-partisan, and the recipients over the years have been leaders who cross the entire range of the political spectrum, ranging from Cesar Chavez to Henry Kissinger, and from Colin Powell to football star Peyton Manning.

Each year there are four national winners, and in 2008, other awardees were Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, Darryl Hammond (who has raised $100 million to build playgrounds for kids in inner city neighborhoods), and Edward Jagen (who has helped educate 18 million families on crime and safety issues). The MC was Chris Wallace of Fox News, and the event was sponsored by NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. Dozens of US Senators participated in a pre-ceremony reception. Ocean’s speech was very well received, with a lengthy standing ovation. Afterwards, many people complimented him by saying, “You should run for office”, which he decided is one way folks in the Capital express appreciation. Media coverage of Ocean and of the Jefferson Awards was widespread, with articles appearing in the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Kansas City Star, the Washington Times, and many other papers. At the close of his acceptance speech, Ocean said:

“I hope you will not be deceived by my presence alone on this stage. For this award truly belongs to all of our staff and partners past and present, to our thousands of generous donors, to the visionary young leaders who have been touched by our work as they have also guided our evolution, and to the hopes and dreams of future generations, whose infinite trust is now placed in all of our care.”

To see the full acceptance speech, go to: and click on “blog.”

YES! Community Gathering, Saturday, August 23, in Berkeley, CA

You are invited to our Community Evening on Saturday, August 23rd from 7 – 9:30 PM at the Center for urbanPEACE in Berkeley, CA. YES! Program Partners, Coumba Toure from Senegal and Kiritapu Allan from Aotearoa/New Zealand, along with Ocean Robbins, Founder/Director, and Tiffany Brown, Program Manager, will share heartwarming stories from the recent World Jam and Global Collaborative gatherings in Peru, as well as the Leveraging Privilege Jam in West Virginia. Coumba and Kiri will also speak about the beautiful and important work happening in each of their communities. We look forward to connecting with you in person!

Coumba Toure is an educator seeking alternatives in education, an activist struggling for radical social change and working for just and sustainable relations worldwide, and an artist who enjoys writing fiction and sharing music. Coumba works for social justice through popular education and has facilitated hundreds of educational workshops on gender, race and economic justice, HIV Aids and advocacy. She has worked with very diverse groups of people and organizations including the Institute for Popular Education in Kati, Mali, African Consultants International in Dakar, Senegal, and 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement in Selma, Alabama. She is currently writing and publishing books and educational materials for children and building a learning community that supports children in creating their own material.

Kiritapu Allan is one of those people that wakes up on any given day in completely different places, interacting with many kinds of faces and traversing through all types of spaces. Peace and justice lie at the core of all that it is that she does. In saying that she admits that it is another matter to fully embody these concepts at the personal level and strives to attain the balance of peace and justice within her own self, family, community and country. Kiritapu is indigenous to Aotearoa, specifically she comes from the peoples of Ngati Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa, which are tribes from the middle of the North Island. Her work revolves around educating and inspiring all peoples about learning from our histories so that we can create a sustainable, just and hopeful future.

Please send your RSVP to Jenny via email: or call (831) 465-1237 ext. 115

Save the Date: “Generation of Hope” Fall House Parties!

YES! staff, House Hosts and Host Committee members are getting geared up for a series of House Party fundraisers with the theme, “Generation of Hope”. Each event will feature a moving presentation by a troupe of extraordinary young global leaders. The program will impact people at a deep level, opening hearts, offering hope, and inspiring guests to live with purpose and passion.

We will be sharing the extraordinary impact and depth of YES!’s work and the power of young people changing the world in the following cities:

Boston, MA, September 17
New York City, NY, September 18
Washington, DC, September 20
Boulder, CO, September 21
Vancouver, B.C., November 30
Seattle, WA, December 1
Portland, OR, December 2
San Francisco, CA, December 5
Marin County, CA, December 12
Santa Cruz, CA, December 14
East Bay, CA, TBD

YES! is holding these events as fundraisers and also as a catalyst for the “generation of hope” in our lives, in our communities, and in our precious and deeply troubled world. House Hosts and Host Committee members are volunteering their homes and time to help with outreach in each community. People will be respectfully invited to make a donation, but there will be no minimum or maximum gift. There is no cost to attend.

If you are interested in hosting, supporting and/or attending a House Party, please e-mail Nga Trinh-Halperin, Development Manager at

Expression of Gratitude and Invitation to Participate

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.

If you are interested in contributing to YES! and helping young visionaries to build a better world, go to and click on “Make a Donation” to donate on-line or find out how to give in many other ways including pledging with stock, company matching, and through your will, trust or estate plan.” should be “If you are interested in contributing to YES! and helping young visionaries to build a better world, go to our website and click on “Make a Donation” to donate on-line or find out how to give in many other ways including pledging with stock, company matching, and through your will, trust or estate plan.

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:

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

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**
Author, Diet for a New America and Healthy at 100, Santa Cruz

Michele Bissonnette Robbins
YES! President, Santa Cruz

Richard Glantz
Attorney, Corte Madera

Evon Peter
Chairman, Native Movement, Flagstaff/Arctic Village

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

Laura Loescher
Co-founder, Changemakers, San Francisco

*Board chair
**Board Chair Emeritus

Special Thanks to Design Action Collective, Oakland, CA,



YES! is a nonprofit organization that connects, inspires and collaborates with young change-makers in building thriving, just and and sustainable ways 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




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