YES-ENewsletter Winter 2008

Staff Letter YES! Takes Next Steps in Strategic Planning Journey Global Youth Leadership Collaborative Moves Forward Jordan Meeting Kicks Off 2009 Middle East Jam Planning Young Leaders Gather for the Second Philippines Jam The Arctic Institute for Indigenous Leadership Successfully Completes the First of Two Week-Long Gatherings “Sharing Our Gifts and Privileges for Social Change” Jam in India YES! Bay Area Workshops Announced for 2008 Art in Activism Youth Jam, Peterborough “Generation of Hope” House Parties – Thank You YES! Community An Expression of Gratitude and an Invitation to Support YES!



Staff Letter

Dear Friends,

We hope 2008 has opened up new possibilities and opportunities of positive transformation for you. At YES!, the year has already shown promise of continued evolution as an organization, growth as a community, and stronger programs and partnerships. Thank you for being with us on this collective journey towards a more thriving, just and sustainable world.

There is an abundance of wonderful happenings from the last few months and this newsletter gives you a mere glimpse of the great work that is happening in the world. To read more about the young people, organizations and movements connected with YES!, we encourage you to visit the re-designed It’s a visual expression of the work, spirit and mission we carry here.

Your presence in the YES! community makes it all possible so please enjoy these stories we share here. May you be served, inspired and touched by them!

In appreciation, Ocean, Tiffany, Lorin, Jenny, Nga, Devinder and Kirsten, YES! Staff and Intern


YES! Takes Next Steps in Strategic Planning Journey

YES! continued to unfold our first formal strategic planning process through the hiring of Laura Peck, the Principal of the Claros Group in Albany, CA, as a consultant and initiated this 3 year planning process with a brief retreat in early January. A small core group, consisting of a representatives from the Board, Staff and program partners, will form in the next few weeks to nurture this iterative process and ensure that it is held and rooted in YES!’s values.

This latest round of conversations relating to strategic directions, staff roles and responsibilities as well as programmatic priorities simply picks up from the work of the Community Summit held in the summer of 2007. At this gathering in the Santa Cruz Mountains, many of our key stakeholders (Board, Staff, Donors and program partners) came together to recommit to each other to work in partnership toward a thriving, just, sustainable world. During this Summit, many strategic priorities were identified and set into motion. These included commitments for at least 3 future World Jams, the establishment of a Program Committee made up of representatives from each major programmatic area as well as the intention for a more comprehensive planning process.

We expect this process to culminate in May with a vibrant living document that reflects the respect and consideration taken to thoughtfully engage the YES! community, demonstrates our internal reflections on our work, as well as builds upon the wisdom and knowledge that constantly emerge from our multiple relationships with partners across the globe. Furthermore it is our intention that this plan will include self-reflective systems to support our ability to assess our alignment with our values through each area of our work.

Look for updates as well as how you can be involved in this process on our web site.

For more information about the Strategic Plan, contact Lorin Troderman, Operations Manager, at


Global Youth Leadership Collaborative Moves Forward

The Global Collaborative, an ongoing learning community of World Jam facilitators and organizers rooted in support and the exchange of ideas, will gather for its third meeting June 10–15. There will be plenty to discuss as this meeting in Cuzco, Peru directly follows YES!’s 9th Annual World Jam. Several Global Collaborative members will attend the World Jam, and this is an incredible year of transition for this program. New leadership is emerging in the World Jam organizing and facilitation team with Kiritapu Allan, 24, of Aotearoa/New Zealand stepping in as a lead organizer and facilitator. There is only one returning facilitator from past World Jams, Coumba Toure, so this is a completely new team of facilitators and organizers. It will be interesting to explore how the Global Collaborative works in relationship to the World Jam and supports the leadership and alumni in this program area.

This will actually be the first Global Collaborative meeting since the group was expanded to have 15 members. This year, we have received funding to allow for a budget of $3,000 per member to be used for flow funding in support of exchanges, projects, Jams, internships, and ideas that are aligned with the vision of the Global Collaborative. With some amazing projects on the horizon, like the Middle East Jam, proposals from Global Collaborative members are already being sent in for allocation of their funds.

If you have any questions or comments about the Collaborative, contact Tiffany Brown, Programs Manager, at


Jordan Meeting Kicks Off 2009 Middle East Jam Planning

By Ocean Robbins, YES! Founder/Director

Ten YES! World Jam alumni and allies gathered from six Middle East countries, India and the USA for a four-day planning meeting at Hisham Hotel in Amman, Jordan. Participants explored the challenges and opportunities of the region, shared their stories, struggles and dreams, and laid the groundwork for a Middle Eastern Jam to be held in Jordan in October 2008. Meeting participants formed a steering committee, facilitation team, outreach team, and participant selection committee, and developed clarity on the objectives, goals, and intended demographics for the Jam to come.

The Middle East Jam will bring together young changemakers working at the meeting point of internal, interpersonal and systemic change; people engaged in efforts to nurture sustainability, peace, and human dignity in communities throughout the Middle East. Participants will come from diverse faiths and cultures from Northern Africa to Iran and from Turkey to Pakistan. The Jam will seek to go deeper than conventional cultural exchange and political dialogue conferences as participants explore their own lives, work and visions, build trust, and generate real, lasting partnerships.

“To be a part of the planning meeting for the Middle East Jam was such a gift and honor... I felt firsthand how much beauty and passion, strength and determination, diversity and complexity, exists in this land.  And what it will take for people to open their hearts to each other, to approach one another with the desire to see the humanity, brilliance, pain and wisdom in each person. I felt lucky to bear witness to these kinds of opening this week, and to feel them manifest in myself… I also realized that the Jam was about bringing together those people who choose to see, who choose to feel, who are trying to act, in the face of great odds and often overwhelming pressure to conform to the toxic mainstream. And this is true for all of us, no matter which societies we are coming from.... I began to recognize how easy it is to demonize and how easy it also is to humanize, and how we all need support in bringing down those concrete walls and bridging to the other side.  So a huge weight was lifted from me.” – Shilpa Jain, 31, Shikshantar Institute for Education and Relearning.

For more information about the Middle East Jam, to nominate potential participants, or to contribute to the financial success of this project, contact Ocean Robbins,


Young Leaders Gather for the Second Philippines Jam

By Jennifer Awingan, Director of Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network, APIYN, Jam Alumni and Program Partner

From December 16-22, thirty-five youth leaders coming from the different regions of the country participated in Youth Jam 2007 with the theme “Engendering Human Rights Cause”. It was organized in Cebu City, Visayas Region and hosted by the local National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and Anakbayan, both Cebu City Chapters. It was indeed an awesome year ender activity for young people this year.

There were various activities at the Jam: an Island hopping/tour, a community visit in an Urban Poor community, fish ball sessions, short refresher courses on Human Rights and Paralegal Training, there were several sessions of skills sharing on mask making, silkscreen, and Photoshop. There were debriefing/processing sessions, reflections and taking action sessions and guided discussions on various human rights issues and cultural exchanges and networking.

As a resulting collaboration, several participants are setting up a youth support system called YOUTH for YOUTH EDUCATION AND EMPOWERMENT or “Y for Y“ intending to empower communities by helping young and poor but deserving youth to go to school. Another group of Jammers plan to create the first ever YOUNG DEFENDERS, a human rights club of young people around the country. If this is pursued, the formation shall promote, protect and defend human rights for all.

Everyone collectively planned the next year’s Jam with two different suggestions for the theme, one is the “Young Defenders Jam in Action” and the other is a Jam catering to “Arts and Environment in Action Jam”. Continued discussion and exchange is now taking place as to where, when and how. Ambitions seem so big and far but real friendships and connections built at the Jam 2007, with nothing yet but the solidarity and the resolve to contribute in building a just place for all living creatures, will make them come true.

“I have been in various trainings and activities but this Youth Jam is a new experience for me, I cannot express the difference but I feel so filled and yet I walk so lightly.” – Kalayaan “Aya” Arnuco, Student Council Officer, University of the Philippines, Manila


The Arctic Institute for Indigenous Leadership Successfully Completes the First of Two Week-Long Gatherings

By Cathy Rexford, Jam Alumni and YES! Program Partner

Twenty-eight young Alaska Native leaders from around the state were selected and completed the first week-long gathering of the Arctic Institute for Indigenous Leadership (AIIL). Held in Fairbanks from August 20-26, 2007, AIIL was organized and hosted by Native Movement. 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. Supported by YES!, the Institute was effective in building trust, common understanding, and mutual support among the community.

Indigenous communities in Alaska, while diverse in their geographic and cultural heritage, face similar challenges in the process of decolonization. This unique Institute has been a timely opportunity for the next generation of leaders to build a foundation of history and knowledge that is often not obtained in mainstream curriculums.

The Institute has created a community among young Alaskan Native leaders, 18-35 years old, who are committed to personal and community healing. These young Alaska Native people seek creative and innovative approaches to revitalizing our cultures, languages, and ways of living utilizing traditional knowledge and modern technology.

A complete list of participants and more information can be found at

“This has been one of the best growing and learning experiences I have ever had. It was absolutely amazing to sit with other young Alaska Native leaders and share food, songs, dances and similar challenges that we all face today.” – Shawna Larson, Alaska Community Action on Toxics and Indigenous Environmental Network.


“Sharing Our Gifts and Privileges for Social Change” Jam in India

By Shilpa Jain, Jam Alumni and YES! Program Partner

High up, in the shadow of the Himalayas, 26 people gathered. Most came from many different parts of India — Delhi, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Orissa, Ahmedabad — and a few joined from Dubai and the US. They were an intergenerational bunch, the youngest at 19, the oldest at 58. They did not know what would happen, but took a leap of faith and joined together to share their feelings, dreams, hopes, fears, and full selves. What happened exceeded our expectations and lay the foundation for some groundbreaking work in India.

“Sharing Our Gifts and Privileges for Social Change” happened from November 17-22, 2007, in Himachal Pradesh, India. Hosted at Deer Park Institute, a center for Buddhist and classical Indian studies, and organized by a group of seven diverse friends from all parts of India, the gathering was a first-time-ever event. Through a combination of large and small group conversations, physical work, art, theater, music, silence, meditation, forest walks, massages, secret angels and games, the group explored experiences and ideas around privilege, social change, and what it means to live and create a culture of sharing today. Over 10 projects/proposals for intra-group collaboration emerged, including the effort to start a web site/blog to continue the dialogues.

“I did gain a lot out of the conversations and interactions that I had with others. It helped me to see life in a very different way altogether. It’s been a wonderful experience knowing other people and their ways of seeing things in an optimistic manner. It’s been a motivational experience.” – Paramveer Singh, 25, Delhi

For details about our US Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jam this July 13-20, 2008 in West Virginia, please go to


YES! Bay Area Workshops Announced for 2008

By Devinder Sahota, YES! Office Manager and Workshop Co-Coordinator

In response to the call for intergenerational programs, YES! staff created the YES! to Life Workshop Series: Connecting People, Communities and Movements, bringing together supporters and partners to learn, share, and transform our lives and work. Last year’s workshops included “Fundraising From the Heart” with special guest Lynne Twist and Building Sustainable Communities with YES!’s own Lorin Troderman, Jenny Uribe, and Devinder Sahota. Participants have praised “the great warmth of the facilitators”, “rich dialogue” and “sense of community and intimate sharing”.

In addition to the positive feedback, we have received constructive input for how to structure, shape and evolve our workshops. Overall, YES! is excited to be bringing ongoing intergenerational programs to our Bay Area community. For 2008, we hope to continue building momentum with these events, and have some exciting topics coming soon.

Upcoming Workshops:

February 24, Art in Action with Alli Starr and Ash Eldridge, Santa Cruz

April 6, Leveraging Privilege for Social Change with Austin Willacy, Kalindi Attar and Ocean Robbins, Bay Area

June, Connecting Visionaries with Van Jones and Ocean Robbins, Bay Area

August, International Youth Activism with International Jam Alumni, New Zealand, Santa Cruz

Contact Devinder through email,, or by phone, 831.465.1091, for more details or to get on our workshop e-mail list.



Art in Activism Youth Jam, Peterborough

Submitted by Ha Thi Lan Anh, Jam alumni

On November 17-18, 2007 at The Gathering Space, First Peoples' House of Learning, in Peterborough, Canada, thirty youth age 15-30 partook in a learning journey to explore global issues and engaged in dialogues on personal and community transformation for social change. This weekend gathering provided the participants with not only a safe and inclusive space for in-depth dialogues on social and gender justice but also tangible skills on creative actions for change. Theatre for the oppressed, expressive visual art, interpretive dance, music, cooperative games, gender fishbowl, and intergenerational dialogues are some of the activities facilitated by a dynamic group of youth facilitators from Vietnam, First Nations, USA, Denmark and Canada.   

Art in Activism Youth Jam is one of many events organized by the Kawartha World Issues Centre Seeds for Justice Youth Engagement Program. This program has been initiated by YES! Jam alumna Ha Thi Lan Anh of Vietnam, and it seeks to encourage youth from diverse backgrounds to partake in a societal learning with the end goal of creating personal and community transformation through concrete actions.  

"I had an amazing time...  I particularly enjoyed the gender fishbowl and thought it was facilitated very well.  The intimacy of reflection and the self-reflection that it caused was enough to bring me to tears. All in all, I will take this experience with me for the rest of my life. It brought up a lot of hope, passion and joy as well as some sadness and frustration, all of which are extremely important to the learning process." – Riahl O'Malley, 19, USA



“Generation of Hope” House Parties – Thank You YES! Community

YES! would like to thank all of its House Party home hosts, outreach committee members, guests, performers, presenters and volunteers for an outstanding season of events! Throughout the fall, YES! staff and Jam alumni like Kimmie Weeks (of Liberia) Mayerly Sanchez (of Colombia) and Sowore Omoyele (of Nigeria) traveled to nine cities in five states to bring a message of hope, inspiration and courage. From Portland to Boston, each party was beautiful in its own special way, demonstrating the unique character and kind generosity of each community. We raised over $51,000 towards our programs for the 2007-2008 program year (with $30,000 pledged for future years).

Please let us know if you are interested in hosting or helping outreach for a future House Party. Contact Nga Trinh-Halperin at for more information.



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 connecting, inspiring and empowering young leaders. 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.

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 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

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

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