Untitled Document

Staff Letter

Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Programs in Full Swing

2009 Major Programs Calendar

Community Alliances Initiative Weekend Gathering with Be Present, Inc., May 23-24, 2009

Learning Lessons in Collaboration

Tipping Point Network Mini-Jam, April 24-28, 2009

Global Collaborative Convenes this Summer

Alumni Stories Series: Josh Thome

Expression of Gratitude and Invitation to Participate

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 Events, 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 yesworld.org



Staff Letter

Dear friends,

We hope you are all doing well in these turbulent but transformative times, and thank you for your partnership in our journey towards a more thriving, just and sustainable future for all. There has been much activity for YES! these last few months in both areas of program planning and organizational development. You can read more details about upcoming 2009 programs in the stories below and share in our excitement of all that’s been done and still to come.

Some highlights of the happenings here at YES!: we are in the midst of incorporating yesjams.org (an alumni community website) into our primary yesworld.org site along with a comprehensive redesign effort. With the departure of three amazing Board Members, Laura Loescher, Evon Peter and Richard Glantz, YES! is also focusing on board recruitment right now. And, staff and several partners are in the early stages of producing a new informational video which will be unveiled this coming Fall.

Fundraising has been challenging for YES! but we have been inspired by the recent conversations and actions in our community. First, many of our supporters responded to a recent outreach campaign that was led by staff, allowing us to keep our budget cuts at around 23% (or $112K) for this year. Second, staff is making these hard decisions (and finding new opportunities) collectively, choosing a model of collaboration and transparency instead of hierarchy and closed-door meetings. As we move through each challenging moment, we are feeling closer and more connected as a team.

Next year we anticipate a significant fundraising hill to climb – but we are stepping into the uncharted waters with prudence and commitment. We are in ongoing dialogue, engaging staff, board, and program partners in looking at how best to help our work to move forward at a time when it is deeply needed, to maintain our investment in our talented team, and to support long-term organizational viability.

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to others, and if you are compelled by what you read, consider making (or adding on) a gift to YES!. Thank you for all that you do.

With warmth and gratitude,

Ocean, Tiffany, Lorin, Nga, Jenny, Romy and Julie
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Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Programs in Full Swing

By Shilpa Jain, LPSC Workshop Co-facilitator and LPSC Jam Co-coordinator

LSPC Jam Participants

From February through April, Austin Willacy and Shilpa Jain, Jam alumni and facilitators, co-hosted six daylong workshops on the theme of Leveraging Privilege for Social Change (LPSC), one each in the cities of Los Angeles and Davis, CA, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and two in the Bay Area.  The workshops were diverse and intergenerational, with an age range of 19 to 65.  Participants greatly appreciated the opportunity to reflect on their lives, their experiences with 'philanthropy', their relationships to privilege, and their capacity to make a positive difference. For several participants, it was their first chance to look at their power, their challenges and their possibilities in such a safe and unique space:

“Connections. Vision. Humanity. Acceptance. Love. Friendship. Hugs! Insight. Learning. Growth and so much I can’t put into words. Thank you!” - Drew

“I’ve gained a better perspective on myself and where I come from through the stories of others.” - Erin

Attendance at the workshops varied, but was generally lower than anticipated. YES! staff and Austin and Shilpa will soon be meeting to discuss how to carry the program forward in the future.

The daylong workshops have also been helpful in finding potential participants for the 7th Annual Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jam, June 4-11, 2009, in Green Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The LPSC Jam brings together 30 diverse and committed young people with wealth, fame and/or social impact whose lives are dedicated to building a thriving, just and sustainable world for all. It is a place for learning, growing, and deepening our capacity to use the resources in our lives to make a difference in the world.

LPSC Jam participants come from a range of backgrounds. Past participants have included young entrepreneurs, inheritors, organizers, philanthropy professionals, attorneys, musical artists, athletes, film makers and actors. Jam participants share a common intention to explore vital issues and to grow and learn together. We come together to build bonds of community, understanding and trust between people and movements, to see the powerful connections between the diverse issues in the world today, and to gain support and skills for the work to which our lives are committed.

There are still spaces open for the Jam. To learn more, and apply online, click here.

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2009 Major Programs Calendar

We have created a beautiful calendar summarizing upcoming YES! and program partner events including the Philippines Lambakan Jam, Amazon Jam II, Nice ‘n’ Native, Middle East Jam, Arctic Institute for Indigenous Leadership, and World Jam in Thailand.

Download the calendar and find out more about what we are up to! >>

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Community Alliances Initiative Weekend Gathering with Be Present, Inc., May 23-24, 2009

By Jenny Uribe, Program Associate

On May 23rd and 24th, the Community Alliances Initiative (CAI) will be hosting a transformative Weekend Gathering with Be Present, Inc. in Santa Cruz, CA. The Community Alliances Initiative uses the Be Present Empowerment Model © to build authentic relationships with intergenerational social change leaders in the local community and to support one another in our personal development as we are striving to be the change.

During this intense time of change, the need for a supportive and committed community is ever so great. The Community Alliances Initiative is excited to invite you to join us at the Weekend Gathering for an opportunity of healing and community building with a diverse, intergenerational group of 30 local leaders committed to personal and societal transformation.

Children are welcome to attend the gathering and childcare will be available upon request. If you are traveling from outside of Santa Cruz, accommodations will be made available at the homes of fellow CAI members. We are asking participants to contribute to tuition on a self-selected sliding scale of $100 - $750. If tuition is the only factor preventing you from participating, we are open to being in conversation with you.

To learn more about Be Present, Inc. and the Empowerment Model ©, please visit www.bepresent.org. To learn more about the Weekend Gathering, please visit www.yesworld.org/events0809.html and contact Jenny Uribe for further details about CAI and to register for the Weekend Gathering – jenny@yesworld.org or 831-465-1091 x 115.

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Learning Lessons in Collaboration

By Lorin Troderman, Operations Manager

Working together collaboratively continues to emerge as one of our most exciting experiences of YES!’s journey. This core practice of examining who we are and how we do what we do is filled with personal, interpersonal and built in systemic challenges to authentically show up and speak our truth through the fearful hype of our shifting economy and its impact on our positions, capacity to serve and overall well being.

Since our first round of significant budget cuts last December the YES! staff continues to explore effective strategies for managing our resources, relationships and partnerships in this new and constantly evolving paradigm. With the reality of diminishing resources to maintain our current capacity we are each called upon to bring our wisdom into this conversation, nurture a safe container for the very vulnerable conversations regarding YES!’s ability to maintain our staff positions as well as affirm our collective commitment to working together through these changes collaboratively.

With everything on the table and a reassessment and potential recalibration of priorities at hand, each of us feels this vulnerability. Yet we are also striving to simultaneously be held with the trust and best of intentions from all of our stakeholders. This affirmation is evident from the resounding support at our most recent board meeting, the understanding and solidarity with our international program partners as well as the continued and whole-hearted remarkable support from our donor community.

It is becoming clear that our ability to honorably navigate these shifting times requires a resilience of spirit and trust in each other and the process of our commitment to collaboration. Collaboration requires a double nested commitment. We are called upon to take personal responsibility to speak our own truth nested in a collective commitment to reinforcing a decision making space in which our concerns are validated and our ideas are honored even if they rock what appears to be a consensus opinion. This balance between saying what we know to be true and supporting each other to make sure that it is not only spoken but heard and understood by all continues to emerge as a simple yet great lesson for us all.

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Tipping Point Network Mini-Jam, April 24-28, 2009

By Ocean Robbins

LSPC Jam Participants

For the last three years I have been part of Tipping Point Network (TPN), which is a network of 40+ sustainability movement servant-leaders who are visionary thinkers and activists in a diverse range of efforts related to the building of a thriving, just and sustainable future. It includes philanthropists, activists, authors, non-profit directors, social entrepreneurs, trans-partisan organizers, green builders, and transformational economists.

YES! hosted Tipping Point Network's 2009 gathering as a Mini-Jam. TPN members were joined by guests from the YES! Jam community for five days in the Santa Cruz mountains. The TPN tradition and the Jam tradition merged, and the results were fantastic. Participants shared their stories, built connections and trust with a diverse community of peers, and explored the challenging and rapidly changing landscape of our times. We kept asking, "How then shall we serve?", and also, "What is the meeting point between my passion, my gifts, and what the world needs?" Inspired by the success of this gathering and the potency of the partnership between Tipping Point Network and YES!, TPN is exploring to the possibility of merging with YES! and becoming a YES! project. The next TPN mini-Jam is in discussion for the spring of 2010.

“The example of so many people walking their talk and diving deep into difficult subjects inspires me to expand myself to great height, depth and breadth. I know I have many eyes and ears, many clear minds and full hearts to rely on for support, assistance and friendship.” — Ben Mates, The Robert G. Hemingway Foundation, Salt Lake City, UT

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Global Collaborative Convenes this Summer

By Shilpa Jain, Global Collaborative Coordinator

The Global Youth Leadership Collaborative (GC, for short) is gearing up for its 4th annual meeting, to be held from June 27 to July 3, 2009, in Santa Cruz, CA.  Launched in 2006, the GC is a network of YES! World Jam facilitators and alumni, 15 people from 12 countries, who are committed to expanding the movement that happens at the intersection of self-, interpersonal- and systemic-change.  Together, they distribute a $45,000 flow fund (some of which still needs to be raised) to localize and diversify this work in their communities.

At the meeting, the members will be discussing their personal and collaborative experiences of the last year (since their meeting in June 2008 in Peru), the lessons learned about facilitation and transformative gatherings, their understandings, hopes and fears in the current context, the challenges and opportunities with this year's flow fund, the resource and funding climate, and their next steps moving forward. They will also be looking at GC collaborative creations, like a book of Jam alumni stories and a comprehensive website of GC members and their work — both of which are currently under construction. The GC is currently mostly funded for three years through a grant from the Fetzer Institute.

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Alumni Stories Series: Josh Thome

YES! staff recently asked for and collected a dozen alumni stories to help us better understand the impact of Jams on their work and lives. The stories were so powerful and beautiful that we now intend on gathering them on a continual basis. And, we are thrilled to be starting an on-going series to feature one story in each newsletter.

About Josh Thome: Josh is co-founder of Direct Current Media and co-creator of the TV series 4REAL. His work to educate and activate people on environmental and social causes has reached millions through live events, TV, radio, film and the Internet. Josh presented at the United Nations on youth, the environment and education, has helped develop numerous action networks, and was contracted by the Clinton Administration to help appropriate millions of dollars in environmental youth grants. He is a recipient of the Sierra Club Presidents Award and was featured in the book “The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations”. Recently Josh was awarded as an Emerging Explorer for National Geographic.

My experience with Jams is from the inside out. In 1996, I was working with YES! and helped organize the first Jam. Later, in 2000 I was invited back as a participant, in 2001 I visited the Jam community day and in 2003 I was invited to the India Jam to make a video. Every time the Jam played a pivotal role in my life.

I grew up in the remote and beautiful Kootenay mountains of British Columbia. My parents were part of the back to the land movement in the early 70's and they instilled in me a social conscience, a hard work ethic and respect for the environment.

This connection with nature activated me in my senior year of high school as I became aware of the magnitude of the destruction of the environment and the blind politics of greed that were fueling it. Some friends and I decided to start an environmental club and we began networking with other clubs in BC. We all worked together in organizing a conference in Vancouver that 600 students attended. Within a year it grew to become an Environmental Youth Alliance with over 60,000 students across the country.

This experience taught me the basic movement building formula of educational and entertaining outreach followed up with networking and organizing. It was at this point I was invited to California to join YES! and help create a national tour to educate, inspire and empower young people to make a difference. The follow up of the tour evolved from workshops in schools, to weekend workshops in communities to regional and national week-long events and finally to the international Jams.

As we organized the first Jam, I was doing media for YES! and I was frustrated with how our message was put into some lame box about how cute it was that young people cared about the Earth. Our message was a lot deeper and more urgent than that and it didn’t take me long to realize that the only way we were going to convey it properly was to create our own media. So at the first Jam I interviewed all the amazing leaders from around the world and over the course of the next year I got enough footage donated to put together my first video called CONNECT. MTV picked it up and broadcast it in 80 countries as their 1997 Earth Day special. This got me inspired to produce more media but it also got me thinking about how to leverage the emerging internet as a means to follow up this kind of mass media outreach. (Years later at a Jam community day I met Rod Beckstrom of Silicon Valley legend and with his support was able to develop a dream follow-up system called the Student Action Network.)

In 1999 I dove back into grassroots organizing as the WTO meeting in Seattle was approaching. This was an incredible and unique opportunity to address almost every environmental and social justice issue being perpetrated by multi-national corporate globalization. This was a rare chance to shine a light on the lawless exploitation and pillaging of the worlds resources and peoples. A global economic model with very little regulation or concern beyond profit.

I continued campaigning intensively until the IMF / World Bank rallies the next spring. At that point I was feeling burnt out on protesting against things and the 2000 Jam was just the medicine I needed. It renewed my inspiration, stoked my passion and set me in a new direction focused on solutions. Some of the people I met at that Jam are some of my closest friends and colleagues still today.

The Jam participants are people that demonstrate incredible courage, creativity, intelligence and grace in finding solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our time. I was compelled once again to get these vital and hopeful stories out to the world. These are the real heroes of our time and yet they don't get anywhere near the resources and attention they deserve. I started working on an idea called The Butterfly Effect that would take celebrity guests to highlight the inspiring work of Jammers. Like the chaos theory of the same name, the Butterfly Effect would show how a small action in one place could have a big impact globally.

The Butterfly Effect evolved into 4REAL a couple years later when I started working with my childhood friend, Sol Guy. While developing 4REAL we filmed a music video in Kenya for the artist K'naan, and along the way we met Salim Mohamed. Salim was the link that made us welcomed in the rough and tough neighborhoods of Nairobi where we filmed. Beyond being our local fixer he was a really great guy to hang out with and he quickly became a good friend. After a couple days of working together Salim showed us where he lived and worked in Kibera, the largest slum in East Africa. Here Salim ran a community development sports program for over four thousand young people and, as if that wasn’t enough, he also helped run a medical clinic. From our time in Kenya with Salim we ended up with a pilot episode of 4REAL. I also told Salim about the Jams and later implored YES! to invite him to a Jam. As predicted, he's been a vibrant part of the Jam community since.

From Kenya, we went straight to the 2003 India Jam. Interviewing the participants was an inspiring opportunity to further develop 4REAL.

Three years later, we finally landed a broadcast deal for eight episodes of 4REAL and over the next year of production the dream to highlight the amazing work of Jammers came true. We started by taking actor Joaquin Phoenix into the Amazon to feature Chief Tashka and Laura Yawanawa, who have brought the Yawanawa community back from the brink of ethnocide. I met them at the 2000 Jam and they have been some of my closest friends since. We also took actress Cameron Diaz to meet Puma Singona in the Andean Mountains of Peru who is bridging a generation gap in ancient Quetchua culture. Again, Puma and I met at the 2000 Jam and have been friends ever since. In 2001 I met Kimmie Weeks at the Jam community day and 4REAL was able to bring music sensation M.I.A. to Liberia to check out his inspiring work in helping the children of Liberia heal and move on from a life of war.

4REAL has now been broadcast around the world on CTV, MTV, National Geographic Channels and The CW. It's been followed up on many levels at 4REAL.com and half of the profits from the shows go the leaders. It's been an amazing journey and one that’s been intimately connected with the Jams. With the recent global economic meltdown, our broadcast partner had to pull the funding for season two of 4REAL just as we were getting started. Once again I am in a transition but even writing about the Jams taps me into the power of these events and gets me fired-up with fresh vision and inspiration.

I’m currently working on an initiative called 4REAL Flow that’s designed to flow money to the work of Jammers at heart everywhere. Stay tuned at 4REAL.com.


Josh Thome

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Expression of Gratitude and Invitation to Participate

YES! is blessed with many partnerships in the work we do.  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 choices made in the next few years may have a lot to say about the nature of life in America and on the Earth in 100 years.  Decades of unsustainable consumption choices and an economy largely disconnected from the Earth and real living systems are running up against a wall, and we see abundant opportunities to chart new pathways towards local, living economies and a more just, robust and sustainable human presence on Earth.  

In these times, social change leaders of all ages need circles of peers with whom to exchange ideas, share strategies, and learn from the best practices of what is working.  The rules of the game have changed dramatically, and we actually have the opportunity to help write the new ones.  But to do so will take cooperation, collective wisdom, brilliant strategies, and deep inner strength.  The winds of change are strong, and we need support to sustain our core in the midst of turbulent times, while being flexible and nimble to respond to the vast challenges before us.   For these reasons and more, we feel that YES!’s work is needed on an unprecedented level.  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.  We also welcome donations to support specific programs and program areas, including the Global Collaborative flow fund.
If you have any questions, please contact Nga Trinh-Halperin, Development Manager, at nga@yesworld.org

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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 EventsInterns 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

Another way to engage with YES!? Having Ocean Robbins, Founder/Director, as a presenter for your next gathering or conference is a wonderful and personal way to get more people involved and inspired to "be the change we seek to see in the world"! Please contact him directly at ocean@yesworld.org for more information or visit oceanrobbins.com

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Board of Directors:

Kimberly Gamble*
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
Santa Cruz

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

*Board chair
**Board Chair Emeritus

Special Thanks to Design Action Collective, Oakland, CA, www.designaction.org

240 Harkleroad Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
E: info@yesworld.org, P: (831) 465-1091, F: (831) 465-1237