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
There are still spaces open for the Jam. To learn more, and apply online, click here.
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.
Community Alliances Initiative Weekend Gathering with Be Present, Inc., May 23-24, 2009
By Jenny Uribe, Program Associate
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 – email@example.com or 831-465-1091 x 115.
Learning Lessons in Collaboration
By Lorin Troderman, Operations Manager
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.
Tipping Point Network Mini-Jam, April 24-28, 2009
By Ocean Robbins
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.
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.
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.
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 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.)
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.
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or visit oceanrobbins.com
Co-founder, Clear Compass Media, Santa Cruz
Rev. angel Kyodo Williams
Spiritual Director, New Dharma Meditation Center for Urban Peace, Oakland
Founder & President, Community Self-Determination Institute, Watts
Author, Diet for a New America and Healthy at 100, Santa Cruz
Michele Bissonnette Robbins
J. Manuel Herrera
Trustee, East Side Union High School District, San Jose
**Board Chair Emeritus
Special Thanks to Design Action Collective, Oakland, CA, www.designaction.org