Each school year, FEEST welcomes a cohort of youth leaders from Chief Sealth, Evergreen, Rainier Beach, and Tyee High Schools to deepen their knowledge of social justice, build community, and grow stronger together as organizers. This month we kicked off the year with a virtual summer camp to explore topics like community organizing, food justice, fatphobia, school food, and more.
One of the first topics of camp is… What is community organizing? Here are some definitions we like to use.
“A long-term approach where people affected by an issue are supported in identifying problems and taking action to achieve solutions…a means of achieving social change through collective action by changing the balance of power” – The Marin Institute
“Organizing is the process of building organizations of people with similar interests who use their collective power to win immediate improvements in people’s lives and alter the relations of power.” – School of Unity and Liberation
Direct Action Community Organizing is when people who are affected by a problem decide on a solution, and with the strength of their numbers put pressure on decision makers to make concrete improvements. It’s about changing who has power; it’s about people coming together and building power to get what they want. – FEEST
FEEST exists because young people are demanding positive change in their communities and know they have the power to lead. We want to create change in our schools and communities by organizing for better health — food and nutrition, mental health, safety, and overall well-being.
Why is it important for young people to organize? Here’s what some FEEST youth leaders have to say:
“It speaks volumes when many generations are involved in the same cause.”
“I’m fighting for people less fortunate than me to have the same rights as everyone else.”
“I hate what we’re going through and what systems of oppression have done to our lives. In doing this work it’s all out of love. Everyone deserves more.”
“It’s our future.”
Youth are in the lead at FEEST because we know that change is not effective unless those most impacted by health inequities are the decision makers. We practice community organizing in order to build a better world.
We look forward to introducing you to this year’s youth leaders in the months to come!
As we look toward the future, here are a few organizers who inspire our work.
Angela Davis is an activist working to abolish the prison industrial complex, and an incredible teacher and author on feminism, critical race theory and organizing!
“I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement.” -Angela Davis
Dolores Huerta is a community organizer with the United Farmworkers Union, who organized alongside Cesar Chavez for better working conditions for farmworkers.
“The great social justice changes in our country have happened when people came together, organized, and took direct action. It is this right that sustains and nurtures our democracy today. The civil rights movement, the labor movement, the women’s movement, and the equality movement for our LGBT brothers and sisters are all manifestations of these rights.” – Dolores Huerta
Grace Lee Boggs was an organizer whose activism spanned many movements including the Black Power, labor, feminist and environmental justice movements.
“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it” -Grace Lee Boggs