A Message to the Network from Kruti Parekh
Dear Youth Passageways Community, my Spiritual Family,
It’s with so much love, gratitude and continued partnership that I share some important news. During this year’s Stewardship Council (SC) Retreat (annual gathering for the warriors and vision keepers of Youth Passageways (YPW)), so beautifully held by our staff and SC members, I stepped down as SC Member and Co-Chair. This annual sacred retreat is where so much magic happens, where the people who share the YPW vision are invited to help evaluate the year, create shared space for power and practice and create space so the right people take the right seats. 5 years ago at a similar retreat, when there was a moment for folks to step up and join the SC, the spirit moved through the room, a clank on the window and Sharon (Bearcomesout) Blackwolf (dear native elder, Buffalo Visions) yanked me up to serve my term. The multiple terms lasted 5 beautiful years!
Through these 5 years I spiraled into the center-most part. I served on the leadership circle for the last few years, conspiring with Dane, Darcy and Marisa to help honor a leadership model that best reflects the YPW Governance & Values — A Map of Wholeness. It has been an absolute joy and pleasure to be in these seats and in this network. I am humbled by the generosity of shared vision, prayer and power.
Over much of the time that I served in these leadership roles, I was working as a coach and consultant, with the incredible privilege of making up my own hours!! Last June (2019), I was invited to apply for a dream job – helping the County of Los Angeles (native land of the Tongva & Kizh people) release youth from lock up and to redirect carceral dollars into a youth development infrastructure in Los Angeles. While I walked away from the demands of organizing for justice in 2015 due to burnout, I felt ready to serve in this way again. I had recovered and incorporated so many healing & resiliency practices from our beautiful network. I can bring these gifts to the ground on a daily basis. While I remained connected to the YPW center the whole time, I have been unable to keep up the work & time commitment that was required to be responsible to the team. And Locally, the decades/centuries prayers have been answered – we just passed a motion in Los Angeles County (native land of the Tongva & Kizh people) where all young people will gradually be transitioned away from incarceration. Simultaneously, a youth development infrastructure will be built up to fully divert young people and have watering holes in every community for youth and families to help with healing and cultural reclamation. Imagine! My 5 year plan is to ensure this transition happens successfully locally.
This year, the unforgettable 2020, the year of the pandemic, uprisings, rings of fires and mass transitions of loved ones have revealed a great deal. The uprisings have forced us all to critically look at our lives — and organizations —and networks to see how we are doing in creating a cross cultural existence. I want to report back to you that I am so proud of us. YPW leadership has shown up powerfully during this time. Our roots, values, culture and relationships have been our anchors during this overwhelming time. YPW leaders have been in service to our most vulnerable partners, showing up with so much love, care, support and allyship. YPW leaders have also been there to assist individuals and organizations through the fires of internal struggles towards transformation.
I watched as partner organizations decided to turn inward, grappling with information about racial inequity and cultural inflexibility that socialization blocked from being addressed in the past — and an openness to have the conversations and make some critical changes. I love that when local partners are needing support around anti-racism training and support, I can turn to my partners within the ECC (Education & Consulting Collective). Over this period of awakenings and unearthing, YPW has been prepared and preparing, especially spiritually, ahead of the physical unfoldings. I am so proud of the network for the level of consciousness, thoughtfulness, creativity, solidarity and action.
In a recent conversation with YPW SC Chair Jett Cazeaux, I realized a few important things I’d like to share. YPW was an important bridge for me to meet native kin, learn about decolonizing practices and amplify cultural exchange opportunities. My prayer is that more of that happens — in a way that YPW can introduce & connect and the members of the network can collaborate where the spirit takes over. Buffalo Visions is an excellent example. Buffalo Visions wa
s a beautiful collaboration between Sharon, Hubert, Marisa and Cameron. This swirling twirling of amazing allowed me to bring youth and adult organizers for community transformation to Lame Deer last summer. That experience continues to guide us as we try to decolonize LA.
My prayer and biggest wish for the network is to continue to decolonize Turtle Island. Continue to create the bridges that need to be built so the long arc of healing and reconciliation and reparations can happen. The network is grounded in the history of Stolen Land, Stolen Labor and Stolen Lives and this guides us. Continue to raise consciousness, connection and helping make things right. For my fellow people of color in the network, if you have been feeling like you want to move closer to the center of the spiral, I encourage you to step in and take your seat(s). I encourage you to invest your leadership. The center is ready for you and will honor your gifts and guidance.
In the words of many but heard it first from my sister Becky Chief Eagle, I love you more. “When I say I love you more, I don’t mean I love you more than you love me. I mean I love you more than the bad days ahead of us. I love you more than any fight we will ever have. I love you more than distance between us. I love you more than any obstacle that could ever try and come between us. I love you the most” (author unknown and share with deep gratitude).
Always, in the constellation of stars with you,