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August Update: The Fire Cycle Revisited

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Dear Family,

The fires are back in the valley where I live in north-central Washington.  Three firefighters perished last week, caught in the rapid growth of a fire just outside of town.  As I joined the steady stream of vehicles evacuating the valley, the feeling of ghost town had descended and the sun was a small bright crimson dot caught behind a massive wall of smoke.  The only vehicles coming the other direction were emergency trucks emblazoned with the names of the places they were coming from, often from hundreds of miles away.  Friends who lost their homes last year were once again displaced. I wait now, wondering how much will be lost, and give thanks for all those fighting the fires and the massive resources that go into defending the rural West during this season.  Word came out yesterday afternoon of the burning of a special site, a piece of wildland where many students of a nearby wilderness program have gone for initiation ceremony.  Grief and loss are palpable.

Natural, unnatural.  The fire cycle in the American West teaches us about both of these things.  The natural cycle of fire that cleanses, taking away the underbrush and clearing the way for new life.  Unnatural, where the cumulative effects of too many years of fire suppression have converged with a shifting climate to cause catastrophic loss and require unbelievable risk and resources to save a handful of homes.

I keep juxtaposing this with #Black Lives Matter.  My heart feels a strong connection, though my head hasn’t quite found the link. Something about the healthy, cleansing power of fire, of passion and anger, what an important part of the natural cycle of things. And what happens when that fire is suppressed and stifled, and eventually no longer containable.  

And something about what it is to live in these times, to reckon with the consequences of how so many of us have forgotten our Original Instructions, and are now trying to relearn them as quickly as we can even as the fires blaze all around us, all while learning to cope with the reality that we find ourselves in at this time.  

In juxtaposition to the outside world, the last six weeks have been a blessed time for me, where I have had the opportunity to be at home in solitude, deeply immersed in Youth Passageways as well as my own writing projects.  I have been in a little bubble of comfort and peace, aware of so much suffering and urgency in other communities.  During this time, I have struggled-as I think many of us do-with feeling dwarfed in the face of so much need.

Yet this retreat time has helped me see the importance of time for focus and planning that will allow the powerful contribution Youth Passageways will be able to make toward a healthy, just, sustainable world.  Every day, Dane and I learn of new incredible work happening in our communities–truly awe-inspiring, innovative, ingenious projects. Now that Youth Passageways has the infrastructure with the website, and elements of organizational structure, we are able to create spaces for meaningful dialogue and connection, and amplify the incredible work happening in the world!  It is gratifying to feel in a place of action.

Here are some of the key goings-on at Youth Passageways these days:


At this stage in the process, and at the risk of leaving folks out, I really want to give a big public shout out to a number of people.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of hours have gone into getting Youth Passageways to the place it is at right now, and many folks have done this at the expense of other areas of their lives.  As those of you who have been to Youth Passageways summits in the past know, being involved in this network can require deep healing work, and this can be quite painful at times.  Deep thanks to the following individuals, who have been strong anchors and/or played key pivotal roles–both formally or informally–in the founding of the network over the last two years.  

  • Joshua Gorman
  • Sobey Wing
  • Ramon Parish
  • Fidel Rodriguez
  • Grant Abert
  • Sharon Bearcomesout
  • Frederick Marx
  • Orland Bishop
  • Gigi Coyle
  • Pat McCabe
  • Loren Lapow
  • David Blumenkrantz
  • Sam Bull
  • Melissa Michaels
  • Emily Pease
  • Asa Henderson
  • Idil Levitas
  • Sharon “Shay” Sloan
  • Khepe-Ra Maat Het-Heru

And right now, I especially want to recognize Dane Zahorsky, who stepped into supporting Youth Passageways in a paid capacity last spring after volunteering his time regularly for the previous year, who has proved to be just the sort of energy needed.  Dane is the one bringing things to fruition.  Thank you, Dane, for your hard work, passion, and dedication.

Partnership Proposal

One thing that we’re moving forward on is bringing more form and clarity about what it means to be a partner of Youth Passageways.  This is a pivotal and tender moment in our process as a community, one that requires real clarity about our shared purpose and values.  The Stewardship Council felt at this juncture, it is imperative to invite the feedback our of our wider network to ensure we’re on the right track.  PLEASE take a few minutes to take a look at this proposal, and send your feedback to Darcy by September 15th.  All feedback will be compiled and shared with the Stewardship Council, as they prepare to formally adopt a plan over the next month.  

Fostering Dialogue through Social Media

As you might have noticed, there are now some exciting ways to engage in thoughtful dialogue as a community.  Our blog has gone live and we are grateful to the authors who have contributed thus far for these stimulating and sometimes provocative pieces: Kruti Parekh, Bret Stephenson, Mark Shillinger, Zamir Dhanji, Asa Henderson, and Judy Piazza.  If you would like to offer a submission please contact Dane  to sign up!  

And we are thrilled with the launch of our website forums, which will allow an archivable source for dialogue on topics of importance to our network.  This is essential to the part of our mission focused on fostering collaboration and sharing among our network.  Please join in the conversation now!

Next Youth Passageways Gathering in LA in April 2016

A core group has stepped forward to organize and prepare for our next community gathering, of approximately 75-100 members of our community, scheduled to take place in April 2016 in Los Angeles, CA.  By the time we come together, it will be three years since a larger group met as Youth Passageways.  Please see the current gathering overview, which includes details on how to get involved if you would like to help support the gathering.  This gathering will be approximately 75-100 individuals; details regarding theme, registration, costs, etc will be available by early October.  

in gratitude and service,

Darcy Ottey,

YPW Coordinator

Youth Passageways Blog

Welcome to the Blog. Here you will find current and archived versions of our ENewsletters, Updates, and posts from partners, and guests.

Interested in contributing to our blog? Contact us at: dane@youthpassageways.org

Youth Passageways is thrilled to provide a platform in which a wide breadth of perspectives can commingle and paint as comprehensive a picture of our partner base as possible. As such, the views and opinions expressed in individual letters, posts, or media content of any kind do not necessarily reflect or represent the Youth Passageways network as an organization, or collective.

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