March Update: The Fire Cycle
I write you now from my home in North-Central Washington state, where the mountain bluebirds have just returned and the quickly-growing balsamroot are beginning to bring bright explosions of yellow to the hillsides. It’s an interesting time to be here in this community, deeply affected last summer by the biggest wildfire in Washington State history. After the catastrophic wildfire and subsequent fall floods, and then a winter-long retreat beneath the snow, new life is beginning to return to the charred forests and hillsides, and folks are starting to rebuild their homes. The hope and possibility of springtime is palpable.
I myself have just returned from two weeks in the desert, in ceremony. My time was beautiful, rich, and insightful, renewing and clarifying for me. Thoughts and images of wildfire were a powerful part of experience during this vision fast. I had the opportunity to explore some of the fires that burn inside me that I fear will get scarily out of control, threatening myself and those around me. I was reminded of the importance and life-giving nature of fire: how it cleanses, clears out what’s no longer necessary or life-giving, and can bring forth new life. Here where I live, the ponderosa trees, that provide shade and habitat for all sorts of species, are in fact dependent on fire: their cones have to reach certain (very high) temperatures for their seeds to be released.
There are some fires that have burned through Youth Passageways in recent months. This is a network committed to inclusivity and diversity, to being a home and meeting-place for the widest possible array of faces of youth initiation in the world today. It is a network committed to aligning our operations fully with our vision and values, many of which stand in contrast to what often seem to be the “dominant” cultural forces. These can be difficult dynamics, and at times painful work, and seems to require the regular cleansing and clearing that fire can bring. As I learned in the fires in the Methow Valley, sometimes things we are quite attached to are sacrificed in the fires.
One significant shift coming out of these recent fires is the stepping back of Pat McCabe from her role as Co-Coordinator, out of a central leadership role and into a consulting role. Shifting this seat will allow for Pat to put her energy where it is needed at this time (please see her letter below). I can’t even begin to voice how much I have learned from Pat through working with her closely over the last 8 months, and am grateful to continue to have access to her insights, wisdom, and depth of experience, both personally and for the Youth Passageways network.
Pat stepping back provides an opportunity for Dane Zahorsky, who has been supporting Youth Passageways for the last year as volunteer Mapping Coordinator, to step forward into an ongoing paid position, as Assistant Coordinator. I am thrilled, truly thrilled, to work with Dane in this capacity. See below for Dane’s biography/letter of introduction.
During this time, the Youth Passageways Stewardship Council has been steadily taking its seat of leadership. Start-up phases are challenging; this group of committed representatives of the Youth Passageways network has been doing hard, painstaking work tending to the central fire of our mission and vision, learning and growing throughout the process. Deep gratitude to this team, and stay tuned for information about how the Stewardship Council is looking to grow and shift to reflect even more fully the range of perspectives of our network.
As things begin to settle in a bit after Youth Passageways’ wildfire season, I feel my own excitement and sense of focus and determination fully renewed. There’s nothing like a fire to clarify what’s truly important. The mission and dream of this network, “to unleash the creative energy, leadership capacity, and collective impact of a dynamic network of partners toward the healthy passage of today’s young people into mature adulthood,” is so very essential and needed at this time. I remain honored and humbled to serve this vision.
In service, solidarity, and gratitude,
Letter From Pat McCabe
Dear Youth Passageways Community,
It is my tender task to inform you that I have made the decision to leave my position as Co-Coordinator at Youth Passageways. This ambitious endeavor has been hugely expanding and also deeply challenging for me, on both personal and professional levels. The work proposed attempts to bridge cultures, generations, Spiritual practices, old and new ways, along with a broad spectrum of masculine and feminine principles and ways of knowing. All of these bridgings are not unknown to me as a Native American woman raised in diverse communities and whose work has carried her around the world. In this setting, the majority of this work is carried out over great distance, relying almost exclusively on technology – email, Skype and conference calls. Given the sensitive nature of the work, this is truly a challenge. In many ways these modalities have been inhibitive of my desire and ability to offer my gifts on behalf of young people as I hold it in my heart to do. The urgency I feel at this time cannot afford this inhibition.
There are juicy, but demanding tensions inherent in building new forms within a dying dominant culture as Youth Passageways commits to do. For example, the roles of the Masculine and Feminine at this time, and the tension between the development of an organization with structures, standards, policies, etc. and building “Healthy Family” among diverse peoples from diverse backgrounds, are central elements being brought into coherence and cohesion with the development of the container of this burgeoning network. What I have come to know about myself during the last six months is that my central inquiry and commitment is in how we intend to honor and hold the roles of the Masculine and of the Feminine as we move, and mentor, into the future. This is what definitely calls to be my primary occupation at this time. I look forward to resuming that work with renewed focus, passion and greater perspective.
It has been a true honor to work with the brilliant, passionate, soulful people associated with this organization, I am nothing but grateful. I will continue to serve Youth Passageways in a limited capacity as a consultant to Darcy and to the organization, in particular on cultural aspects of our relationships and work. Many thanks to all I had the pleasure to meet and who are so committed to this critical work.
With all good thoughts and continued service to this work on behalf of future generations,
Dane Zahorsky Introduction
Let me first say what a privilege it has been and continues to be to get to know many of you over this last year as we’ve begun the herculean task of constructing our database, and to those of you I am yet to meet, know that I am consistently enamored and inspired by the many splendid experiences each of you bring in service to our youth and to the circle as a whole.
I like many of us called to this work, never had proper initiation, and at 15 left home to seek my own, that reflection of core self that only trials, failure, and the fellowship of being picked up by community can bring. I found myself after a long and sordid journey in a small lake town in Guatemala, taken in by a family of Highland Maya. It was here, living and working among humble and joy filled people who knew exactly who and what they were that I fell into a passionate kinship with initiation, indigenous wisdom, and the nature of simple graces.
Ever since my return nearly fifteen years ago I have sought to offer my gifts at the axis of art and heartened education. In 2006 I founded MOTUV [Movement of the Unified Voice] with dear colleagues in Beijing and San Francisco, rooted in re-enlivening face to face community interaction free of alcohol or screens while fostering intercultural skill sharing and dialog. This was the portal that lead me into transformative work, from teaching to creating and implementing comprehensive programing and curricula from the ground up for institutions and organizations such as The Kansas City Academy, Warrior Films, and Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy (where my path intersected with Darcy’s, which led me to Youth Passageways at the Summit in Ojai), among others.
In 2013 I was called back to the Midwest to care for my mother, and blessed with an opportunity to remake and re-envision what my own relationships to family and place were and are. I have since founded the Make Trybe School of Transformative Design in Kansas City, that guides seekers of all ages through collaboratively designed transformations in the form of workshops, courses, and wilderness vision fasts as they relate to developing that sense of deep community, or of trybe, that I bore witness to and was a part of in San Lucas Tolimán, all those years ago.
I am humbled and honored to step into this position, and as a resolute believer in the mission and vision of Youth Passageways, I am dedicated to bringing my whole self in service to our work. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are thrilled to announce that Youth Passageways has again received a $25,000 grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation, and we have received news of an impending $17,000 grant from the Threshold Foundation. These visionary funders have been blazing trails in philanthropy for many years, funding top-notch efforts working to build healthy, resilient communities across the globe, and ushering in a new era in relations between people, and between people and the Earth. It is an honor to be among the grantees of these two foundations, and feel their confidence and support in our efforts.
2016 Gathering Update
At the summit in 2013 at The Ojai Foundation, where the community affirmed moving forward in building the network that was to become Youth Passageways, a loose intention was set to gather again as a large community in 2015. As it turns out, this has been too short of a timeline. However, we are beginning to lay the groundwork for gathering of 75-100 folks, likely in April 2016 in the Los Angeles area. Darcy will be convening an informational and initial organizing meeting for youth-serving organizations in the LA area in mid-April; if you are in the area and would like to attend this meeting, or know someone that should be invited, please get in touch with us right away. And stay tuned for more details in the next few weeks and months!
Photo and Numbers Reached Reminder
We still need your beautiful program images! We are looking for images that capture the heart of your work. Please submit your best image along with a short caption, and relevant photo credits (photographer, organization/program, location, etc.) 1 image will be featured on the front of one of our printed Thank You cards and shared with our supporters, volunteers, etc.
And we need numbers for the estimated number of youth your offerings reach per year.
News from our Network
Our fiscal sponsor Warrior Films has recently finished the short film “Rites of Passage – Mentoring the Future” along with supplemental guides/curricula written specifically for:
- high school teachers, counselors, and administrators
- colleges and universities
- youth development and community organizations
- psychologists, therapist, caseworkers and counselors
This initiative seeks to offer invitations to begin dialog surrounding the need and incorporation of meaningful and intentional rites of passage and mentorship in all contexts for our young. It can also be personalized to fit your audience or organization. The film and guides/curricula are available for free after signing up. Watch the short film here. And get the curricula here.
Youth Resiliency Institute’s Journey Project
The Youth Resiliency Institute’s Journey Project has just launched its new Family Engagement News Show! Journey Project family organizers who live in public housing in Baltimore, Maryland have been learning about employing digital media to engage in civic participation, narrative power analysis and how digital media can be utilized to promote transformative family engagement efforts in disinvested communities. Watch the first episode here.
American Gap Association
The American Gap Association is hosting its annual ‘Gap Conference,’ a conference for those working in the Gap Year field, designed for the Independent Educational Consultant community. Join them with opportunity for:
- expanding your awareness about key issues
- collaborating on ways to grow the field
- meeting peers
Wednesday will mark the transition to a focus on networking and marketing to:
- 1,500 Independent Educational Consultants that will be present
- A host of secondary schools
- a host of college admissions representatives
Men’s Eagle Council
The Men’s Eagle Council is also launching its live pilot e-course, The Journey to Manhood: Making a Meaningful Life and Becoming the Man you Want to Be. The course will take place at 5:00 – 6:15 pm MDT every Wednesday evening from April 15th through May 13th. Find out more info here.
School of Lost Borders
There is still space in the School of Lost Borders Young Adult Fast in California this June. For the past 35 years, School of Lost Borders (SOLB) has been working with youth and families to provide a safe and significant rites of passage for young people. Going into the wild alone, with no food, only water and minimal shelter for three days and nights may help answer the pressing questions of ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What are the gifts I bring to the world?’. This year SOLB decided to offer two fasts, part of the work to expand their youth programs. The three day fast is part of a twelve day ceremony consisting of three parts. The first is ‘severance’ from day to day life with family and friends, preparation for the journey out on the land. The second part is the ‘threshold’ or solo time in the natural world. The final step is ‘incorporation’, integrating the new experience of stepping into adulthood. This program is meant for those between age 17 and 24.
“Becoming Indigenous – Finding our Way Home”
And finally, Pat is co-convening a short course at Schumacher College called “Becoming Indigenous – Finding Our Way Home.”
“This programme is a deep journey into the question of what it means to be indigenous and how it feels to come home. Once in the place of home, connected to our birth-rite of place and community and belonging, how do we act in the world to create change? We bring together teachers, thinkers, elders, ceremonialists from both western and indigenous cultures to consider what it means to be indigenous in the 21st Century. How do we heal the grief of the past, how do we stop the abuses of the present, what knowledge and wisdom can we share, how can we move forward into a world together and what part can each of us play in making this world a home for all. The programme will have two residential components separated by a period of private research, mentorship and online sharing. The first residential will be for four months during which participants will be resident at Higher Close Dartington Hall and attending sessions in Schumacher College’s Elmhirst Centre. The second residential week will be a final sharing and homecoming ceremony in the same location.”