Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
June 3, 2000-Issue 11


Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) is an international, non-profit youth environmental group that has led 54 of its week long summer events in seven countries around the world reaching youth from over 20 countries. YES! has also organized 1,500 high school assembly presentations, and 112 day long youth empowerment workshops and reached more than 400 million people through television, print and radio news coverage.

"The student response to your work has been the strongest and most enduring
that I have encountered in my ten years of work in environmental education."

—Steve Compton, High School Teacher, McLean, Virginia

The YES! Tour Youth for Environmental Sanity or YES! was founded in June of 1990 by Ryan Eliason and Ocean Robbins. Over the years, our national speaking and workshop tour has combined skits, public speaking and a multi-media slide show to create an outstanding assembly presentation. YES! presentations inform, inspire and empower high school students to make a positive difference in the world. In total, the YES! Tour has now reached 585,00 students in person (touring through 40 states in the U.S.) with a call to action for a better world.

Environmental Clubs
We've catalyzed the birth of dozens of environmental clubs, and brought greatly increased membership to hundreds more. For a group of students in Santa Cruz, California, YES! provided motivation to green their school district. They joined with community groups to create a district-wide lighting retrofit that is now saving $160,000/year in energy bills. Santa Cruz High now has a plant-based meal option in the school cafeteria, an organic garden, recycling programs, and improved environmental curricula. Dozens of YES! inspired groups across the country have started and maintained recycling programs, persuaded schools to purchase recycled products, convinced their cafeterias to stop using styrofoam and offer a more healthy and ecological meal option at lunch. Other groups have organized beach and mountain clean-ups, planted trees and gardens, initiated car-pooling programs, and educated their schools and communities through eco-fairs and Earth Week events.

In The Media
YES!’s message and work have been the subject of dozens of articles and news stories. National coverage has included The Home Show, ABC News, Good Morning America, Six o'clock News With Tom Brokaw, NBC News, CNN, PBS, and CBS News; YM, Seventeen, Sierra, Jump!, Natural Health, E Magazine, and Vegetarian Times; USA Today, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and many more. In total, we’ve reached more than 400 million people through local, national and international media coverage with an inspiring example of youth changing the world. Media coverage continues to be an excellent way to generate free publicity of our work and camps, while spreading a message of hope and inspiration.

Our 1996 World Youth Leadership Camp brought together 40 of the world’s most outstanding young environmental leaders from 20 countries for a week of networking, skills training, personal growth and community building. In collaboration with friends in the video industry, YES! produced a 23 minute professional documentary of the camp called Connect. On Earth Day, 1997 (April 22), Connect was aired in 70 countries on MTV during prime time. In 1998, Connect won the WorldFest Gold Award for best documentary film in the
Ecology/Environment/Conservation category. In 1999, YES! is distributing 500 copies of Connect to high school environmental studies teachers who will show it to their classes, thus reaching approximately 50,000 students in school with this powerful message.

YES! Action Camps
”Informing, Inspiring and Empowering
a Generation to Create Positive Change”

YES! Action Camps help young people to meet the challenges of their lives and our world from a place of courage and vision. We help youth to see the problems in our world not as more reasons to despair, but rather as more reason why their life has the potential to make a deeply needed difference. By bringing diverse youth together and creating a common frame-work of respect, honesty, trust and shared purpose, we are helping young people to catch a glimpse of the kind of world we might yet create — and to gain support and skills for playing active leadership roles in their communities.

YES! Camps help participants gain a deeper understanding of the problems and possibilities of our future, a sense of community and team spirit, and a commitment to compassionate action. YES! Camps use a range of experiential exercises, cooperative games, discussion groups, video-tapes, music, art, and enjoyment of the outdoors. YES! Camps also feature guest presenters, enabling the camp participants to learn from mentors and activists working on the front lines for positive change. YES! Camps are participational experiences that are simultaneously fun and meaningful. Each camp participant learns about environmental issues, being a leader, teamwork, and the connections between personal and planetary ecology. Skills taught include community organizing, overcoming communication barriers, healing racism and sexism, conflict resolution, getting press coverage, fundraising, and public speaking. One thing that makes YES! Camps effective is that they are facilitated by our trained staff of young leaders. Youth will open up more, and gain greater value from the experience, because they are with their peers.

“At YES! Camp, we symbolize the diversity and unity of youth. In each one
of us, seeds of change have been planted, and now we are beginning to
transform the world.”

Kim Whorall, age 18, Menomonee Falls, WI

YES! Camps in 1999
In 1999, we organized eleven week-long YES! Action Camps in six states, reaching 271 young environmental leaders. Many camp participants had already started their own environmental clubs and organizations, and all of them are leaders in working for positive change in our world. Participants came from a broad array of ethnic and economic backgrounds. 36 U.S. States and 18 countries were represented at our camps.

YES! Action Camps in 2000
In 2000, YES! will be working especially with those people who have the greatest potential to positively impact others. Our growing reputation and base of contacts enables us to share our work each year with some of the most powerful, dedicated, and inspired young leaders in the world. By sharing support and training with the outstanding people we reach with YES! Action Camps, we feel that we aren’t just touching their lives. We are impacting the entire world they will change.

We are organizing 12 YES! Action Camps for the summer of 2000. These will include:

YES! Action Camp Facilitation Training, July 7 – 14, 2000:
Over the last decade YES! has developed extraordinary exercises and techniques for developing community, breaking down stereotypes and empowering youth to take positive action for a healthy future. The Facilitation Training will look behind the scenes at effective and fun facilitation strategies. This camp is especially valuable for anyone interested working more effectively with groups. Guest Presenters include David Brower, Joanna Macy and Marianne Williamson.

The World Youth Leadership JAM! 2000, August 1 – 8, 2000:
The JAM! is an annual gathering of young dynamic activists and leaders who are currently at the forefront of working for a sane, just and peaceful world. The JAM! is a response to the increasing globalization of our world and the need to build real bridges of solidarity between leading actors in the grass-roots, political, and business movements. It is a place to connect deeply with each other, ourselves, and our visions of possibility and hope in the face of so many injustices we see and experience around us. It is an exploration into the roots of effective activism. It’s about being the change we are trying to create. When young people from different cultures, different kinds of activism, and vastly different backgrounds with a common commitment for the future of our world meet, connect, and speak out, the result is nothing short of miraculous. The Jam! is for young people ages 15-30 who are in positions of tremendous influence and leadership in national or international organizations throughout the world working to protect the environment and/or facilitate social and economic justice.

Northern California Urban Habitat Camp, August 6 – 13, 2000:
The Urban Habitat Camp is a grassroots leadership camp focused on issues of environmental racism, social justice, urban life and how young people can unite to stand up for just and healthy neighborhoods. The Urban Habitat Camp will feature environmental justice education, experiential exercises, discussion groups, video-tapes, and various forms of popular education to look critically and deeply at the issues affecting cities and urban communities today. The No. Cal Urban Habitat Camp will feature a toxic tour of South San Francisco led by the Southeast Alliance for Environmental Justice (SAEJ) and visits to urban community gardens such as the Garden Project (which works with formerly incarcerated individuals) and the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners. The No. Cal Urban Habitat Camp will also feature workshops and talks by renowned activists and mentors dedicated to the struggle for justice and sanity, such as Alice Walker, Bradley Angel (GreenAction), Marcel Diallo (Black Dot Hip Hop Collective), United Farm Workers (UFW), and Third Eye Movement.

South California Urban Habitat Camp, July 15 – 22, 2000:
Organized in partnership with the Community Self Determination Institute, the So Cal Urban Habitat Camp will have the same theme and curriculum as the North California Urban Habitat Camp, focusing on social justice and environmental sanity in urban communities. The So. Cal Urban Habitat Camp will feature a toxic tour of the Alameda Industrial Corridor of Los Angeles led by the Communities for a Better Environment and visits to urban community gardens such as Food from ‘Hood and Common Ground Garden. The Urban Habitat Camp will also feature workshops and talks by renowned activists and mentors dedicated to the struggle for justice and sanity, such as Senator Tom Hayden, Orland Bishop and Concerned Citizens for South Central L.A.

The Community Self Determination Institute (CSDI) is a vision-based non-profit foundation with the mission of ensuring social wellness through positive thoughts and practices. Based in Watts, CA CSDI works for urban justice and seeks to put an end to gang and domestic violence by building community in the inner city. The founder of CSDI, Aqeela Sharrills , was a central organizer of the historic “Peace Treaty” between the Crips and Bloods in South Central L.A.

Building Bridges Camp, June 23-30, 2000:
Organized in partnership with the National Indian Youth Leadership Project, the Building Bridges Camp is a grassroots leadership camp focused on addressing the cultural separation between Native and non-Native people and how young people can build a bridge of peace and multicultural alliance for justice in the 21st century. The Building Bridges Camp will feature environmental justice education, experiential exercises, ropes course, discussion groups, service learning projects and various forms of popular education to look critically and deeply at the issues affecting Indigenous and non-indigenous youth today. The Building Bridges Camp will also feature workshops and talks by activists, mentors and organizations dedicated to the struggle for justice and sanity, such as YouthAction, Drew Dellinger and Manuel Pino.

The National Indian Youth Leadership Project is a non-profit organization committed to the holistic development of Native Youth and by extension all of humanity. NIYLP works to impart leadership skills based on traditional concepts which reconnect young people with the natural world and which teach the value of giving of oneself for the greater god of the tribe and community.

Viva Amandla! – Long Live Freedom! Camp, June 23 – 29, 2000:
Organized in partnership with the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement, Viva Amandla! is a camp focused on the political and cultural struggles of the South and building a multicultural movement for environmental sanity. Reaching into the history of both oppression and resistance in the South, this camp will look and the current state of economic and social justice, as well as the deeper gaps of separation torn open by a history of oppression and racism, and how youth can build an alliance within a global youth movement for social and environmental justice. The Viva Amandla! Camp will also feature workshops and talks by activists, mentors and organizations dedicated to the struggle for justice and sanity, such as CT Vivian, Enrique Aviles, and Rosa Parks.

The 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement was created in 1985 by veterans of the civil rights movement in Alabama who saw the need for a training ground for young community-focused leaders. Today, 21st Century helps young people to be skilled community focused leaders, resiliently and creatively empowering themselves and their communities to affect positive change.

“I definitely consider the seven days of YES! Action Camp to be the best experience of my life. YES! has changed my life. The camp gave me so many new ideas, and the skills to go about implementing them. I am totally rejuvenated and more at peace with myself and my work. I am more confident about what I can achieve.”
Archana Bhandari, Director of Youth Programs, UN Environment Program, Kenya


National Indian Youth Leadership Project

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