They always seem to say I’m angry, but these are some of the first words I ever said in public; and by which I try to live.
Adopted, from an orphanage, into your world.
Unable to find a place, I continue to struggle.
Though not without purpose.
While this letter may speak to you; it is also, for me, a chance to speak on other parts of my story I have not yet acknowledged.
For a time I did not understand what you all meant when you used this word, deconstruction.
Upon comprehension, I am forced to ask myself if I ever had a “deconstruction”.
As a child I was a believer only in so much as I prayed for safety each night after the formal prayer routine had finished, and the people who adopted me had left my room.
Say that what it does, I had an otherwise carefree childhood.
I learned this term from a grant proposal a friend directed us towards.
Upon further examination, I realized that the opportunity wasn’t for us, though I’ll discuss this in another post.
Two-generation solutions mean to confront both parent and child when building pathways out of our communal poverty.
Broken, and fractured, homes are the source of many maladies that plague our society.
I will digress from explaining exactly how, save to say, when everyone does better … everyone does better.
How SF builds 2 generation solutions?
The idea for our organization arose and was built before the new term 2-generation was learned.
It just happens to encapsulate our work better than the words we were using 🙂
Nonetheless, our initial focus was the education and employment of youth.
Then seeing how we would need to expand our capacity it is a natural step to train, and employ, those past the age of 18 to teach others.
We are beginning by teaching the youth marketable tech skills, HTML, CSS, Git, CLI, and Python.
Through our program they acquire a GitHub account, the world’s largest platform for open-source coding, now owned by @Microsoft.
Furthermore, they have the beginnings of a portfolio website and open-source contributions by the end of their session with us.
So not only are we educating these youth, we are also providing them with the tools necessary to expand the horizon of their opportunities.
Our next move is to add Slack to our classes, so that professionals can volunteer in a student support role remotely.
In doing so, we will hopefully be one step closer to building a school-to-dreams pipeline for these youth by connecting them with a network aligned with, and attentive to, their aspirations.
Or rather, the position, will be a remote position.
Not only is this a direction many parts of the business world are moving, it is with good reason and aligned with our target demographic.
The world is stressful enough, especially for those typically marginalized by the dominant sentiments.
While we wouldn’t encourage anyone to runaway, per se, we do want to enable our co-workers to increase their agency with regard to the communities they engage, and how.
Furthermore, we aim to employ 50% young parents, so as to provide them a more flexible employment option, and growth path, during such pivotal times.
Teachers will be paid to teach classes, and help maintain the codebase.
They will be paid a living wage, and so part-time work will theoretically be enough to cover the base of their bills.
We aim to do this so that our co-workers have enough energy to pursue their own dreams and goals. Full-time at ScreamFreely is 30 hours per week, part-time is 15–20 hours per week.
So how now?
The strength of two-generation solutions is when members from each generation can support and see their reflections in the other.
We do this by targeting our employment towards historically marginalized demographics, and our classes towards historically under-served communities.
If we fish in the same pond for our teachers, as we do our students, we increase the probability that our students will be able to relate to our teachers.
We bolster this by bringing in volunteers, also remote; while providing a single classroom attendant.
Students are now then enclosed by reflections of their own possibilities, while enacting the professional work of coding remotely with a team in a supportive environment.
When a teacher gains enough to move on, we encourage them to do so; perhaps they will volunteer in the future.
And when a student gains enough to become employed …
These are our metrics of success.
Why SF builds 2 generation solutions?
I, ScreamFreely’s founder, was adopted into a family that did not provide me any healthy support socially, emotionally, mentally, nor physically.
The prevalence of broken homes in our world makes common my infirmity.
Through trial and error I learned what makes a dynamic and diverse relationship work, or fail, in the context of life-skills acquisition.
Combining this with an understanding of the professional hoops and hurdles diverse applicants were expected to perform, I sought to build an easier, all-inclusive path for others like me.
And was able to simply ask myself, what did I need to succeed?
What would it take to build such things?
Voila, a dream is born.
A decade ago, I was a young father until I was taken from my child.
This continues to be traumatizing, and in the hopes that others not have to persevere such pain and humiliation, I pursue this work.
Every Generation Solution
We have not yet talked about how the students learn to code, nor what the teachers are working when they are not teaching.
The codebase supports an application called MnActivist, which provides an ad-free, and tracker-free, means of staying updated on civic events and information.
In this sense, every student and teacher is working on an application that also serves every member of their community as well.
In this manner, admittedly, we seek to build brand recognition so as to escalate the marketability of our co-workers and their awesomeness.
Truly it is a grand dream, but such are the best dreams to make manifest.
Thank you for listening to my conversational foray into why I think what we are building is super great and everyone should support it 🙂
To learn more about our classes you may visit this page.
And if you’d like to support me personally, I encourage you to purchase a copy of poetry collection:
This is a video I put together to introduce myself and the *Activist Project I’m building through ScreamFreely.
Is what it boiled down to …
I was having a conversation with a colleague, where I was again reminded, “You gotta to put that white on when talking to white folks.” Knowing what was meant, while also being aware of the short-term benefits; I cannot bring myself to overlook the long-term detriment. The calamity of which I deign to say we are presently experiencing.
Put the white on. What was being referred to is that I was raised in a predominantly white community. I have insight into their mannerisms, proclivities, and perspectives; I ought use this to my advantage in woo-ing them. Yet, I am seemingly completely unable.
It was expected of me, for most of my life, to make white people happy, most often by entertaining them with song and dance, quite literally. It was shown to me that this performance is always expected; that all aspects of my life were for the entertainment of others. My humanity was not to be seen, mentioned, or acknowledged. If ever it was, attention was withheld, and support withdrawn. After a decade of trial and error, attempting my identity to be held with some semblance of lasting humanity, I have learned a different tone needs to be set from the beginning.
This is not to say that command needs to be taken, but rather, a strong set of non-negotiable boundaries manifest. To the over-privileged it can seem confining, when the reality is that the field is being leveled. My opinions are informed and valuable; they are not entertaining. They are real, and they are actionable.
From this position we can return to joviality; when beginning a relationship from a feigned position of deference, both participants remain on shaky ground indefinitely. By affirming a strong grounding based in honesty, nuance and compassion, a relationship capable of withstanding difficult conversations can be built. This ought be all of our aims, to build strong relationships founded upon our individual truths, capable of acknowledging and accepting the truths of others.
So in telling my truth, rather than being nice, I seek to be kind.
Here is my truth, if you find it distasteful let us part ways; and if not, let us venture further in conversation, and work. Together we are capable of being stronger, but that strength is not forged on a field of delusions, rather in the furnace of vulnerability. Here is where the shedding of our facades becomes a molting through which we transform into beings able to connect with others. In this transformation we become able to build upon our weakness through the strengths of others, and in turn, provide refuge for others in ways they are unable to provide for their self. This is how we become stronger together, this is how we grow.
Or at least, that is the world in which I would like to live.