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HERU: Youth Leadership & Digital Economies

Written by Bryce Anderson-Small
June 24, 2013


(Song above: Entertainment art featuring 19-year old 5eHERU Biz media mentor High-Top Carter rapping about his experiences as a young media leader during the DML 2013 Conference)

HERU- Growing Youth Leadership and Digital Economies:

  • economics– the science of satisfying a lifetime’s wants and needs with limited or scarce natural resources.
  • youth leadership–  a young person’s ability to create a unique idea or plan, from their own imagination, that they themselves can further develop and ultimately implement through the deliberate employment of their cognitive processing skills.

Internal Economy

A constant refrain amongst the majority of young people in Detroit is “we can’t find a job.” Through deeper conversations in continuing workshops, our young people were facilitated in ‘unpacking’ the precise emotions at the center of that negative declaration. What we learned was that “we can’t find a job” fundamentally stemmed from deep feelings of insecurity about their ability to communicate and or demonstrate intelligence [skill sets] in a professional environment.

Below is a media piece, documenting a young peer-to-peer skill share. This skill share conversation the young people are having is about ‘how to think about your social media brand identity and communicate clearly to your audience.’

For some of our young people to “automatically” generate mental images of their persons being “awkward, uncomfortable, ignorant or valueless”, when asked their feelings about the teen job market (and their relation to it), speaks to a much larger and deeper issue. To HERU, these self-defeating images being generated in our young people’s minds, speaks to the issue of them holding negative points of self-identification, through which they are involuntarily projecting their self-image. These negative points of self-identification lead to the young people projecting self-defeating images of their persons, experiencing undesirable outcomes, in personal/professional scenarios.

The reason we uplift this point speaks to our view of the inherent intelligences with which we are all naturally endowed (ex. imagination, logic, synthesis.) Speaking in economic metaphor, our inherent intelligences can be seen as our very own ‘unlimited natural resources’ with which we can satisfy our lifetime’s ‘wants and needs’. All of that, to this bottomline- our young people first need to be supported in fully valuing their own intelligences as rich and powerful resources, then nurtured in cognitive processes for mining these internal resources [accessing and actualizing].

From this point, young people will be able to define their own positive points of self-identification that are then based on an awareness of and appreciation for their abundant internal resources. Once these positive points of self-identification have been clearly defined, they become the lenses through which our young people can choose to voluntarily project a new self-image.

Below is a media piece that interviews 5eHERU Biz media mentor Anina (aka DJ La Nina). In this interview she is asked to share her thoughts and points of growth regarding her experiences in our digital media literacy programming.

External Economy

When young people practice voluntarily projecting positive self-images, they also grow practiced in verbally and behaviorally expressing the abilities and aspirations that correspond to these self-images. This inevitably leads to young people achieving refined clarity about the channels through which they enjoy expressing their abilities, and their vision for contributing (economically and socially) to their community using their talents and skills.

Through our unique programming environment and organizational network, we are a resource system for our young people, designed for their self-initiated, self-determined engagement. We foster self-determination amongst our young people through the primary act of ‘following their aspirational lead.’ This looks like us (as adult allies), allowing the young person’s expressed talents and aspirations to guide our thinking and inform our strategy for connecting them with our external resources, and supporting the young people in honoring their own professional intuitions and ideas (i.e. be self-led), as we co-create development opportunities.

(pic above: 5eHERU Biz Program Director Piper Carter in a videography workshop with 3 high school juniors.)

Our deliberate method of “following the young person’s lead” and intentionally fostering self-determined behaviors helps our young people to strengthen their self-identification as ‘initiators of their experieces’ and ‘architects of their personal and professional development’, as well as teaching them how to identify resources [systems] and how to align and integrate with these cooperative systems symbiotically.

Digital Economies

Through our innovative approaches to youth leadership [self-empowerment] and digital media arts skills development, we serve to create and support new digital economies for our young people that are replete with the necessary resources (i.e. valued internal intelligences, positive points-of-self identification, media literacy education, and digital media tools) with which they can learn to articulate and ultimately satisfy all their personal and professional needs and wants (i.e. positive self-worth, transferable skills, revenue-generating opportunities, positive community narratives).

Below is a video documenting an annual programming event we organize “Dilla Youth Day” (in collaboration with the J Dilla Foundation and Whole Foods). This event and subsequent media is an example of what nuturing interal resources and providing access to external resources looks like for HERU.

Open feat. Hi-Top Carter – Go to Work..mp3

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