Idealism: It’s one of those divisive words that motivate some of us, and makes others want to roll their eyes and sigh heavily. What do these naysayers have against idealism? They say it’s a lofty concept appropriate only for dreamers and people with their heads in the clouds.
City Year seeks to change that perception. In fact, City Year’s definition of idealism calls explicitly for real action. For City Year corps members, Idealism is another word for a process. This process has four achievable, cyclical actions that every corps member is expected to understand and master.
This upcoming week, CY SJ/SV is hosting special all-day programming themed around the four actions of idealism. The week, in true City Year fashion, has been planned completely by corps members and guided by senior corps members.
1.Imagine – The first action of idealism is to look at the way things are now, and imagine a better reality. Corps members do this by imagining the achievement gap closing, imagining their favorite students going to college, or imagining starting their own non-profit. Corps member Amanda Liles has put an artistic twist on the day, challenging corps members to express their imaginations with paint, video, and other forms of art.
2.Recruit – The second action is to recruit. In order to make your imagined reality come to life, you need to get the right people invested to make the right things happen. Corps members Alex Mihalek, Celina Chun, and Nancy Adjei have organized the production of recruitment videos to mobilize new incoming corps members. Each school team had the chance to produce their own school showcase video, highlighting what they love about their school.
3.Transform – The third action is to replace, through planning and hard work, the existing reality with the imagined reality. You need to actually make your dreams come true! This could be teaching a child to read who previously could not, planting a community garden in a vacant lot, or turning a drop-out factory to a high-performing institution. Corps members Dan Maurath and Anya Bergman are working closely with our Civic Engagement Team to help plan the culture pieces of Global Youth Service Day. The team has planned a special panel mural project for our youngest volunteers. They’re also engaging volunteers creatively by producing a crowd-sourced documentary using FlipCams.
4.Inspire – The last action of idealism feeds into the others. In order to mobilize change, you need to inspire people. The vision must be inspiring. The people, and numbers of people, must be inspiring. The transformation must be inspiring. This is how your movement grows and how the “ideal” becomes real. Special guest Tom Broussard, Associate Dean of Admissions and Career Services at the Heller School for Social Policy at Brandeis University, will be joining us to provide the corps with some much-needed inspiration for achieving their future goals and mobilizing people for change. Tom is a long-time friend of City Year and AmeriCorps and will be providing his services free-of-charge to our corps – learn more about him at tombroussard.com.
This is going to be a great week! Thanks to Megan Baker and Liz June for guiding the committee through this week and special thanks to Kim Brown, our staff point and mama bear extraordinaire for all your help in putting this together! Hopefully this is the first year of a beautiful annual legacy project for corps to come.
Krista Corwin, Training and LACY Project Leader CYSJ