So………………………………… I went to an event last night in West Hollywood that was put on by the California Youth Connection. CYC is this organization that gets foster youth together and, aside from giving them a place to meet and support each other, advocates for foster youth rights at the local and state level. They meet with the head of Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) once a month and go to Sacramento to affect legislation. Right now, Gov. Schwarzenegger is cutting something like $80 million from the child welfare program, in addition to other social welfare programs. So, CYC went up to Sacramento this past weekend to protest the Governor’s decision. Though we’re not sure if this had any immediate effect, the youth were able to connect with the state politicians in a fundamental way, shadowing them around the office for a day to share their stories and be exposed to a life in politics.
But the event (with big sponsors like NASCAR, 107.1 Radio Estrella, Service Employess International Union, and the city of West Hollywood) was pretty awesome. Foster and former foster youth from LA county got together and made art inspired by their stories of dealing with the foster care system. So, each piece of art (ranging from paintings to photographs to poetry) had a sentence or two about what the art represented to the artist and a clipboard hanging underneath it where you could place a bid. I brought my friends and we all bid on some art and won it! 75% of the purchase went to the artist while 25% went to CYC. We talked to a few CYC employees, a couple youth, and Earnie Sherard, a really great guy who’s been working in the system for a long, long time.
So, it was good! That’s the point! I’m going to scan the art I bought and get my friends to do the same and I’ll post that stuff.
Next week, April 16th, at 4 pm, Los Angeles Mission College will have its first Foster Youth Club meeting. 13356 Eldridge Ave., Sylmar, CA 91342. It will look a lot like this picture.
Ok, so 6.7 billion people on the planet:
Individual personalities connected to one another through 1.) immediate family and friends, 2.) extended family and aquantinces, 3.) neighborhoods, classmates, teachers, store clerks, 4.) cities and towns, 5.) counties, 6.) states and departments, 7.) nations, and 8.) continents. Their lives, whether they know it or not, affect each other regularly like drops of water in an ocean.
Here the plot thickens.
The lives of the people are entirely dependent on the lives before them and will direct the lives after them, which is complicated by the social institutions of the past and the institutions at present. The social structure is inescapable.
Historically disenfranchised groups find themselves struggling to climb out of poverty, fighting against unemployment, drug addiction, crime, and the prison system with aid from weak and disorganized social welfare agencies. Organizations and political groups compete for their individual causes such as the right to bear arms, pro-choice, pro-life, campaign finance reform, tobacco taxes forever and ever into infinity. Wealthy people invest to make their power and influence increase so that they can access luxury and comfort of unimaginable proportions: fifty women of your choosing, pure and uncut methamphetamine, the right to murder without consequence. According to an Australian traveller who told me about when he did it: in Cambodia, you can rent a rocket launcher for $100 to shoot at and explode a cow from long range. “It was ridiculous.”
Across the board, mental illness exists in the form of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, sociopathy. People hurt the ones they love. School sucks. Patients sue doctors and police shoot victims. After two years in office, Barack Obama is still trying to pass the same health care reform legislation and everyone is yelling at each other about it.
Is it possible to get 6.7 billion people to work in concert?
So I am being forced to write this blog and to be quite honest, I am not sure where or how to begin. My co-worker Michael has -for the last month- been pressuring me to write a blog post and after being blackmailed on Facebook, I am now writing. Thank you Michael.
So I should probably start off by introducing myself: my name is Valeria, I work in the Foster and Kinship Care Department at Los Angeles Mission College which is located in Sylmar, California.
Basically, I’m an eighteen year old kid who lives in the Valley, dreams of joining the Peace Corps and traveling to help the children of third world countries, in particular kids in Romania (I’m not Romanian nor have I ever traveled there, but I have this unexplainable desire to go to Romania and help)…or Russia ( I have unexplainable thing for Russia too. Not Russian and have never been there; although once, for 9th grade geography class, I did a group project on Russia)or somewhere in Latin America where I will be forced to put my High School Spanish class skills to the ULTIMATE test and fail miserably.
Which brings me to my current job: working for the Foster and Kinship Care Education Department in LAMC. To be one hundred percent honest, at first I did not really understand what foster or kinship care was or how a mere 17 year old “Valley Girl” could help. But after working in the department for a year, I have grown to understand the desperate need to inform and spread the word of Foster/Kinship care and that anyone can make a difference -even a now 18 year old “Valley Girl”.
Working for the FKCE Department has fostered my burning desire to help people who have lead difficult lives, and has allowed me to want to strive in all that I could to bring awareness and support to the youth who find themselves in our foster/probation system; ultimately, inspiring others to become active in reforming the system for today’s youth who -let me remind you- will be tomorrow’s future tax-payers whom will keep you all nice and comfy in your retirement homes =]. And don’t we all want to be nice and comfy living in Florida? I sure do.
So lets make a difference in our foster and probation youth’s lives, people!
So as the Great Philosopher Tigger once said “Well, I gotta go now. I’ve got a lotta bouncin’ to do! Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! T-T-F-N: ta-ta for now!”,
HI MY NAME IS SANDRA and im a lifeskills graduate from winter 2009 AND THIS IS MY BLOG!!!
life is complicated in everyway you can think of…
nobody can really tell you what to do or say
even though they are retarded
people just look at life as a toy
and well you cant really play it if you have
no idea what you are doing or what the game iz about
some people just try to be KEWL but cant stay in school to prove it
so i laugh and laugh until people show me their real selfs and not a fake person who some really are…
so people control urself from idiots!!!
or else U WILL BECOME ONE!!!!
GO READ YOUR LIFE!!! :D
I’ve been encouraging others to blog up in this blog, but they’re shy and scared, so I’ll keep doing it until someone else wants to blog.
I end up going to a lot of meetings. I think a lot of people get bored by the very mention of the word “meeting”, but not your ol’ pal Mikey M-H (that’s me)! Because this is the social justice field, what you see in these meetings is a lot of compassionate and smart people sitting around together and sharing resources. For instance, the leader of Friends of the Family will coordinate a meeting where someone in the LA school district will know of some youth who can edit a documentary for a music producer in the community. It’s the coming together of minds! The organic spread of knowledge and information! Mutual support!
Though I don’t understand everything that’s said at the DCFS SPA-2 meeting filled with acronyms and jargon, I understand the underlying social process at hand and become somewhat relaxed watching the process taking place. It kind of reminds me of the movie Powaqqatsi.
I was listening to a radio lab podcast about changing behavior in which it sounded like most people on the street thought humans were an aggressive and selfish animal and that that would never change. An observation of baboons in the wild suggested that group behavior can change and that, as population increases and more and more people are forced to live amongst one another, it becomes advantageous to work with one another rather than fight one another.
This seems irrelevant to foster care, but when I go about my day, I have to consider how I fit into the bigger picture historically, socially, cosmologically, etc. in order to decide how to make decisions. So, when I think about starting a foster youth club at Los Angeles Mission College, I think about allllll these clubs and organizations. Things like: the United Nations, the ACLU, the NAACP, the Entrepreneur’s Union, and on and on and on. I can’t help but think that that clubs and organizations existed so extensively back in the olden days (whenever those were). There are a large number of foster care related organizations. The International Foster Care Organization is what it sounds like and examines foster care across the globe, while the National Foster Parent Association focuses on foster parents in the United States. Then, we can look at little tiny non-profits run by individuals such as The Mike Parizanski Foundation.
Then, I consider how the internet and social networking sites play into the possible interconnectedness of these organizations. The funders of my particular organization, the Foundation for California Community Colleges, has started its own foster youth networking site (youthscoop.ning.com) and I’ve found this networking site, Foster Care Central, which allows foster parents to connect and find resources. Now that information regarding the wide range of groups focused on improving the foster care system can be found online, these groups can connect globally, nationally, locally, micro-locally, micro-micro-micro-locally until forever and ever amen.
And this brings me back to the radio lab podcast. What I see is that it may become necessary to our survival to connect to one another and provide mutual support rather than beat each other up. There are just too many people to walk around fearing one another. It becomes unreasonable and stressful to be surrounded by 6 billion potential threats. Instead, it’s much more beneficial to be surrounded by 6 billion sources of information and help.