By Carl Sigmond
Printed in: Friends Journal, Friends Publishing Corporation, Philadelphia, PA, October 2007.
In late June 2007. the first Young People’s Empowerment Convergence (YPEC) was held on Snipes Farm in Morrisville, Pa. The goal of this six-day gathering was to demonstrate the significance of youth in our society and to expose young people’s untapped potential to effect positive change.
YPEC was organized by three young adult Friends from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. It was planned through a series of meetings that were open to Quaker and non-Quaker communities. The organizers of YPEC held a strong conviction to make it possible for anyone to attend the Convergence, and they succeeded in making YPEC free to all participants. The people who organized it also felt strongly that it should be a place of self-governance. Members of the gathering were encouraged to speak up during the week about how they thought things were going.
Throughout the week, workshops were held on a variety of topics. Sky Blue and Kate Adamson led a workshop on cooperative decision making. They discussed different forms of consensus and group agreement. Sky and Kate led another workshop entitled “Radical Intimacy” Here the group looked at different kinds of relationships and how society has expectations of how these relationships should function.
Jack Bradin gave a lecture on how his monthly meeting, Palm Beach Meeting in Lake Worth, Florida, was infiltrated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). In November 2004. Palm Beach Meeting sponsored a community meeting to discuss ways to counter military recruitment efforts in local schools. Unannounced, the DoD was present at the meeting and later labeled Palm Beach Meeting a “credible threat” to national security. Jack is traveling the country to speak up about this violation of Constitutional rights.
Other workshops included a look at progressive movements in Argentina over the pass 40 years. The community examined numerous political prisoners in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Workshops also included an anti-recruitment seminar, animal rights discussions, and much more. There was a sweat lodge led by George Price and a performance by alAn of Little Light.
Friends and non-Friends came from as far away as Tucson, Arizona, to attend the Convergence. The week was full of new experiences and exploration for each member of this emerging community. All who participated left with a feeling of joy and encouragement. YPEC 2008 is already being planned. For more information please visit <www.ypec.org> or call (215) 370-2814.
Carl Sigmond, a member of Germantown Meeting in Philadelphia, Pa., is a Central High School student.
“Young People’s Empowerment Convergence,” published in the October 2007 issue of Friends Journal, © 2007 Friends Publishing Corporation. Reprinted with permission. To subscribe: www.friendsjournal.org.