Warren Conner Development Coalition, Inc. DBA Eastside Community Network
Please enter Information Young Detroit residents are not meaningfully engaged in most decisions regarding education, recreation, community development, and allocation of public resources. This disengagement stems from a lack of effort on part of public officials to seek out and prioritize youth needs; a lack of knowledge about political structure and process as well as opportunities for change; alienation from formal economic and social structures; and cultural shifts that haven’t materialized in new norms and processes and continue to reflect those of older generations.
When seeking to engage youth in decision making, its not unusual for those in power to create youth councils, to facilitate youth surveys, or create youth positions on boards, committees and councils without ever confronting underlying power issues that tokenize youth leaders, fail to act on their expressed needs and preferences, and fail to engage broad cross-sections of young people as valued voices.
Given these many barriers, building youth voice is more complicated than listening, building understanding is more iterative than simply teaching. We need to do a better job of engaging young people across our community and working to understand their needs. We need to build formal structures for decision making to ensure those who act as representatives are acting on shared priorities and voicing shared perspectives. We need to explain complex ideas, share wisdom and history and to see this information refracted through the lens of young people with their own complex ideas, wisdom, and historical perspectives. Finally, we need to help young people build systems of accountability – ensuring that their voices are not just listened to and respected but acted on through public policy – helping them move from speaking to demanding and from faith to action.
The Authentically Detroit podcast was established in June, 2019 in an effort to build awareness among Eastside Detroit audiences about current events and to give voice to resident concerns and perspectives. Authentically Detroit now reaches about 2,000 listeners per episode with about 3,500 social media engagements. Our audiences are mostly local but we do have some reach with national and even international audiences. Listeners tend to be younger, more affluent, and whiter than the neighborhoods we serve. While the goal of increasing awareness in our community is not fully realized, the goal of giving voice has been largely achieved. Through intentional efforts to build their understanding and sharpen their awareness, as well as monthly collaboration with a Vaulted Youth podcast, Authentically Detroit could elevate youth voice to our 2,000 listeners and build listenership to their emerging podcast. Growing our audiences and strengthening our brand would also elevate their voices.