This week on the blog, Assistant Director, Ethan Lane-Miller, writes about the power behind teen/adult partnerships in taking action to repair the world.
In addition to my work as an Assistant Director at Greene Family Camp, I have the special opportunity to serve on the core team of RAC-TX, the state initiative of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Serving on the core team bridges my personal interest in social justice and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) with my role as a youth professional. I’m always looking for the “youth angle” in RAC-TX meetings and thinking of ways to include the voices, passions, and interests of young people. After weeks of work and preparation, GFC joined with RAC-TX and teen leaders from NFTY-TOR to run “Texas Government 101” for our community last Wednesday night.
As the teen leaders involved in RAC-TX brainstormed plans for the Spring campaign, we recognize that we had a unique opportunity in front of us. In addition to the lobbying work we were organizing, they wanted to learn more about Texas government and the legislative process. We very quickly realized that it likely wouldn’t just be teens interested in this sort of opportunity. After speaking with Rabbi David Segal, the RAC-TX Lead Organizer, we set out to plan a program for the entire RAC-TX community, teens and adults alike.
With the guidance and leadership of our teens, teen and adult participants joined together to learn how a bill becomes a law in Texas. They then took on the role of members of the State House and State Senate in a simulation that followed a bill through the legislative process. After listening to testimony from “experts” (played by teens and adults alike), participants voted on amendments and a final bill that declared applesauce as the official potato latke topping of the state of Texas. The heartbreak of seeing the bill vetoed by the Governor (played by Rabbi Segal) was quickly followed-up with debrief and discussion about the power of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the bully pulpit.
Through work with Greene, NFTY, and elsewhere, I’m very used to thinking of teen-adult partnerships through the lens of adults supporting teens as they plan and run programs for fellow teens. This event was something completely different. This was teens and adults working side-by-side on a program for teens and adults. When viewed through the framework of Hart’s Ladder of Participation, this program was at the eighth rung: Youth/Adult Equity. It was truly powerful to see teens and adults working side-by-side (virtually) to lead together and learn together.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the pandemic that has so disrupted our lives, I am grateful for the opportunity to have played a part in crafting this unique opportunity that not just joined GFC, RAC-TX, and NFTY together, but joined teens and adults together as well.