August 2016 Boston Youth Voice Recap

Yesterday marked another successful Boston Youth Voice event. The event was hosted in collaborative partnership with Youth Design and was graciously hosted by The Boston Foundation. Breakfast was sponsored by Fresh Food Generation.

80 youth came together to hear from our panelists: Justin Springer of Outside the Box Agency, Catherine Morris of BAMS Fest, and Julie Phillips of Jesignz Graphix to discuss how passion and artistry can be used to identify issues in local communities, bring conversations to light, as well as create action plans to ignite change and give voice to these issues.

The panelists all gave comment to the following questions:

  • How they have used their art/creativity to change issues in their community.
  • What are some ways creative people can work with little money to make the world better?
  • What are the best tactics to engage people and make change?

The panelists all spoke to their personal life experience growing up in Boston and the career and education choices that they have made in order to allow them to do their current work.

The messaging behind the conversation was that in our current day and age technology and the internet allows us to create movement and social change with little money. However the conversation always turns to ‘access’ and perseverance.

All panelists recognized that the reality of life: day to day hardships, lack of income, violence within and placed on communities has direct effect on the effort to hold personal and professional space around these issues and makes the path towards achievement strenuous. But it was best stated by Julie Phillips, “Its only a failure if you stop.”

During the mid session break, youth circled around the panelists to have deeper conversations about career pathways, strategy, and education .

After the panel the youth broke out into groups with each panelist where they identified neighborhood issues and created both a message and mode of action to draw attention to issues deemed most important and relevant to their current life situations.

The groups addressed: 1) safety — elimination of both police brutality and violence within the community; 2) displacement — families and longstanding residence being pushed out of communities due to luxury developments and increase in the cost of living; and, 3) cost of college education. Some of the action plans around these issues were events to bring people together; hosting conversations between youth and local police officers; marches and parades; others were volunteering and becoming more engaged in community conversation around these issues.

By the end of the activity the youth were engaged, and concepts of collaboration and corporate accountability within local communities was buzzing throughout the room.

There was passion in their presentations and discussion because not only have they heard about and studied the ‘issues’ at hand. But they are ones who live in our communities being affected by displacement and health, wealth, and educational disparity. They remind us that these conversations are about children, grandparents, and families not just city and state budgets or luxury million dollar condos.

We are so excited for our September BYV event in collaboration with Resilient Coders and the Microsoft NERD center. Stay posted for updates in the up and coming weeks.

If you are interested in the Boston Youth Voice Program or know youth within the community that would like to be involved please be in touch with our executive director Malia Lazu at

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