Hope through youth

Today I performed and shared remarks on the role of creative work in peacebuilding for the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute on Conflict Resolution at Wayne State University. The students came from from high schools throughout Southeast Michigan and Ohio and presented proposals from self-led research and projects which they’ve been working on together for the whole week–even visiting key sites of the Detroit Rebellion & Riots (Gordon Park and the Belle Isle Bath House) and doing a service project at Denby High School earlier this week.
The best part of the presentation came from the students, who answered when I asked them “what could playing a piece of music have anything to do with an event that’s about conflict resolution?”
My intended message was about how creating gives us an opportunity to convene, educate, and create more cohesive communities, why it’s an important approach for intervening with escalating violence, polarized groups, and how abuse and violence can also escalate in communities, societies, and whole nations.
The core elements to this–from being able to connect with people emotionally, addressing stress, and being able to bring people together to talk about different ideas–were already there from the students.

After that, the students presented their proposals and solutions–ranging from alternatives to community policing, gang violence in neighborhoods, segregation in schools, cyberbullying, and addressing LGBTQ+ stereotypes. One of the groups even came forth with an in-depth policy overview and potential tech venture that would allow law enforcement to recognize the presence of firearms before approaching a vehicle.

I remain impressed and inspired by young people who gather to do something that matters to them and the world.

Motivated high school students demonstrate that young people remain eager and capable of contributing meaningful solutions to the world’s challenges. We should be harnessing that degree of enthusiasm, insight and determination for real-world impacts in more schools, not just in their extracurricular programs. For now, it’s an inspiring reminder to me of what’s possible and happening, though I can’t wait to see this kind of work take a deeper hold in our public schools.

Current events in local and world news can be overwhelming, but I am excited to see what the future holds as they start to take further steps as leaders and mediators in the world.
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Pictured: Dr. Fred Pearson of Wayne State University and the Red Group–students from this group introduced community policing, identified key sources for increasing police-community tensions, and proposed a few technological approaches to detect guns before officers would need to interact with any suspects or citizens, to which a DPD officer commended the idea.
Set list:
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