In Early October, family and friends of of the Perrin Family Foundation gathered in New Haven to reflect on and celebrate the legacy of youth led social change in Connecticut. With a focus on connection, youth power, and truth-telling, the evening’s events included a welcome by Board Trustee David Perrin, a performance by New London’s Writer’s Block, Ink, and a youth panel whose participants spoke on the impact, importance, and transformative power of youth organizing in Connecticut. Read on for some snapshots of the night’s events!
The event was held at New Haven’s Canal Dock Boathouse. Located at Long Wharf, the waterfront was a beautiful backdrop for the evening’s festivities.
To kick off the evening, guests participated in an activity called “Connect and Reflect” where each person received with a social justice-related image on one side and on the other it read, “What about this image do you find powerful?” While the goal was to find someone with a matching image and discuss the prompt together, the activity really served as an opportunity for people to mutually “reflect” on a visual representation of social justice work, and “reflect” on their own perspectives, the perspectives of their partner, and provide a framework for the rest of the event.
Justice work has a long and powerful history, and it is important to acknowledge the ancestors and movements that have come before us. To represent this, a free-standing timeline made by Christina Kane literally threaded together both attendees own moments and memories in time with points in history both relating to PFF and larger, transformational movements for social change.
The event formally began with Program Officer Amarilis Pullen sharing a land acknowledgement – a moment dedicated to recognizing the traditional Native inhabitants of the land we now occupy as well as Native sovereignty. Strategy Council and Hearing Youth Voices member Twy Greaves emceed the event and led a roll call, giving guests the opportunity to show their geographic pride.
The “Truth Telling” portion of the evening was opened with words by Board Trustee David Perrin who shared about both his personal, as well as PFF’s institutional, journey to supporting youth led social change. David spoke frankly about how his initial feelings of shame and discomfort with wealth and privilege became the catalyst for him to seek out others who were also seeking to make a change and support transformative work. For David his time in community with these like-minded individuals inspired him to lead the charge in shifting the foundation’s mission from supporting youth development to supporting youth led social change. Click here for the video.
“I asked, ‘What if we started supporting youth on-the-ground who are looking to make changes in their community?…Let’s take some risks here with our grantmaking and get the money in the hands of the people who are directly affected by these issues that traditional charity, to my mind, just is not trying to solve.’ “
Writer’s Block, a New London-based performing arts organization performed an excerpt from their show “Undocumented”. Artistic Director Kolton Harris described how the artists in the program use their creativity, personal experiences, and identities to guide and shape the pieces that they collaboratively create. Click here to watch.
“Speak Your Truth” was the title and theme of the youth panel led by moderator Alison Martinez-Carrasco with youth panelists Lihame, Denisse, and Erycka (from left to right). Panelists spoke about the important role youth organizing has played in developing their sense of identity, political awareness, and connection to, and love for, their respective communities. At the close of the panel, CT Black and Brown Student Union leader and Hearing Youth Voices staff member led the chant “It Is Our Duty to Fight For Our Freedom”, reminding us that our liberation is bound in the liberation of those around us.
“I believe that no one is voiceless, that the mic just needs to be passed on.” – Alison
“Being able to share my own voice allowed me to recognize, ‘Wow, there’s power there, there’s strength there.'” – Erycka
Last but certainly not least, folks came together for a dance party to close out the night. With DJ Dooley-O playing hit after hit, the night definitely ended on a high note.
Folks took posed for pictures throughout the night, and the setup included a photo backdrop, a red carpet, and hand-written photo props that featured social justice-related slogans, fun words, or clever phrases. Took a picture? Scroll down to find yours!