DFY to gather in Southwest Detroit’s Young Nation on Halloween Eve

October 22, 2011

DETROIT – On the eve of the annual Feast of All Saints celebrations, there will be a gathering of the Detroit Future Youth (DFY) Network as part of the second annual Angel’s Night event sponsored by Young Nation of Southwest Detroit.

Youth from all 12 member organizations of the DFY Network will gather from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 30 at The Alley Project (TAP) 9233 Avis Street where they will join youth and adult community members in Southwest Detroit for food and a series of interactive workshops on the decriminalization of youth and street art demonstrations.

“This is something (Young Nation) does as a response to the criminalization of youth on Angel’s night,” said DFY Coordinator Ilana Weaver. “They create a safe space for youth to gather and be able to have a good time without being harassed. We are bringing out the entire youth network in solidarity with the work they are doing in Southwest for this gathering. It’s all about countering the violence against and criminalization of youth in southwest Detroit.”

Young Nation is a community-based organization that seeks to empower youth from Southwest Detroit through positive forms of creative expression. Young Nation follows a program model that speaks to the community’s passions, facilitates interaction, raises awareness, and inspires action. The organization takes a unique approach to youth development by attempting to affect change by inspiring young minds through example and engagement. Implicit in this approach is that youth are involved in participatory processes where the principles of positive youth development are promoted with the goal of young people discovering where their passions intersect their community’s needs.

Young Nation Youth Coordinator Erik Howard
“This year’s expanded focus will be on offering street art education and experience to participants through a series of interactive workshop stations,” said Young Nation Youth Coordinator Erik Howard.  “At the end of the day attendees will be familiar with some history and techniques of street art as well as ways it can be used to support youth and community development.”

Angel’s Night came about as a way of providing constructive and positive examples of youth activities in the community during Halloween festivities. The event seeks to counter the narrative that youth activities on the holiday tend to be destructive and negative.

“The other part that sometimes gets left out of conversation but not out of the motivation of the young person is to vandalize, or do something they are ‘not supposed to,’ Howard said. “Without guidance and direction the youth’s testing and understanding of structure and boundaries may not evolve beyond mere participation in deviant behavior.  However, through positive relationships with peers and adults this exploration can be a healthy exploration of rules and limitations that results in an understanding of how to work within and outside of what is provided and toward innovation without the extreme legal or physical risk.

“We want to provide practical knowledge and experience in street art and its ability to be utilized as a tool for youth and community development to others in the network.”

DFY Coordinators Ilana Weaver and Alia Harvey-Quinn
Weaver agreed that criminalization of youth in the city remains a serious problem and that the Detroit Future Youth team was looking forward to examining these issues.
“This provides another perspective on youth activism in Detroit,” she said. “We hope to be adding to those perspectives with this gathering.
“Street art is criminalized although it’s basically a safe place for youth to express themselves creatively through graffiti and other arts. We are really going to be highlighting that as a tool of resistance as well as highlighting their website www.insidesouthwest.org. It’s an incredible outlet for the youth in southwest Detroit to talk about the issues that are pertinent to them and their communities.”