YEA Team hosts Feed1 Teach1 at Cass Community Commons

January 24, 2012

YEA Team kicks off Feed1 Teach 1 2011
DETROIT -- Approximately 70 people from the Detroit Metro area came out last month to the Cass Corridor Commons for the Young Educators Alliance (YEA) Feed1 Teach1 special community conversation and dinner focusing on the recent public assistance cutbacks enacted by Governor Rick Snyder.
"The Feed1 Teach1 event couldn't of been better, it turned out exactly how we planned it," said YEA Team Leader Siwatu-Salama Ra. "We are a youth leadership team that understands the importance of equality and justice for our community, and the knowledge that when a bias time reaches us as a people, we have the resources to pull together and educate ourselves. When Governor Snyder Announced the Cash Assistance Cut backs, the Young Educators Alliance felt that the time was now to hold a community event to first have a conversation and second to determine what action should be taken."
The event began with a special meal prepared by the YEA team with the support of People's Community Kitchen Detroit. The YEA team then did a series of presentations around the social justice effects of the cutbacks, and later held a panel discussion with YEA Team members who range in age from 21 to 15.
YEA team members are Salama Ra, Roger Boyd, Paris Smith, Raven Roberts, Anthony Grimmett, DeRaina Stinson, Sabrin Salaam, Donovin Murray, Elayne Elliot, Noelle Frye and Malik Harris. The team worked with Peoples Kitchen Detroit to prepare the special meal served during the event.
"(YEA) facilitated a great dialogue about the effects of recent welfare cuts, and what we can do to feed ourselves without having to rely on the government," said EMEAC Associate Director Ahmina Maxey who also works with YEA through EMEAC's Stand Up Speak Out (SUSO) program. "I think the event was really well received by the community.
"For some of them this was their first time facilitating large groups, and the facilitation training they received from Diana and William Copeland beforehand was a real help.  I was especially proud of some of the YEA team members like Malik Harris, who are usually really quiet, that took the opportunity to speak up about welfare cuts."
Following the panel discussion, YEA Team conducted two popular education exercises. Team members later broke into pairs to lead separate small group discussions on several topics of concern for those in attendance. Attendees at the event ranged a wide selection of community members including attorneys, educators, activist, parents, civil servants and homeless families. 
Anthony Grimmett and Paris Smith at breakout session
"A part worth mentioning that went on behind scenes is that, before the Feed1 Teach1 event started, there was a moment when the whole team stepped outside with flyers in hand," Salama Ra said. "They were encouraging people off the streets to come and be heard in addressing the welfare cut backs while enjoying a delicious meal supporting healthy home cookings for Detroit families. During the last minute outreach we pulled in more community members, activists and one lawyer who was delighted to stay in touch and provide services.
"I definitely want to brag on The YEA team for doing such a hard task so beautifully. There were three months of planning and getting organized. Every YEA session for two months was filled with strong dialogues around the new governmental plan which helped the YEA team comfortably speak about the subject. During the Feed1 Teach, the YEA team did a substantial amount of facilitation, and it opened a safe space where everyone's voice was heard."
Siwatu leads closing discussion
The evening ended with everyone coming back together to hear report outs from the smaller group discussions. Afterwards, community members shared some closing thoughts and SUSO Youth Program Coordinator William Copeland shared a poem.
Special take home food bags with the recipe and ingredients for the Feed1 Teach1 meal were also available after the event.
"Everyone Coming together during such hard times and listening to one another making connections was definitely important," Salama Ra said. "Knowing there are people ready and willing to make a change to better our communities and promoting independence from governmental reliance is also important. Young people and older people coming together, having conversation, explaining to one another the type of support they need from each other to keep the strength to move forward is what's needed right now. We ended the event with the comment of 'Lets not stop here! Let's keep the conversation going. Let this not be the last time we meet. That sent the message to everyone that they are welcome back to the Commons and support EMEAC programs."