YFJTF Coordinator Anthony Grimmett attends SOUL Training in Oakland, California

April 6, 2012

YFJTF Coordinator Anthony Grimmett at Soul Training
DETROIT – Youth Food Justice Task Force Co-Coordinator Anthony Grimmett recently gave a report out from his attendance at the 2011 School Of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) National Youth Organizing Training Institute at the Center for Third World Organizing from March 7-10 in Oakland, California. The annual event is a 3-day national training on movement building for young organizers, and youth organizers from across the country.
“It was full of a lot of good information. A lot of the stuff I had already learned knowledge on here. They just had different methods and it was really interesting to see the different ways they were going about doing things,” said Grimmett. “For example while doing outreach, they had a whole set of guidelines that took you step by step through what would carry you through it successfully each and every time you reach out.”
Over 20 participants came together to build their skills, exchange lessons learned, and strategize to fight to win justice for their respective communities. They developed a solid and systematic orientation to the fundamentals of organizing, including base-building, campaign strategy, and leadership development. Rooted in current youth struggles, the SOUL training provided a unique space for emerging leaders to engage with the challenges and opportunities of the current moment, to advance their organizations and build a stronger movement across the globe.
“There were people from Cali there and New York but the only people from outside the states was Guam,” Grimmett said. “They were explaining about deculturizing in their area where the government was trying to take their land and do what they wanted to do with it. They were basically occupying their land.
“I think the youngest person there was like 15 and the oldest was like in their 40s. There were two or three people in their 30s and 40s who came with students. What stood out most to me was just the people. That was a really dope group.”
The SOUL staff said that Anthony's presence and experience was most welcome at this year's training. 
"Anthony arrived to the Institute with an incredible amount of enthusiasm, excitement and gratitude that a space was created for him to absorb, apply, discuss and engage in organizing skills and movement building in the most tangible sense," said SOUL Lead Trainer Nefertiti Altan. "He was consistently and actively listening to the numerous points brought up by participants and the training team, and connected concepts back to his important work with EMEAC. Anthony's love for the work and his commitment to social justice shone through, and I was always so appreciative of the few moments he took to run up to me and offer the biggest and warmest hug of gratitude for being a part of this training. 'This is so awesome and amazing, thank you so much for everything,' he would say after the day's workshops."

The training took place inside the Center for Third World Organizing mansion in Oakland. Grimmett, who made his first trip out of the United States during a recent trip to Canada as a member of EMEAC's Young Educators Alliance to help teach a series of workshops during the Seventh Annual High School Social Justice Forum at the University of Windsor, came away even more impressed by his first trip to California.

“It was wild. They really made me feel at home,” he said. “It's a lot like (Detroit) obviously. It was in a really big old house. We stayed there for the entire time for four days. It was very intensive work. We woke up each day and had a really tight schedule. I think our days started at like eight in the morning and then went to nine o'clock at night some times.
“California was beautiful. It was like our first four hot days here in Detroit. It was really sunny. The temperatures were kind of warm but there was a nice cool breeze. I've never seen leaves that green and everything was in bloom. They let us be young adults. It wasn't too uptight. I just really enjoyed myself all together.”
SOUL started as a summer training program inspired by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s Freedom Summer and was born out of the struggle over the future of affirmative action was raging at UC Berkeley in 1996. SOUL was designed to serve as a program that would train young women and young people of color to build and lead the social justice movement. Since that first summer, SOUL has blossomed from a student-based summer program into a year-round community-based organizing and training center for young people. They now run a wide variety of organizing skills trainings, political education programs and technical assistance projects to meet the many needs of the social justice movement in the Bay Area and around the country.
"The training was a powerful opportunity for youth organizers to strengthen their skills, build new meaningful relationships and deepen the movement-building across communities SOUL strives to cultivate," Altan added. "Participants came with extensive organizing experience, a deep commitment to the work, and an openness to build community, walking away with a high degree of camaraderie and a collective experience of creating genuine community across difference in a short amount of time. Participants expressed appreciation for the amount of care on the part of facilitators to create an open and safe space for them to bring their entire selves and share their talents, personalities, struggles and strengths"