North Star is fortunate to host so many incredible volunteers and work-study students. Our program relies heavily on their work and generosity. It's especially rewarding for us when alumni return to lend a hand and share their gifts. Those who have been through the program themselves are in ideal positions to support current members, already being so familiar with the experience. We've been honored this year to have several alumni back in various capacities, including Emily Odgers, Allie Sheedy, Will Matica, Adriana Piantedosi, Jesse Shotland, and Nia Steiner.
Nia has been co-directing theater with Ellen Morbyrne for two years now. This year she took it on alone for several months while Ellen was on maternity leave, including solo-directing an amazing Festival of One-Acts in February. The upcoming theater production, Shakespeare's As You Like It, is 21 actors strong. It could not possibly be going as well as it is without Nia Steiner. Thank you, Nia!!
MORE North Star alumni out doing amazing things! Here's a shot of Jonah Meyer and Lachlan Ziegler on Mount Washington. Both are enrolled in Greenfield Community College's Outdoor Leadership Program this year. Jonah will be speaking at the North Star fundraising brunch this weekend. Thanks, Jonah!
This Thursday, May 3, North Star member Eli Catlin has a headline show at The Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton.
We hope that many in the North Star community will come out to see him rock the delta blues.
Eli will bring a stack of $10 advance tickets to community meeting on Monday.
North Star teens have joyously marched in the Northampton Pride parade for the last several years. This year the parade is on Saturday, May 12, and more than 10 teens have signed on to participate. If you are interested in joining us, let me know.
I saw the film, "Bully," last weekend at Amherst Cinema and it has been very much on my mind since then. I talked about it at community meeting on Monday, and the group had a heartening discussion about the film and about bullying, which led to plans for Ken to take a group to see the film the next day.
The administrators in the film are so useless... I wanted to be sure that our teens felt like they have access to real help should they need it. Not everyone is comfortable speaking at a large group meeting, of course, but I tried to make it clear that the staff at North Star is open to any sort of feedback or information through whatever means is most comfortable to the individual coming forward, whether it be a private conversation, a note, an email, a phone call, or via a parent or another teen.
When I first began working at North Star I was very surprised to find teens being kind to each other. I expected more conflict, more rudeness, less mutual support. I thought, "What? All you have to do is take teens out of school and suddenly they are nice to each other?"
Over time I have come to see that there is a little more to it than that. This is not to say that there is never a mean word, or sarcastic comment. There are many, especially from teens newest to the program. These are normal, average teens, and there are occasional conflicts. How we mediate them is one of the things that I think we do right.
First, when there is a conflict, we have an immediate meeting. We call them Annoyance Meetings. Anyone can call an Annoyance Meeting at any time. Everything else that was happening is temporarily dropped, and a staff person facilitates a meeting with the teens involved. This meeting is non-punitive. All voices, opinions, and stories are heard, and the goal is mutual understanding and reconciliation, which is generally achieved, often with depth and growth that has brought tears to my eyes many times over the years. North Star teens don't have to love each other, but our one encompassing rule is that no one can behave in a way that makes someone else not want to be there. If they cannot co-exist, they cannot be there, so together we find a way. This is one of the many advantages of non-compulsory attendance. North Star teens are there because they want to be. They are invested in finding a way to work through conflict.
Conflict resolution meetings can be time-consuming. They are also one of the most important things we do as staff. Through these meetings the environment is largely protected from unpleasant interactions, the culture of kindness and support is maintained, and participants gain powerful skills in communication, empathy, and mediation that will hopefully continue to serve them in their lives beyond North Star.
There are a few other things that I think we do right in preventing bullying at North Star, including respect for ALL, and lack of hierarchy, but I'll expound on those next week.
Here's the trailer for the film. It is a powerful, emotionally wrenching film. I recommend caution.
TEEN YOGA SERIES at ENERGIA
Saturdays, May 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th, 12pm-1:15pm
$14/class or $40 for all 4 classes
Lora's dynamic Vinyasa flow features upbeat music, an athletic practice, and a focus on having fun and being in the moment. Each week focuses on a different aspect of building a yoga practice. Space is limited.
May 5th: Building the Vinyasa Flow; May 12th: Backbending; May 19th: Twists; May 26th: Arm Balances and Inversions
Shower available, mats and props are provided by the studio: www.energiastudios.com