We see our program as a much needed resource in empowering young people — and women in particular — to be engaged in the movement towards addressing current social and environmental issues through becoming leaders in their families and communities. And although we believe that increased civic and community engagement will be an outcome for many of the participants, our goal is not simply to promote social activism.
Root Down Rise Up aims to support young women in reconnecting with their whole selves. This, in turn, will have lifelong positive impacts, including increased self-awareness and self-efficacy, and healthy and supportive relationships with others.
We like to describe our program as both heart-centered and action-oriented. This includes “the inner work for the outer work”: building participants’ confidence and competency in participating in efforts toward a just, sustainable, and fulfilling society.
We aim to help young women develop the skills, awareness, and practices necessary to become engaged and effective leaders in a complex and constantly changing world.
In light of the numerous challenges we currently face, we are recognizing that social and environmental actions and movements benefit greatly from being grounded in emotional and spiritual foundations. Likewise, individuals engaged in personal discovery and growth tend to thrive more when integrated into the larger contexts of community and place. Our program creates a space and framework for individuals to do this inner work and outer work in ways that will be personally meaningful and sustainable.
We are excited to offer a program that is thematically comprehensive and which spans the school year. This allows us to more fully support holistic development and recognition of the many aspects of participants' identities. Teenagers today are emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and ecological beings whose lives are embedded in and impacted by their peers, family members, nature and their living environments, and the impact of the broader state of the world.
Broadening the focus from the individual to the networks of relationships within which participants are nested allows access to skills, relationships, and possibilities that enable them to experience power and purpose that is not otherwise possible.
Root Down Rise Up complements existing youth programs in the Portland area which focus on nature connection or nature conservation, supporting youth to become involved in social or environmental projects, or promoting healthy emotional development. We currently have relationships with a number of these programs and plan to continue developing more community connections to foster mutual support. For example, during some of our monthly program gatherings, we will collaborate with experts from other programs to offer both didactic and experiential activities. These experts and guest teachers will include female role models and mentors to help foster intergenerational learning and relationship-building.