Connie Jakab asked if she could share a little bit of what she is doing to support the youth in the Calgary Community. As it is Thanksgiving, it is a good thing to reflect on as well.
Its a fast moving world where small circles of influence have blown into mass networks via facebook, twitter, instagram. It’s no longer about the quality of friendships one has, it’s “how many likes did I get on that post?” “Likes” become our reference to whether what we say is valid. Lack of “likes” show who’s not “for us”. It’s a whacked out world.
In the middle of all the craziness, humans are starving for community. Social media isn’t the only culprit stealing the idea of true relationship from us; busy lives of trying to juggle work, family, school, activities leave us scrambling for time with those we long to do life with. Instead, we’re opting for drive throughs rather than face to face meal times and enriching conversations.
This is just the adult world. Imagine what social media and busy lives have impacted our teens? Cyber bullying, lack of true friendships and people who are really “for” them cause many teens into despair. For some, this has ended tragically.
Can youth find true community in this world we now live in? In a world where individualism co-exists at the same space as being a good global and community citizen. Where youth are encouraged to dream big and be all they can be, while they are destroyed by the words and objections of one another.
Seems like quite the paradox of mixed messages they are bombarded with daily.
But then comes hip hop culture. What many don’t realize is how hip hop cultivates community among young people more than anything I’ve ever seen. Let me explain why.
First, true hip hop culture; the dance is learned, explored, and battled in what we call “the cypher”. The cypher is a circle – a community. Most people, when they picture a cypher, is usually a movie-type scene of a crazy-good dancer in the middle while everyone sits back and observes.
This is not the case when hip hoppers come together. Most people are not aware that the dance is learned first in the circle; in community.
Imagine a group of terrified teens in a circle. They’ve just learned a couple of foundation movements and are now being instructed that they will be entering the cypher to “work out those movements” – and they will be doing this alone. To ease their minds, I explain;
“The most important part about the cypher is not what’s going on on the inside. It’s what’s going on on the outside. The community on the outside is empowering the one in the middle. They are showing movements the one in the middle may have forgotten. They are telling the one in the middle to ‘Get up! Do it again!’ when they’ve gotten stuck on the floor. They are cheering the person in the middle on when they’ve had a breakthrough.”
You can only imagine how reassuring this is to a teen who assumes that this will be extremely humiliating. All of a sudden, a culture of support has been created. Everyone is welcome to the circle and they all feel it.
As the nervous teens enter the cypher, it is truly the most beautiful picture I have ever seen, as the community on the outside ignites courage inside the one in the middle. I have seen the shyest, most self conscious person in the class become a completely different person in the middle of the cypher. Why? Because the community brought out the best in them.
Community doesn’t just happen, it has to be taught, then caught and cultivated. The Cypher is a beautiful way to see this happen as students get to experience it first-hand. Everyone has a part, everyone’s groove is celebrated, everyone leaves feeling believed in.
This is why we are looking to start The Lab – a hip hop space for youth and at-risk youth. Teaching community, compassion and courage through cyphering and other hip hop forms such as emceeing, legal graffiti and DJing. You want an anti-bullying program? Here it is. Create community, compassion and courage in the hearts of youth and the problem is solved.
You can help see The Lab become a reality in Calgary by helping us get $130,000 grant money clicking your mouse 2x every day. Seriously, that’s it. 2 clicks: one to go on the site and the other to press “vote”. Costs you nothing, makes all the difference to see this kind of empowerment and community created among our young people. Isn’t that what everyone wants? Isn’t this what everyone deserves?
We believe it is. If we do this, community won’t be hard to find at all.
Go to http://vote4thelab.com