Mimi is a current Youth Farm Project LEAD in Lyndale and is also part of our Youth Program Quality Assessment team. She will be a monthly contributor to our blog – giving the inside scoop on her experiences as a Project LEAD. Read below to see her April post. 


Youth Farm Project LEAD and staff at this year’s all-neighborhood retreat.


Hello again! This month, we had my favorite school-year event, the all-neighborhood Project LEAD retreat. This event is my favorite because all five “hoods” come together for bonding and some summer planning. It is great because we get to see people that we haven’t seen for a year. This year’s retreat centered on creating and facilitating emotionally safe spaces—try saying that five time fast! For us Project Lead, this theme means we must be open to creating the safe space. We began by playing small- and large-group games and exercises, which helped fuel our next day’s discussion.  As Youth Farm is open to everyone, we therefore have a lot of different people from many different cultures, and, at the retreat, we talked about that inclusivity.  In my hood, the conversation started as one about privilege but quickly shifted to how we approach talking to youth about difficult topics such as race, religion, and cultural beliefs. Many of us hold ideas about which we feel strongly but that someone else might not necessarily agree with. Sometimes, individuals may hold assumptions, stereotypes, or bias. It can feel awkward to talk about and address these issues openly. As a Project LEAD, I find it hard when I see anyone judging someone else based on his or her identity. I found out that most every Project LEAD has struggled with this, as well. I took away from this retreat a tool that will be useful this summer and for the rest of my life: How to create a space where people feel safe to talk about their identity.