“Being a member of a youth commission allows for professional development, encouraging young people to pursue a career in the public sector and participate in local civic activities. They are a resource that provides youth a voice in the political process and community input for local government. When a city, county, or special district creates a youth commission, they are investing in a new generation of public employees and change agents.”
-Institute of Local Government

Inspiration comes in many forms and in this case it showed up 2 years ago when a high school student showed up at a meeting applying for a role on the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County. It was my first commission meeting when I asked to be tasked with the creation of a Youth Advisor role because it’s important for our youth to have a seat at the table, share their lens and hear their voice. It’s also important to cultivate an environment where we welcome and encourage civic engagement and participation early on. After all, the youth now will one day be our future leaders.

From the initial research, framework for a draft for a change in our by-laws, information packet, interview questions down to the graphics and stepping up to mentoring, I’m always willing to do the work needed to support our county with initiatives that directly make a positive impact on so many lives. With a heart for service, I’m thankful for a Commission that supports this effort and Board of Supervisors that sees value it. My hope is that this lays the foundation for representation by our youth in every Contra Costa County district and perhaps, nudges other commissions and boards that lack youth representation to inquire about widening their circle for such a role.

Our first youth advisor has been so incredible to work with and support. As an intelligent, enthusiastic, creative, insightful, compassionate, organized and joyous collaborator that loves to bring people together as a Champion of the Arts, Youth Advisor Carolyn Considine has truly paved the way and set the bar for first ever county role.

  • She was the one that created our first ever live streamed panel for youth artists on 8/27/2020 for Artist Café which has a reach of 3.6k!
  • When Covid-19 hit, she pivoted to find a way for youth artists to continue to express and showcase their work—in the first ever online art exhibition for our county which showcased over 100 works of art from 27 different high schools!
  • She is the mastermind behind the Justice Murals of “Project WE.
  • She worked directly with Contra Costa Department of Education last summer to create the first ever county wide high school art exhibition in the offices in Pleasant Hill.

Our first Youth Advisor’s term ends in the summer of 2022, but our application just opened for the next Youth Advisor to apply! In only 10 business days, this application closes so don’t wait to apply for a chance to represent youth in a county of 1,165,927 million (per County Costa County website). As a youth advisor to the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County, participants serve not only as a volunteer but an ambassador for the county. A Youth Advisor provides an element to the commission in which their perspective enhances the mission, contributes to the conversation, entertains ideas of collaboration, representation and engagement for youth in Contra Costa County. Youth Advisors interact with county officials, learn about local government and civic engagement. Youth Advisors are to attend regularly scheduled Arts and Culture Commission Meetings once a month. Youth Advisors are assigned a mentor within the commission who are to be a point of contact for questions and support. Youth Advisors are expected to complete a service project and create a portfolio or resume during their year with the Arts and Culture Commission. Youth Advisors are expected to maintain a high level of responsible behavior and good standing in school as well as the community- including social platforms.

Application forms can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by visiting the County webpage at www.contracosta.ca.gov/3418, calling (925) 655-2000, or e- mailing ClerkoftheBoard@cob.cccounty.us. To learn more about the work I’m involved in on the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County visit AC5.org.

Let’s all cheer on our youth while also giving them a platform to use their own voice!

Keynote for One World

Namaha Foundation for the Arts recently hosted an online event called, “One World.” This San Ramon, California based non profit organization works towards bringing artists from all genres and cultures together! The foundation is an arts group put together by Artistic Director of Ushanjali School of Dance, Naina Shastri and her Senior Students from the dance school. Thank you to the Namaha Foundation and Naina for the invitation to be a keynote speaker. To learn more about this wonderful foundation, events or to learn how to support it, please click here.

The following is the keynote address I shared for One World on June 27, 2021. The Role of Art in Bringing People Together and Building Bridges. 

I’m honored to be with you today in celebration of the multi ethnic performance called “One World.” I want to start out by sharing a secret with you. Perhaps, it’s one of the best kept secrets of our time, but my hope is that you will go out and share this secret far and wide. I know, I know, …it won’t be a secret anymore if you all go out and share it, but this is one secret not to keep. In fact, it’s been a secret for far too long. Now more than ever, our community, our country – our world needs to know it.

In a time where there seems to be such divisiveness in our world, felt right down to the core of our own communities, when our inner circles grew even smaller due to the pandemic. Where outlets like social platforms kept us in contact, but lacked much on an authentic connection we craved. In a time where we seem to talk at one another instead of to one another, where judgements easily creep into minds. Where emerging from life in a pandemic has left us all with wounds to heal, some of which –those anxieties and issues still not even realized. Art now has an even bigger role to play in our daily lives.

Art! Yes, Art. If we truly want a stronger world, we must create a bridge to art, not walls.
Art binds us together. Culture strengthens the character of communities. The Arts are an important way for people to come together through meaningful, shared experiences. Art literally brings us together- at galleries, performances, events, festivals and culturally through our commonality, shared stories and connections. This type of binding transcends our differences and celebrates the uniqueness of this experience leaving imprints of not only belonging but uniting us.

Art helps us empathize and rear compassionate leaders. The arts uplift and inspire- opening our minds, hearts and even pocket books! We can’t deny the financial impact that the arts have in the state of California alone–according to The Americans for the Arts, in 2019, it was a $804 billion industry. That’s a large opportunity for bridge building!

So here is the secret. The special sauce. The key to building bridges and bringing people together…Learn how to embrace diversity by little daily actions that build up to a more enriched world~

  • Welcome people into your circle of varying beliefs and thought practices
  • Enroll in dance class
  • Listen to a music artist your child or your neighbor likes
  • Learn to say hello in another language
  • Be open to listening
  • Cook for others– sample a food you’ve never had from a county you have yet to visit
  • Take a trip to a museum
  • Attend a concert
  • Volunteer backstage for your local community theatre group
  • Paint in the park
  • Learn about the land you live on
  • Advocate for access to arts programing regardless of your zip code
  • March in a parade or protest that isn’t “about you,”
  • Inspire leadership to mirror the aesthetics of towns by reflecting those who reside in
    the community and beyond
  • Ask questions
  • Read more books and read far less comments online.

It’s essential that we create space in our lives not only for the Arts, but reserve a space for our humanity.

Thank you.