Autumn is ripe with allusions to farming. But while global traditions sprung from the harvest season may attempt to harken us all to a more grounded past, these symbols are often forgotten due to a shifted focus on themed flavors or fashion trends.
Because this fall marks the tenth anniversary of our existence as an organization, the organizers of NY2X wanted to reflect and restructure from the ground-up, in the true spirit of fall.
Due to our ever-changing membership and unique youth-led legacy, we have always had to expand, contract, and evolve: at this special moment, however, we wanted each and every one of us to face our core questions head-on: What or who is NY2X? If all possible limitations could be dismissed, in your dream of dreams, what would you want us to be? (Answers to the latter included a large urban farm, a school, a playhouse, and a political party).
At our recent organizers' retreat, a packed schedule that included heated discussions, an introduction to facilitation workshop, and various brainstorming activities helped us develop an explicit and consistent framework for our organization to anchor to as it continues to transform.
How do we make decisions? At the retreat, we recommitted ourselves to consensus-based organizing, which we concluded is the system of decisions that can only reap the most positive and the most thorough results.
What is our purpose? As a group, we revised our mission statement after laying out both our shared values and our commitments to embody these values. Simon Sinek's "Golden Circle" concept can aid understanding here: our mission statement, our commitments, and our values are our organization's "what", "how", and "why", respectively. For example, if we value egalitarianism or economic justice, then we can demonstrate that value through a tangible process in our organization, such as meeting all financial aid requests, no matter what. In turn, our organization has substantively changed.
What are we aiming for? Given our sometimes lofty long-term goals, we outlined simplified ideas that can serve as pragmatic first steps. We are limited in size, resources, and scope, but each new project we tackle is a new opportunity to learn. Whenever one of us has gained a skill, dozens more have gained a teacher.
Here are our concrete projects for the coming fall:
-Fundraising campaign: Running the length of the season and comprised of at least two events (an Alumni Reunion in early November and a later Dinner and Silent Auction Night), this campaign is raising money for our partner farm, our upcoming Albuquerque trip, a potential April trip, and, of course, our various ambitions of growth. Organizers are phone-banking, event-planning, designing merchandise, touring venues, and more. We hope to have our alumni reconnect and re-invest in our continued success.
-Documentary: We are excited to be making an amateur documentary to commemorate our 10th anniversary. Comprised of interviews with current, recently graduated, and long-gone organizers, these stories will document the incredible personal impact NY2X has had on its participants and how these over 3000+ empowered individuals are influencing their fields and interrupting the status quo.
-Outreach: In order to grow and diversify our pool of participants, we are traveling to different schools across the city and developing an education curriculum in order to make social and food justice topics more accessible to students across New York. We also are planning on working much more closely with the Youth Food Justice Network this year, which will include a trip to the NESWAG Conference.
-An April trip?: Although out of recent habit we only run trips in February and July, the NY2X annual itinerary used to include trips in April. We are currently exploring potential partner farms with whom we could establish a long-term relationship: nominated destinations have included Detroit, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Minneapolis. We are also delving into grant-writing to fund such an endeavor.
All of these projects are coupled with routine maintenance of our social networks, fiscal sponsorship, emails, and website (hi!). Additionally, we are looking to do more uniform direct-action work: this includes canvassing, demonstrating, and volunteering with farms like Added Value and East New York.
With weekly meetings, dozens of devoted NY2Xers, and a mindset rooted in shared visions, it will be a sight to see what we all can accomplish this fall -- and beyond. Feel free to reach out in order to attend open meetings, work with us, and contribute!