Wednesday, January 16, 2002
By DANIELLE BONDURANT
For the Hood River News
Teens in our community always complain that there is nothing to do, but last Thursday was the perfect opportunity to make a difference.
Youth from the 4-H program, Positive Youth Ambassadors and other youth volunteers came together to moderate and facilitate a community-wide conversation.
This conversation celebrated the Centennial of 4-H and enlisted the Hood River Commission on Children and Families to organize mini-conversations across the county to talk to youth.
The topic centered on "What would you like to see happen in the next three to five years in Hood River County that would create a better community?"
As a moderator, my role consisted of opening the conference, which hosted over 80 youth and community members in this discussion. As a facilitator, I hosted a small group, helping them with each step of the process.
At the beginning of the night, we were frantically running around wondering what was expected of us. Even though there were many weeks of planning and several other mini-conversations to prepare us for this evening, this event culminated all the previous conversations. We wondered if any one would even come.
Behind the scenes it was a little hectic, but the conference ran extremely smooth, following the process as outlined by the moderators, and generating many good ideas.
While sitting at my small group and discussing the ideas contributed by the members, I was surprised to see that many of the suggestions were similar to past conversations, but many were also very different. Topics in my group ranged from picking up trash to building a teen center.
At the end of the night, when all the ideas were posted, participants voted a teen center as the top priority, garnering over 50 votes. A teen mentorship program for youth took second place, and building a new outdoor theater took third.
Raising the bar on teaching by giving teachers report cards and improving the radio stations for Latinos tied for fourth place.
Being at this conversation and watching everyone work together on a topic that has been so widely discussed left little doubt what our community needs. All the people were so willing to voice their opinions on what would help Hood River in the future. However, the results in this grand conversation matched the same priorities as every mini-conversation. These outcomes also match all the community workshops of the past three to four years. It's time to put these suggestions into action for the future, now!
Danielle Bondurant is a senior at Hood River Valley High School.