High School Student Co-authors:
Crystal Rose Wilson
Youth Community Members
Through Choppin’ it Up, youth created meaningful stories about their lives, hopes and dreams that build bridges to positive social action. We see the power of positive images affecting positive actions as these young people create new futures for themselves.
What We Did
In 2011, Families Thrive, the Antioch Unified School District, and the Youth Intervention Network invited a group of high school youth to participate in an approach, called Choppin’ it Up. The term, Choppin’ it Up, means talking it out, being in dialogue, holding conversations. This collaborative approach, based upon principles from Appreciative Inquiry and Dialogue for Peaceful Change, supports a shift from a deficit-based single story to a reflective, strengths-based, narrative, and dialogic relational process. The aim is to create a space that brings youth in as partners in an ongoing conversation to identify and co-construct possibilities and alternatives for their lives and for our communities.
Choppin’ it Up is an approach that reaches beyond “solving problems” to co-construct alternatives for youth and our communities by weaving new narratives in dialogue. This dialogic approach is a powerful and transformative process to increase our understandings of each other, generate new ways of being in relationships, imagine positive possibilities, and develop new stories together (Barrett, 1995).
Choppin’ it Up incorporates and embeds Appreciative Inquiry in our conversations with each other and offers powerful possibilities for transformation in our schools, communities, and relationships with youth.
In an effort to engage and mobilize support and action for positive change, Choppin’ it Up youth hosted a community dialogue, expanding the domain of conversation to others who are touched by the challenges and opportunities surrounding them and the communities they belong to including parents, teachers, community members, policy makers and the media. Refusing to accept the violence experienced by many youth in Antioch, Choppin’ it Up youth invited the community to come together to talk about the impact of violence and create positive visions for change. The youth presented live performances and digital stories. They then led the audience in an Appreciative Inquiry dialogue about what the community can do to build on existing strengths and to imagine positive possibilities for Antioch.
Impact on The Organization
Inviting more people into their dialogue helped the community explore and challenge deficit narratives and present opportunities for a shift in conversations that allows for more constructive and positive possibilities for youth, schools, and communities.