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The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

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Aligning Your Data and Methods your Mission

MIT Center for Civic Media - March 13, 2019 - 8:29am
This blog post is based on a keynote I gave recently at the 2019 SSIR Data on Purpose event. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about data as a tool for good in the world? Over the last few years I’ve seen the shift in answers to this questions. People used to answer “optimistic”, but now most people indicate some mix of emotions. You’ve probably seen the Gartner hype cycle with its suggestion that a technology receives inflated […]
Categories: Blog

Opinion: 5 Men Who Are Better Role Models Than Donald Trump

Youth Radio - March 12, 2019 - 4:39pm

Last week, Glenn Beck said that James Bond and Donald Trump are the last male role models for red-blooded American boys. Fawning over the president’s “masculine” energy, Beck said:

He is the almost cartoon of an alpha dog. You know what I mean? And I think because we have taken alpha dogs and shot them all, when he comes to the table there’s a lot of guys that are out there goin’ ‘Damn right!’

Hell no.

The man who may have faked his bone spurs to avoid military service and is reportedly afraid to fire his employees is not an alpha dog. The president has shown himself to be immature  skirting his most important responsibilities, throwing tantrums and folding like a lawn chair when under pressure. Rather than the future of masculinity, Trump embodies some crude caricature of a regressive past where “real men” ate hamburgers before bed and cheat on their wives with porn stars.

Yet for all its outlandishness, Beck’s statement holds some truth. It is hard to find male role models today — not because there aren’t enough men like Donald Trump but because there are too many. With never-ending news swirling around powerful and unethical men, it can be difficult for people looking for male role models to know where to find them.

The #MeToo era makes us face hard truths about the failings of men once lauded in public life, yet here are a few whom I have personally found inspiring. They have remained relatively scandal-free and seem to handle life with grace and humility.

Chance the Rapper Photo: Julio Enriquez/Wikimedia

Who else has the creative range to make Acid Rap and Coloring Book? Chance the Rapper is prolific  —  with a catalog that spans trippy adolescent adventures and gospel odes celebrating the joy and responsibility of fatherhood. The Chicago native embodies the activism and artistry flowing through his hometown. When he’s not winning Grammys and churning out bops with Cardi B, he works in his local community, donates to public schools and puts in work at the local level through his nonprofit Social Works.

Mychal Denzel Smith View this post on Instagram

Behind the scenes at @freshspeakers photo shoot

A post shared by Mychal Denzel Smith (@mychaldenzel) on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:24am PST

With the publication of his 2016 memoir, “Invisible Man Got The Whole World Watching,” Smith grapples with the pitfalls of toxic masculinity and American racism. The book is a refreshing investigation into overlapping identities and the complicated landscape of our political moment. Never afraid of nuance, he writes about politics fluidly while exploring how pop culture icons like Mos Def and Dave Chappelle often both push against and replicate societal inequality. I deeply admire the way Smith uses his writing to embody how his maleness and his blackness have him toggling between oppressor and oppressed.

Frank Ocean View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Frank (@blonded) on Nov 6, 2018 at 1:13am PST

Ocean taught us the proper way to troll the internet  —  not with bullying but with a desperate expectation of when his next brilliant artistic project will drop. Renowned for his genre-bending music that infuses surreal imagery with beautiful melodies, Ocean is an artistic genius. The release of Channel Orange coincided with an announcement about his fluid orientation that helped drive hip-hop culture in a more progressive and inclusive direction.

Barry Jenkins View this post on Instagram

Nice shot by friend and filmmaker @mattmorrisfilms #35mm #contaxt3

A post shared by Barry Jenkins (@bandrybarry) on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:21am PDT

The award-winning director of “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a cinematic mastermind. He wrote the screenplays for both of these films in only six weeks. Jenkins has been brave enough to show humane and fresh pictures of black American life in all its facets. His earth-shattering “Moonlight” took Hollywood’s eyes and placed them on communities typically ignored. A story of masculinity, queerness, race and class, Jenkins brilliantly peeled back the layers of society to tell one of the most compelling love stories in the last decade. As a creative, I love Jenkins because his work shows that artistic integrity and political impact aren’t mutually exclusive.

Stephen Curry Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

At 30, Steph Curry is already considered the best shooter in the history of the NBA. But even off the court, Curry has continued to lead the culture. A frequent collaborator with President Barack Obama on the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, Curry has leveraged his platform to encourage mentorship, faith and community service. I’ve always revered Curry’s quiet leadership and his ability to prioritize family and service even as a superstar.

The post Opinion: 5 Men Who Are Better Role Models Than Donald Trump appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Undocuqueer: Life in Photos

Youth Radio - March 12, 2019 - 10:54am

If you haven’t heard the phrase undocuqueer before, you aren’t alone. The term is a mashup of two words: undocumented and queer. But more importantly, undocuqueer is a movement of people who celebrate being a part of two marginalized groups. This is why Beto Soto, a 24-year-old photographer and storyteller from San Diego, created his photo series “Undocuqueer; Stories from Bordertown.” His goal is to spread awareness around the term and the people who identify with it.

Soto, who is himself undocuqueer, has spent the past two years documenting the lives of undocuqueer people who are DACA recipients, and sharing their experiences.   

Right now, because he’s based in San Diego, Soto’s project is mainly focused on Latinx perspectives. But he’s working on expanding those perspectives so his work represents the diversity of the undocuqueer movement with people from many ethnicities and cultures. He has reached out to members of the undocuqueer movement in New York, Baltimore, and Los Angeles in order to get their feedback and ideas.

One of Soto’s favorite stories from the project is the story of Dayamis, a trans woman. Her story stands out to him because, “she overcame so much.” He hopes to expand his project to include more trans stories because he says trans women “sparked the pride protests back in the 70s and sometimes we as LGBTQ folk forget that.”  

Soto admits, ‘it is a scary time, honestly” to be undocumented and queer under the Trump administration. He sees his photo project as one way to counteract the negative energy from the current administration and their immigration policies.  

When asked about the state of mind of the undocuqueer community he followed, Soto says, “we are enjoying the time we have and the opportunity that we have to be able to be working legally and also [to be] free to show our queerness.”

Soto plans to continue to interview subjects for “Undocuqueer; Stories from Bordertown” through April.

For more information on the project, check out Undocuqueer.org

To see more of Beto Soto’s work, visit his website, www.betosoto.com

The post Undocuqueer: Life in Photos appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: Chonk

Youth Radio - March 11, 2019 - 5:58pm

The post Bay Word of the Day: Chonk appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Closing the Gap: Black Girl Therapy

Youth Radio - March 11, 2019 - 2:15pm

The first time I saw a therapist in 2017, all I could think about for the whole first session was an exit strategy. I was young, black and didn’t want to talk to a therapist despite having suicidal ideations for months. I didn’t want a stranger poking around in my brain, and I didn’t want anyone to know I needed a stranger to poke around in my brain.

Turns out, I wasn’t alone in my apprehension. Fear of discrimination and stigma play a huge role in keeping black people from getting the mental health care they need, according to new research out of Lehigh University. Professor Sirry Alang, who led the study released earlier this year, found a significant unmet need for mental health care among black folks.

“Although blacks have similar or lower rates of common mental disorders than whites, mental disorders are more severe, persistent, and disabling among blacks. Blacks are also less likely to utilize psychiatric services, and if they receive care, it is usually of lower quality than care provided to whites,” according to the research.

The stigma around mental health has decreased in recent years, but some people still aren’t completely comfortable with seeing a mental health professional.

Ndidi Enyinnia, a UX researcher in New York, grew up in a Nigerian household where mental health issues were “written off as problems of the weak,” she told me. She credits black female practitioners with helping her throughout her journey.

“I am thankful to have met a therapist who made me feel the opposite of weak. She helped me to realize that advocating and caring for yourself is one of the strongest things a person can do, especially in a community that often looks down on therapy,” Enyinnia said.

Enyinnia found one of her therapists through a directory called Therapy for Black Girls. Started by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, the platform aims to “present mental health topics in a way that’s relevant and accessible.” The directory caters to black women, but the therapists on it have clients of all genders and races. 

Harden Bradford, who goes by Dr. Joy, is a licensed therapist in Atlanta, Georgia. She talks about issues of discrimination and stigma on her podcast (also called Therapy for Black Girls). Because the medical field has a history of mistreating black people, she recommends asking “lots of questions” and being “selective in choosing your providers.” What matters most, she told me, is that the patient is comfortable with and feels heard and understood by their therapist.

“It’s okay to be concerned about the stigma,” she added. “In order to break the stigma we all have to do our part in normalizing treatment and encouraging ourselves and one another that it’s okay to do what we need to do to take care of ourselves.”

Kyle Woumn, a software developer in the Bay Area, was initially hesitant about going to therapy but told me his experience has been great so far. His therapist is a white woman Woumn described as “an amazing ally” who “recognizes her privilege.”

Woumn directly benefited from the normalization Dr. Joy talked about.

“The things that pushed me to therapy was more people that I knew sharing with me how they’ve gone to therapy and how much it’s helped them. I didn’t know the underlying problems they were working through, but these were people I related with, so I figured if they’ve had success with therapy, then I should at least give it a try,” he said.

Dr. Alang’s research also found that systemic fixes are needed. “Mental health systems should confront racism and engage the historical and contemporary racial contexts within which black people experience mental health problems. Critical self-reflection at the individual level and racial equity analysis at the organizational level are critical.”

Between inclusive directories, friends who support their friends, schools teaching students about the history of medical racism, and clinicians recognizing their position within a fraught history (and present), creating a more equitable and inclusive mental health environment is possible.

These days, you won’t catch me darting to the nearest exit in a therapist’s office. After going to several therapists — some good, some who induced more anxiety than any of my other problems did — I’ve come to realize that while we fit into a system, it’s the personal relationship you have with your therapist that makes the biggest difference.

The post Closing the Gap: Black Girl Therapy appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

The Mental Health Enigma: One Size Does Not Fit All (Part I)

Howard Gardner - March 11, 2019 - 11:24am

By Wendy Fischman

The state of mental health on college campuses has become a major topic of conversation. In recent months, media outlets ranging from The Chronicle of Higher Education to Foreign Affairs have featured stories about how campuses have been inundated with reports of students’ personal problems.

When we began our study of higher education in 2012, we detected traces of concern from participants on our two pilot campuses; but soon thereafter, nearly every participant across the eight other schools—including students, faculty, administrators, parents and trustees—acknowledged a mental health problem. Indeed, the majority of individuals participating in our study indicated that mental health was the biggest problem on campus, and that was in comparison to other well-known problems, such as academic dishonesty, alcohol and substance abuse, peer relationships, and safety. Among students, our largest constituency, both mental health and safety—described as violence and sexual misconduct—are the overwhelming choices. In this and in succeeding blogs, I discuss our own preliminary findings about mental health in higher education.

By now, we are prepared to hear ample discussion of mental health on any campus that we visit. Indeed, we’d be surprised if we didn’t! However, we have also learned that the prevalence of mental health concerns across disparate campuses, with varying student populations of all kinds, needs closer examination.

To begin with, we might have expected to hear about more about stress and anxiety from first year students. After all, they are onboarding to college—and so they have to deal with academic pressure from an unfamiliar environment, the experience of attending large lectures with hundreds of other students, the challenge of forging social connections with peers.

Surprisingly, though, we find that an even greater percentage of graduating than first year students designate mental health as the biggest concern on campus. Moreover, the challenge occurs across the range of campuses. According to our data, mental health is an equally big concern whether students are on residential or non-residential campuses, and whether they attend highly selective or non-selective schools. When we began our study of higher education, we did not intend to be writing about mental health issues. But this is a topic that we can’t ignore, especially when it distracts students from engaging with academic and other aspects of campus life.

Although the concern about mental health, broadly speaking, is equally strong across various kinds of campuses, interesting and important differences are associated with the more and less selective schools, and residential vs. non-residential campuses. (And we note that in our study, more selective schools are residential; less selective schools are not; hence these factors are confounded.) These differences provide useful insight, while also complexifying the general issue. In unraveling the enigma of mental health issues across disparate college campuses, “one size does not fit all.”

  • Students encounter different problems.

As described by adults on campus, there are some discernible patterns in the kinds of problems students experience. Students at the more selective campuses tend to seek support for issues relating to maintaining a high standard of academic work, balancing academics with campus activities, and handling complicated peer relationships. The more selective institutions in our study (primarily residential), are often comprised of more affluent students, as well as more financial aid for those who are in need. In contrast, students at the less selective campuses tend to seek help to deal with traumatic family situations and balancing academic work with paid work. Their limited time on campus can prevent these students from connecting with peers.

These different causes of stress lead to different kinds of recommendations. At more selective campuses, mental health professionals believe that students need to develop more resilience when confronting academic imperfection and vulnerabilities exposed by relationships with peers and adults. Their counterparts at less selective schools report that the students that they see exhibit plenty of resilience, but need help developing meaningful relationships with others. Put differently: perhaps as a result of navigating traumatic situations and/or finding ways to make the financial ends meet, students at less selective schools can handle “imperfection” and “failure;” but they need to feel more comfortable confiding in and relying on others.

For students in both settings, living apart from parents is described as an important factor in mental health, but plays out in different ways. Students at more selective and residential campuses—those who may be accustomed to daily familial support—find that balancing personal needs (laundry, cooking, shopping) away from parents for the first time is stressful. But students at less selective and non-residential campuses—those who may not have not been raised by their own parents, or who are the first in their families to go to college—find the separation difficult in another way. According to one mental health director, “first gen” students have a hard time talking with parents who don’t have an understanding of the value of higher education, especially when not directly linked to a job or financial outcome that will support the family.

  • Students seek help (or don’t) in different ways.

According to mental health providers at the more selective schools, students tend to take the initiative in seeking help. At the less selective schools, fewer students go to the mental health center on their own. More often, students are referred to mental health services by faculty and student life administrators who observe suffering in some way.

There are a few possible reasons for these differences. First, the more selective campuses have stand alone, independent centers, with little to no connection to other departments on campus. They are labelled and recognized as such. At the less selective campuses, mental health services are more closely tied to other administrative and programmatic departments, such as academic advising, tutoring, and inclusion and diversity offices. Accordingly they may well be less distinctive. Second, on the whole, the less selective campuses are bigger campuses, those in which mental health services may not be as widely known. On smaller campuses, as the saying goes, “everyone knows everything.”

A third consideration: Knowledge about and connection to individuals who can help may be closely connected to the larger concept of belonging, whose three varieties are described in an earlier blog. If students feel a sense of belonging to academics, to peers, and/ or to the institution as a whole, the likelihood is high that they would have a faculty member or advisor, a friend, or awareness of centers on campus, where they might seek help. Those who feel alienated may not know to whom or where to turn. On an initial analysis, at the less selective schools in our sample it appears that higher percentages of students feel alienated from academics, peers, and/or the institution.

Regardless of size, type, or availability and accessibility of mental health services, students who tell us about seeking help complain that there are not enough services or counselors. Students lament long waits (weeks) to be seen or a limited number of sessions per academic year. In an earlier blog, we reflect on whether campuses should ramp up mental health services or help students become “hardier” by using techniques on their own—for example, those learned from cognitive behavioral therapy.

  • Mental health providers have different goals for students.

Though all mental health providers and directors clearly want to help students overcome personal issues, they tend to have different goals for students.

For those students at the more selective campuses who struggle with academic pressure, stress about jobs and careers, and/or problems from being overscheduled, mental health professionals hope that students will focus on these problems. But they also prompt students to investigate larger questions about their place in the world and how they might eventually contribute to a larger society. One mental health director states, “I would like [students] to leave with the sense that they are not the center of the universe.” In other words, the goal is for students to focus on contributing to a wider society, not just harping on their own personal challenges and achievements.

With respect to students at less selective campuses who come for help with trauma (losing a parent, fear of safety), the focus is on helping students become stable and productive—going to class, completing work, and staying in school.  As described earlier, these students tend to be more resilient based on what they have already gone through; but in the words of, one director, “when they fall apart, they fall apart.” The clinicians’ emphasis is clearly on helping individuals cope with the particular challenge being faced—learning humility or engaging in public service are left for another day.

In future writings, we expect to take a closer look at other topics relating to mental health: for example, particular words used by students to describe “mental health” challenges (even if they aren’t their own challenges); correlation of students’ preoccupation of mental health with other key concepts of our study, such as mental models, “higher education capital,” called HEDCAP (formerly LASCAP for liberal arts and sciences capital), and belonging; and the range of approaches to mental health carried out across schools in our study.

© 2019 Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner

Categories: Blog

Charter School Student Reflects on the Oakland Teacher Strike

Youth Radio - March 10, 2019 - 8:00am

I’m a junior at an Oakland charter school. I feel like I’m getting a great education. But during the Oakland teachers’ strike, I began worrying that my education is coming at the expense of others.

The Oakland teachers’ strike ended last week, but not all of the issues are resolved. Public school teachers are still complaining that money is being diverted from public schools to charters.

In fact, during the strike, I was playing basketball with some friends from Oakland Tech. One of them came to me and said, “Thanks, man. We’re out of school for the teachers’ strike, and it’s because of you and your charter school!”

Obviously it was a joke, but to many people, there’s nothing funny about it. There’s real anger at the charter school system. It’s been widely reported that charter schools cost Oakland public schools $57 million dollars a year. It occurred to me that my access to a good education might be keeping others from one.

I wish it wasn’t framed like this: charter school versus public school, with only so much money to go around. In theory, a free and decent education should be a right for all. But it’s not that simple.

The post Charter School Student Reflects on the Oakland Teacher Strike appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: Post-Stress

Youth Radio - March 8, 2019 - 4:18pm

It’s been a tough season for everyone. With school picking up the pace, the seasons changing, and just continuing to live life in this world, things can get hella overwhelming. This playlist was made to just vibe, relax a little bit, and enjoy some of the simple things like just listening to music in your room <3

Old School – Arin Ray Who Hurt You? – Daniel Caesar Troop – Tobi Lou Flea Market – Tierra Whack Cable Guy – Tierra Whack Chillin Wiv Da Man Dem – Dizzee Rascal Honeywheat – VanJess I Really Like You – Alexandria U Times 2 – Wintertime

The post Playlist: Post-Stress appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Oakland Teachers’ Strike: The Latest in Nationwide Movement

Youth Radio - March 8, 2019 - 11:43am

In the latest indication that public school teachers are leading a national labor movement, Oakland teachers ended a seven-day strike last week. Mayor Libby Schaaf called it a “historic day” for the city.

The teachers in Oakland Unified School District had been without a contract for over a year. With support from students, community advocates and fellow teachers from outside the district, they were able to secure an 11 percent salary increase over four years and one-time three percent bonus. The district also agreed to gradually reduce class sizes, starting with the most at-risk schools.

While the union endorsed the agreement, many Oakland teachers and students feel shortchanged, especially after the board of education cut more than 20 million dollars from next year’s budget a few days after the strike ended. The cuts will affect social programs for restorative justice and foster youth.

Oakland’s controversial settlement begs the question: how does this deal compare to other strikes from across the country?

Almost half a million workers across industries went on strike last year, according to U.S. Labor Department data. 2018 saw the highest number of strikers in over 30 years, and teachers are prominent leaders of this new labor movement.

The wave of high-profile teacher strikes began in West Virginia just over a year ago. In February 2018, public school teachers from across the state took to the picket lines. West Virginia teachers had not received a raise since 2014 and were among the lowest paid in the country. After nine days on strike, teachers won a contentious battle, winning a 5 percent pay increase and a pause on increasing health insurance premiums. (Recently, West Virginia teachers voted to strike again if a new education bill in the state legislature becomes law.)

West Virginia teachers sparked strikes in several other states including Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Colorado.

The largest teacher strike came shortly after the 2018 West Virginia protests: in April of that same year, 81,000 Arizona teachers and school staff walked out for six days. While they didn’t meet all of their goals — such as an increase in counselors, nurses and librarians — teachers won a 20 percent salary increase over the next three years, according to The Associated Press.

The first wave of teacher strikes in 2018 were often referred to as “Red State Revolts.” Many took place in predominantly conservative states facing cuts to education spending. They hit before the midterm elections and served as major political talking points for candidates seeking office.

The latest round of strikes in 2019 are happening in a very different political climate and in places with progressive leadership, like Denver, Los Angeles, and Oakland. When I interviewed teachers in Oakland, they described downtrodden conditions in schools. “The students are not getting the things that they need, which is like paper, pencils, rulers, markers, basic necessities. We don’t have soap in our bathrooms,” said Elena Martyn, 30, a math teacher at Life Academy.

Until the mid-90s, teacher pay was comparable to that of other educated workers, according to a study from the Economic Policy Institute. Over the past 20 years, teacher pay has sharply eroded. As of 2017, teachers were paid more than 18 percent less than comparably educated workers.

Other teachers described the difficulties of surviving in the Bay Area on teachers’ wages. “Our two teacher salaries are not enough for daycare and preschool for two children, rent for a two bedroom apartment. We just can’t make ends meet in the city that we teach in,” said Mitch Singsheim, 35, a science teacher at Castlemont High School who is married to a fellow Oakland educator. His family plans to leave the Bay Area this summer.

The post Oakland Teachers’ Strike: The Latest in Nationwide Movement appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

The Gig Economy Is Gonna Break Your Heart

Youth Radio - March 7, 2019 - 11:42am

Finding a good job can be tough, which leads to a lot of people to make ends meet in the “gig economy.”

Apps like Lyft and Instacart have made it possible for more people to either get extra cash moonlighting or just piece together a living without a traditional job. In fact, since 2014 about 3.7 million more people have started freelancing, according to a report commissioned by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. With that freelancing statistic covering everything from writers to domestic workers, gig economy workers are definitely in that mix. These aren’t always great jobs, but there are plenty of people in cities big and small who use them to keep their long-term dreams alive.

Yet there are two forces that, working together, could turn those dreams to nightmares.

First there’s automation, which HBO’s John Oliver dedicated a whole “Last Week Tonight” episode to this past weekend.

As Oliver points out, automation is nothing new — and since the Industrial Revolution we’ve seen one type of job go away only to be replaced by another. What his segment didn’t dive into too deep is how the cutting edge of automation could potentially impact freelancing gigs.

It’s no secret that Uber is looking into self-driving cars, which would knock out the need for drivers. The industry that would get hit hardest by self-driving technology would be the trucking business, but technologists dream of cities where the roads are filled with self-driving cabs that are networked via blockchain. That may read like a mass of buzzwords, but it’s something that is actually being worked on, and could disrupt the already disruptive ride-sharing industry.

Blockchain technology allows for decentralized transactions over an open network. Which could mean that independent operators could run autonomous vehicles without relying on companies like Uber. That could be a boon for small investors, but it also cuts out the need for a driver. How much this would impact all those Prius and Civic drivers who moonlight on the apps would depend on just how much an autonomous vehicle would cost consumers. (Assuming they would even be sold or leased that way.)

For now, gig job apps like Instacart and Task Rabbit are less vulnerable, if only because automation can’t do something as complex as assemble an IKEA bed or shop and deliver groceries. Still: delivery robots are a thing now, and in the San Francisco Bay Area you can find start-ups working on robot baristas and burger-making droids. It may only be a matter of time before drone delivery from the Amazon-owned Whole Foods is just a matter of course. Which would liquidate the Instacart part of the equation.

Which brings us to the second force: Wall Street.

Amazon’s history provides us a valuable lesson — Wall Street’s willingness to stick with companies that reduce costs at every step of the way. For years the online shopping giant operated at a loss, but investors looked the other way and kept pumping money into the stock on the promise that one store could rule them all. In the wake of Amazon’s investor-fueled success, chain stores shrunk back and malls took a massive hit, taking retail jobs with them.

Uber autonomous vehicle Volvo XC90 in San Francisco. (Photo: Dllu/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

This matters because gig economy darlings like Uber and Lyft are having trouble showing a profit. Lyft lost almost a billion dollars on its operations in 2018, and Fortune reports that “its average revenue per ride is tiny: $3.56.” Meanwhile Uber lost $1.8 billion, on $50 billion in bookings according to Reuters. (That’s along with all the regulatory issues and corporate scandals that have plagued the company.)

Uber and Lyft are getting ready to put up their stock for public trading for the first time, and these initial public offerings are expected to be some of the hottest in years. I.P.O.s are what made companies like Google and Facebook into what they are today: nearly unavoidable parts of everyday life.

Part of the allure of Uber and Lyft for Wall Street is the possibility of a future where there are very few employees, just machines churning out profit the same way that Amazon’s increasingly automated warehouses do. A burst of I.P.O. money could speed up their efforts, and given the recent history of other tech companies that have gone public, it almost certainly will.

Of course, the opposite could always happen. Wall Street could blink and the I.P.O.s could tank. While that’s not likely, it would mean the end to much of the app-powered gig economy overnight.

It could be that in not too long, the gig will be up for those who made app-driven jobs an essential part of their income.

So what’s a job seeker to do? 

In Oliver’s segment he closes with a bit where he gives elementary school students a little career advice. It basically boils down to: focus on things automation could never do. There are other economic waves that are happening, known as the craft economy and the experience economy.

In the former, the focus is on creating more labor-intensive goods and selling them at a premium precisely because they are handmade. That can cover everything from Etsy stores to cake decorating. In the United States people spent $43 billion on “creative products” in 2016 according to the Association for Creative Industries, which tracks the U.S. craft and hobby markets.

As for the experience economy, immersive pop-ups and companies like Meow Wolf and the Museum of Ice Cream are turning pop-art experiences into can’t-miss destinations that are powered in part by the people who work at those venues, much in the same way retail once worked. The escape room fad, which turned into a fixture, is part of this mix too. Only in these jobs, personality goes even further as they are essentially entertainment gigs.

While automation can be a vicious cycle, there’s a virtuous circle counterpart in the craft and experience economy. The more effort and energy people put into craft-made goods and interpersonal experiences, the more value is created. That’s a kind of cultural shift that is very much in the hands of those who are seeking out something more than the fleeting economic interactions that app-driven gigs can provide.

The post The Gig Economy Is Gonna Break Your Heart appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Inside the Industry – Artist Manager Cristela Rodriguez

Youth Radio - March 6, 2019 - 4:48pm

In this edition of YR Media’s Inside the Industry, we get to know Cristela Rodriguez, manager to Chicago rappers, Saba and Joseph Chilliams.  She tapped in to give us details about her job, her specific experiences working on the business side of things and what it’s like to work so closely with a musical artist.

Throughout the interview, Cristela hooks it up with some great advice and an insider perspective on the music industry for anyone interested in the business side of the game.

Jess: What made you get into management? And how did you wind up becoming Saba’s manager?

I got into management when I was working at this company in the Bay Area called Ineffable Music. They were a service management company — kind of doing anything on the management side from booking flights, to getting artists shows, to advancing those shows. I started working there in 2014 as an assistant my sophomore year of college, and ever since then I’ve been working in the music industry. I met Saba, I got put on to him through a friend, and I was just a really big fan. Then I met him at a show in Oakland at Leo’s and I hit up his manager at the time to see if they had an intern position available. I worked alongside his then manager for a little bit and then eventually I just became the manager.

Jess: What would you say is the most important part of your job as a manager? Can you describe a typical day on the job?

CR: The most important part of my job is just double and triple checking a lot of details like contracts, flight reservations, scheduling appointments, or making sure that I have proper contacts necessary to do a show or an interview or anything like that. Then my everyday life as a manager — I usually wake up around 8:00 and I’m responding to emails by 9:00; I usually sit in front of my computer until 5:00 or 6:00 pm with little breaks in between to get on the phone or do anything like that. It’s a lot of emails and a lot of phone calls. It definitely gets really hectic just because things have sped up a lot. So sometimes I’ll be on back-to-back phone calls from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and then I get really flustered because I feel like I’m so behind and I’m barely starting to respond to emails until noon because I’ve been on the phone all day. It’s just trying to find a balance like, okay this is the time I’m gonna set aside to be on the phone, this is the time I’m gonna set aside to do emails and all that stuff. Time management!

Jess: What are some things you wish you knew before starting in your role?

CR: Oh, that’s a good one. I don’t know if anyone’s ever asked me that before. I wish I knew the specifics of how label contracts work. I feel like that’s something nobody really teaches you. Obviously, the music industry is changing so much because of streaming and record companies are having to get really creative with what they’re able to offer artists. But I wish somebody told me that. Something that nobody talks about as well is the difference between mechanical royalties and publishing royalties. Nobody teaches you that, you have to learn it on your own or go seek out that information. Which is cool — you should always be seeking out information — but I think those are two things that should really be taught first and foremost. There are so many things that go into it.

Jess: I see Smino’s a big supporter of Saba, how did you guys end up making that connection?

CR: Saba and Smino met ’cause Smino’s from Chicago. Well, he’s from St. Louis but he’s been in Chicago for a really long time, so they kinda have just known each other through that and music. They have a bunch of unreleased stuff that hasn’t come out which is really dope. Yeah, that’s like family.

Jess: Have you made any mistakes on the job? If so, what have you learned from them?

CR: Hell yeah. All the time. I’ve booked an incorrect flight before which always sucks because they try to charge you hella money to fix them, but I usually always get out of that because I can be very convincing with airlines. Things like that feel like the end of the world, but you just kind of calm down and figure out a way to figure it out and move on. You’re going to make mistakes for sure. It’s kind of like a balance of knowing when to just be honest and fess up to or just try to wing it and figure it out. Sometimes there are situations I have to talk to the team and be like “Yo, I messed up here’s what happened.” Other times I figure it out and nobody even knows that something went wrong.

Jess: Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into artist management?

CR: The advice I have is to ask ALL the questions. Always ask, even if you think there is, there’s no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to this stuff. Always ask questions — any little question that you have. The smallest details can really be the biggest thing so it’s always better to just ask.

The post Inside the Industry – Artist Manager Cristela Rodriguez appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: Edel

Youth Radio - March 5, 2019 - 4:27pm
Oakland DJ / Producer / Engineer / A&R  Edel is a part of Remix Your Life’s behind-the-scenes team

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Categories: Blog

Takeaways from an Esteemed Advocate of Liberal Arts Education

Howard Gardner - March 5, 2019 - 11:40am

by Howard Gardner

Julie Kidd is President of The Endeavor Foundation in New York City, a position she has held since 1975. As part of her Foundation work, Kidd has spent several decades supporting, developing, and advocating for liberal arts programs, within the United States and also abroad. We have known each other for many years—I believe that we first met at a conference in Cambridge on the liberal arts twenty-five years ago! Since then, The Endeavor Foundation (previously called The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation) has generously supported much of our research, and Julie has become a valued adviser and friend.

After reading our “Takeaways” For College Presidents, Julie prepared her own very thoughtful list. She has generously given us permission to post her takeaways below. Wendy Fischman and I are preparing our own more recent thoughts about the purposes of higher education and will post them within the month. May this important conversation continue!

Julie’s Seven Takeaways:

1. Create a compulsory freshman course on the meaning and power of studying in the tradition of the liberal arts and sciences. This can be demonstrated in many concrete ways. Send a precis of the course to all parents of incoming freshmen.

2. Create a framework in which small groups of students study the same topics together across several courses and thus create a common frame of reference and compelling themes for discussion outside the classroom. This framework should include civic engagement experiences so that students apply their learning to real world situations while, at the same time, creating experiential bonds which work against feelings of disconnectedness and anomie.

3. Maintain a faculty student ratio which allows faculty to work closely with their students and to provide significant and meaningful, grounded mentorship.

4. Reward faculty for teaching first and scholarship second.

5. Redirect funds away from competitive athletics to athletics for health and well-being and to establish life-long practices of exercise.

6. Break up our large universities into small liberal arts colleges within the university so that small, personalized classes can be the norm and also so that a great deal of mentorship work can occur.

7. Have courage to challenge the norms and gain support for these approaches through continued bombardment of the public with appropriate information about what higher learning and the college experience should be.

Without these commitments, in my view, the college and university experiences today will not change or improve. The system needs transformation, not little changes around the edges, though those are better than none at all. Change around the edges, however, can cause a false sense of complacency, which undermines transformational change.


Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: “Fonk”

Youth Radio - March 4, 2019 - 6:18pm

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Categories: Blog

You Don’t Want to Miss Out on Kehlani’s Latest Mixtape “While We Wait”

Youth Radio - March 4, 2019 - 4:43pm

Kehlani has never shied away from being open and personal in her music. She makes sure every lyric written, every tune sung, comes straight from the heart. “While We Wait” is her first project since her debut studio album “SweetSexySavage” and it is her most honest and expressive project to date. The album showcases her growth not only as an artist but as a woman as well.

Fans have been highly anticipating this mixtape for nearly two years, but the pay-off was worth it. “While We Wait” ingeniously incorporates the ’90s, ’00s, and contemporary R&B to blend into a singular sound that is completely organic to Kehlani. Touching on topics such as love, heartache, and self-assurance, Kehlani matures her playfully sassy attitude into confidence from a force to be reckoned with.

Footsteps (feat. Musiq Soulchild)

Kehlani sings, “Cheers to being honest/Neither of us knew what we wanted,” setting up the mood for “While We Wait,” an album focused on her dysfunctional relationship. “Footsteps” serves as the reflective intro, assessing what caused the relationship to stop working. The song is fully equipped with nostalgic 90’s production over sounds of waves, bringing out the best in Kehlani’s raw vocals. After breakups, most of us are faced with emotions and despair. She doesn’t sulk but instead, voices her gratitude. Kehlani, mature in her standing, gives thanks to her partner for the time and lessons learned within the relationship. In an album that centers around an unhealthy relationship, Kehlani lets the listener know that her growth is what was the most important thing learned in the relationship.

Too Deep

Kehlani sings about the complexities that come with situationships on “Too Deep.” The two are clearly not on the same page as she talks about communication issues and one-sided feelings. Kehlani’s partner demands more than what she’s willing to give, as she’s not looking for a relationship with them. She knows that if they continue on the path they’re on, it is inevitable that they will hurt each other.

“Too Deep” is a smooth yet contagious song, reminiscent of a conversation with oneself. The beat goes hand-in-hand with Kehlani’s soulful, captivating voice, it’s the kind of song that’s almost impossible not to sing along to.

Nights Like This (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

Kehlani’s heartfelt emotions shine through on this track, utilizing her signature melodious voice to showcase a sentiment that’s true.  In “Nights Like This,” Kehlani tells an unfortunate love story about still yearning for an ex-lover, despite having been hurt and misled in the relationship. The heartbreak and betrayal are amplified in the song’s music video, where Kehlani plays a scientist that repairs an android and begins to form a close bond with her, only for the android to later kill her and take over her body.

RPG (feat. 6LACK)

Kehlani’s cry for love is recognized on “RPG,” the centerpiece of While We Wait. The song’s lyrics locate the initial disconnect that spurred the conflict of the relationship between Kehlani and her partner, who is played by 6LACK. The dispute comes down to a difference in understanding of what it means to love another person. Kehlani doesn’t feel loved, while she tells her partner, their actions aren’t reassuring enough to show love. There is no reciprocation of affection. “RPG” represents a commonality in relationships where needs aren’t met, partners feel as if they need to overcompensate then end up draining themselves for one another. Kehlani shows us that love shouldn’t be a task, but, love should be effortless.

Love Language

The inspiration for Kehlani’s “Love Language” came from one of the song’s producers, Super Duper Brick, who learned to speak Portuguese to communicate with his girlfriend.

In “Love Language,” Kehlani sings about a partner that she feels an intense connection with, but who speaks a different language from her. She asks about his interests, trying to figure out all the things they can do together. Unable to stress just how much she wants to keep learning about this person, Kehlani makes it clear that “Love Language” is about devotion. The track features a sweet melody backed by a dancehall-esque beat, ending the project with a bang.

The post You Don’t Want to Miss Out on Kehlani’s Latest Mixtape “While We Wait” appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How The Performing Arts Helped Me Overcome My Shyness

Youth Radio - March 3, 2019 - 8:00am

Growing up I was known as the quiet, shy girl. The performing arts helped break me out of my shell, into who I am today.

I used to be super-shy. I remember asking a friend how I came across to new people. She told me I seemed distant, uninterested–and maybe even a little rude.

When I was five, my parents enrolled me in classes for piano and theater. And I loved it. Now, I continue to dance, sing, and play the guitar. For more than a decade now, I’ve consistently performed in front of hundreds of people.  

The shyness didn’t go away overnight. But music and theatre gave me opportunities to put myself out there and be vulnerable.

When I get in the zone, the audience disappears. I am focused on my task at hand. After the shows, complete strangers come up to congratulate me. Once you’ve performed in front of a crowd, speaking to strangers doesn’t seem so daunting.

So often, in school, there’s emphasis placed on the core curriculum over the arts. But my time performing has given me life skills that are just as valuable as anything I might learn in school.

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Categories: Blog

Bay Area Gen Zers: What We Want From a 2020 Presidential Candidate

Youth Radio - March 2, 2019 - 5:30am

While Election Day is well over a year away, the 2020 presidential race has already begun. And it seems to be growing more crowded by the minute: 15 hopefuls have already announced their candidacies in the past month, from high-profile senators like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, to Marianne Williamson, Oprah’s “spiritual guru.”

Despite politicians’ attempts to appeal to every last voter, there’s one demographic that is often neglected: young voters. In 2020, that blind spot could be costly. Young voter turnout skyrocketed in the 2018 midterms, with a 188 percent increase from the 2014 midterms.

So, who does Gen Z — the people born from 1997 on — want to lead them into the future? Here’s what five young people from the Bay Area, ages 15 to 17, had to say.

1) They Want a President Who Works for the People

In general, these young people want to know that their politicians care about their constituents’ well-being and can relate to everyday citizens. This can often mean connecting to people outside their own racial and socioeconomic circles.

Hannah Cornejo, a 16-year-old from Berkeley, California, says she wants a candidate who exhibits “compassion” and can focus on issues that are “important for everyday people.” Benicia resident Chris Weldon, 17, agrees. He wants someone who is “kind, respectful, willing to listen to others, has a big heart and takes in all the facts.”

2) They Value Human Rights and Want the Same from Their Leaders

Gen Zers were quick to say what they didn’t want in a president: “A racist. And a homophobe. And a woman-hater,” said Mila De La Torre, a 16-year-old who lives in San Francisco. After hearing hateful comments from politicians in the past, many young voters are looking for a change.

Young voters tend to be more diverse than older generations, according to the Pew Research Center. Almost half of Gen Z is composed of racial or ethnic minorities. They want politicians to represent them, not just respect them.

Aaron Jackson, 17, from Oakland, California, remembers how excited he felt to see his identity reflected in Barack Obama. He hopes to see another black candidate win.

3) Immigration is a Major Priority

Immigration and border control have been touchy subjects for years. After so many alienating debates, young voters want tangible change. For the teens we interviewed, this doesn’t mean a wall.

Oakland resident Victoria Bella, 15, criticized the current president’s rhetoric, which condemns many undocumented immigrants as criminals, when they statistically commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born citizens. “We shouldn’t be deporting people who have family in America,” Bella said. She wants elected officials to have compassion for immigrants. “People come to America to have a better life,” Bella said.

4) They Don’t Want Divisive Politics 

“Things I don’t want in a presidential candidate?” Weldon asked. “Scandals, lies, … illegal contributions.”

After years of polarizing politics, young voters are tired of political division. One thing they noted was negativity: instead of tearing down others because of differing opinions, young people want a president with a positive platform who can bring us together.

Bella is looking for a candidate “who isn’t trying to divide us, but really trying to make America better as a community.”

5) Identity Politics Don’t Matter as Much as You Think

While many young people would prefer to see more women and people of color in office, most are more focused on a particular candidate’s commitment to equality.

At the end of the day, these young voters say they care more about policies than identity politics. “I don’t think it really matters, as long as they actually show that they’re passionate about helping all people,” De La Torre said.

6) They Want a Change from 2016

While they may be young, Gen Z voters still remember the polarizing presidential race of 2016. Many remember a slew of sensationalized debates, Twitter feuds and scandals. In 2020, they want to focus on the policies, not personal attacks.

“I hope that [both political parties] take a deeper look this time and endorse the right candidate,” Weldon said. “A better candidate.”

“I don’t want it to be focused around who can be the most sensational and who can make [a] media circus, instead of focusing on the issues and what’s really important,” Cornejo said. “And I don’t want Russia to hack it.”

The post Bay Area Gen Zers: What We Want From a 2020 Presidential Candidate appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Striking Teachers Aren’t Being Paid. How Do They Make It Work?

Youth Radio - March 1, 2019 - 1:19pm

*Since this post went out, a tentative agreement has been reached between the Oakland teachers union and the school district.

Teachers from Oakland Unified School District went on strike last week, after working without a contract for over a year. Negotiations between the school district and the teachers union are ongoing.

Teachers are demanding higher wages, smaller class sizes and more support for their students. After only the first week, however, many are already struggling financially. They’re faced with the paradox of the strike: to fight for higher wages, they’re striking without pay.

Here’s what four OUSD teachers told YR Media’s Lucy Barnum about the financial struggles of being a teacher.

Elena Martyn, 30, math teacher at Life Academy

“I’m just lucky in the sense that I don’t have any student loans. Most of my money goes to cost of living. Which is paying for car insurance, paying for groceries, paying for rent. So I have been able to save some. I’m in the unique position where I have enough saved for maybe a month or two, but I don’t also want to have to dip into savings. Beyond that, I will have to take out loans. And I really hope that it doesn’t come to that. If we can’t afford to live in our own communities, then it’s hard to stay here.”

Mitch Singsheim, 35, science teacher at Castlemont High School, married to a fellow teacher

“We can pretty much no longer afford to live in Oakland, so this is our last year teaching in Oakland Unified School District. We’re moving to Southern California this summer. It was a very easy decision, because we just didn’t have any other options. We both love Oakland — my wife has lived here for over 10 years, I’ve lived here for 15 years — we’ve definitely built a huge community here, we have tons of friends. And so we don’t want to leave. If we didn’t have to we wouldn’t leave. Our two teacher salaries are not enough for day care and preschool for two children, rent for a two-bedroom apartment. We just can’t make ends meet in the city that we teach in. It makes literally no sense to stay here.”

Aly Kronick, 32, English and academic literacy teacher at Oakland International High School

“Given the cost of living in Oakland, it’s pretty impossible to do the work that we do, and do the work that our students really deserve. My partner is also a teacher at Oakland International, so we’re in it together, which I think is helpful. We both understand the struggle that we’re in and figure out how to make it work together. But at the same time, it’s really difficult because we both have the exact same salary. I felt confident that I would be okay without a week of pay. But beyond a week, having additional assistance is necessary.”

Revaz Ardesher, 38, history teacher at Hillcrest Middle School

“I decided that I was not going to live in Oakland this year, that I was going to live close to my hometown in Concord and not deal with rent this year. It’s bittersweet. I want to be a teacher who works and lives in Oakland. … I mean, that’s my plan. But I’m critically looking at it because it’s hard to stay in Oakland. You can get paid more in San Leandro or in Berkeley or in Marin or Redwood City or anywhere else. [Oakland] is a deeply special city — that I think a lot of us grew up in — and it’s a place that’s starting to maybe not feel so much like home anymore.”

These interviews were edited for length and clarity.

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Categories: Blog

Living Paycheck to Paycheck Sucks. Here’s How to Save.

Youth Radio - March 1, 2019 - 5:30am

If you missed two paychecks, would you be able to pay all your bills? If not, it might not surprise you that nearly 80 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a CareerBuilder report.

But there’s a better way. Financial advisor Jasper Smith has tips for how to build wealth now — even if your paycheck isn’t as big as you’d like — by creating a balanced budget. Watch the full video to learn how to stack your chips.

The post Living Paycheck to Paycheck Sucks. Here’s How to Save. appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: Hanif

Youth Radio - February 28, 2019 - 7:11pm

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Categories: Blog