Be careful what you dream, goes the saying, because it might come true – especially with cooperation and hard work. Members of an environmental and social action organization called Creating Our Future (COF) are banking on that and helping young people to envision a better world and acquire the skills to be effective activists and leaders.
COF was founded in 1987 with the creation of an enthusiastic student and adult advisory board. COF was the idea of Sat Santokh Khalsa, its current director, who believes a generation of activists is now rising to help save the planet.
"I’ve been an activist since the early ’60s," he told the San Francisco Chronicle (4/27/88). "I was thinking of doing social action training for kids a few years ago, but they weren’t interested then. The consciousness was just making money. The Reagan thing."
The student board handles the planning and the facilitation of workshops, using the adult advisors as resources. Those advisors include people like Joanna Macy, Ram Dass, and Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.
What They Do
An important goal of COF is to act as a resource for students wanting to start a social action group. Each summer it holds a 3-week camp to train students in organizing such groups in their schools.
But workshops are the core of COF. There members plan their course of action and grow as a group, doing everything from meditation and musicmaking to brainstorming new projects. These have included recycling programs, letter-writing campaigns, and working with Rainforest Action Network to coordinate World Rainforest Week (Oct. 22-29).
COF has produced a manual titled "How to Organize a Rainforest Awareness Week at Your School" – a blueprint that includes such details as choosing a meeting structure and finding a faculty sponsor to get assembly time.
COF participants learn "real world" skills like fundraising and constructive protest. And as a high school program, COF rewards all of those it touches by demonstrating that life is not just about the pursuit of material gain, but the joy and satisfaction of working toward a fulfilling shared vision.
As one student wrote, "The youth of today need to come together to make sure that we have a say in the world situations that so deeply affect our future. With Creating Our Future, I felt … not only hope, but assurance that this will happen."
Jeffrey B. Klein is an intern with IN CONTEXT.