Hands Down Voices Up: An Invitation to Practice Good

One Stone board chair Lucy Streeby greets the Hands Down Voices Up summit

“As students, we’re asked to raise our hand every time we need to use the restroom, get a drink of water, or stretch our legs,” said Lucy Streeby, the teen board chair of One Stone, a Boise nonprofit (pictured above).

“Hand raising is a tool to help one person speak at a time, but how can we also empower students to use their voices? Self-advocacy, supporting others, making the future one we want to live in—none of those things require us to raise our hand and wait our turn,” added Streeby.

“We need to raise our voices and put our hands down. Hence the Hands Down Voices Up summit,” explained Streeby.

The interactive gathering in Boise encouraged young people to share stories and strategies to inspire, organize, and lead a national movement to empower positive change in the world.

Chelsea Schiller kicked off the conference by talking about her work in global health. “When we listen to the world’s needs we will know,” said Shiller. “And once we know, we cannot unknow.”

Honing social empathy—an openness to the needs around us—inspires movement. The next step is imagining how things could be better. “You must be able to imagine a future state,” said Schiller.

Chelsea, who chairs the advisory board for Women in Global Health Seattle, said, “We create a vision to remove the constraints of the present and begin moving to a state of abundance.”

What issue do you want to tackle?

Software engineer and One Stone alumni Tanner Johnson asked the gathered youth, “How do you want to impact the world?” He encouraged them to find those things they “must do,” as opposed to the “things other people think you should do.”

Tanner is co-founder of CSbyUs, an open source platform for educators to access, share, discuss, and adapt lesson plans in the field of computer science.

“Find your other, the people who share your ‘must do,’ and start doing it now. Cherish the connections, surround yourself with people who care,” added Johnson.

One Stone student Kylie Casper asks big questions

Breakout sessions at the two day conference asked What is good? Why does good matter? How can you do good? Skill building sessions covered empathy, ideation, and collaboration.

Students from coast to coast cataloged the great issues of our time and settled on ten. Teams explored the issues and developed a case for change. Pitches covered climate change, child neglect, education inequality, gun control, female hygiene, suicide prevention, race inequality, mental health, and false imprisonment.

Sudiksha Mallick, Rhode Island, made the case for climate action

Hands Down Voices Up closed with an invitation for “Do Good Day” on April 15, 2020. All participants were provided a Do Good box with essential items to celebrate Do Good Day and to continue to share their good work in advance of  #dogoodday2020.

One Stone Backstory

For young people visiting Boise for the conference, it may have been the first time that anyone asked them, “What breaks your heart?” For young people enrolled at the One Stone lab school or after school program, that’s a regular topic of conversation.

Nonprofit One Stone is a student-led (a majority of the board members are teens), student-centered organization that helps high school students (some full time, some part time) graduate with a sense of purpose and a track record of making a difference.

They use design thinking to attack new and complex problems and develop solutions valuable to the community. Students collect evidence of growth across 32 competencies that are shared in a final Curation of Me presentation and a mastery transcript.

Enrollment in the tuition-free lab school is by application. The students, some academically gifted and others who have struggled, respond to what they are passionate about and how they hope to create good in the world.

While design labs might be the signature learning experience at One Stone, relationships with coaches (teachers) is the transformational ingredient. They ask young people to show up as a whole person—to invite them into relationship and to be part of a community where they are known, cared for, and encouraged to change the world.

For more on One Stone, see:

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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