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Flipping East


Something that’s not commonly known about Tamaki, is that it’s a landscape exploding with bright spots and young leaders filled with possibility. I have worked with young people since I was young myself, and had struggled to improve youth outcomes as one person from one organisation with one lens for a solution. Social problems for (young) people are by their nature interconnected and interdependent and cut across many domains which involve diverse stakeholders, and yet the conventional response to them is single-lens, and single-problem focussed. There is also a tradition of focussing on problems and deficits, making everything feel like an uphill battle.

In my current role as Community Activator at the ADHB I saw young, talented, passionate young people creating change to enhance youth wellbeing, but often working in small pockets, with little resourcing. The initial idea which Tyrone Tangata-Makiri from CAYAD (community action youth and drugs) and I had was to bring these young change makers together, increase connection, and then advocate for them getting the support they needed in their efforts. This was about the time that I started talking to Hamish Lindop and Monique Nathu from Auckland Libraries, and together we saw that it was actually a challenge to tackle with the Social Labs method, bringing together a diverse range of community stakeholders with young change makers to dive in deep together, connect, understand, and act, as the basis for collaboration to enhance youth wellbeing in Tamaki.

We’ve met a lot of amazing people along the way, and many who would challenge assumptions and stereotypes about the rangatahi of Tamaki: The first female Pasifika Local Board member who has a casual and approachable style, a powerful, passionate and driven Pasifika entrepreneur who takes rangatahi to the local markets each weekend to teach them the ways of business and make dreams real, the first student at a Montessori High school just opened in Panmure, who is deeply inquiring into identity and exclusion through typography at the age of 15… the list goes on. Otto Scharmer talks about how five people in a committed team can practically change anything in the world; we feel like we’re going to have six of those teams working to enhance youth wellbeing in Tamaki.

It’s now three weeks until our foundation hui which will kick off three one month prototyping cycles, and steam is picking up. Zaid Hassan talks about the power of broadcasting one’s intention, and how the biggest problem will be figuring out what to do with all the help one gets, and we are certainly starting to understand what that’s like. But a big challenge has been our personal development, and development as a team which is readying us to afi the bigger whanau. This has felt like the Social Lab within and before the Social Lab, where we have learnt a lot in a short space about our strengths, weaknesses as individuals and as a team, and faced our assumptions and blind spots regarding social change, collaboration, and even human nature itself, and some of that learning has felt pretty raw at times. But we are excited to dive deeper, and finally meet, as a whole, the community and whanau we are slowly convening together. And so the journey continues.


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