Power of Hope 2017

Dear Friend of Power of Hope,

For a week in July, Commonweal was transformed by 42 Bay Area youth who filled the land with creativity, energy, and depth. They came from Richmond, Sonoma, Oakland, and West Marin. They came from different narratives and geographies, and from different economic and familial backgrounds. During these times, when challenges and hatred are emerging across the country from Charlottesville to Berkeley, it is inspiring to have experienced the power of hope that permeates defenses that have been hardened by tensions and fear.

Power of Hope 2017 collaborated with a network of partners from around the Bay Area including Destiny Arts in Oakland, The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, On the Move in Napa, and others. The camp was led by Samara Atkins, an amazing street dance/movement teacher and facilitator from Oakland, together with experienced actor and Creative Community facilitator Thomas Arndt. This was their third year co-leading the Power of Hope camp at Commonweal, along with 22 staff members from all over the world. Our staff—all artists or nature educators—covered a range of ages and represented many of the same communities as our youth. Having expertise in a multitude of art mediums, they guided the youth through a wide array of creative endeavors.

Now in our fourth year, we had a few campers who graduated. One 18 year-old teenager from Oakland has chosen to work on an organic farm for a year before starting college. He was clear that Power of Hope changed his life and set him on his new path. Another young man from Bolinas shared how Power of Hope broadened his network of friends to include people and places he never knew existed. He will be coming back as an intern at Commonweal in 2018.

And in their own words from our end of camp youth survey:

·        “I am not afraid to talk about my feelings and I will not judge people based on first sight.”

·        “I will be more expressive of my love for the people in my life at home.”

·        “I’ll get into more environmental activism and fight people with love (or heart).”

·        “I’ll speak out on things that are wrong.”

·        “I learned how to use writing as a way to express myself.”

·        “I’ll be more open-minded and have more experiences with people from different backgrounds.”

·        “I will be creating my own community and I will also have the tools to get rid of my eating disorder.”

We had a professional film crew at camp this year, led by Brad Coley and Cassidy Friedman. Their short film documenting the camp from the perspective of our youth will be screened in a few months. Also, two of our staff members, Ruby from Vancouver and Benjamin from Venezuela, led a series of workshops on how to make a music video. The result was amazing, ending with a great shot of the entire youth and staff community on the beach. The young people directed, staged, and filmed the entire video, available by clicking the above image.

We hope you enjoy this beautiful example of the joy, community, and magical energy of our 2017 Power of Hope Camp and that you will continue to support this work. In the words of one of our youth, we know all who are touched by this experience "always come away with fresh eyes."


All the best,

Oren Slozberg          Amber Faur            

Program Director      2017 Camp Manager

Who were our youth?

  •  All 42 youth were between the ages of 14 – 18
  • Genders: 55% Female, 40% Male, 5% not-identified, trans* or other
  • Race: 24% Latino, 10% Mixed/Non-White, 29% White, 26% African-American, 10% Asian/Pacific Islander, 1% Native American
  • Scholarship Status: 55% Significant Scholarship, 19% Partial Scholarship, 7% Full Scholarship 

Who were our staff?

  • 22 Teaching Artists/Mentors
  • Specialties included: Naturalists, Musicians, Visual Artists, Actors, Dancers, Filmmakers, Poets
  • 5 international staff (1 Uganda, 1 Rwanda, 1 Venezuela, 2 Canada)
  • 63% of staff were people of color
  • Ages ranged from 20 – 65, with 2 staff over 40
  • Genders: 59% female, 32% male, 9% not-identified, other or trans*