Port Colborne Ontario
I have been working with young people since 1972 when I volunteered at Fircrest School, a state-run home for individuals with profound developmental disabilities. I went on from there to work in a community health center as a community volunteer and then clinical staff. I entered the work with a B.A. in comparative literature and then picked up an M.Ed. in community mental health counseling. I went from there to California where I studied brief therapy with John Weakland and was licensed as a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor. I worked inpatient psychiatric and foster care as well as a private practice. In the mid eighties I moved to Richmond Virginia where I directed a runaway and homeless youth program with a shelter and a transitional living program. From there I moved to New Mexico where I worked in medium security prison and then directed another multi-service runaway and homeless youth program both in Santa Fe and on the 8 Northern Pueblos. In the 90’s I moved to Minneapolis and was clinical director at the Bridge for Runaway Youth until 1999. In 1999 I retired into academia picking up a couple of PhD’s at the University of Minnesota and taking a position as a professor of child and youth studies at Brock University and an adjunct position at the University of Victoria.
How I came to be in this field
I had completed my B.A. in literature vowing never to return to academia. Instead I joined a troupe of street poets in Seattle called the Dogtown Poetry Theater. I worked blue collar jobs and ended up working the canneries and fishing boats in Alaska. When I returned to the lower 48 I had some money and decided to do some volunteer work. Up the street there was this mental health clinic . . .
A favorite saying
Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has already known it. The loss of all that gave one identity,
the end of safety.
— James Baldwin
A few thoughts about child and youth care
Last thing I read, watched, heard, which I would recommend to
Poi Dog Pondering Simple Song. (I love the way the video shifts the vocals to people on the street)
Tupac Ghetto Gospel (Speaks for itself)
In My Language (A video I have written on—the power of alternate language and perception)
Bigger than Hip hop (This is a political hip hop video with serious chops—written a bit on this one as well)
The chapter in Deleuze and Guattari’s Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia “1730: Becoming-Intense,
Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible...” I am working this one over and over—so rich!
A favorite CYC experience
I was working with a young man who terrified the staff with wild shouting and biblically laced word salad. No one could seem to get anywhere with him. We had a visiting consultant who we asked to work with him. Much to our astonishment within five minutes of meeting our young man they were having a polite and conventional conversation. I watched very carefully and the next day in group when our young man went off, I did exactly what the consultant had done. The young man paused briefly in his tirade looked me directly in the face and said “you are not him” and continued on. That young man taught me right then one of the most important lessons I ever learned about CYC work.
A few thoughts for those starting out
A recommended child and youth care reading link
My Favourite CYC-relevant reading
Forthcoming Book: Alan Pence and Jennifer White (Eds) Critical Perspectives in Child and Youth Care: Working the Borders of Pedagogy, Practice and Policy. Keep an eye out for this one. Truly a groundbreaking collection of writings from a radical and postmodern perspective on CYC.
A Writing of my own
Youth Subculture as Creative Force: Creating Spaces for Radical Youth Work. U of Toronto Press.
Influences on my work:
My relationship with my kids and Kathleen; My Dad who said and lived “First you take care of the people, then everything else”; Taoism, Spinoza, Being a deviant youth, Jerry Rubin, Frank Zappa, Karl Marx, John Coltrane, Gille Deleuze and a rich and complicated life
Don’t try to make anything too simple or comprehensible too quickly, when you do it ceases to be a miracle