The Agency is now in full swing, running simultaneously in Manchester and London. This groundbreaking programme aims is to empower young people to instigate positive change in their communities and it is for this reason that participants are referred to as Agents of Change or just simply as Agents.
The Manchester team who will be delivering the programme consists of Danny Fahey who is the lead facilitator, Steven Vickers who is managing the Manchester leg of the programme and myself - with my role being to act as peer mentor to the Agents. Through this blog, I will be posting updates on the journey that the Agents have recently begun. This journey promises to be an exhilaratingly bold one with many interesting twists and turns and the charting of new territories. I'm sure you can tell by now how excited I am!
It was an absolute joy to meet the Agents for the first time on Saturday. They came with an amazing and enthusiastic vibe, ready to take on the challenging road ahead and demonstrating true passion for their individual ideas of projects to make change in their community of Moston.
Any traveller who embarks on a journey must have a sense of direction to guide their steps, and this is where a Compass comes in as an essential instrument to possess on one's travels. As long as one has a clear sense of where the North and South poles lie then they can easily identify the remaining cardinal points of East and West, then go on to successfully navigate to their destination. The metaphorical ideology of the Compass and its cardinal points is just as pivotal to the success of the Agents as they set out on their voyage. In The Agency, North represents Desire, South represents Territory, West represents the Idea while East represents the Form that the Idea will take. The Agents will need to identify a strong sense of Desire to do, be or achieve some form of change in their Territory of Moston. Following this, they can then begin to make decisions on what Form their Ideas will take. In short, Desire and Territory steer Form and Ideas.
It is also very important to note the difference between a Compass and a Map. The Compass gives a sense of what direction to go in, but does not tell you what routes or paths others have taken in the past, which is what a map does. Continuing on with metaphors, in the case of The Agency the Map represents societal norms, pressures, expectations and prescribed notions which can often stifle creativity and the willingness to take risks. The challenge is for the Agents is to forge their own paths and take direction from their core Desire and not from what society expects of them. This is no doubt a very scary feat and the Agents will find themselves being asked to engage in activities that don't initially make sense while exploring concepts that go against the grain of what is normal or familiar to them. The challenge is therefore to trust the process above their fears while letting their Desires guide them.
After an in-depth discussion of the Compass and its metaphorical meaning within the process, the Agents then set our to work on letting their creative juices flow and making their own compasses. There were some very interesting interpretations which shaped the look and feel of each individual compass.
There was also the opportunity to share their project ideas with one another and it was particularly inspiring to witness their mutual respect and excitement for one others' ideas. It is evident that there will be a great deal of cross pollination in that the continued sharing of ideas throughout the process will spark new ideas in the Agents' minds, simply by hearing each others' thoughts and motivations.
There were some strong and common themes that became apparent during the project idea sharing session. For example, a number of the Agents expressed a vision to make engagement in physical and other activities such as dance, drama, basketball and virtual gaming more accessible to young people to facilitate the development of confidence and social skills.
This is going to be an amazing journey and we are all up for the ride!
Adeus for now,