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40 MAY 2002
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from the soapbox

“Passions spin the plot”

Karen vanderVen

"Passions spin the plot"? What does this quote from the work of poet George Meredith (1828-1929) have to do with child and youth work? In recent months, I’ve continued to contemplate the future of child and youth work. Would there be one? If so, what would it be? Now, in the unpredictable world, a few occurrences have enabled me to “see" that “Yes!" – there is a future! They've also made me more aware of a certain emotion “passion“ that could be significant as we create our future. In my leadership classes, it I often talk about the importance of strategic planning and more formally setting a sense of direction as a way of accomplishing desired goals. However, I have come to realize that that’s not all. How about passion? Or, even better, finding one’s passion and then using planning methods to map out ways of attaining it?

Recently Jim Anglin from the University of Victoria (we all know him or of him) visited us at the University of Pittsburgh. In a presentation, Jim spoke “passionately“ of being passionate about what we were doing – and somehow it sounded more energizing than when I intone my leadership classes about having something to be passionate about. As I listened to Jim, it occurred to me that passion – his and that of others – for this field is a powerful fuel source. This is inspiring news. It means that for someone with passion for the work there are ways in which they can make something happen by activating that passion in a variety of arenas.

Thus I mention something that just came by me, almost routinely in my daily pile of mail, that re-evoked my own passion for the field and its future. What was it?

The cover of the brochure for the upcoming 12th National Child and Youth Work Conference taking place in Newfoundland in October! Stunning, with a blue, yellow and red logo in the center of the page against a soft ocean gray background with a whale’s tail just visible. It makes me feel good just to look at it, and I’ve done so many times. There is something about it that so obviously seems, well, professional. But professional in a Child and Youth Care way – colorful and engaging. The message it gives is that people were passionate enough about the program they had assembled to give it a proper showcase that powerfully and beautifully expresses, implicitly and explicitly, what the field stands for. So this brochure cover, just itself, believe it or not, has me excited about our future!

But, different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes. There are other activities in child and youth work that not only represent the passion of individuals and groups, but also stand for the creativity, energy and persistence that will continue to propel the field forward. There are also opportunities not yet discovered but awaiting our identifying them, becoming excited, and taking action. So, indeed, “passions spin the plot" as we continue to create the story of our field. And, as you pitch in to enact your own passion for and within the field, do also check out that 12th National Child and Youth Conference brochure!

April 29, 2002

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