It is not everyday that a 16-year-old gets to help decide how his city should spend $1 million dollars.
Isabel Luciano, our East Coast Program Assistant, recently interviewed Stephen Lafume, who worked as a change leader on Boston’s Youth Lead the Change Council. Just a few weeks ago, thousands of young residents of Boston voted on the PB initiatives that Stephen helped facilitate; initiatives that were created by him and his young peers!
Tell us about yourself!
I live in Boston and work for the Youth Lead the Change Mayor’s Youth Council. When my community center held a PB idea collection assembly, I went and really enjoyed the process. So, I signed up to be a change agent when the opportunity arose. I liked that we got to decide which ideas were chosen; the youth control was really exciting.
What did you end up doing in the PB process? What were the most important activities that you did? What were some challenges that you faced?
I became a Change Agent so I feel like going to the community centers, asking people what they wanted, and making the proposals were the most important things I did. I got to actually see what people wanted. Usually people don’t get the chance to choose what they want to change in their area, so it felt important. In terms of what was challenging, I didn’t like the limitations with only being allowed to develop ideas within city property. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed that aren’t on city property. That surprised me a bit.
If you had experience with community engagement beforehand, how has PB been different?
I used to be a part of my community center’s youth council, Birchtree Community Center. We recycled and cleaned up the neighborhood sometimes. My experience in PB was different because it was about more direct change where everything counts. With PB we actually had money and executed things and met with city officials.
What were the biggest impacts of PB on the community and on you as a person?
The impacts on me as a person? I got a job out of it! Francesco met me through PB when I signed up to be a change agent. Then he asked me to be on the Mayor’s Youth Council.