Look. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re 5, 15, or 50. If you’re living, you’re learning. And if you’re learning, you’re growing. So before I go on and discuss the great learning experience some of the students from PVHS’s inNOVAtion Lab had on February 5th, in the midst of this pandemic, I just want to make sure we check our “grades” at the door. Because the learning I want to recall is the most genuine, the most lasting, and the most important.
First, a bit of a back story. I received, in early January, a flier from one of my counselors describing a conference being held by a local organization, Trellis for Tomorrow. The backstory of Trellis itself is worthy of several blog posts. So I’ll just summarize their work here this way: If you want to see people doing good work in the name of social impact, you would be hard pressed to look past Trellis for Tomorrow
On February 5th, the great good work of Trellis is a one day virtual conference for teens and young adults interested in social entrepreneurship. Dubbed “TEMPUS,” the conference ran from 10AM to 3:30PM during which students had the chance to listen to entrepreneurs who had overcome incredible obstacles both external and internal, from rehabilitated citizens with police records to beautifully creative young women plagued by self doubt and imposter syndrome. And to a one, they spoke of a drive, a hunger to make something that stretched beyond themselves, that filled a hole in a community either directly or indirectly.
Such is the nature of good work–it helps, it heals, and many of us hearken to its call, building, and strengthening our connections and communities.
Take, for example, Vinny the Vegan, aka “The Gangster Vegan.” Vinny’s story of rags to riches to rags to veganism and feeding others good food is far more compelling than anything Horatio Alger could have contrived. Or Gigi Bisong, who finally found herself on the stage, speaking to others, and then lost herself in doubt, only to rise again by elevating others.
Tempus wasn’t all about stories. Students could choose from 6 workshop sessions, to develop their entrepreneurial spirit by stretching their creativity, working on their communication skills, and several other practical workshops that featured experts in their field.
In a season where light is hard to come by, in a year we have spent chasing hope, the stories of those who gave their time to Tempus, and the work of the people at Trellis for Tomorrow have breathed new life into the step of the students who attended this conference. As they opened their minds to the possibilities of the entrepreneurial spirit, their aspirations climbed a bit higher, their opportunities grew a bit wider, and our future will find, hopefully, better stewards than it had before.