During their second year in INVST, in a collaboration with the community, students create action projects to bring about social justice and positive change. This year, INVST students are focusing their attention, skillfulness and time on reproductive health services, mental health programming, and affordable housing. SOL stands for Serving * Organizing * Leading.
This year, Ellie, Mariam, Kieran, and Fabi are Rewriting Repro. They are partnering with a reproductive justice organization led by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) to work on capacity building. To these four INVST students, capacity building means using the resources that the organization, Interfaith Alliance, already has in place to further grow their strength and power. By developing storytelling workshops, helping to deepen an understanding the art of storytelling, and by respectfully engaging on-campus audiences, the INVST students plan to collect stories from BIPOC at CU Boulder who have stories to share about accessing the reproductive healthcare they need and want. An important partner and mentor to the students as they embark on this learning and action project will be Sam Carwyn, an INVST instructor, storyteller, and reproductive justice advocate.
Meanwhile, Rylee, Cat, and Kenzie are focusing on making sure CU Boulder students are connecting with the mental health resources and programs they need. As we all crawl toward the end of a second year of social distancing, isolation and pandemic-induced melancholy, the need for mental health and wellness resources has grown. Rylee, Cat, and Kenzie hope to foster an
environment on campus that encourages students to gain tools in their lives to be vulnerable, build community, heal, reconnect and feel safe, balance their relationship with the natural world, and deepen their interpersonal relationships. There has never been a better time to reach out and link up with caring, compassionate providers who attend to mental health and whole-person wellness.
Lauren, Lia, Ellory, Julianne, and Areyana are hoping to make INVST training accessible to more CU students by aiming their attention at housing costs for college students in Boulder. They observe: housing in Boulder is expensive. INVST is a program dedicated to eco-social justice. In order to live up to its values, INVST can form a partnership that ultimately will provide affordable housing for more INVST participants. To benefit existing and future INVST students, Lauren, Lia, Ellory, Julianne, and Areyana will strengthen the bond that INVST has with local housing co-ops such as those under the Boulder Housing Coalition, a 501(c)(3).
After completing their Community SOL Projects, these INVST students will have the tools, skills, and experience they need to work in a small group toward a common goal. Many INVSTers go on to become the leaders of local schools, small businesses, values-centered community-based initiatives or perhaps they run for office, volunteer in their neighborhoods, start mutual aid organizations, become artists, authors, teachers, or practitioners of the healing arts. No matter where these INVST students from the Class of 2022 are headed in the future, their INVST experience of turning ideas into action in collaboration with the community will stay with them forever.
Learn more about the Community SOL Project, INVST’s culminating learn-by-doing opportunity for each year-two INVST student, here: https://www.colorado.edu/invst/community-partners/sol
Article by Dr. Sabrina C. Sideris, Instructor, INVS 4931: Community Leadership in Action.