SPYCE (Sustainability Programs for Youth-led Community Empowerment) is a sustainability education program that engages youth in experiences where they learn from each other with the support of adult allies about creating healthy, livable communities, with a particular focus on local food systems. The four key components of all SPYCE programs are sustainability, eco-justice, participatory media, and youth empowerment. While participants are learning about sustainability, youth counselors are developing leadership skills that benefit their personal growth and that can applied to support their communities.
The SPYCE concept was formulated in 2012 by Jane Norton, Eartheal, Kevin McDonough, Interfaith Food Shuttle, Tania Duran-Eyre, El Pueblo, and Tom Fletcher, Education Allies. Though SPYCE programs contain common elements, it was designed to be flexible to be able to adapt to different circumstance and communities.
SPYCE was piloted as a summer camp in 2012 where youth from El Pueblo learned about sustainable, local food systems, using videography to document what they learned. Using their developing media skills they learned from youth who work with Interfaith Food Shuttle in the Young Farmer Training Program (YFTP) and at two community gardens it operates.
Supported by a generous grant obtained from Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, two camps were held in the summer of 2013. Eartheal, Education Allies, and Good Work Food Collaborative, in partnership with Bountiful Backyards, East Durham Children’s Initiative, Neighborhood Allies, SEEDS, and Shepherd’s House UMC, conducted SPYCE Camp East serving youth from Northeast Central Durham. With a focus on community and food, campers worked at the Angier Avenue Neighborhood Farm, visited the SEEDS D.I.G. garden and the Durham Farmer’s Market, learned to cook using a solar oven, and prepared a common meal using locally grown foods. Youth counselors mentoring campers was added as a feature of this camp. The media component was expanded to include video, photography, written and spoken word.
SPYCE Camp West served youth and community members in Durham’s West End and was made possible by funds from the Burt’s Bees grant, Interfaith Food Shuttle, as well as a generous donation from Eartheal board member, Ken Krebs, In partnership with IFFS and FabLab Carolinas, this camp was focused on the history of the West End Community Center and garden, featuring an intergenerational component, and the transition they are currently undergoing to move these features to other parts of the neighborhood in advance of development.
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