In order to grow a rose in concrete, it’s about cultivating that seed of hope

Karega Bailey, Student Mentor at Roses in Concrete school, Oakland US…

If you’ve ever journeyed into the most hopeless circumstances. If you’ve ever seen hopelessness, if you’ve seen it, not studied it, not went to visit it, if you’ve lived in hopelessness, you know how beautiful hope is. In order to grow a rose in concrete, it’s about cultivating that seed of hope. The concrete represents obstacles and barriers, the substance created in favour of one group and to the detriment of another. The concrete can be cold, it can claim many names, so everyday we come here it’s about planting that seed of hope.

You see the tricky thing about hopelessness is that it’s narrative is everywhere. Our young folks are subject to this time and time again. They can look around and see the manifestation, the reality of hopelessness. You can’t come with some fairytale ‘everything is going to be ok’, it don’t work that way. Especially when they know otherwise, especially when they get to see how systems limit their access to hope. Thats that fairy tale hope. It takes something realer than that to touch families, to touch lives. You speak it from ground zero. Where it’s at. That hope is critically engaged, it observes, it recognises, it acknowledges and it validates where that person may be in their journey of pursuing hope – but it’s got to be real. So someday’s you’ve got to get tired, you’ve got to get fatigued, because you’ve got to give it your all. You have to disrupt hopelessness at every angle. Do it creative, do it through the arts, do it through the lesson, do it through gardening, do it through nature, do it through rhyme, do it however you can, but disrupt hopelessness with a passion. 

So everyday we open our doors and receive them, and love them, and hug them, and show them that this is a place where you can totally be you. Everyday they hear a different narrative, one that build’s their self esteem, that build’s their reflective self esteem, so they can see themselves in their brother and their sisters. We want them to really understand that it’s what’s inside of you that matters most, and what’s inside of you is not predicated on where you come from or your parents income, or what you’ve seen, or limitations. No, what’s inside of you is there. All those thing’s can be a barrier to achieving it but the value is still there.

Speak to the power that’s within them, the power of their imagination, the power of what they do know, the power of their intentions, and you speak to that thing and you nurture it every single day. Growing roses in concrete is about that work, awakening the learner, awakening that thing inside of them – ‘why am I here, what am I here to do?’ The world changes when you find that out, once you know your why nothing can stop you.

They’re closer to actualising their own possibility. They are finally starting to get to that place where they can see things not just for how they are but how they could be, and make their could be their will be. If we couple social responsibility, social justice – if we partner that with always aligning with their why, we’re creating a whole new school of young folks who will rise up and become hope dealers, become agents of hope, always looking for the crack in the concrete for the rose. That’s what we are after.

Watch this video to learn from Dr. Jeff Duncan Andrade, founder of Roses In Concrete community school.

Video created for Teach For All.

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