Gerry La Londe-Berg
Susan, you caught my attention when you mentioned Crescent City. I used to have an office there and appreciate how you want to develop the potential of the youth in your community. It’s a little cliché to say, but it is beautiful when the ocean and the sky inspire us. You sure have the inspiration there in northern Northern California.
As to the teen center the first thought I had was the creation of a virtual teen center. You can build a structure and a resource on the web, then connect people. Based on your expertise and the distance communication technologies which youth are familiar with (could become familiar with) you could create a real resource by “starting where the client is”. You have to talk to young people in person: one-on-one, focus groups, high school groups, etc. You can also do survey via Surveymonkey to create a resource for young people and their parents will turn to see what’s happening. http://www.surveymonkey.com/
A second aspect of the creation of a virtual teen center is that you can link mentors with young people. As youth become interested you’ll see leaders emerge. Foster those leaders actual operation of the web virtual teen center and viola, you’ll have a community. I suggest you start a Google Wave because it is a widely accessible and supported emerging vehicle.
Third you can develop a co-sponsorship with a non-profit so you’ll have a vehicle to solicit donations, acquire grants, etc. Also, partnership broadens the commitment of others who care about youth.
The whole idea of a distance learning resource also comes to mind. You could see how the schools, home schoolers, colleges & universities, and emerging learning modalities might come together for the youth of Del Norte County and surrounding areas.
Having done all this, the opportunity for a physical venue could be expected to evolve. See CHOPS in Santa Rosa for a really valuable model. http://www.chopsonline.com/
Finally, and most important figure out a way to foster community, have fun, and give ownership to the participants. Young people will emerge as leaders if you give them a place to try out what they are learning.
I’ll follow this and hope I can add to it as time goes along.