Earlier this year there was a series of meetings open to our community called Let’s Talk About Teen Drug Use. Members of the community ranging through groups such as law enforcement, parents and teens met every month or so to discuss drug culture on Orcas Island and how to better understand and prevent it.
These talks where the inspiration for the formation of a teen-centered group called Teen Issues: a group for discussion on all teen issues, not just drug use. “We call it Tissues for short,” laughs junior Ray Doss, “like an abbreviation of teen issues. We try to keep it pretty open and lighthearted, but I really think we’re making a difference by taking these things out in the open and making people think about them. I know I’ve begun to think about some issues differently.”
The group meets every Tuesday, usually at the library for a get-together with food and open discussion about teen culture on the island and issues that teens face, socially, academically and individually. The group is open to anyone and has received very positive feedback from members that have stopped by to participate in the discussions. The group’s thoughts of the subject of these issues is that by bringing to light and discussing these issues they remove their ambiguous power and develop forms of thought and education for prevention. Although the group is welcoming to everyone and encourages people to drop by and participate in discussions and become regular members, the core and starting members are Anneke Fleming, Ray Doss, and Devon Mann, with the happy additions of Jo Gudgell, Dylan Thompson, and Madi Jane West. This year, the group has embarked on a project to create a place for the teens of the island to hang out and meet. This group of teens is meeting to build, apply for grants, and develop the Café. “Its main message is adult-managed, teen-driven,” says founding adult and supervisor Beth Jensen.
Developed to be a safe but fun place, the members of its developmental team wish for Teen Spot to be multi-purposed. “Teen Spot, otherwise know as the Teenie Beanie (we’re still working on the name) is going to be for everything,” states sophomore Anneke Fleming when describing Teen Spot. “We want it to be a place where teens can go after school and where they can be instead of wondering around town or getting in trouble. Teens can meet there for tutoring sessions, and clubs can gather there after school. We’re going to hang teen art on the walls and have regular movie nights. It’s a café where you don’t have to buy anything to stay and hang out.” The group of teens who are developing this spot see it as a long-term plan to reinvent teen culture on Orcas Island into a wholesome and collected society that is nevertheless true to its name as a teen spot. It’s an effort to reclaim what it means to be a teen on Orcas Island.