For years, they've operated out of a small, 800-square-foot storefront in City Place. It's a pretty convenient location for the kids who go there, many of whom come by bus from across Silver Spring and Takoma Park. But while the space would make a pretty large one-bedroom apartment, it's ill-equipped to accommodate workshops, film screenings, or even hanging out after school. The new Civic Building will have rooms publicly available for meetings or events, it won't offer any dedicated spaces to local groups.
On their website, the Gandhi Brigade's Nate Taitano outlines a "Youth Space Vision Statement" explaining the group's need for a more permanent home:
While Silver Spring has strong youth leadership with experience in event planning and community organizing, these valuable services are very difficult to perform without a dedicated space. Youth leaders have sought temporary space from local benefactors in the past; however, with no permanent space dedicated to youth, events, trainings, and meetings are constantly delayed and even canceled suddenly due to restrictions or red tape at the intended location even after months of preparation.Now, the question is: how will Gandhi Brigade get themselves a new home by December? While the group has made surprisingly large contributions to the community since its inception five years ago, they're still a non-profit. The group can't afford to pay sky-high Downtown Silver Spring rents - but their work requires a pretty high-tech space. Despite there being a number of vacant storefronts and underutilized buildings throughout Downtown , will anyone be willing to offer a "designated space" for youth given these constraints?
Designated space for a youth leadership group is the first step in attracting youth who would like to work in the service of their community. It would give them the stability to attract youth with inflexible schedules, and to plan events without the delays and cancellations that can be frustrating for many young people, particularly at-risk youth, who often turn to youth organizations for structure and stability lacking in other aspects of their lives.
By December 2010, we would like to see a space dedicated to a youth leadership contingent in the new Civic Center. This space will be the nest and den for the youth of Silver Spring: a safe environment of engagement, organization and freedom. This space will incubate traits of responsibility and a sense of community, and will aid in the development of hardworking, engaging youth.
This designated space will be a place for youth to improve their community and to bring lasting change to the Silver Spring area. This will be achieved through, among other things, volunteer programs, trainings in areas like community organizing, financial responsibility, speaking, media, and conflict resolution trainings, tutoring, counseling, healing circles, and of course a home for a newly created Silver Spring youth leadership group.