Savannah Hanson: ‘Voices of Change’ |

Savannah Hanson: ‘Voices of Change’

Each of us has something to contribute. Sometimes it seems hidden in the turmoil of our lives, buried under the rubble of busyness. Yet it is vital we find and extend that which is ours to give.

Each semester the Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning High School in Grass Valley has an “expedition” or theme. For juniors, the theme this semester is “Voices of Change.”

This theme gives young adults the opportunity to consider what role in society they may have, what weight their views and values can have, what gift their words might offer.

While visiting there, I was inspired to hear of some of the topics the juniors had selected for their op-ed pieces they are writing as part of this expedition.

Students enacting change

Topics include highway safety on Highway 49, teenage depression, rehabilitation for inmates, purchasing locally and humanely raised meat, adopting rather than shopping for a new pet, against dress codes reinforcing the sexualization of female teens and stopping construction of new Squaw Development.

It is all too easy these days to be swept into pessimism, to believe our voices do not make a difference, that nothing we can do or say will matter one iota to the onslaught of discouraging news we all hear daily.

I take the opposite view and devote a lot of my free time contributing my voice to create the world in which I wish to live. Initially, I sometimes got discouraged and it seemed the words were just “dust in the wind.”

Yet, slowly I would receive feedback around town or from people worldwide through the internet.

Some of the more touching responses included being told I was the reason a total “stranger” had gotten out of bed that day, that my words made someone feel understood, and that my writing helped someone make sense of today’s chaos. Such responses created joy, like wind chimes sounding in my heart.

To have voices of change be something we are teaching our teens is inspiring to me. I am grateful to consider this assignment may potentially motivate or encourage them to actively seek to be the change they wish to see in the world.

Quite different from my experience of high school where most of my assignments had little to nothing to do with making an impact on the world.

My family moved here to have our child attend one of the charter schools, Yuba River Charter.

We had traveled across three states, investigating over 30 schools and liked this area and that school the best. When it came time for high school, the variety of choices was gratifying.

Community impact

This community is filled with people committed to being the change they wish to see in the world, from community services to the variety of educational opportunities.

Many people I know volunteer from teaching mindfulness at the jail, to feeding the homeless weekly, to visiting with terminally ill individuals, to visiting homes for the elderly.

I once heard Nevada City called Nirvana City, acknowledging the unique openness of this community with its wide variety of people of such diverse interest, passions and willingness to contribute.

It is often said the result of attaining higher consciousness is the recognition of the beauty of service. When we recognize our unity with others, it becomes natural to want to contribute to their well being.

I find so many in this community to be gracious and friendly, from store clerks to baristas (shout out to Valentina and to my friends at Break Cafe), to teachers, to librarians.

Not to wax too lyrically as I recognize we have challenges, yet I have traveled the world and find this place to have a special feeling of homecoming.

The gospel according to Thomas (Saying 70) implores us to remember what Jesus said: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

I have heard a lot of people concerned they do not know what their purpose is. They fret that they need to do something specific. Yet our purpose can be something simple, such as being kind, or creating a beautiful garden.

It can be something grand like ending poverty, curing cancer, diminishing homelessness. It can be the intention to smile or offer an encouraging word, to be patient when someone around us is stressed and acting unskillfully.

There are a million ways to serve, to honor the spirit within us. Be it action or words, we all have something to contribute. Do not die with your music unplayed, your song unsung.

Look within for your gift and offer it to all of us. We are waiting with bated breath.

For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 20-minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at 530-575-5052 or

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