We Love New Friends! Meet Young Nation

We had the pleasure of visiting with the lovely Nyasia and Gabby from Young Nation when they dropped into The Refuge this morning. We talked story about Microfest, graffiti, and the importance of arts exposure and education for urban youth in Honolulu, Detroit, and beyond. We’re so excited to have them here with us in Hawai’i, share, and collaborate !

gallery-approach-13Young Nation is the organizational evolution of Expressions; a small, community-based youth group from southwest Detroit. After growing up in the neighborhoods of southwest Detroit and having experienced other urban, sub-urban, and rural neighborhoods, the founders of Expressions returned to the intersection of Carson and Pitt streets in the late 1990’s. While this corner in southwest Detroit was the site of strong bonds between diverse families, friends, and the overall community, it was also tied to the ups and downs of a variety of exploitative ventures – most notably, gang and drug culture.

Young Nation’s mission is to promote holistic development of youth in urban settings through building relationships, community education, and passion-driven projects.


Young Nation believes in the vision that quality, culturally and developmentally competent programs for youth can develop, grow, and flourish in our urban communities with minimal and efficient investment of limited resources and liberal investment of value created from participation in social networks.

This can be done by tapping into youths’ talents and interests, encouraging youth input, channeling the resulting passion, showing youth and adults how to harness their social capital, promoting partnerships in the community, building mentoring relationships, and sharing community resources rather than relying solely on limited resources for programming.

gallery-mission-13Southwest Detroit is a community of contrast. It contains both the most inspiring and most challenging social and physical climates that the City of Detroit has to offer. Progress and struggle hold hands as the community is constantly redefining itself through creative responses to the same stubborn urban issues that plague communities across the country.

Consistently regarded as Detroit’s most diverse area and comprised of several distinct neighborhoods, it is boisterous and prayerful, religious and sporting, a late-night party and an early-morning tree planting all at once. Its Anglo, Latino, African-American and Middle Eastern mix make its high school halls look like none other in the city.

gallery-approach-22While maintaining a healthy level of diversity and a thriving commercial district, the neighborhood is ripe with exploitive opportunities for its young. Among them there is an intense culture of drug dealing and gang activity that flourishes by presenting opportunities early and often to the youth in the community. Highly visible drug traffic, frequent incidents of vandalism including gang graffiti, traumatic acts of violence, and other illegal activities have plagued the community for generations.

Young Nation emerged out of the work of Expressions in 2008 as a non-profit corporation. A new organization to impact youth culture in urban communities was formed. The focus of which is simple: Community. Development. Passion. It was created to support youth, adults, and organizations toward the creation and maintenance of groups like Expressions. Showing others how to use cultural and developmental competencies together to support youth and communities is Young Nation’s passion. After several years of planning and hard work towards that end, Young Nation was awarded 501c3 status by the Internal Revenue Service in the spring of 2010. The organization is now continuing to carry out its mission in the neighborhoods of Detroit.

Check out their website here ! Or follow nyasia412 on Instagram!