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Baltimore Hush Harbor Blog

Hush Harbors were spaces where enslaved Africans in America had covert meetings to plan escapes, organize revolts, reaffirm and engage in (re)membrance. A hush harbor is not only a place, it is a "conceptual metaphor" (Levine, 1997).

The thoughts, ideas and ponderings of Youth Resiliency Institute cultural organizers, parents, advisory board members and supporters are offered to stimulate cross-generational cultural (re)membrance, spiritual/bodily healing, celebration, action and knowledge.
Baltimore Hush Harbor Blogs

To know Devlon E. Wadell is to at once know the past, present and future…..
The Youth Resiliency Institute warmly welcomes the thoughts, ideas and ponderings of Devlon E. Wadell.
Fanon Hill
November, 2013
Co-Founder/The Youth Resiliency Institute


Three personal thoughts on building a vibrant intergenerational community

By Devlon E. Waddell
November, 2013

Photo by The Indigenous Lens Photographic Arts

I'm still trying to pinpoint the moment at which I entered adulthood. Those weekend warrior days of marathon athletics are long behind me, and I guess I've accepted that. My knees will tighten when the barometric pressure gets too low. My muscles will remain sore for an extra day or two after physical exertion.  It seems the physical challenges are the most noticeable signs of my maturation; beyond that, I have to actually remember that I have moved beyond my adolescence.

There's a verse from the Bible that always finds a way to ring true in my mind since I first noticed it posted on Mr. (now Senator) Macfadden's classroom wall at Lake Clifton. When I was a child, I acted as a child, I spake as a child; When I became a man…  When I "became" a man, I was still trying to figure this thing out. I am still trying to figure this thing out. I'm called Mr. Waddell by adults these days. I don't know that I could have imagined that day coming. Still, it's cool because I do have a strong set of folk who have spent more time on this earth than I have, so I can look to them, as the 'youngins' will often come to me.  Alas. We don't always make it easy for the youngins to connect, do we?

Three personal thoughts on building a vibrant intergenerational community:

1. Authority should ALWAYS be questioned. I have two young daughters who are too much like me. 'Quick witted' would be the kindest description for their clever use of language. While I do enjoy watching them work, getting them to understand the nuance of being respectfully contradictory is always challenging. Still, having them understand the idea that authority should ALWAYS be questioned in incredibly important. How do we build the next cadre of leaders if we fail to dare them to challenge convention. We do not follow blindly; neither should we allow our heirs.

2. Respect is NOT inherent. Respect is such a broad and loosely defined idea. It is used so regardlessly that I have trouble holding on to a real and tangible definition for it. What I have come to is the belief that it is the outward manifestation of value assigned to persons, places and things. To that end, I can only assume that a breakdown in the show of respect is likewise, and only, the lack or distortion of value perceived. One must understand that the respect that he/she is shown is based on the perception of his/her value. Only then can there be a movement toward respectful interpersonal relationships.

3. Young folk are acutely intuitive (until the world beats it out of them). They know. They can feel it; sense it. An adult's expectation will dictate a child's behavior every single time. Whether it is meeting the expectation or a direct defiance, children do not move outside of the immediate influence of the adults that surround them. Hushed tones cannot mask a grandmother's disapproval of a grandson's actions. A fake hug and half-hearted smile will never hide a mother's disappointment with her daughter's performance. A child sees, easily, through the growl, straight into that fear that dad futilely attempts to keep to himself. The empathic nature of children must be honored. Distrust not only leads to discord, but also diminishes that beautifully inquisitive and understanding spirit.

I love listening to old folk tell stories. Even today, I will sit on the carpet, legs crossed, and take in the tales. Because, even in the exaggeration, there is a rich meaningful truth that wells up from the spirit. That's the tradition, right; elders pouring into young folk? It is, as it should be. Except when the container is closed. When water is poured over a closed container, it ends up on the ground.


"Writing saved my life," are words often spoken by husband, father and native Baltimorean, Devlon E Waddell. There's no doubt that whenever Devlon speaks about the power of the written word and his passion for it, he's being disarmingly honest. There is a humility in his words that is all at once refreshing, persuasive and determined. Author/Educator/Activist & Co-Founder of dewMore Baltimore.

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The Youth Resiliency Institute is a program under the umbrella of Fusion Partnerships, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in the state of Maryland. The Youth Resiliency Institute is dedicated to inspiring realization of the authentic self in children, youth and young adults in Baltimore. We encourage and support authentic living in the service of just, joyful and sustainable communities.