In the past two months, we’ve witnessed the horrific loss of civilian life in Palestine and Israel. At this tenuous moment in the world, where there is so much violence and pain, we’re reminded of the importance of fighting for each other’s inherent dignity and humanity. To call it humbling is an understatement.

As a youth-serving organization, we’ve struggled with how to best show up for our students in this perilous time, especially since we’re not running after-school classes this fall. After hours of conversations between staff members, we reached out to our students to hear how they’re doing and how they think Girls Garage could best serve its community. We were struck by the thoughtfulness of their answers: “We all deserve the right to be treated with dignity and have the opportunity to be free, regardless of our race or religion,” one student wrote. Another added, “Overall, I think the situation is incredibly horrible and complicated so just providing space for young people to talk and grieve about what is going on seems like a good idea.” Even through their confusion and despair, they expressed a fierce commitment to creating a better future together. 

Our work is deeply rooted in social justice, and every project we build is designed to better the lives of the people in our communities. Girls Garage is a safe space for girls and gender-expansive youth to explore, question, and collaborate. To be more explicit, this means that when students walk through our doors, we invite their stories and lived experiences in this strange, often-cruel and often-beautiful world. And we invite them to use their power—as builders, artists, students, activists—to build a better future together. This might look like building library furniture for a transitional housing center; it might look like designing posters for a protest march. Our diverse community holds various racial, socioeconomic, faith, and gender identities. We stand with marginalized communities everywhere in the struggle towards justice. If our struggles are interconnected—and they are—then so is our liberation.

As we prepare to open the doors to our new space, we’re thinking every day about how to act with larger hearts, more joy and compassion, and a relentless curiosity about what our collective future could look like. We refer to our students as our “North Star”—every decision we make is to center their needs and complex identities, a critical task in this moment. We’re so excited to welcome this community of brave young people back in our space in the new year, and we promise to hold that space with respect, safety, and active listening. Building a better world requires nothing less.