Change Agents 8/5/21

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

My guests were Joel Furrow the Executive Director of the Root Cellar in Portland and Lewiston Maine and Darragh Graham who directs the programming for youth in the St. Columbs House in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Discussion of the difficult issues that face the youth from both communities. The Root Cellar in Lewiston serves mostly Somali youth and some Africans from other countries. The St. Columbs Park House works primarily with Protestant and Catholic youth.
Both guests discussed the role of religion in their work. This discussion focused on their own religious beliefs and how that informed their work. While they come from different religious traditions they found significant commonality about how religion informs their work.
Both guests discussed the emotional difficulty of their work for staff and for themselves and how to cope with the difficult issues affecting the youth they work with youth.

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.