AHSHAY Center's Vision to End Youth Incarceration

Dr. Ben Danielson discusses ending youth incarceration with AHSHAY Center's approach, aiming for systemic change in King County for a safer, equitable future

AHSHAY Center's Vision to End Youth Incarceration

By 2025, King County has pledged to end the practice of incarcerating youth offenders. With this ambitious goal just around the corner, community leaders are intensifying efforts to dismantle the youth detention system and invest in more effective, community-based solutions.

At the forefront of this movement is the AHSHAY Center, directed by Dr. Ben Danielson, a pediatrician who spent decades serving families in Seattle's diverse Central District. "I could not keep from seeing how youth detention was ruining lives, is ruining lives - especially Black lives - in this county and across this country," Danielson said.

The evidence is clear that juvenile incarceration fails to improve public safety and increases the likelihood of future criminal behavior. As Danielson explained, "The data just proves that [incarcerating young people] does not work. In fact, it works in the opposite direction - it creates more likelihood that young people will be arrested again and again."

Instead of perpetuating this cycle, Danielson and others are advocating for a public health approach that treats the root causes and invests in community-driven programs proven to reduce recidivism. "We have great solutions in communities, done by amazing people for a long time now, that actually reduce what they call recidivism," Danielson stated.

Organizations like Choose180, Community Passageways, and ProSe Potential offer mentorship, trauma-informed care, and skill-building opportunities as alternatives to incarceration. By fostering belonging, purpose and accountability, these programs chart a positive path forward for at-risk youth.

However, funding and institutional buy-in remain obstacles. "A lot of leaders are burned out and things like that. So we need to show how much we love those who are loving our communities with us and support them with our time, with our dollars, with our words of support," Danielson urged.

He emphasized that doubling down on punitive measures has consistently failed to curb youth crime. "We have proven beyond a doubt that that - let's just get tougher - just hasn't worked," he said. "If we really cared about these things, we'd be actually talking about the roots, the deeper issues, the ways in which we create or take away opportunity for young people."

With the county's new youth detention facility still under-utilized, Danielson called for redoubling investment in community-based services and reengaging with the "roadmap to Zero Youth Detention" already developed. He invited the public to support the nonprofits doing this vital work and to "be the people that we wish other people would be" by mentoring and empowering local youth.

As the 2025 deadline looms, time is running short to make good on King County's commitment. But pioneers like Dr. Danielson remain optimistic that by shifting resources away from incarceration and toward community-driven solutions, the region can build a brighter future for all its young people.

About the Guest

Dr. Ben Danielson

Dr. Ben Danielson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UW Medicine, community leader in health equity, and the director of Allies in Healthier Systems for Health & Abundance in Youth (AHSHAY) Center.

Find out more about Dr. Ben Danielson’s work at the AHSHAY Center here.



AHSHAY Overview Slides

Program led by Dr. Ben Danielson to keep youth out of jail” from UW Medicine Newsroom

King County’s ‘Zero Youth Detention’ plan goes forward even as $232 million youth jail goes up” by Marcus Harrison Green from The Seattle Times

King County Executive Dow Constantine commits to depopulate youth jail by 2025” by Elise Takahama from The Seattle Times

Care & Closure | King County - a plan for youth healing, accountability, and community safety

This UW pediatrician has helped young people for 30 years. Now, he's on a mission to end youth incarceration” by Kim Malcolm & Andy Hurst from KUOW

Uncommon partners joining forces to tackle youth incarceration: ‘We can’t throw away human lives’” by Naomi Ishisaka from The Seattle Times

Focus on children and change the trajectory of generational trauma” by Ben Danielson and Victoria Peattie Helm for The Seattle Times

Pro Se Potential - prevention based, restorative program empowering youth of color to become proactive leaders in society

Choose 180 - transforms systems of injustice & supports the young people who are too often impacted by those systems

Community Passageways - create alternatives to incarceration for youth and young adults by rebuilding our communities through committed relationships centered on love, compassion, and consistency

UW systems experts put health of kids at the center as King County seeks to reach ‘zero youth detention’” by Jake Ellison from UW News

YouthCare - works to end youth homelessness and to ensure that young people are valued for who they are and empowered to achieve their potential

Lavender Rights Project - elevates the power, autonomy, and leadership of the Black intersex & gender diverse community through intersectional legal and social services

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get the full versions of our Friday week-in-review show and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, the most helpful thing you can do is leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes.

I am thrilled to be having this guest and conversation today on the show. I want to welcome Dr. Ben Danielson, clinical professor of pediatrics at UW and director of AHSHAY Center. Welcome, Dr. Danielson.

[00:01:08] Dr. Ben Danielson: Thanks so much - I'm really happy to be able to join you today.

[00:01:11] Crystal Fincher: I'm really happy to have this conversation today - it's a very important conversation to have. And that is because King County has made a commitment to end youth incarceration by 2025, which is just around the corner - there's a lot of work that needs to be done to make sure that we deliver on this commitment - and that is informing and underpinning the work at the AHSHAY Center. Can you tell me a little bit about what went into the formation of this and what brings you to this work?

[00:01:42] Dr. Ben Danielson: Well, I'm a pediatrician - a primary care pediatrician - that worked in Seattle's Central District for a couple of decades and served an amazing community of mostly low-income, very diverse, incredible families and kids - such an honor to be part of that space. And as a Black man, I was also very aware of the great disproportionality of the youth that were being drawn into youth detention at the facility that was almost around the corner from the clinic I worked in in the Central District - and how the injustices that were stacked and piled all the way back, to maybe early childhood and before, that were leading to that vortex was really, really deeply concerning. Came to a point of deep reflection for myself and had to really ask - What can I be doing to actually be promoting the well-being, the wellness, the health, the ability to thrive for young people, especially Black and brown people, in this area? And I could not keep from seeing how youth detention was ruining lives, is ruining lives - especially Black lives - in this county and across this country. I'm surprised there aren't more physicians and pediatricians involved directly in this work, and I'm also hoping that the opportunity to contribute to helping end youth incarceration will be something that more and more people can get on board with. I wish there was more of a strong health presence in this space. I wish we had less silos and more collaborative work in this space, and I really started the AHSHAY Center to help support the brilliance that has already existed for a long time in communities and around us trying to end youth incarceration.

[00:03:40] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Now, there may be some people listening who think - Well, isn't youth incarceration a public safety issue? Shouldn't police be dealing with this? Why is a doctor concerned with this? - What do you say to people thinking that?

[00:03:56] Dr. Ben Danielson: Well, first, I back up - and one thing I've learned, as my hair grows a little grayer, is the importance of just being willing to engage in conversations with people who might start from a very different place than me and really trying to understand what their concerns are, where we might share common ground, what the relevant issues are. You asked that question from what sounded like a public safety perspective. If I'm being my usual nerdy self, I would look at the data - and I would know for myself that if you're trying to make communities safer, then the last thing you want to do is incarcerate young people. The data just proves that that does not work. In fact, it works in the opposite direction - it creates more likelihood that young people will be arrested again and again. And we have great solutions in communities, done by amazing people for a long time now, that actually reduce what they call recidivism - crime from happening more and more - and it makes the communities safer. So if someone's coming to me with - We need to be making our communities safe - then what I know in my heart, what my community tells me, and what the data says is that you should not be incarcerating young people.

[00:05:13] Crystal Fincher: Definitely. Absolutely true that the evidence shows that youth incarceration is harmful, actually - not helpful. It doesn't make us safer, it actually makes us less safe. Just wondering about - when we talk about harm and we talk about recidivism rates, what does that look like on the ground and in our communities?

[00:05:33] Dr. Ben Danielson: Well, I guess I think a little bit about a young person's journey through our communities and how, as a young, young child sometimes - if you're a low-income or Black or brown, sometimes the images of what society says you can be, what maybe privileged society and white society says you can be is constrained and limited. The images around you of possibilities are sometimes less than they should be for a young person whose mind and heart are full of possibilities and ideas. As I think about them entering the school system, I know that the very same behavior for a Black child, for instance, that is also seen in a white child will lead that Black child to greater disciplinary action across our school systems, across this country - despite those school systems having wonderfully good intentions, people in them, and lots of people who really care about things like social justice and anti-racism. I know that that means that for that child, their chance of suspension and being sort of seen as somehow troubling to a school system can be started and reinforced - I had that very same experience myself as a young child - and that can perpetuate and spiral throughout the educational experience.

I know that we have had practices like putting what they call safety officers, which are basically police in schools - and how for especially Black and brown communities, the presence of police more often in your life does not increase your safety, it increases the chances that you will be arrested. This is a concept that is not often appreciated in circles outside of Black community and low-income community, unfortunately, but more contact means more likelihood of being stopped by police. I understand that every step of the way, if you're Black and if you're low-income - but especially if you're Black - everything tilts more towards society trying to herd you towards incarceration. The chance of being stopped by a police officer goes up. The chance of that police officer deciding to detain you goes up. The chance of that police officer deciding to take you in and have charges filed goes up. The chance of those charges being more severe goes up. The chances of those charges and the severity leading to detention goes up. All of those things - the racism that's built into every part of that amplifying spiral - is really tragic. It's a tragedy. And that process leads to what we see - incredibly disproportionate rates of incarceration for Black and brown youth, especially. And what we see within the detention process is maybe still really good-hearted people trying to do their best to help young people, but in a system that is racist and in a system that - above and beyond the racism - also does not work, does not help to change or reduce the chances of a young person being rearrested.

What I also see on this hopeful side is incredible community-based programs that are often maybe staffed by people who look like the young people that are serving, might have people associated with them that have had lived experiences that are really relevant and important, maybe recognize and identify people also who represent different pathways, different opportunities, different possibilities - working together to instill in a young person that sense of belonging, a sense of connection to their community, and a sense of reinvigoration of their sense of personal purpose, their meaning, their voices mattering. When that starts to happen, you see everything change - in Black communities and brown communities and white communities across this country.

What I've learned on the sad side is that systems like systems of incarceration seek out young people who've already faced trauma and then traumatize them more. That feels like the most elemental of injustices to me - to take people who have faced harm, young people, and then harm them more. That is something that we all as citizens of this country, as people living in this country in any state of citizenship or otherwise, we just need to - we need to reckon with that. We need to account for that. If there weren't great alternatives - man, it'd just be a hard conversation for you and me to have. If there weren't resources out there that were showing that they were working, it'd be a theoretic conversation. We are so far beyond that. And it's a shame for us as a country and as a county - is that rather than face truth and reality and data and hearts and minds and everything else that we've seen, we continue to practice something that is harming our young people.

I don't know if that answered your question - there was a lot of ramble.

[00:10:39] Crystal Fincher: No, it absolutely does. And I think it lays out just what is at stake here. And I do appreciate how you concluded that - with we do have models that are working. We do have programs that are setting people up for success instead of incarceration and failure. So with all of that in mind, what is the approach that AHSHAY is taking? What is the work that you have ahead of you?

[00:11:09] Dr. Ben Danielson: One thing I notice, working as part of an amazing and brilliant Black community and being part of an academic system and our healthcare system, is just how super siloed a lot of our efforts really are. Really great people doing great work and yet, structurally and sometimes for lots of other reasons, a lot of that work remains kind of siloed. And this sounds strange, but I think over the course of time - one of the privileges I've attained from going from being a low-income child sleeping in a car kind of stuff to having a lot of privilege, resource-wise and otherwise, is that maybe that also is a position of connection, of interconnection, or of bridging. And so one of the deep tenets of AHSHAY work is maybe being able to sit in spaces that others don't always have an opportunity to, and maybe to help support the chances that people can move from silos to collaboration to collective action in different ways.

All of this is a learning process for me - I'm the novice in the space of legal issues, clearly - I'm not one of those doctors that pretends that they're an expert in everything. And I've learned so much from incredible people in our communities - from the most active and incredible nonprofit leaders to just those grandmothers who are doing it every single day - with love, and with heart, and with sweat, and with hope, and pouring everything into our young people. There's so much we could be doing together. There's so much we are doing. It feels like perhaps AHSHAY just has a chance to channel brilliance, to catalyze connectedness, build on relationships, to maybe try to listen again to conversations that have historically gotten shut off, and then try to play some role in helping to amplify the good work and the good hearts and the good efforts that are out there.

[00:13:15] Crystal Fincher: Definitely needed. So how does this work happen?

[00:13:20] Dr. Ben Danielson: Ah, thank you. The way we think about it at the AHSHAY Center is sort of it's two armed, although they are related. You think about unbuilding the fortifications of youth incarceration and building up the fortifiers of health and striving for youth, often through work in community. It seems important to think both about unbuilding and building. I think a lot of our approaches, historically, have been about either running away from something - we gotta stop doing this, stop doing that, stop doing that - it's a very almost medical related thing about stopping harm. We also have to couple that with really building the institutional resources, the connectedness, the best elements of community that allow us to work through our issues together, to maintain sustaining and thriving relationships. And so you gotta build stuff too, even as you unbuild things - another thing community has taught me.

So building both a sense of the acknowledgement of hope that we can create communities that can support youth even through problem and problematic moments - that maybe if we talked about justice, we really should be talking about the fullness of that, especially for young people - what it means to never feel like you got kicked out of your society, your community because of a transgression. But that that meant that the community held you even more strongly and closely, and held you accountable, and allowed you to be accountable, and allowed you to grow through a moment. And allowed you to be sort of healed and restored through that process, because a lot of what was happening in that moment was because of things that have been happening to you and to your generational line for a long time. The building also means a true reckoning, I think, for the racism that is so built into our systems, and requires that we actually build new systems rather than try to do little patches on the existing ones 'cause that just has proven itself not to work. The building means being able to build relationships and think about where we're going to - not just where we're running away from - and develop programs, policies and opportunities to feed into that building, that opportunity.

The unbuilding is roll-up-your-sleeves work, right? Working with the county on its decommissioning plans for the detention center, working with community-based organizations on supporting their ability to get up into broader scale to amplify their work, helping to do things that might sound boring but are really important - like understanding what resources actually exist out there across our county, understanding how they interconnect, understanding how youth relate to them, and understanding how we sort of know the landscape that is around us in a way that pulls us out of our silos and helps us see each other - all kind of stuff like that. So we're working on the dreamscape and the landscape at the same time.

[00:16:21] Crystal Fincher: I appreciate that approach so much. And obviously, you have been so well known for so long for the work that you have done - particularly in our Black local community - but this work of both building and unbuilding is absolutely necessary and I love that you articulate that so well and have built that into the work. When I talk to people kind of across the spectrum, even for people who are very supportive and encouraging and in-line with this vision, sometimes they have questions about - Okay, I know we need to invest in people, I know we need to unbuild harmful systems and build ones that will help keep us healthier and safer - but they don't really know what those programs look like, what that work is, and what specific kind of support is needed. When you talk about that and you're considering that with AHSHAY, what kinds of infrastructure, systems, supports are necessary to achieve the end of incarceration, but ultimately healthier and more positive and productive systems?

[00:17:35] Dr. Ben Danielson: Yeah, it is interesting. Even in our dialogue around this, we're talking mostly about stopping something - ending incarceration. And I would just wonder if we'd approach it differently - if the title were about what we're building towards instead of what we're eliminating - 'cause I do really believe that when you build towards something really powerful and positive, you actually obviate the need for the thing that was negative on some level. I know that sounds too idealistic, but I'm gonna stay in that abundant space for as long as I can.

The programs that I see out there that are really inspiring to me - some of them, the nature of them is perhaps a formerly incarcerated person who saw a path, and really understood an experience, and wanted to pour back into young people all of the knowledge and wisdom - most importantly, the mentoring and guidance and coaching and support - possible. And so you see these programs like Pro Se Potential, that are just directly connecting with young people and instantly creating a sense of belonging - absolutely credible to the young folks that are part of that, 'cause these young adults are seeing other older adults who've been in the same spaces and places. And helping young people find their voices and articulate their souls, understand their traumas - and more importantly, also see their potential. Those programs are amazing. And the more of those we can have in our communities, the better.

You also see other programs that have been really strongly integrated into systems and really help to support a interceding at moments where incarceration could have happened, so great diversion-oriented programs that offer alternatives to incarceration. And again, wrap a supportive hug around young people - create skills, help them understand trauma, and help them move through their lives in ways that are really affirming to them. Programs like Choose 180 and Community Passageways and some of the others in our county are really, really incredible. And again, scale those up and you've got a whole different perspective.

'Cause most importantly - if I could mention just quickly - what we've seen in youth incarceration has been an interesting kind of almost J-curve. From the time that I started working as a pediatrician a few decades ago - when the King County Detention Center had 200 young people in it on any given day, to 2019 when that number was down to more like 20 or less. All of those efforts of people working together in different ways went - to me - from an idea that, of closing youth detention, that seemed kind of hard to imagine when there's 200 young people in there, to something truly possible. 'Cause 20 - like 20 could be zero. 20 allows you to see something different. And so we've had all of these experiences that tell us what's possible. And this county, like other parts of the country, has done a lot of work towards that. Now sadly, since around 2018 or 2019, the number of youth in detention on any given day has been kind of creeping back up again. And I think, in a way, we need to be redoubling the efforts that we were investing in for a while there. We have programs at work - they've demonstrated benefit, they've shown what could be, they've opened the possibility from 200 to 20 to maybe seeing zero. There have been plans in place.

And we've been ambivalent in this county. We built a brand new detention center, which opened - I don't know, what - early 2020. And then we announced the decommissioning of that detention center in mid to late 2020. We've had a roadmap to Zero Youth Detention that was active for a long time. And in some ways, the emphasis on that work got distracted by other things. We've had people working on this decommissioning work in something that the county calls Care & Closure. And there hasn't been as much community engagement as there should have been from the very beginning. So all of these things, I guess - I just introduce the idea that ambivalence is still part of human hearts in a lot of this work too.

[00:21:45] Crystal Fincher: Ambivalence is a roadblock that we do have to get beyond. Appreciate your detailing those great programs - I think you really hit the nail on the head - talking about those programs have demonstrated their value in keeping the community safe and building relationships and connections with youth, with investing and pouring into them. And you can see the outcomes and you can see how powerful that work is, but it's really an issue of scale right now. You can look at funding, you can look at staffing, you can look at scope - and the traditional models that we're trying to unbuild that are harmful just have such a broad footprint, almost a ubiquitous footprint, in our society right now. And these pilot programs and organizations - and some substantial and doing great work, but just still needing so much more to address the need. And I wonder, especially just looking at some of the political situations upcoming - we've got elections right now, we've got forecasts for lower budgets, lower revenue. And so as we talk about building and investing, I've already heard some people say - Well, I don't know that we have the money for that, and maybe we just need to focus on trying to clean up our streets the traditional way or just investing more in the current system. And so we do have conflicts over resources and where those are going to go. How do you navigate that?

[00:23:18] Dr. Ben Danielson: First, inside my head - this is what I think - I don't necessarily say this right away because sometimes you need to engage with people first before you get to the point of dropping certain things. But I think it's a stronger argument that we can't afford to keep doing things the way we're doing them. A sad fact is that King County is probably one of the lesser costs for incarcerating a youth for a year. The average in the country is somewhere in the $115,000/year, or something like that. King County - it's around $87,000/year. $87,000/year to incarcerate a young person. Any of the programs I mentioned, and many other programs that could be built up to scale, would not even come close to costing - on a per-youth basis - that kind of expense. So if we really want to have a dollars conversation, I'm happy to have that one 'cause the cheaper approach is the more effective approach - is to not incarcerate youth.

If it's about people's roles and work in this, I also want to say just that there's a lot of stuff that we try to do at the very end point, right when crisis is happening, that would actually probably work better if we were doing it way earlier, way further upstream, way more effectively. The return on investment for maybe even doing some of the same things in communities instead of in prisons, at points where we know trauma and supports are there and are necessary, instead of waiting towards the moment of arrest or the moment of being in front of a judge. We have to be thinking - if we really want to talk about being good stewards of resources, then we have to be talking about that. And again, I'm kind of on solid ground in supporting communities that have been trying to end youth incarceration forever. I do want to say that it's been partnerships also that have helped us see that possibility - it's taken judges being willing to engage in diversion programs. It's taken incredible efforts from the legal systems - we even have advocates in the DA's office, in addition to the Public Defender's office. This is a place that has great human resource with lots of brilliance that is capable of really - not just envisioning a different community, but actually contributing to it and feeling great about their contributions.

[00:25:37] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, I appreciate you bringing that up because I think many of us have seen so many allies and partners within and throughout systems in this work, and people who understand that the way we're doing things is not the best way and is harmful and trying in their roles and in their positions and working with others to help. I also see and hear from some of our leaders, whether it's in public safety or politics or prosecutors, saying things like - We're having an increasing problem with youth violence and crime, and part of the problem is that these youth haven't experienced consequences and we're too lenient on them. We heard this during the legislative session last session and we hear it during some council meetings - and their prescription is that we need to get tougher and that they need to experience consequences - and for them, that means that they might have to experience jail and being locked up to really teach them that lesson. How effective do you think that is?

[00:26:40] Dr. Ben Danielson: Thank you for that question, 'cause I think that last part of that question sort of answers itself. We have tried and tried again the idea of consequences and punishment as the only form, or the primary form, of addressing issues and we've seen it fail. Since the late '80s, maybe even earlier, we've been addicted to the idea of doubling down on consequences as a way of addressing issues that we talk about as community safety or crime - however we label those things. Doesn't work, hasn't worked, still not working. I don't always like using mental health terms inappropriately, but there is somebody named Einstein who talked about - the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and hoping for a different result. We have proven beyond a doubt that that - let's just get tougher - just hasn't worked. It also - if we really cared about these things, we'd be actually talking about the roots, the deeper issues, the ways in which we create or take away opportunity for young people, the way we make it almost criminal to be poor in this country, the ways in which we so divest in infrastructure and supports. And maybe humane being - like just human beings at a civil level, the humanity that we owe ourselves and each other - our lack of investment in those, I would put forth have way more to do with what we're seeing, or perceiving, or the news cycles are telling us are happening around crime than something else.

[00:28:24] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it's a challenge - we hear it all over. And I think we do conflate punishment with safety. And we have to untangle the public conversation around those things, which I appreciate you having this conversation and helping to do that, but it really is - it hasn't worked. And I do think that, as you say, there are a lot of well-meaning people who just don't really consider that there is an alternative. But as you said, there are alternatives - they're working, they're thriving. It's really a matter of scale and coordination, really, and institutionalizing what is helping instead of what is hurting. As you are doing this work and looking at what's necessary, for people who are listening and saying - This is really important, I support this, I wanna be a part of this, I want to help build and not just fight against what is harmful - both very important things - what would you say to them? How can they help?

[00:29:19] Dr. Ben Danielson: There's so many different ways to help. I'm a strong believer in that there is not one path or two paths. I'm very thankful to you, Crystal, for not asking me - What are the two things we need to do? - 'cause I feel like that is a, that's almost a white supremacy question that creates an impossible, or a really strange set of alternatives. Communities know that there are many paths to getting to places you need to, so there's so many ways. I really appreciate what happens across the University of Washington. There are such champions, like Sarah Gimbel at the School of Nursing and the work that Sarah is doing to make sure that healthcare is being supported, not only in detention, but outside of detention. There are so many champions in our health department who are trying to instill a stronger public health and Health in All things in this work.

Maybe most importantly though, I'll just go back to mentioning - there are incredible community-based programs that - not only the ones that are just, that are focusing on alternatives to incarceration, but just the ones that are just loving our young people. YouthCare and other programs that really help young people experiencing, who are unhoused, and who are pushed towards being unhoused by so many oppressive practices. Incredible advocacy and rights organizations like Lavender Rights that really sees people that other parts of society seem to not want to see - our LGBTQIA2S+ young people and adults who are deserving of every, every fulfilling opportunity to thrive that we should be thinking of. There are so many important community-based programs and I will just say, I feel like there is a significant threat to our nonprofits and community-based programs right now as resources - just that old scarcity diet that they've been functioning under for so long - it's just, it just wears and tears on an organization's ability. A lot of leaders are burned out and things like that. So we need to, we need to show how much we love those who are loving our communities with us and support them with our time, with our dollars, with our words of support.

If you are LGBTQIA2S+ and every message across this country is about how much you might need to worry about your own safety right now - a county like ours, we should be yelling out - We support you, we see you, we want you to thrive, we believe in you, and we reject any energy that is trying to make you feel afraid, alone, lost or unsupported. We need to model the behaviors that we say we want our young people to grow into. And as long as they're not seeing us standing up and doing the things that we should do - from our moral hearts, from our heads, from, I don't know, from the evidence tells us, from what the budgets tell us, from every direction - if we're not doing that, I don't know why we expect young people to see anything different in the world around them either. So let's be the people that we wish other people would be - probably somebody famous said that before - but let's just try that for a while, right?

[00:32:22] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely, definitely appreciate that. And I love "the organizations and people who are loving our community" - I absolutely love that, that is excellent advice and very well put. I really do thank you for your time today. And for people who wanna learn more and get engaged with AHSHAY, how can they do that?

[00:32:41] Dr. Ben Danielson: Well, we're in startup phase in many ways - still working on getting our website together - look out for that in September, October kind of timeframe. We're just looking to support the brilliance that's out there, so if you're part of a community-based program that's just doing great work - we'd love to connect with you and find how we can support you. Trying to be able to support conversations that maybe America has not gotten good at - like talking across difference, and actually holding space for that, and being willing to keep talking - because it's for our young people, because it's more important than maybe whatever feelings we have about other folks around us. And if there are ways in which you have an idea, a thought, a way that you can personally contribute to the life of someone else around you - if there's somebody who needs to see you in order to see the possibilities in themselves, I just encourage you to get out there and be in the lives of people who would really benefit from your presence and your brilliance and your wisdom.

[00:33:46] Crystal Fincher: Well, thank you so much for this conversation today. Thank you for everything that you have done and you continue to do. You truly have been doing incredibly heavy lifting for quite some time - and I thank you, and we all thank you so much. Dr. Ben Danielson.

[00:34:02] Dr. Ben Danielson: Thank you for the opportunity to talk.

[00:34:05] Crystal Fincher: Thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks, which is produced by Shannon Cheng. You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter @HacksWonks. You can catch Hacks & Wonks on every podcast service and app - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get the full versions of our Friday week-in-review shows and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the podcast episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.