June 9, 2009

Working on the Man-Making Front Lines

What follows is an exchange of emails between myself and a man named Richard Cole-Garner. He is working with high risk young people at an organization named The CYDS Project (Community Youth Development Service), in the United Kingdom. Richard talks about getting down at times under the onslaught of problems and challenges facing the kids he serves.

If you know someone in this work, please support them. If you can find a way to actually be involved, in even the most minimal ways with the young people they serve, the positive returns for all the males involved will be wonderful.

After you read this exchange, tell me what YOU would say to men like Richard? If you'd like, you can send Richard a note of encouragement!

Hello Earl,

I work as part of a local young person's project supporting mainly 13-19 year old kids from mostly difficult, deprived backgrounds. Usually, this involves negotiating the treacherous paths of alcohol and drug abuse, and the dangers of underage sex. So basically, we provide advice, guidance, counseling-if wanted, or just somewhere they're welcomed and approved that they can hang out.

The boys especially seem to be missing some vital ingredient. Some combination of challenge, wholesomeness, ancient wisdom, and structure . . . these are all descriptive words that come to mind. I need to find a way to engage their intense energies within the context of their lives in a way that engages them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Thank you for the wonderful contribution of the Man-Making book Earl.

Greetings Richard and thanks for your kind words.

Your work with young people makes you one of my heroes. I do understand how powerless it can feel when faced with what I call the "epidemic of under-male-nourished boys." You really are one of the battlefield medics, doing what you can. I both honor your work and have compassion for you around the pain and dysfunction you must see everyday.

I also understand what you mean when you talk about the absence of something for these boys. I think it's a clear and positive path toward manhood that's missing. That and caring men like you to be there for them. Men willing to intentionally set them on and support their journey toward a positive manhood. Those resources would help fill in some of that, "vital missing ingredient" you're referring to.

I believe this is not, however, a lost boy problem, but a lost men problem. Filling in those missing pieces for boy is "men's work." Sadly, men are absent this work in droves and the consequence is lost and confused boys.

Please don't ever underestimate the importance of your involvement, with the actions you describe of, ... "supporting," "advising," welcoming, and approval. Those are powerful tools and while maybe not "enough" to make the critical difference, you must trust you are having positive impact. In the lonely, adult male-deficient world these boys inhabit, I'm sure you're a total ray of sunshine.

If you could gather a core group of men to work with your boys . . . some form of regular and on-going involvement, you could increase your positive impact, maybe even save some lives. The secret of this work is that the volunteer adult men get completion . . . healing of some their unfinished adolescent pain. Men also get a better understanding of both the rightness and importance of this important men's work. But for that to happen for men, some form of involvement needs to take place. I do know how hard that can be to organize, get money, approvals, etc. But one passionate and motivated man, like yourself, speaking up, might possibly make something amazing happen for the young males in your care.

That is my wish for you, and know that I'm happy to support you in that work any way I can.

Blessings on your caring and efforts,



  1. Richard8:17 AM

    I'm really enjoying your book and it's reminding that there are so many opportunities to provide constructive, nourishing 'food' for young males who are often deprived of positive role models.

    I am a father to Tobias, 14yrs and Ben,7yrs(also Caitlyn who's 12) but I see countless young males through the youth center and simply at the local parks and it's like 'you guys want something from me and I'd like to share something of substance-truly life-enhancing- with you' and then it's finding the language to connect and not react with 'I want to go that way but no because it's not 'cool' '!

    I'm working on this, Earl.

    Keep up the good work,

    Best Regards,


  2. Thanks for sharing men! Thanks Earl for putting this blog together!

    Joy & Peace,



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