I think Eric Swanson's comments are persuasive. Hey Eric!
At first glance, there appear to be two contextual items: (1) youth autonomy; (2) budget cutting.
I was in LRY in the late 1970s, and in C-UUYAN in the 1980s. I served in a variety of leadership positions.
You can read in Wayne Arnason's histories of the U and U youth movement that our youth movements were the first to be autonomous-- the youth put up the structure and drove the programming.
This kind of thing wouldn't be allowed in more orthodox traditions. It was a great concept and still is. Have some adults provide appropriate boundary setting, and then let the youth run wild with creativity and experimentation in worship, social justice, etcetera.
In fact, this idea of a group of elders setting limits, but then allowing whatever creativity and activity that feeds into mission, vision, and values loose is precisely the idea behind policy governance that so many of our districts, congregations, and now even the UUA board, espouse. So, it is a little ironic to decimate decentralized national effort.
Things changed for the UU yough movement, because of the 1960s and 1970s, where many UU families went through upheaval.
Spouse swapping, divorce, drug use, you name it were in our congregations. And that was just the adults (one day I'll have to write a memoir...).
Some youth advisors basically abdicated their limit setting abilities, and some youth conferences degenerated to the point that even youth didn't want to attend anymore.
Then the collapse came, and eventually common ground and yruu, a more structured version of lry.
But it is easy for those in an administration-- whether the UUA administration or any other-- to centralize power and programming, rather than decentralize it-- there are more examples of this than I can name.
Once we heard that YRUU and UUYAN offices were going to merge, it became apparent what was going to happen. You don't merge when you expect growth. You merge as a pre-condition to decreasing program, etcetera.
Side note: Frankly, I'm surprised how much money UUYAN has gotten over the years. In our early years, UUYAN was entirely self-funded. Then we became trendy, and the UUA did a capital campaign, part of that money was to support YA programming.
Finally, I have to point out that it is somewhat ironic that the letter from the YRUU Steering Committee says that:
"youth programming on the district and congregational levels will continue relatively unaffected."
Why is that ironic? Because the UUA doesn't pay for any of that, and has no control over it. Districts and congregations-- ultimately adult UUs pay for it.
Rev. Dr. Daniel OConnell
President, Central Midwest District of the UUA
Eliot Unitarian Chapel
100 South Taylor Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63122
(314) 821-0911 (office)