Written by: Julena Breel, Youth Programmer
Recently the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance held a panel event called “Clayoquot Conversations: The Legacy and Future of Clayoquot Sound” at Alix Goolden Performance Hall. Lead by Elizabeth May speakers included veteran environmentalists, reporters and representatives from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Band Council. During one of the responses a panel member was quoted as saying, “I have come to hate parks; in my opinion they represent what is wrong in society. You see something so blatantly beautiful and you make it into a National Park as to protect it. National Parks are just proof our civilization not only doesn’t trust itself but can’t control itself.” Having never thought of this before it resonated deeply. Why is it that we can’t just see nature and understand it to be sacred, why do we need a wooden sign displaying “BC Parks” for us to leave it untouched? To me if the leaders of today see it as important then who do they not trust? A look around the room gave one potential answer – our future generations, our future leaders, our youth. There was not a soul to be seen under the age of 25, leaving myself and a few scattered emerging professionals in the room the youngest in attendance.
Given the Clayoquot Sound protest occurred in 1993 when the majority of whom we define as ‘youth’ in BC were either not born or still potty-training it is not surprising that the auditorium was not packed with Twitter-pro’s and selfie-gurus. However, it does leave the question, where are they? Is it that they are simply uninterested in such things, do they not know it is happening or is the event format one that does not appeal to them?
Youth face challenges that can be similar no matter what the generation – body image, job security, and struggle for independence – however passion is not one of them. Youth are some of the most driven, self-motivated and zealous people in Greater Victoria. The Youth Team just recently received an email from one of our clients who has been having a tough time finding work lately. He even is coming up against some barriers in the volunteer sector. Because of such he thought he would put his energy into something he enjoyed and so, created a small aquaponic system. In laymen’s terms this is an aquarium/vegetable hybrid; you grow veggies on top and as you water them the liquid is filtered into the aquarium below. It’s gorgeous and labor-intensive. If that is not appreciation for the environment and our personal carbon footprint then what is?
It is not passion that hinders youth from attending and gaining new tools and expertise to step into the future with – they care, and their hearts are in it. So what prevents the physical presence?
Well, unfortunately this generation has been raised in a flashy, quick, visually appealing era. If you can’t catch their eyes with signs and facts, it can be even harder to catch their hearts. Leaving the auditorium it was clear that while rich in content and knowledge the presentation didn’t leave one carrying many tangible take-aways out the door. Although the purpose of the event was to shed light on the past in hopes of changing the future it seemed to get stuck in history and the shift to present-day came too late. For youth, that simply won’t cut it. Digestible history facts paired with attainable personal shifts works wonders for the generation that survives off 140 character messages and instant updates. #SadIKnow.
There is a wealth of information to be left for youth from previous generations and it asks a lot of them to change formats that feel comfortable and dependable to embrace ones whose foundations are rooted in quick and striking however the Youth Team argues is might be necessary to not only keep those inter generational lines of communication open but allow them to flourish. Our youth are passionate and keen and if we as a community can meet them where they are at the opportunities for our invested projects are endless.