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One of the reasons I was so fortunate to have been able to attend Take Back America was that I got the opportunity to hear the perspectives of a number of people in the organized labor movement. Despite my fairly progressive upbringing, this was a constituency that I rarely heard from. I didn't grow up in a union household, nor did I know anyone who did. In fact, I daresay the sizable majority of my generation had little familial exposure to the labor movement.
YP4 founder and director Iara Peng spoke movingly Wednesday morning at the Take Back America conference about her personal connection to social justice work and how Norman Lear roots his work in a genuine love for people.
"At a time in his life when most people would be content resting on their laurels, Norman isn't. He is here with us at Take Back America to remind us that we have the responsibility to build an America that lives up to our promise. That we need to do what we can to make sure that our children and our grandchildren grow and live in a society shaped by the American promise. That we hold steadfast to the values of justice, of fairness, of equality and opportunity."
flying in to Washington, D.C. on Sunday afternoon, it would seem that
things would be very cool on my way to the internship training session with
Yp4.org. However, immediately upon my arrival to the airport I was set into a
flight was delayed. I went ahead and chilled out because I knew the situation
would work itself out; and it did. I was challenged once more after finding out
that my trip would take another two hours and eventually ending up on three
planes, and running to different terminals to ensure I was on the right flight
(due to the unorganized ticket agents for Continental Airlines).
I hope that everyone who came to TBA reached their homes safe and sound. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from TBA when I arrived in my hometown on Sunday. Let's be real for a second: Here you have a person who's 2 years removed from completing his fellowship, almost a year of being a former undergraduate, with a full time professional position. I knew only one of the other interns who were selected, and that's because I helped to recruit him for the 2007 fellowship (Milan Carter, and he wasn't in attendance at TBA). So yes, I had major apprehension about what I was going to get out this conference and out of this experience.
Yesterday we attended probably the most exciting panel of the week, Green Collar Jobs: The New Green Deal. Everyone was psyched for this one and the speakers didn't disapoint.
Phil Angelides, chairman of the Apollo Alliance, spoke broadly about a now green century. He pointed out how the Green movement is now in the mainstream, politically, scientifically, culturally, so that sustaintable principles are popping up in the wierdest places. He joked, "Here's a big one for you, Rupert Murodch just announced that Fox News are going carbon neutral. That means that Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly are done."
Many thoughts have been dancing in my head since I've been here at Take Back America. One of the most convincing and inspiring, however, has been the notion that we can solve both America's environmental and economic woes in one fell swoop.
"Generation Y, the Millenial generation, has been called many things, the most insulting of which
are: impatient, self-absorbed, and uninvolved. We, as members of the
generation that grew up with the Internet on our laps and 9/11 in our
classroom everyday, disagree. While many pop-culture pundits declare
that our generation is not involved in formal politics and traditional
community involvement, we have been engaging our world in new and
different ways. S.C.O.U.T. B.A.N.A.N.A. (SB), an organization led and
founded by young people, is working at the forefront of Generation Y's
engagement. We believe young people are the key to social change and
important vessels of cultural exchange."
- S.C.O.U.T. B.A.N.A.N.A. 2008 (Micinski)
The engagement of Millenals or Generation Y is something that is very important to me and something that the organization thatI run is committed to on a more international scale. At Take Back America, today the panel is talking about the engagement of American millenial youth in grassroots politics across the US - Millenials Rising: Young Voters Revitalizing Democracy.
When you begin to recognize your personal ability and resolve to make a difference incredible things happen. There is no doubt in my mind that whether you are a budding activist, a student beginning to learn more than you thought, a traveler meeting harsh new realities, or a weathered volunteer (worker - maybe you get paid to do this) in the progressive movement - your ability to truly impact the course of history is locked in this self-actualization of the power you hold, which is your ability to influence someone else's life. Influencing just one person is important, but that one person is part of a larger global community and they can then influence another person, and the chain will continue. Power is most often alluded to fall into the hands of the politically and economicly wealthy, those who exploit, manipulate, and profit from others, those who sit in the plush offices and government buildings. This I say is not fact. However, one may argue, these people do hold the power - they do make the decisions and they do shape our lives. While this remains a fair argument there still remains nothing more powerful than a person with a passion. No official, no government, no financial powerhouse, no one can stop that person from influencing others except by way of death. So I say give me passion, give me freedom, give me liberty or give me death (paraphrase: Patrick Henry).
Okay, so the rumors are true. YP4 will be at the Take Back America conference in Washington, D.C. next week.
The internship program kicks off Sunday night, before the conference starts.
Monday night, there's a party to which you're all invited. Young progressives, tons of organizations. It's gonna be hot.