Friday, August 21, 2009

The @MinnesotaRising Story

Coming up through the ranks of Target Market, the Dakota County Youth Planning Committee, and THE GARAGE in my high school days, I developed a strong appreciation for Minnesota, youth activism, and social justice issues. I continued practicing and learning in my undergraduate work through involvement with Global Justice's Student Campaign for Child Survival, V-Day, and the Center for Just Living at The College of St. Scholastica. These experiences of peer-to-peer organizing and collectively envisioning a world we thought we should work towards led me to believe in the power of a generational identity as a common uniter for social change work. I questioned the notion that young people need to wait for some appointed time upon which they should take on the mantle of leadership, whether that be college graduation or becoming more seasoned in professional work. I reasoned that if our generation was to inherit the circumstances, be they good or bad, that current practicies and policies were forming, we should have a hand in their co-creation.

So I strove to be the change I wished to see in the world. I participated in several Citizens League committees, served as a Racial Justice Facilitator for the YWCA of Minneapolis' "It's Time to Talk Forums," and was a citizen lobbyist on behalf of RESULTS' advocacy to end poverty and hunger. In the meantime, I engaged with my local peers through the Emerging Leaders Network, serving on the Leaders of Today and Tomorrow Advisory Board, and by organizing Book Club Bash discussions. Yet the conversation I wanted to be having about our common generational identity and leadership still wasn't manifesting itself. I turned, then, to Twitter and Google, and found a whole community of 20-Something Bloggers, Brazen Careerists, and Millennial thought leaders. I went from 0 to 60 in wondering if people wanted to have this conversation to being overwhelmed by the dialogue from and about the Millennial generation. After following along for several months, it became apparent to me that the field was thoroughly saturated. There didn't appear to be need nor room for additional voices.

After further reflection, though, I began to recognize that these conversations were largely happening at the national level. The issues were relevant, but the people and places were not part of my own community. My passion is for Minnesota and for my peers here. Thus @MinnesotaRising was born. At this point, it's nothing more than me, a Twitter handle, this blog, a gmail account, and of course, you. But I've got plenty of ideas of what more it could be. And I'd assume you do, too. They say you've got to build a network before you need it. Given the complex and unique work that lies ahead, it's obvious that we're going to need each other in the future, so I suggest we start building that network now. Are you with me? If so, I've got just a few questions to get the conversation going:
How do you cultivate a group of peers, that over time and shared experiences, comes to power together with a shared vision for the common good? How do you prepare to do this ahead of society's appointed time for you to get to work?
Thanks for your support and I hope we'll have the chance to work together!

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