On May 31, 2014, Powell River Voices and Tools of Change hosted an event casting light on the important role young people play in our communities.  The future is now! Youth voices and thriving communities was an evening of music, ideas, and dialogue.  There were information tables from the Powell River Money Society, Transition Town Powell River, and Coast Mountain Academy (CMA), and refreshments provided by the Young Adult Community Kitchen.  Our cozy Cranberry Community Hall was filled to the brim with people of all ages who came together to think creatively about meaningful intergenerational engagement in decision-making and action.

The evening began and ended with live music from young local St’at’imc singer/songwriter Felicia Joseph.  Her contemporary folk songs each have stories derived from her life experiences. These songs are part of an album she is working on!  Find her on her YouTube page Felicia Jo.

We then heard from a panel of young change makers who shared some of their involvements in Powell River and well beyond.  The panel included

  1. Ruby Barclay, a CMA graduate and current Senior Leader with the program.  She is involved in diversity education, drug prevention programming, and BC’s Youth in Care Week.  She will be studying Child and Youth Care at VIU this fall
  2. Aisha MaGrath, who is passionate about our environment, our economy, community, and social development.  She is a recent graduate of the Permacuture Certificate Program at Sycamore Commons, and is currently enrolled in the Coast Mountain Academy, and
  3. Graham May, who is completing a double major undergraduate degree in environmental studies and international relations. He also leads a number of projects including the Youth Arctic Coalition, a circumpolar organization for youth leadership in Arctic culture, education, and policy. He spent last summer working in Northwestern BC to oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline, and this summer will be researching community based resource management on a sailboat in Greenland and Nunavut.  Collectively, these young people conveyed important insights about both the supports and barriers they experience, and how we might all work together to create the conditions conducive to meaningful youth involvement in many facets of community life.

The panel was followed by an invigorating talk by Matt Hern, who lives and works in East Vancouver with his partner and daughters where he is co-director of Groundswell: Grassroots Economic Alternatives. He founded and directed the Purple Thistle Centre and Car-Free Vancouver Day, among many other community projects.  Matt did an amazing job of linking local actions with broader political and economic dynamics.  He reminded us that rather than merely being subject to the whims of ‘the economy’, we co-construct it all the time through our actions.  As a result, he had a great many concrete ideas about cultivating an economic reality that fosters the common good.

The food for thought offered by these presenters paved the way for a discussion including all who attended the event.  This discussion made it clear that there is a keen interest among people in this region to find meaningful ways to not only including youth voices in what is already going on, but to also support young people to realize their visions.

The entire event can be viewed here: