Earth Island Reports
Helping Youth Map Their Future as Leaders
Getting a job, let alone beginning a career, can be a huge challenge today. In an economy still struggling to recover from recession, opportunities are scarce. Education and degrees no longer guarantee paid positions. While this impacts a broad spectrum of job seekers, it’s especially hard for the young. The unemployment rate for 15- to 24-year-olds is about 16 percent today, nearly twice the national average. It’s become harder than ever to land that first job.
No wonder young people are battling with the dilemma of whether to continue their education. Let’s face it, racking up debt with no clear plan about how to pay it off isn’t the most appealing idea. Beyond that, the young generation knows that the world they are inheriting is facing climate chaos. At a time like this, it can be hard for youth to feel hopeful about their future. Nevertheless, the passion and energy of youth is key to resolving their predicament.
What we have learned from Bay Localize’s internship program is that networking can be an important part of the job search game. To paraphrase the cliché: It’s not always what you know; it’s also who you know. Young people need to get out there and make as many connections as they can. But for low-income communities of color, access to relationship-building resources that would further their careers is very limited. So how do we level the playing field? How do we create equity? How do we do this especially in communities of color, where we need a generation that sees clear career paths for itself in building low-carbon communities that are resilient to climate change?
We need to invest in places where this can happen, where youth can step into leadership roles. At Bay Localize, we believe we can make that happen if we work together. That’s why we are launching the “Map Your Future Project” for youth, which aims to create these pathways and ensure a resilient future for everyone. We recently completed a pilot Map Your Future Project workshop with the Ma’at Youth Academy in Richmond, CA, one of California’s top climate-impacted hotspots.
The pilot involved training youth participants to map out “assets” in their community that would provide viable solutions for the issues they are facing – such as limited access to clean air, healthy food, transportation, housing, and jobs – and to demonstrate these solutions through original skits. “The skits helped me think critically about what needs to be done,” said Ting Ting Eeo, one of the workshop participants.
To learn more visit: www.baylocalize.org
We are excited about building and strengthening the Map Your Future Project with support from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Equity Initiative. This year, we are also partnering with the San Francisco Department of the Environment and two established community-based organizations with strong youth leadership programs – People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights in San Francisco, and Youth United for Community Action in East Palo Alto.
Founded in 2006, Bay Localize is a widely acknowledged thought leader in pioneering strategies, policies, and educational resources related to climate change adaptation and resilience.
—Corrine Van Hook