It’s easy to write off millennials, a generation of young people born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s, as spoiled rotten, under appreciative, cellphone-obsessed fiends. Yes, with the advent of new and emerging technologies, Generation Y has grown up in a culture of instant gratification, high-speed Internet and access to information 24/7 but millennials care about their communities and their impact on the greater world.
For millennials, social entrepreneurship is cool and meaningful. No where is this more evident than in Syreeta Gates compilation of stories from 20-somethings looking to make a difference in Just BE Cause AH HA Moments to Inspire the Next Generation of Change Makers (2013).
Gates, a millennial herself, captures the youthful doggedness and exuberance of what change looks like for this generation. The foreward, written in a semi-casual tone, helps to shape the cultural context of the millennial generation and its uniqueness. The preface dives into a quasi-metaphysical acknowledgement of four themes: one’s divine source, the promise of being an agent of change, the power of building bridges and the importance of offering thanks.
One of the contributors, Ashley Mui, recounts the last two themes in a poignant way by stepping back in time – all the way back to New York City in the late 19th century – and detailing the history and magnitude of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Without the commitment and vision of Emily Warren Roebling, who managed the project designed by her husband, the bridge would not have been constructed. And it is with this sentiment of passion and drive that strings along many stories of young change agents featured in the book. They work at understanding a problem but more importantly, taking deliberate steps to fix a problem.
Gates explains, “Just BE Cause aims to challenge and inspire readers to make that dream a reality by using ‘ah ha’ moments to be the foundation to inspire the next generation of change makers.”
Several ‘ah ha’ from the contributing writers resonated strongly. Sean Carraso of Falling Whistles shares his transition as a mere, ignorant outsider visiting a friend in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo to becoming a young activist and voice of the children and atrocities of one of the longest, bloodiest conflicts in the world.
Guesnerth Josúe Perea’s story focuses on his ethnic identity as an Afro-Colombian. He shares his desire to educate others about the culture, histories and recognition of his community. Guesnerth recognizes that people of African descent are not regularly heard or appreciated. By providing information and hosting events that highlight the culture of the Afro-Colombians in New York, Guesnerth is looking to change the perception of the black population of Latin America.
These two stories are just snippets of inspiration and stories of courage showcasing young people who champion for something bigger than themselves. By the time you finish reading these amazing stories, you begin to wonder how you can start your own venture. And of course, being in tune with how millennials think, Just BE Cause settles into the implementation of an idea in the second half of the book.
Taking action is important when you want to create real change. Millennials need to understand that time, logistics and management are just as crucial as passion, values and social good. Just BE Cause offers practical advice in the latter portion of the book including working on an elevator pitch, fundraising, and developing a marketing strategy. If you’ve never heard of the “four P’s” – product, price, place, promotion – you should do your due diligence and educate yourself before embarking on your idea. Research and then more research is stressed, and rightly so for millennials who may think they can tackle anything without a well-laid mission and action plan.
Syreeta Gates is a young woman on a mission to galvanize the next generation of change makers. In the book, she references rapper Tupac Shakur in a definitive quote, “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”
The stories Gates gathered for Just BE Cause truly demonstrates that the next generation of change makers is here and after people young and old spend time with this inspirational read, there will be more.