Around the Institute

Shhh, The Millennials Are Speaking (#myAspenidea)

May 29, 2013  • Guest Blogger Devont’e Kurt Watson

After reading Time magazine’s “The Me Me Me Generation” cover story earlier in May—and the rebuttals that are still pouring in—we looked through our growing #myAspenIdea archive for a millennial who suggests his generation has something to give rather than take. 

This post is part of the #myAspenIdea series, a photo project aimed at taking the best ideas from our community and sharing them in a more visual way.

#myAspenidea: Shh! The millennials are speaking.

The cliché “a child is to be seen, not heard” is a destructive philosophy. My Aspen Idea is that younger people must be heard in decision-making processes to create innovation.

The Pew Research Center defines millennials as American teens and 20-somethings making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium. From creating more global connectivity through social media to finding new ways of investing in causes through devices we hold in our hands, this generation has already changed the way we live. Yet, we’ve inherited the responsibilities of the future, as well. Therefore, it is critical for all young leaders to have a voice at decision tables with investors, innovators, and policy-makers because we may just have the keys to the solution. 

Our influence in the historic 2008 presidential election demonstrated the power of youth. The youngest generation of voters exercised its voice and engineered a platform that achieved national attention for leaders to hear millennials’ concerns. Listening to those voices should be a continuous process. For instance, governments and organizations that recognize the new and unique ideas younger individuals possess have created youth boards and consult them regularly. 

Increasing the presence of the youth voice can create a more balanced community and deeper sense of democracy by encouraging and empowering younger individuals to create intergenerational and intercultural knowledge. Open forums that include millennials can create dialogue that sparks curiosity and creativity, as well as respect and understanding.

Millenials can bring different perspectives that can improve our lives. Society must embrace this generation’s voice with an equitable and inclusive approach that can yield positive outcomes in technology, economics, and international partnerships.  

Devont’e Kurt Watson is a Youth Government Advisor in New Mexico. Hear more about his work to bring youths to the decision making table on his blog and on Twitter: @devontekwatson.