Written by Christy Newell, Research Assistant, Emerging Leaders Program
The Minnesota Youth Environmental Network recently hosted the First Annual Spring Gathering, bringing youth leaders from across the state together to connect, learn new skills, and share stories about the work our generation is doing to create a sustainable future.
“We must create new organizational structures to meet our needs,” stated Erick Boustead, who set the tone for the day during his keynote address. “The systems in place will limit us.”
Boustead encouraged young Minnesotans to change the way we talk about the environment. Looking at the current ecological crisis and causes thereof, we must work to change the dominant narrative to make progress. We need to stop “talking about the environment like it is separate from ourselves. The environment is us. It is everything we see, feel, and hear.”
This connection explains why environmental and social justice issues need to be addressed as symptoms of the same failing systems. Environment, race, class, and gender inequalities should not be compartmentalized and dealt with as separate issues, rather we need to take an interdisciplinary approach as we build a sustainable and just future together.
Keeping Erick’s message in mind and fueled with new ideas from the days workshops, the Minnesota Youth Environmental Network has big plans moving forward from this event. Here are three exciting projects we are launching:
- In the Resource Bank Problem Solving workshop, attendees formed an innovative vision for how young people will share resources and stories across the state and established next steps to make this toolbox of resources a reality
- The final workshop of the day built momentum for youth leaders from across the state to work together to amplify a unified youth voice for a sustainable and resilient future. The newly established Campaign Working Group will establish a process for deciding how many statewide campaigns MNYEN will launch and how we will decide on campaign(s).
- MNYEN is excited to collaborate on a youth-led Fall Summit, similar to the Spring Gathering next October.
The Minnesota Youth Environmental Network connects and amplifies the youth environmental movement in Minnesota, so that together we can build a resilient and sustainable future that offers opportunities for our generation.