Next Up for What’s Next

Alice laughed, "There's no use trying," she
said, "one can't believe impossible things."          
"I daresay you haven't had much
practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for
half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six
impossible things before breakfast."

When the looking glass gets clouded there is a tendency for an older generation to become scowly, to deplore the work habits of younger people, to criticize their preoccupation with technology and to despair at our future.  On the other hand if, like me, you are fortunate to parent, encounter, and work with emerging, younger leaders you are inclined to deplore the lifestyle of older generations who are spending our global assets at a break neck pace, who seem to be preoccupied with their own comfort and to despair at political leaders who lack the courage to make the tough decisions.

This polarized view betrays a weakness in my thinking which fortunately does not exist among the the younger leaders I know.  One such person is Kevin Millsip

Brian Smith, himself a member of this creative generation, sent the following video link to a short speech given a few days ago by Kevin Millsip.  Have a look and listen – it's exactly 400 seconds.  Kevin's presentation reveals a structure, logic, and emotional maturity that makes one believe in impossible things.  The occasion was a forum to discuss the future of Vancouver as a green city.  Kevin, looking very much like a young William Hurt, is really speaking for the planet, and to all of us. 

Appreciate his ability to bridge the divide between those who care about increasing economic inequality in the world and those worried about our multiple ecological crises.  Marvel at his insights about complex challenges and his ability to speak about them simply, not simplistically.  Listen for the way he creates space for young and old to work together.  Admire his emotional presence – no malice, no righteousness – instead open and engaging. Ponder the three possible futures he outlines: Eco – Apocalypse; Eco- Apartheid; Eco-Equity.

And invest in the work he and his generation are pursuing.  There is depth behind the I-pods, twittering and apps that will turn your frowns to smiles  Besides is there a better strategy for the future than investing in the resilience of our next generations, their creativity and problem solving adaptive capacity?

Kevin co – founded Check Your Head with Lyndsay Poaps, over ten years ago as an alternative to the heavy emphasis on passive learning in high school.  'Check' has stimulated discussion, debate and action among 40,000 young people on issues such as democracy, corporate power,
globalization, and climate change.  Their work is motivated by a belief that a healthy, democratic and sustainable future
depends on a generation of informed, empowered and active young people. 

During that period he and other colleagues also started Get your Vote On  which registered 20,000 new voters in advance of the 2005 British Columbia provincial election and developed similar campaigns for subsequent municipal, provincial and federal elections.  Their motto: the world is run by those who show up.

Kevin is currently Sustainability Coordinator for the Vancouver School Board and along with Brian Smith and a few others has created Next Up which invests in the leaderships skills of young social change leaders in British Columbia and Alberta.

Paradoxically Kevin presents a style of leadership which departs
from the lone man at the front of the room model and reconstructs leadership as something everyone can and must do. Leaders like Kevin inspire trust and make me want to follow them.  Oops, I'm trapped in my either/or thinking again!  Best you check out Kevin and his colleagues to learn how to embrace both/and thinking and how young and old are figuring it out together.

Note:The format of Kevin's speech is known as 'petcha kucha' – a Japanese design invention.  Each speaker has 20 slides which display for only 20 seconds (20X20=400 seconds).  When the slides are over, the speaker is done – a format that makes presentations concise, lively and fun.

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