It’s easy for young adults to to feel like we “drive the future”, which is a phrase often heard in speeches and articles around graduation season. As far as generational responsibility goes, the fate of our future is a pretty big one, and can lead young adults to exaggerated ideas about our generation’s impact. Maybe I’m at the age to propel progress, but the value I serve as a driver is nothing without passengers.Part of my work with Friendship Gardens was to show visitors and volunteers around the urban farm, and explain what we’re doing with the space and why it’s important. Some of the people I’ve gotten to take around the fields or talk to about the farm projects:
- field trips of 1st-6th graders from the Freedom School
- volunteers on Wells Fargo Day of Caring
- Garinger HS Principal Michael Drye
- corporate groups such as Premier Inc. volunteers who are involved in social responsibility efforts
Many of these visitors are happy to see high schoolers and college students on a project involved in food inequalities and environmental care. The wide range of Charlotteans excited by farming and food is indicative of a city that is gearing up to improve quality of life and a population that’s ready to help make that vision happen.
More important than what I’ve taught about farming is the lessons I’ve learned from visitors, and the enthusiasm that they express when talking about their own gardens, and the promises to get friends and community involved. I’ve been told over and over that people are excited to see young adults like me enthusiastic and innovative in business, education, sustainability, and social progress; but what I’ve noticed is that those same people rarely give themselves and peers equal appreciation. From three year-olds learning about worms to neighborhoods engaged in beautification projects, Charlotte has no shortage of environmentally conscious and active citizens; yet people are grateful for the catalyst of just-starting-out passion that young adults bring to the table.
So when people tell me I’m at the age where “the future is in my hands,” I know what they’re really saying: “You get started. I’ll be right behind.”
This post was written by Rosalind Spell and originally appeared in the 2014 Sustainability Scholars blog.