It’s Time to Rebuild
by Brennan Lewis
If I’ve learned anything from living through 2020, it’s that young people can’t afford to wait for adults in power to fix our world. Last May marked my first full year out of college. When I think back to what it felt like to be a college senior, I’m struck by how hopeful I was for what would come next. The future felt limitless, and I was ready to leave my home state of North Carolina for somewhere new and exciting. To call 2020 difficult would be an understatement — from the slow federal response to the pandemic, eviction crisis, families going hungry, disruption to millions of children and young people’s education, to the current tumultuous vaccine rollout. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. But for me and many other young people, the past year has heightened my sense of purpose and urgency.
I know that America can be better than this. As a country, the challenges we’re facing are daunting. The stark disparities in wealth, privilege and power amongst our communities - especially for Black and brown people in the US, the seemingly virulent spread of white supremacist ideology and widespread disinformation and mistrust in media are a serious threat to the stability of American democracy. Still, I’m able to be hopeful.
When I imagine the world I want to live in and the country that I will call home, I think about the young people I work with every day as the Fellow-in-Residence for the US and Canada at Peace First. Historically, young people have always been at the forefront of movements for change, and this year is no different. I’ve seen firsthand how the youngest generations in America are caring for all of us. From launching neighborhood mutual aid networks to feed folks in need, tutoring younger siblings and students in the community, marching for justice for Black lives to monitoring water safety and teaching families about lead poisoning, young people are making a vital stand for healing, for rebuilding and for our shared future. And we’re using our unique talents in the new digital-first landscape shaped by COVID-19 to create art, communities and campaigns online.
Taking action alongside young organizers, activists, instigators, artists and creators grounds me. It’s also what inspired #Rebuild100, a Peace First campaign challenging young people to share their ideas to rebuild their communities in the first 100 days of the Biden administration. Through April 30th, we’re calling young people across America to start projects to address injustice, and to join a digital community of like-minded peers to create together. Peace First will provide the training, resources, coaching and mini-grant funding -- we’re committed to investing up to $10,000 directly in young people in the US.
Through the #Rebuild100 blog series, we’ll share stories of young people who are reimagining what America can look like. On a weekly basis, you’ll hear from teenagers and young adults across the country about what issues matter to us, and what we’re doing on the ground to fix them. And we’ll challenge you to join us in rebuilding our democracy.
What will you do to rebuild your community?