A Cynic’s Conversion
This past weekend, I was holed up in a room with the rest of Young Involved Philadelphia’s new Board of Directors for a two-day long meeting and strategy session. We had every right to be burned out on all things youthful, Philly or involving involvement. But the Board, including a usually pessimistic me, emerged from that never-ending meeting feeling more energized than a drum-playing bunny.
Now, I am a cynical man, a curmudgeon in the making, who usually believes that the words vision, paradigm, and mission statement all synonymous with BS. I write “usually” because, despite hours upon hours of strategy sessions and hearing people produce, in all seriousness, verbal vomit like “envisioning the potentiality that we want to actualize”, I emerged in awe of the focused energy of the directors, committee members and volunteers that make up YIP. Their infectious enthusiasm has buried and softened my jaded worldview like a blizzard blanketing sharp stones in soft snows (look at that: I’ve even begun to wax poetic about their brilliant ebullience when, normally, I hate bubbly people).
YIP’s slate of exciting events is undoubtedly the midwife for my reborn optimistic worldview. Go check them out. More importantly, go to them. We’re continuing to work with organizations to promote cross collaborations and celebrate young leaders, working this month with Emerging Arts Leaders: Philadelphia and the PHS Young Friends and next month with PhillyCORE and Flying Kite Media. We’re continuing to lead you to amazing parts of town via the YIP Running Club. And, yes, we’re continuing to connect folks to great nonprofits over beers, hosting a Get Involved Happy Hour with PhilaSoup, Rock to the Future and the Asian Arts Initiative.
But, February 5th, YIP is hosting an event we’re calling “Philly Ward System 101 – How to Get Involved“, which I am personally calling “Game Changer: The First Steps in the Reform Race”.
While there are so many things in this city that I love and never want to see change (I’m looking at you, Bob & Barbara’s; don’t think I don’t see you too, Fiume), our sclerotic political system is not one of them. Our schools need better funding, our infrastructure needs rebuilding, our voting rights need preserving, and our gay friends’ rights need protecting, but the system is so obtuse to the average Joe that it seems like nothing can be done.
Something can be done. Young Philadelphians can – and must – enter into the political arena by the dozen, taking hold of the political process and reshaping it to reflect the city we want: a city more progressive, more responsible, more accountable and more egalitarian than the one we have today. The Philly Ward System 101 is our first step towards seeing that vision to fruition.
From beatniks to hippies, grunge rockers and rappers to the modern-day hipster, younger generations have been derided and ignored by their elders as apathetic and self-absorbed. Hell, 238 years ago a bunch of young folks in Philadelphia decided to challenge a political system that had them severely underrepresented and called them ungrateful when they complained. It’s a time to prove the old doubters wrong again, Philadelphia.