By Anika Fassia, Program Associate
I’m a Millennial – a member of the generation born between 1980 and the early 2000s. Recent reports, like this one from Pew and the Deloitte Millennial Survey, explore and study my generation’s views and potential as the most diverse and socially connected generation this country has ever seen.
Researchers have found that the majority of Millennials believe government should have an active role in providing opportunity and making healthcare available for everyone. This goes against the dominant narrative of the generations before us – you know, that story of rugged individualism and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. This shift in narrative and culture is worth noting and, in my view, worth celebrating.
The research also shows that Millennials strongly support the idea of government as a tool to solve the challenges of our time, and they want it to do more. The Deloitte survey notes that our generation believes that “government has the greatest potential to address society’s biggest issues but is overwhelmingly failing to do so.” But even with this frustration my fellow Millennials remain optimistic. In fact, as an LA Times article notes that we have “the most optimism about the country . . . despite the economic difficulties that a large share have experienced since entering the workforce. And it stands in contrast with some previous generations: Baby boomers, for example, born between 1946 and 1964, were less optimistic than their elders at this stage of their lives.”
Millennials are eager to make a difference. They are ambitious and socially oriented in their desire to create communities and systems of government that work for them.
Many systems within our government are beginning to recognize this. For example, in my home state of Michigan, groups are launching new efforts to harness the value that young and diverse voices can bring to the public sector. This article from the Detroit Free Press articulates why this matters to the future of our cities:
Because our local governments and our region face a number of social, environmental and economic challenges, and should engage a diverse group of residents in solving these challenges. And because incorporating the ideas and perspectives of young people, who up to this point have been underrepresented in local governments, will help these entities, and our region, be more forward-thinking.
It’s important for our public sector to create more avenues for Millennials to be included and represented in the public sphere. Groups like Code for America the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network and spaces like the Allied Media Conference and the New Economy Coalition all work to bring Millennials together to build and create a movement that uses technology, cooperation and media-based organizing to bring about our shared vision of an inclusive and equitable government that serves our communities.
Public Works has had the good fortune to collaborate with these types of groups. And what the surveys say about Millennials is indeed true – these spaces are energizing, connected and optimistic, and my fellow Millennials are ready to take on the challenges of our generation using our public systems in new and dynamic ways.