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Bridging the Power of Youth and the Wisdom of Age: Technology as a Space to Resist and Uplift
Imagine 500 acres of rural Alaskan wilderness transformed into the extraction grounds for 180,000 barrels of oil every single day – a horrific image, right? That image is one step closer to being our reality with ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project, which was just approved this month by President Biden’s administration.
The approval of the Willow Project contradicts the President’s promise to end new oil drilling on federal land – an affront to future generations and the health of our environment. Producing 287 million metric tons of CO2 and devastating the local ecosystems and the surrounding Native Village of Nuiqsut, the Willow Project faces serious opposition from future generations who continue to fight for a safe and equitable climate future.
That opposition was marked by outraged posts plastered with faces of cute polar bears all across the internet. In fact, opposition to Willow resulted in Change.org’s most signed environmental petition and over 425 million views on Tik Tok. This level of opposition is an unprecedented example of how social media can organize the power of youth activism.
With loud, online activism fueled by youth voices, a new form of accountability for the government is being formed. With adultism integrated into our everyday lives, these avenues allow youth to spark their visions and articulate their power with full autonomy.
While the wisdom of our elders should always be the foundation for our shared work, it is vital that we listen to and uplift our youth, for it is they who will inherit what we leave behind. Let us dream about and work towards building these channels of conversation between elders and youth. Let us name that youth are the experts of their own experience, and weave that expertise into our collective work, while being open to new forms of action via technology. Let us embody the idea that when we listen to those who are most impacted by our decisions, we can continue to learn from one another and maybe put an end to the Willow Projects of the world that threaten the future of our youth.
The fight to stop Willow continues, as environmental organizations like Earthjustice sue to stop the project. But that cannot be the end of our shared work, continue to stay informed and center calls to action made by youth and indigenous voices in our communities!