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The Youth and the Future

On Saturday night I curled, that’s a who ‘nother story that I might share some time, how an Aussie ends up in a competition to through a 44 pound hunk of granite down a bumpy sheet of ice at a bulls-eye painted on the ice. But while I was curling, there was a game underway next to us that was the model of intergenerational recreation. Two retirees were on a team with a middle aged couple, playing against four teenagers, two girls and two boys. (When I left, the retiree’s team was kicking butt – maybe that’s why there aren’t so many teenagers curling these days!)

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This scene was promising, teenagers competing at an adult level, showing the respect that is due ones opponent in a game like curling. But at the same time, it saddens me that out of all of the youth in Castlegar, only four of them are enjoying a fun, (clean) social night out at the Curling Rink on a Saturday night.

Maria Kalman at the NYTimes wrote a graphical essay for thanksgiving called “Back to the Land”, I’d encourage you to read it, it gives us hope for a future where food matters. It talks of edible schoolyards and good food and wholesome living – this is the future we should be aiming for, not a world dominated by mega-corporations and surrounded by fear. Is this world possible? Can we imagine the youth of today inheriting a world worth living in? Or is their apparent generational apathy a harbinger of a well deserved response to the mess we are currently force-feeding them?

The future needs to be different from what we are experiencing today, whether it is global warming, peak oil, the economy or population growth, something has got to give. All the current fuss about climate change amounts to rearranging the deck chairs while the ship goes down – the other problems are just as big and bad, yet no one is talking about them with any sense of reality. Our children deserve a future that is balanced and equitable, and it is unlikely that any solution to this problem would be to raise the entire world’s standard of living up to that which we enjoy in North America. Food is a big part of that, and all of the corporate culture that surrounds it as well – there is a lot of momentum to overcome to see any meaningful, mainstream change in how food is produced, or things in general are done.

Throwing a rock down a sheet of ice is trivial compared to the problems we face in the world, but the attitude that made these kids get out there and do it, enjoying it and doing it well, will take them far in a world where community and teamwork will be at the heart of any challenges their generation will face. This is a game of patience and restraint, the strategy required is similar to chess, but every point scored builds on each team members efforts.

I will indulge myself in the fantasy that the future for Castlegar may be better managed because a handful of teenagers, (I’m willing to bet that these aren’t typical mainstream kids either), have a different attitude about the community they live in.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

4 thoughts on “The Youth and the Future

  1. At my high school, the curling team was totally awesome and very inclusive but the best curlers were the punk kids – loads of mohawks on the ice!

    Interesting article…

  2. Hey Dana,

    I noticed this same phenomenon in Australia with Lawn Bowls, there would be some baddass looking kid playing politely with teams of all generations!
    There is definitely a tension between discipline and freedom that these youths need/desire. Sports are an idea way to cultivate a respect for disciplined thinking. My concern is that the sports opportunities in school these days are pretty slim – and it will have an impact on the future capabilities of our youth.

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