By Lauren Herman
We all have a type. My type includes tall buildings, close neighbors, espresso, museums, libraries, and open public spaces at my fingertips; yes, the city. Regardless of the demographic or geographic difference, the one constant in my life has been the city.
I studied disciplines that shaped my professional life in Berkeley, the first home I built for myself was in Nairobi, my first travels aboard were to Managua, and my first exposure to urban life was Saturday afternoons at the downtown Sacramento library. I incorporated these cities into my sense of self through the trust and intimacy I gained with the movements and the people each city offered me.
Urban life is becoming increasingly attractive to other millennials – a generation born between 1980 – 2000, totaling one fourth of Americans, who are (re)claiming an urban lifestyle as their “American Dream.” This generation is paving the way for the American urban century. Sometimes deemed the generation that has “failed to launch,” even millennials living at home say they envision the city as their ideal home. [i]
With millennials supposedly storming the urban landscape, what influence do they have on the city, if any? Where do they want to take our cities?
Looking to Millennials – Reimagining Our City for You and Me
As a catalyst for discussion around the upcoming TEDxSacramentoSalon, “This Changes Everything: City” conference on March 7, 2015, three millennials, all Sacramentans, will be profiled in a new blog series about their role in one of the following fields in Sacramento: community activism, education, and art.
The individuals featured in this blog series are engaged in these different fields, but all strive to make their vision of our capital city a reality. Their acts, their commitment to their passions, make them extraordinary contributors to our city. Though often criticized for being overly optimistic dreamers, millennials exemplify the power of young engagement just like the Baby Boomer hippies of the 1960s dreaming of a new world in a decade of societal and political disillusionment. It’s time for millennials to turn our world upside down.
Urban theorist, Marshall Berman, was correct when he wrote about modernity by eloquently borrowing the language of Karl Marx stating “...‘all that is solid’ in modern life...‘melts into air’.” All that we know today, what we know as modern, is continually reimagined, redefined, and reinvented by the upcoming generations that precede those of the past. [ii]
This blog series will explore the civic engagement of a generation that is proving the city we know today will be gone tomorrow as time transforms how we see, engage, build, and live in urban spaces, as it always has and always will be. It is our right as a society and residences to collectively exercise participation in these processes of urbanization, to enforce the freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves.
Just as you have taken the time to explore the streets, the structures, and the smells of your capital city, now is the time to get to know Sacramento through the stories of your fellow Sacramentans. Only then will trust and intimacy of the city be discovered through your resolve to find what is essential and meaningful to you and your neighbors – our Sacramento will be built for you and me.
References for Blog Post:
[i] Gallagher, Leigh. The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving. New York, New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2013.
[ii] Berman, Marshall. All That is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity. New York, New York: Viking Penguin, 1988.