Published first on the Progress News, June 7, 2021

Following on from last week’s topic of our children and their truly wonderful ideas, I’d like to share one of those ideas this week in a bit more detail.  Redevelopment, as you know, is a many-flavored fruit, and kids are excellent at not only noticing all the flavors, but also mixing them up in new and unique ways.

One such way came about as a result of a conversation between me and my daughter about…YouTube.  She was only 9 at the time, so there was no way in hooey I was letting her have her own YouTube channel yet, but I dug a bit deeper and asked what it was she wanted to do in her videos.  Her answer was simple, but poignant: “show other kids how I live.” 

This led to more conversations, with more local kids, and an idea was born – a child-led video series showing the beauty and fun to be had in and around the AC-Valley, from a child’s perspective.  For one thing, kids always love to show people around their spaces, their homes, their realities.  So the opportunity for local kids to create family-friendly travel-guide type videos allows them to be proud of and show off what’s amazing about this area.

This is, of course, great for awareness of local attractions, for tourism, and for civic pride.  It’s also a chance for kids to explore and practice skills such as videography, public speaking, graphic design, tourism, and natural resource management.

On a deeper level, sharing one’s lived experience with a larger audience, especially with those from completely different places and situations, allows stereotypes and generalizations to be broken down and replaced by reality.  And it is my hope that our pilot program will spark companion series from other communities, who will share their reality with us.

All of these aspects – tourism promotion, educational opportunities and capacity building, resource management, interpersonal relationships and identity building – are important to redevelopment, and on the grand scheme of discussing and planning for community resilience, giving kids a bigger voice in the conversation is essential to long-term success.  Maria Vassilakou, a planner in one of the world’s most vibrant and livable cities, Vienna, noted that “a city that’s good for children is good for every generation.” 

So I’d like to invite all area youth (and adults) who are interested in being part of this initiative to get in touch.  Together, we will build an itinerary of locations to explore and share, we will build our knowledge and skill in creating and editing videos, and we will build up our next generation of local ambassadors.  We’ll also have a ton of fun, too!

Whether you’re interested in being part of making the videos, or you have experience or resources to share, please give a holler via email, reach out on Facebook, or stop in to Divani Chocolatier in Foxburg on any Friday between 1 and 3.  We plan to start working on this project this summer, so get on board now!