Net Impact Book Club: Youth to Power, Part I | Net Impact

Net Impact Book Club: Youth to Power, Part I

Net Impact Book Club: Youth to Power

Welcome to the Net Impact Book Club, a curated selection of social and environmental must-reads to keep you feeling inspired during the summer months. We’ll be featuring works by informative, influential writers and leaders across different fields and industries and providing you with key questions and takeaways to consider from each book.


Youth to Power

For the month of July we are diving into activism and civic engagement with the book Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It (2020) by Jamie Margolin, activist and co-founder of Zero Hour. A climate activist since she was twelve years old, Maroglin has dedicated her time and energy to mobilizing her peers around the climate crisis and teaching them to harness their voices to preserve the planet for future generations. In 2018, at the age of 16, she helped lead the Youth Climate Marches that brought together young people from around the globe to peacefully protest the inaction of global leaders against climate change. As a gay woman with roots in Colombia, she is also a dedicated advocate for LGBTQ+ people of color who seek rights and equity. Youth to Power doesn’t just center on Margolin’s story and work, it is a how-to toolkit for emerging activists to deepen their engagement with issues they care about and make a tangible change in their own communities.       

In this blog, we will be highlighting the key lessons that appear in the first half of the book. Here are the three things you can expect to learn from Youth to Power


Discover Your Why

For many of those who desire to make a difference in the world, the initial challenge is discovering what issues matter most to you and what steps to take in order to get involved and create change. Every activist has a why, but with so many important issues that exist at the local, national, and global level, it can initially be overwhelming to determine which causes resonate with you the most and where you see yourself making a difference. As Margolin and her fellow activists discuss in the book, your why isn’t meant to be a specific long-term or short-term goal, it isn’t about receiving media attention, or even finding a solution to an issue you were determined to resolve. Instead, your why is meant to be the root of the reason for your activism. So ask yourself, as Margolin states, what are you fighting for that you cannot live without? 


Start Small for Big Impact

Margolin addresses another big challenge faced by activists: learning where to begin in a way that is effective and impactful. According to Margolin, there is no correct or defined path for activism. More, there is no single definition of what an activist looks like. So in order to begin the journey of becoming a changemaker, it is important to reflect on your own capabilities and interests and look for opportunities that best utilize the skills you have that set you apart from others. Margolin writes that it is important at the beginning stages of activism to be open to new experiences and opportunities to listen and learn - taking a risk and volunteering for an organization, joining a club, or reaching out to an fellow activist you admire, can introduce you to interesting people with voices and perspectives that will help you as you move forward. These small first steps can not only help define your values, but they can lead to collaborations that make a big impact. 


Starting Something New

Margolin likens activism to an ecosystem, with each movement, organization, and community made up of its own smaller ecosystems. And inside those smaller ecosystems are individuals with roles to play. There are many opportunities to contribute to the different ecosystems that exist in a movement, but what if you want to start something new? What if you observe a missing piece in the ecosystem - how do you get started? Margolin first notes that you should once again reflect on your why and research what is already taking place in a community or movement. It is important to be respectful and mindful of the work of those who came before you. She continues by identifying a few concrete steps to take when starting a new organization or group as an activist:

  1. Identify a need and a clear idea of filling that need - what strategy or approach isn’t being utilized yet by the movement or cause you care about?
  2. Find your people - search out the people around you who believe in your vision and want to play a role in creating change.
  3. Write a mission and vision statement - In collaboration with your team, agree upon a mission and vision statement that defines who you want to be, what you strive for, and what you want the future to look like. This will help you stay grounded as you dig deeper into the work. 
  4. Establish an internal structure, rules, and democracy - each movement needs a reason for the way it functions. Establishing a structure and rules for how those leading your movement will operate and collaborate is crucial to ensuring the effectiveness of your movement. 


Learn More 

Stay tuned for Part II of our feature on Youth to Power. If you want to learn more about how you can get involved and make change in your community, join your local Net Impact Chapter or get involved with Net Impact’s Up to Us initiative.