Alliance to enlist young leaders
Millennial congress: Empower the next generation
A regional effort to engage the millennial generation and get Southeast Michigan moving forward on economic, social and environmental issues is under way.
Members of the millennial generation are generally considered to be those born between 1977 and 2002.
The Michigan Suburbs Alliance has convened the Millennial Mayors Congress, a group of local mayors or township supervisors, and soon one millennial delegate, age 18 to early 30, from each municipality.
So far, 25 cities and townships in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties have agreed to participate in the effort, which will look for ways each can address issues facing the region, such as racism or poverty, or take advantage of opportunities like sustainability and policies that help entrepreneurs and the environment.
The municipal members extend from Farmington Hills to Sterling Heights to Hamtramck.
The alliance and the local communities plan Tuesday to hold their first public forum to discuss the best way for communities to nominate a young leader to serve as a delegate.
Bringing in millennials makes the effort “inherently future-focused,” said Sharon Carney, 24, special project director for the alliance.
“What we're hoping is that by empowering the next generation of leaders to be involved in the discussions and decisions shaping the region, the actions of city governments will be better at creating the places and opportunities this young generation finds attractive,” she said.
Simultaneously, by including cities across Southeast Michigan, the region's capacity to collaborate will build, she said.
The Detroit Regional Chamber's young professionals group, Fusion, which serves as the primary advocate on behalf of young professionals in the region, is assisting the Michigan Suburbs Alliance in rounding up candidates to serve as delegates on the new congress, said director Christianne Sims.
It's important to forge relationships between young professionals and current leaders in order to make sure there's a pipeline of new leaders and that the voices of the next generation are being heard, she said.
“There are so many communities that don't want to engage with their entire citizenship,” she said. “It's great that ... Southeast Michigan's established leadership is wanting to reach out to the next generation of leaders.”
The congress hopes by spring to begin identifying areas where local action could make a difference, tapping research and the work of organizations such as One D, she said.
For example, the congress might set a goal of greening the region, and the municipalities might decide the best way to do that is to reduce municipal consumption by 10 percent in five years, or they might change zoning ordinances to promote LEED construction (Leadership in Energy and Environment), Carney said.
Tuesday's forum is free and runs from 6-9 p.m. at the Renaissance Club at the Renaissance Center.
To reserve a seat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.