Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Young ideas take flight...

The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.  - Pearl S. Buck

The people who change the world are the ones who are ideal enough to believe in their ideas, and the ones who are confident enough to share those ideas. They are few and far between, but they are certainly out there...

Last year I met a man named Chris Loewen. He had reached out to me through Facebook, asking if we could have lunch to talk about me joining a board of an organization that he was president of.

I agreed, not overly interested in adding to my already insanely busy schedule, but intrigued enough with the organization that I had been an award nominee of in 2009.

A few weeks later we were seated on the patio of a restaurant where he talked for a few minutes about his vision for the organization's board, and how I may fit into it. I was polite and told him that I was interested in learning more (my go to when I don't want to shoot somebody down) and he invited me to come to the next board meeting.

"Sure," I said, already thinking of excuses of how to get out of this...

We ate our lunch, and he started talking about an idea he had, which he called the "platform." His idea was this online page, kind of like Kickstarter, where youth could go online, sign up to either initiate a project in their community or volunteer for a project, and donors could fund individual projects they liked.

Chris talked at lengths about his vision for the platform while I sat there listening to him and eating my lunch.

I admired his passion and grand sense of idealism for what he imagined this project could be. I envied the fact that he spoke with such belief and conviction about his idea and in the people who would one day use it to make their world a better place. I was in awe that life, or whatever it is that beats the good ideas and idealism out of grownups had somehow missed him...

Chris talked. He talked and he talked and he talked, and I sat there listening the same way I listen to my six-year-old niece when she tells me about the things that are created in her large imagination.

Like my niece, his vision was lovely and far fetched but he was a stranger who had asked me for lunch, and I was not going to be anything but polite.

The thing that really struck me about Chris was that he really believed in the young people, the potential users of this site, and their ideas. He confided that young people, no matter their age, experience, or background have the potential to create significant change in the world. He said that often young people aren't given the opportunity to have others believe in them and their ideas.

He wanted to change that.

At the time I didn't ever think that Chris' idea would ever be more than a passionate hope that was trapped in his head. I imagined that he would get bored and refocus his life and his passion on other things that suited him. I was wrong.

Today, less than a year after that lunch, Chris' idea, aptly named 'Our Butterfly' has been born.

It's still in it's infancy, but it's here, ready for young people to use as a platform to launch their ideas off of, and for people like me to give a few dollars to when I can.

I am astounded at Chris' vision, and his belief that he could create something so special that it has the power to change people's lives. I am humbled at the thought that I initially passed his idea off as something that would never come to life. Most of all though, I am proud of Chris; proud of his belief in himself and his idea and proud of his belief in young people and their ideas and ability to change the world.

Chris possesses the kind of idealism that is rare in adults. He seems to understand that young people, filled with idealism and a sort of naivety about how things work in the “real world,” have this boundless mentality about how they want to accomplish things. In fact, you will be hard pressed to meet a young person who's ideas and dreams aren't bigger than the red tape or barricades that may stand in their way.

Young people are curious and often creative, they come up with big ideas or solutions to problems and they set out to do some of the most impossible, world-changing feats, often accomplishing their goal. Given the opportunity and support, there is no end to the incredible things that the world’s future leaders can do. Young people, no matter their gender, race, and background are full of potential.

I urge you to share and invest in Our Butterfly. If you can't do it financially, then share this platform with a young person and give them the opportunity to unleash their ideas into the world. There is no end to what someone can accomplish when they believe in themselves, and have when others, like Chris, believe in them too.