Millennials & Why It’s Cool To Be Conscious and Actively Involved

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The subject of “Millennials” generally conjures up adjectives like lazy or entitled. No work ethic. Spoiled brats, the lot of them. TIME Magazine went so far as to call millennials the “Me Me Me Generation”.

This has not been my experience with the teens and twenty-somethings among us. In fact, I can honestly say that I find myself relating to many millennials better than I relate to my own generation. Maybe that just makes me juvenile. But that’s a perspective lazier that the millennial stereotype itself.

Admittedly, my exposure to this cross-section of our society is somewhat self-selecting. But it’s worth noting that over the last several years I’ve had the good fortune of meeting dozens of incredibly dynamic, conscious and entrepreneurial young people. Kids highly engaged in things my generation didn’t give a crap about like permaculture, social issues, sustainability, conservation and mindfulness. Students with doctorates and business degrees who could be on Wall Street instead toiling away on organic farms, working for non-profits, or starting their own — choosing career paths based not on security and salary but on impact. People leveraging the power of social media to challenge societal norms, disrupt outdated modalities, create self-styled careers that didn’t previously exist and launch their own grassroots movements.

The common thread is the singular goal — to make the world a better place for all of us.

Jackson Foster is one of these guys — the best kind of millennial. A guy whose life presented him with every open door possible, it would have been easy for Jackson to simply step into a safe and secure (an illusion I know, but you get my point) high paying business career.

But Jackson has other plans.

In high school, while most of Jackson’s teen peers were playing video games, partying and generally just acting like, well teenagers, Jackson spent a year in the Colorado wilderness. After being accepted into the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, he decided instead to defer so he could travel – a year spent bicycling across the US, hiking the John Muir Trail, mountaineering in Laos and even working at an orangutan orphanage in Borneo.

These experiences left him thinking about one thing: food.

Jackson noticed how food greatly affected the livelihood of different communities around the world, which motivated a desire to immerse himself in diet and lifestyle study. This exploration left him with no choice but to walk his talk; a wholesale transition from a beer drinking, weed smoking, junk food vegetarian teenager reborn as a whole food plant-based activist and educator.

Jackson transferred from RISD to Colorado College as an Environmental Policy major and went to work. Outside his college coursework he found the time to: become a Certified Yoga Instructor; obtain a  Certification In Plant-based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies ; start the website Plantriotic ; found and chair a vegan student group at Colorado College; write for Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine ; spend his summers working with environmental groups like 350.org ; help with student recruitment for the recent People’s Climate March in New York City; and last but hardly least, begin work on his first book.

How’s that for a lazy, entitled millennial?

I first met this week’s enterprising young guest last Spring when he invited me to speak at Colorado College. It was a fantastic experience, which included quality time spent with him, his fellow students as well as his documentary filmmaker brother and lovely and incredibly supportive parents, all three of whom flew out from Los Angeles just to support Jackson in hosting my presentation.

In stark contrast to my self-obsessed, party-dominated college experience, I was struck by Jackson’s passion as well as inspired by his personal story. An evolution from typical high school student to independent thinker with an unequivocal dedication to fostering a healthier, more ethical and sustainable approach to individual and planetary wellness.

Even if you happen to disagree with aspects of his point of view (Jackson is nothing if not a bit radical, admittedly so) you will be hard pressed not to be impressed by his conviction; his selfless devotion to service; and the courageous choices this young man has made for the simple sake of making the world just a little bit better.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the conversation.

Peace + Plants,

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SHOW NOTES

Connect with Jackson: PlantrioticFacebook | Twitter | YouTube

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