Why I Started this Blog

Going into 2015, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks thinking about what The Millennial Takeover has accomplished so far and where I’d like for it to go. Before I could even start to plan, I had to revisit why I started the blog in the first place.  It all started in the summer of 2011.

 

I had just wrapped up two summer classes, moved out of an apartment, into a new one and packed to go to Santiago,  Chile in the span of two weeks. For the first couple of weeks in Chile, I adjusted to life in the valley of the Andes as an Embassy intern. While I literally couldn’t stop grinning from the high of accomplishing a dream, that summer was filled with critics of millennials.

 

Granted there were several destructive protests, that summer had me feeling inspired by all that my young colleagues were accomplishing, especially Camila Vallejo the leader of the Chile protests asking for the government to redesign their management of the educational system. Every night the pierced nose, curly brunette made an appearance on the Chilean news eloquently leading the discussion.
Camila Vallejo Photo Credit :http://bit.ly/1BdO1jp
Camila Vallejo
Photo Credit :http://bit.ly/1BdO1jp
Sitting on the TV room couch, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the thousands upon thousands of millennials in Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, England, Chile, and the United States, calling for a more equal world and were doing whatever they could to bring about that change. I wanted to know their stories, I wanted to know how they went from an ordinary 20-something to  toppling governments. But, those stories rarely made an appearance.

 

Upon my return to grad school in the fall of 2011, I had to set those thoughts aside to make it through my last year. But no sooner than I packed away my graduation garb, the drive to build a place to celebrate the millennials who are changing the world refused to be ignored. As they say, the rest is history.
Pucon 2011
Pucon 2011
In the new year, I hope to grow the blog so join the email list by signing up to the left, following us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

“Get Local” Your Newest Travel Buddy in Central Florida

Photo Credit: Get Local
Photo Credit: Get Local

Nothing compares to visiting a new place like a local. The killer food, the friendly conversation, and the opportunity to peek into the lives of others is something that tourists the world over are demanding. Living in an area dominated by Disney, Universal, and the others, to a one time visitor might seem that’s all there is to Central Florida. But like with any tourist destination, there is a local population that loves to live beyond the football field parking lots and nightly firework shows. But jumping into a city to get the local experience can be overwhelming and most definitely terrifying. Trey Dyer and Mike Black have solved that issue by starting Get Local.

High school friends and Central Florida natives, Trey and Mike grew up fishing, wakeboarding, surfing and taking advantage of the thousands of outdoor activities the region has to offer. After dating a pair of cousins, the two grew to become very close friends. When Mike (a University of Florida alum) decided to fulfill his dream of backpacking across Asia by leaving his accounting gig, Trey (an American University alum) was supportive and joined him in Vietnam. In Vietnam, the Florida boys went beyond the tourist stops on the map and traveled with a local guide named Ju Hai. They were so moved by this experience that immediately they started to think about how they could replicate this experience and become the Sherpas of Central Florida.

Since Mike’s return in May of this year, Trey and Mike have been hard at work launching Get Local. Using their personal experiences and recommendations from trusted friends, Mike and Trey have partnered with local businesses. Through these partnerships, they offer packages online and help drive traffic to these local spots. Ranging from paddle boarding and airboat rides to guided tours and art galleries, the duo are capturing what really sets Central Florida life apart from anywhere else.

Mike Black in China
Mike Black in China

While the serious upside to starting a boutique travel business is curating the experiences, the greatest challenge the duo faces is the aspect of self-promotion. As both members are working from home, the lakes they live on can be incredible sources of inspiration as well as distraction. “We’re just staring at this body of water that begs to be fished, or paddle boarded on, or wakeboarded on, all day. Right now, we’re just paying our dues to set the right foundation for the business,” said Trey.

Trey Dyer
Trey Dyer

Their approach to building the business is truly millennial. With a strong social media presence inspired by their travels abroad, Trey and Mike are living their dreams. But, what do they think is the greatest drawback for our generation? Trey believes that “our biggest drawback is how connected we are to the superficial things in life. It keeps us from really connecting to the world around us.” According to Mike, “We have a hard time focusing. It’s too hard to focus on one thing at a time because there are so many things to do and we are constantly entertained. But that is also something great, because it is pushing us to be better and greater.”

On the flip side, what excites these two about being members of the Millennial Generation? In Trey’s opinion, “We are already the ones trying to fix what our future problems are going to be. We aren’t waiting around for them to kind of take over.” For Mike, “our generation’s greatest attribute is that we are rebellious, not accepting of typical career paths, and that is allowing us to see a lot more of the world. We aren’t about please me, cater to me. We are more about show me who you are, be authentic, be real. It’s a healthier way to live and will serve us well in the future.”

Until the day Get Local is nationwide, those in Central Florida can access their services by going here. In the comments below, we’d like to hear about your favorite Central Florida experience or a time travel has inspired you to do something different.

Trey and Family to the Left  Mike and Family to the Right
Trey and Family to the Left
Mike and Family to the Right

All photos courtesy of Get Local

Environmentally Conscious and Loving IT!

Clayton Louis Ferrera leading a session at the Hive.
Clayton Louis Ferrera leading a session at the Hive.

If you have never been to Florida, one thing that might surprise you is the abundance of wildlife. It is not uncommon for residents to come across alligators, squirrels, or the occasional bear. While for most this can induce cartoon-like freak outs, for Clayton Louis Ferrara it is just a part of nature’s beauty and fuel for his work to educate the community about our most precious gift, the environment.

Ferrera spent most of his young life volunteering at research facilities in Stuart, Florida like the Marine Life Center of Juno Beach under Larry Wood and the Florida Oceanographic Society where the young naturalist was able to establish his scientific foundation. From that foundation, Ferrera deepened his knowledge with dual degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies at Rollins College. Upon graduation, Ferrera had planned to pursue a Master’s in Science Writing at MIT. While volunteering at the Oakland Nature Preserve the summer before he was to start at MIT in 2009, Ferrera’s efforts to fund a Head Curator and Director of Education position came through.

After two years of leading the nature preserve, a group of students from UCF presented at the Florida Wildlife Federation’s Board meeting that was being hosted there. Since then, Clayton Louis Ferrera has been actively involved with IDEAS for Us, a UN accredited NGO that educates and empowers people to advance sustainability through action. Starting as the National Science Director, he then became the South Eastern Regional Director and ultimately took on the role of Executive Director on January 1st of 2014. His passion for IDEAS has allowed the organization to gain momentum in truly empowering citizens for sustainability.

Using a chapter model, the all volunteer staff has been able to grow IDEAS beyond the borders of Central Florida with members all over the world. Ferrera’s passion for IDEAS is contagious and the natural teacher has inspired students of all ages to reconnect with nature.

Map of IDEAS Chapters and Partners.
Map of IDEAS Chapters and Partners

Although Ferrera has many accomplishments of which he could place his walking stick, like being the first American to be named a Darwin Scholar by the Field Studies Council of London, Ferrera is quick to recognize those who have supported him along the way. From his parents to his teachers and peers, Ferrera believes that every person has the capacity to accomplish something incredible, they just need the support to recognize what is within them. “If we are able to do that, we could end poverty, we could improve our environment, and we could live happier lives.”

To capture the whole of Ferrera’s insights couldn’t possibly be contained in this space so if you would like to learn more about IDEAS for Us, like them on Facebook to stay up to date.

U.S. Police Officers Have a Bit of a PR problem

Central Square die in: Courtesy of Tim Pierce http://bit.ly/1wKsHDz
Central Square die in: Courtesy of Tim Pierce http://bit.ly/1wKsHDz
About a year ago, I wrote about how racism is still a relevant issue in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Day. Never in a million years did I think that within the year, that there would be consistent protesting in places like New York and Missouri with a march scheduled next week in Washington D.C. that revives memories of the 1960’s.
In some ways, one could believe that these protests are completely spontaneous, that these protesters don’t have anything better to do but take to the streets. Protests and social movements don’t just happen, there is always a history of frustration and then, a motivating tipping point. In this case, Eric Garner’s grand jury ruling was that tipping point. While the debates have focused on institutional racism and the corrupt legal system, I firmly believe that what’s being addressed here is not an effort to right past wrongs, but a need to see each other as human beings instead of the agenda we seem to represent.
For example, I’m afraid of police officers. I know it’s silly, but on the rare occasions I’ve had to interact with one in the States, my hands get all sweaty, I can’t look them in the eye and I am just waiting for things to get out of control. When I first arrived in Haiti, I had similar feelings, but they usually inspired a panic mode reaction. Influenced by the horror stories of police officers conducting check points that led to kidnappings, I often avoided police officers at all costs. But, I eventually had to go through a checkpoint and when I did I contemplated the following actions:
        1) Speed past them before they knew what happened.
        2) Let the car roll slowly, jump out of it and run to the                       nearest house.
       3) Cry and pray that they’d leave me alone.
       4) Just go with the flow and see where things would go.
As the first three would only make a potentially non-threatening situation worse, I opted for #4. After the cop checked my papers, he smiled and I was on my merry way, still in my car, still with my wallet, and in my opinion, safe. Over time, I gained respect and didn’t fear the police officers but saw them as people doing their job to keep Haiti’s streets safe. Not to say that are always successful, but little by little they are changing their reputation.
Returning home, that fear has returned. With the ominous blue lights, the incredible variety of weaponry that police officers have on at all times, and the overall aggression associated with law enforcement. It just makes me wonder, how is it that one of the most dangerous islands has been able to build an approachable police force, and the “land of the free” now has a system of terror? These are just my observations, but what do you think? Is our system justified or are our police officers addressing a threat that’s not there?