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Youth culture expert the next sustainability speaker

Michelle Dagnino to discuss ways to encourage youth participation in the community

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By Andrew Mitchell

The Whistler Social Sustainability Speaker Series continues April 4 with a presentation by Michelle Dagnino, an expert on youth culture and activism.

Dagnino will talk to Whistler residents about how to engage youth and young adults in the community, and encourage them to be active participants.

The issues affecting youth, according to Dagnino, are a disengagement from the community, and the lack of leadership opportunities in the community and workplace. Dagnino’s experiences have led her to conclude that communities need to connect with youth on a more meaningful level that inspires innovation and creativity. She advocates teaching leadership skills, and creating and fostering mentorship opportunities.

“Youth and young adults make up the better part of Whistler’s population,” said Greg McDonnell, Youth Outreach Worker Supervisor for the Whistler Community Services Society. “The Whistler Social Sustainability Speaker Series committee has made it one of their objectives to try and connect with this group of individuals, as building capacity is critical for the long-term sustainability of Whistler.”

Dagnino is a social justice advocate, speaker, author, consultant and executive director of the Youth Action Network — an organization dedicated to helping youth become more informed and actively involved in the move to a “just and sustainable society.”

She has received dozens of awards over the years, including the 2004 YWCA Women of Distinction award and the Rotary Youth Impact Award. Maclean’s magazine chose her as one of the “Top-25 Leaders Under 30 in Canada, while The Globe and Mail and Women’s Executive Network picked her for “Canada’s Top 100: Most Powerful Women”.

Her first book on hip hop activism — Where is the Love? The Commodification of Women in Hip Hop — was published in the fall of 2006, and she is working on a second book for release in 2008.

The Whistler presentation takes place on Wednesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. It’s free of charge, and childcare will be provided.

The Whistler Social Sustainability Speaker Series is supported by the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Whistler Community Services Society, and School District 48.

The first presentation was by marriage expert Darren Wilk from the Gottman Institute of Seattle. Future speakers include Bob Joseph from Indigenous Corporate Training on June 4, and Stephen Lewis from the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health on Oct. 19.

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