In contrast to the reputation of disaffected techno-geeks who rarely look up from their handheld electronic devices, it seems millennials in Sacramento really do care about their community and being connected.
So much has been written about young people between the ages of 18 and 33 that it borders on caricature. A recent survey by of millennials by the Pew Research Center found that they are less connected to politics and religion, are less trusting and more leery of marriage than previous generations.
These characterizations are often portrayed negatively in mainstream media. On my Facebook page, I’ve seen older folks belittle millennials as twits, brats and dunderheads.
But in Sacramento, these putdowns are inaccurate. On March 21, the city will host a convention of young professionals – perhaps as many as 500 – from across the region at an event called The Emerge Summit. It will be hosted at the California Musical Theatre by a mosaic of groups, from the young professionals subset of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, called Metro Edge, to the American Planning Association Young Planners Group and many others.
“It’s about how we keep talent in Sacramento while building a sense of community and bonds within the community,” said Emilie Cameron, chair of Metro Edge and a senior public relations manager for 3Fold Communications. Millennial professionals within Sacramento care about sustainable communities and have their own twists on traditional aspirations of youth, said Cameron, 32.
“It used to be the big house and the big yard, but now it’s connectivity,” Cameron said. “One of our issues is a thriving urban core – to work, live and play within a 5-mile radius. It’s the new American dream.” These millennials in Sacramento love local traditions, but not the stereotype of Sacramento as the place where progress is too slow.
“Our generation says lets just do it,” Cameron said. “Lets not keep talking about something until an idea dies.”
The new downtown arena is very popular with this group. It’s viewed as new chapter in a Sacramento this generation hopes to shape. They hope the Emerge Summit will be an event that sets the tone for community involvement. They hope it will inspire attendees to realize that they are part of something bigger – and to feel pride about being part of that.
They hope young minds coming together can help create economic opportunities that move Sacramento beyond being just a government town. They hope it’s the beginning of big things in a town they don’t want to leave but make better.
“That’s what’s so exciting about being in Sacramento now and being on the ground floor of defining a region,” Cameron said. “I can’t wait for it to be 20 years from now and look back (with attendees of the first Emerge Summit) and say, ‘Do you remember when?’ ”