By Emilee LeVeque, Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change organizer
Starting university in the midst of a global pandemic was not the way I envisioned being introduced to my future career in the political sphere. It felt like I was putting everything except for my classes on hold. However, being involved with Blue Future as a Spring for Progress and Change Fellow gave me more than a substitute for an experience I would be given if everything wasn’t virtual. It allowed me to hear speakers and meet youth from across the nation. It allowed me to expand my perspective beyond issues only facing my community. Having the opportunity to hear youth across the nation and how different problems manifested within their communities was enlightening and will be knowledge that I take beyond the duration of this program. Understanding someone’s present is the key to ensuring progress for the future. This program allowed me to connect with individuals that I would never have the opportunity to if I was only searching for opportunities in my immediate vicinity.
Beyond breaking boundaries between states, Blue Future’s program allowed me to form connections across my state. Since I reside outside the major metropolitan areas within my state, accessing ways to be politically involved was always a struggle during my time as a high school student. Thus, I was unable to form any meaningful professional connections, hindering me in my future pursuits to advance within the arena of politics. However, Blue Future helped me overcome that obstacle. Through developing the youth council project virtually with those within my state, it allowed me to make connections with those who have experienced Washington differently from me. Since we all resided in different congressional districts, coming to a consensus on issues relevant to us was difficult due to coming from different backgrounds. However, those differences allowed us to truly represent our state rather than becoming a homogenous, generic view of youth in Washington. Rather, residing in different parts of our state and coming from different backgrounds allowed us to gain credibility when reaching out to our legislators as we represented a greater number of people within their constituency. This experience has allowed me to truly see how listening to those with different backgrounds — whether that be geographic, racial, or any other difference — strengthens one’s approach to an issue rather than weaken it.
Blue Future’s program also allowed me to feel as though I had agency and purpose during a time where everything seemed out of my control. I initially was drawn to pursuing a career within the political sphere since I was tired of feeling helpless to the decisions that lawmakers were making that were mostly based on their donors rather than the people. Being an ordinary citizen — particularly being a part of their youth constituency — it’s hard to feel as though you have any say within decisions that directly affect you. However, with Blue Future providing action items on legislation items that held direct relevance to everyone in the program, it was easier to feel like I had a say in the conversation. Without the possibility of actually lobbying and making an impact via physically showing up, being directed to ways youth could show up virtually was the best to feel like I was still a part of a movement that mattered. Beyond this program, I will take away that change can be made anywhere, even if the decision is being made 2,000 miles away.
My time at Blue Future has allowed me to see the power youth hold within the political sphere across the nation. Organizing virtually allowed me to view issues beyond their application to my community. It helped me see the strengthening of youth coming from every background and every zip code. Organizing virtually was not what I intended my initial experience to be, but it has allowed me to develop valuable skills that may not have been prevalent in other modes of organizing.
About Emilie: Emilee LeVeque (she/her) is a first-year undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. In school, she is studying Political Science with a minor in Urban Sustainable Planning. During the 2020 election season, she was involved as an intern for Harley Rouda’s campaign for California’s 48th District. However, Blue Future is her first experience community organizing. She was drawn to Blue Future since she wanted to work with an organization that valued the youth perspective within politics. Her time at Blue Future has been so informative and she can’t wait to take the skills she has learned here to her future organizing endeavors!