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How Youth Can Make Things Happen Beyond the Internet

Youth can take issues beyond the Internet when they know how to make things -- change -- happen.

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Internet Research for Real World Action

They sit at home commenting on blogs and watching YouTube at 2 a.m. They belong to Facebook groups for every issue possible and donate with a click of the mouse, not with a check and a handshake.

For 18- to 29-year-olds, nearly 50 million of them, this is how they do something in their community.

Online or viral communication and involvement does not register with an older generation of Americans who influenced change with marches and picketing against injustice.

Beyond Issues...Generation Q - the Quiet Americans

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman credits young adults for knowing the issues, but not being public with their concerns. Friedman calls young adults, "Generation Q - the Quiet Americans," and claims that young adults can only inspire change, "the old-fashioned way." But some say it does not work that way anymore.

"There was a time when sporting a tattoo or wearing jeans to work made you a rebel -- someone who does not confirm to the norm -- and in its true sense made you a real activist," says Anthony Zolezzi, serial entrepreneur and author of the new book, "Do Something" (ASM Publishing 2008). "Today we don't have those visual cues to go by, but Generation Q can be an activist by just getting online."

Zolezzi admits he is a product of the activism that defined the 60s and 70s. As a serial entrepreneur, he has been at the forefront of the green movement. While speaking with a group of college students, Zolezzi recognized that young adults were just as concerned with world issues but didn't know how to influence change.

Where to Start...Make Things Happen

"What struck me was their desire to really get involved and make a difference but what hit me was that they had no clue where to start," says Zolezzi. "My entrepreneurial spirit has always been second nature to me, but this information was not downloadable for the next generation."

Do Something -- How to!

That conversation led Zolezzi to write "Do Something" which outlines five steps that Zolezzi says will give anyone the ability to influence change in their community. Part of his message is small steps can positively affect a community.

Zolezzi isn't the first person who thinks that he can inspire young adults to leave their apartments and dorm rooms to change the world. But he is one of the few willing to approach this generation on their terms using a virtual message. Rather than relying on just rallies, Zolezzi plans to use outlets like YouTube and Second Life to reach an increasingly technological audience to incite change.

The book, "Do Something," is part of the website where you can link up with others to make change in your community and around the world.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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