The Kids Are Alright

By Jeannette Bodnar

The packed house during Saturday afternoon’s “Youth Open Mic”.

Saturday afternoon was the “Youth Open Mic”, and without offending any of the wonderful, brilliant, and engaging authors I’ve had the honour to see this week, I have to say that this event was my favourite. Hosted by Steve Locke, and held at the Free Press Café, exceeded all expectations of success.
Before I start with a description of the event, I would like to take a mental detour to put in context some the reasons that this event was so profound.
So, I am part of the 30 plus generation (GenX, I guess) who regularly uses the computer but has absolutely no idea how it works. I call my computer “the happy magic box”. Being 30 plus and a regular Facebook user, I am privy to the posts of other thirty-something computer users.

As someone who was born in the 70’s and grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, I guess I was the only one eating hotdogs and downing Kool-Aid while binge watching five hours of pre-recorded In Living Color??  I’m not saying that I never went outside or that kids today shouldn’t spend more time outside, but the whole “when I was your age” diatribe is not only out-dated and over-done,  it also implies that we all somehow grew up to be astronauts and Olympians. It just reeks of sanctimonious bull-turds! Not to mention that the same people who post these gold-nuggets of antediluvian insight spend an equal number of wasted hours (if not more) on their phones, in front the t.v., or chasing the white rabbit down the never-ending hole of “click here” links, as their young adversaries do. 

Youth poet Chimwemwe Undi.
For any young people who don’t know who Andy Rooney is, picture the old guy who lives on your street and chases all the kids off his lawn. Now imagine if that old man had a weekly forum in which he got paid to air his complaints. That was Andy Rooney.
The truth is, the Andy Rooney wannabes do not represent my generation. No more so than the Justin Biebers or any one of the many obnoxious former Disney twits represent this new generation of young and talented people.
And for all those who want to argue with me, I challenge you to honestly, without judgment or interruption, spend an hour listening to some of our youth. On Saturday I spent over two hours doing so. And what I found was a group that was more insightful, more dedicated to their art, more alive, more intelligent, more in touch with world events, and more thoughtful than many adults I know.
So instead of describing the experience of the event I’m going to leave you with some of their words:  
“And I became a slave to my deficiencies.” (Nick Kastellanos)
“My life has always been a life devoted to the little things. I think it’s time to focus on the bigger picture.” (Brandon Case)

The animated Brandon Case.

“The temptations got so high that in reality all you did was lie.” (Jeanette Reyes)
“The air becomes thick with the smell of barbequed meals.” (Eva Rodrigues)
“THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, I THINK” (Steve Locke ***not a young person in this context but younger than me)
“Her body is the life blood from which we flourish.” (Luke Cameron)
“You abused your talents with street fights and late nights.” (Courtney Stevens)
“Perfection is not a destination. No, perfection is a disease.” (Tiana Northgate)
“Anxiety moves into you, settles between your shoulders, and proves to be a poor house guest.” (Chimwemwe Undi)
“Faith is a drop of mercury between minus 29 and minus 30.” (Amber)
“The power lies within our youth.” (Shaden Abusaleh)

Nick Kastellanos’ lyrical assault.

This is just a sample of the many brilliant and astute observations of life that were shared Saturday afternoon. My hands don’t write fast enough to record every luminous insight that was given, so the scope of this blog post cannot possibly capture what was communicated. 

Furthermore, it takes tremendous courage to preform your art in front of a room packed full of people. I encourage you to check out the podcast of this event when it’s posted and to keep your eyes open for future open mics as I guarantee you will be blown away. I also encourage my generation to remind the younger generations that they have voices and if they are willing to share them we will be ready to listen.
These are the natural resources our country should be extracting!
The kids are alright!