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Young voices on the role of creativity and planning for the future of Montgomery County

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Both creativity and planning are needed for visionary efforts. Thrive Montgomery 2050, which will create a vision for future growth in the county over the next 30 years, is one such effort Montgomery Planning is undertaking.

Creativity allows us to travel forward in time to imagine what the future could look like. It gives shape and vision to our thoughts and ideas. Planning enables us to realize our dreams. Through careful planning, we can create the foundations upon which our creative ideas can come to life.

Montgomery Planning is collaborating with groups that have creative ideas—big and small—about the future of our county. Since Thrive Montgomery 2050 will span 30 years, it is particularly important to hear from the future workers and leaders of the county. We partnered with Gandhi Brigade Youth Media to host a screening of the group’s summer film, The Paradigm Shift(s), about a bright future and how we got there. Gandhi Brigade, as their mission statement says, “is a pioneering afterschool program that empowers young people in the Washington, D.C. region to use multimedia as tools to promote community building, multicultural understanding and the common good.”

Following the film and a reception that included work by local artists, the young filmmakers shared their perspective on how the county can create a good future. Their responses offered invaluable lessons on how young people experience life in the county and envision its future. They shared these insights on their priorities:

  • Providing opportunities for young people to find their own voice and establish gradual degrees of independence is important in allowing them to grow into confident leaders in the future. Welcoming public spaces designed with the youth in mind are a key venue for such growth to occur organically.
  • Fostering environments where diversity can thrive is key. This allows for cross cultural communication of ideas and experiences, which further promotes creative thinking. Our schools, civic institutions, parks and public spaces therefore need to embrace and celebrate diversity in all its forms.
  • Arts can act as a bridge across communities. We therefore need more arts and cultural outlets to achieve our vision for equity and to create leaders who are aware of and respect varying perspectives about issues.
  • As we head into an uncertain economic future where automation and artificial intelligence may replace many of today’s standard occupations, cultural resources for the youth hold greater importance than ever before. Experts are already sounding the alarm that the workforce of tomorrow will need creative and critical thinking skills more than any other type of technical know-how. We must create institutions, programs, and places that encourage creativity in the youth and set them up to succeed in the face of technological advancements.

The youth of our community have a clear sense of what needs to keep our county thriving in the future. Their unfiltered, candid and honest feedback is refreshing and needed as we embark on shaping the polices that will guide the future growth of Montgomery County for the next 30 years. We want to hear from more youth and all age groups as we consider the issues and opportunities for our community. You can join the conversation and share your priorities for the future.

Watch the film and the discussion

In a time when so many popular books, movies, TV shows and video games depict a seemingly inevitable dystopian future, seven high school students created a film based on the premise that the future turns out good. The Paradigm Shift(s) tells the story of a group of young people from the future sent back in time to learn about the time “when the silence broke”, to discover the seeds of resistance that eventually led to the beautiful, just, ideal future they live in. Inspired by the short story “Evidence” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, this genre-defying film is a reminder, to all those fighting tirelessly for a better future, to keep going.

Gandhi Brigade, Thrive 2050 – Shifting the Paradigm Event from M-NCPPC on Vimeo.