Where have all the young people gone?
That’s a question you might be asking yourself if you attended the North End Community Input meeting on March 5th; a room filled with mostly middle-aged and older members of our community.
So, where have they gone?
Young People are Missing the Message
Our young people are not absent because they don’t care, they are absent because they are being left out of the conversation.
Our residents aged 20 to 44 make up 41% of the total population of Sandy Springs — that’s a 7% increase over the past decade.
Such a large portion of our residents should not be left out of this conversation! It is their future that the city is planning. We need their voices.
Inclusivity is key, so why are they not in these meetings?
City Meeting Advertising
If young people are unaware of these meetings, why is that happening? How does the city advertise these meetings?
Well, for one, the city advertises community input meetings in the two local newspapers, the “Sandy Springs Neighbor” and the “Sandy Springs Reporter”.
But, according to both paper’s circulation departments, only single family residences receive these publications. Yes, that’s right. Residents of our many apartment complexes don’t even get the papers.
In addition, the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods posts announcements about community input meetings on their social media platforms, but only homeowners and condo owners are allowed to be members of this non-profit.
And finally, there’s the Home Owners Associations, which also publish information about community input meetings — but here again, only homeowners receive the information.
It’s common knowledge that most young people can’t afford to own property in Sandy Springs and, therefore, are not able to be homeowners. This means they are living in apartments, condos and townhomes — rental properties.
The Simple Solution to this Disconnect
We would like to see more efforts made by the city and these organizations to include ALL residents in news dissemination and city decision-making meetings, but there are a few ways you can help inform yourself.
If you are an apartment resident looking to get informed, you have a few options:
- Head over to a restaurant who has extra copies of the” Sandy Springs Reporter” in their doorways.
- Sign Up Online for the Electronic Version of the “Reporter”
- Sign Up Online for the Electronic Version of the “Neighbor”
- Grab your electronic device and check out the city’s website, and hope that the city has posted the next meeting on the city’s calendar.
- Register for the City’s Newsletter
As of March 26, the meetings on May 2nd and May 9 have not been posted.
Why is This Such a Big Issue?
You might be saying to yourself — there are several available options to get informed about meetings, so what’s the issue?
Unlike single family residences and homeowners, all of these methods require the resident taking action first.
As the resident, YOU have to know that these communication vehicles are available before you can take action. And, you need to know that there are activities going on that could impact you as a renter.
If the city truly wants input from young residents, who are mostly apartment residents, they need to make an intentional effort to reach them.
How The City Can Reach Them
There are many ways for the city to do this.
- The city could utilize multiple social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.
- The city could implement a targeted direct mail program that puts invitations and/or brochures of information in apartment residents mailboxes.
- A volunteer phone bank, or automated phone calls to all residents.
- Old fashioned poster on a bulletin board.
These are just a few obvious options, that we hope are not being purposely overlooked.
Does the city care enough to implement them and make an effort to include all of our residents in this important discussion?
Let’s Push for a Change!
We know our young people are not absent because they don’t care, so let’s help them join the conversation.
You can help us get more young people at the NEXT Community Conversation.
Reach out to your young friends and neighbors who missed the last meeting and tell them about the upcoming meeting on May 2 and May 9, or post about the upcoming meetings on your social media.
And, make sure to stay connected to Sandy Springs Together as we inform the whole community about local news and upcoming events.