Youth Rising

By Ben Mali Macfadyen – Catalyst course facilitator

“The apocalypse is always easier to imagine than the strange circuitous routes to what actually comes next.” – Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark.

I arrived at Embercombe as a 19 year old activist. I was full of passion but completely burnt out by the scale of the crises in the world, and the seeming inactivity of so many around me. This was long before the school climate strikes, the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements. I felt alone and overwhelmed. Participating in Catalyst, Embercombe’s programme for 18-29 year olds, not only helped me find a path to adulthood that was my own; it gave me tools to make change joyfully. To share some of my own humble gifts with others… and to never stop walking.

Ten years on and “the ripples continue to flow out into my life”, as a dear Catalyst alumni Harry Corder-Greaves wrote. I now work with young people across Britain. In so many of them I see the same fear that comes with the knowledge of what has been done to our fragile planet. The anger at the destruction they are told is their inheritance. But I also experience their phenomenal energy to rise up and demand a different future. An energy we’ve witnessed again and again in global youth-led movements that with skilful support and mentoring can transform our communities and our world. I’m not asking young people to shoulder all the responsibility of past generations (as I felt like I was doing for too many years), but to for us to stand beside them in solidarity and lift up the ‘impossible’ together.

This message is a call out to speak with more young people in your community. Engage in conversations that enliven, empower and engage. Most importantly – listen! The extent to which their voices are celebrated will determine the future for all of us. I’m reminded of a brilliant interview with the Quaker writer Parker J. Palmer, where he says to his young mentor Courtney E. Pine “I feel like I’m standing somewhere down the curvature of the earth. I cannot see the horizon that you folks see where you’re standing higher on that curvature. I need your eyes, and I need your ears, and I need you to tell me what it is you’re seeing because that same horizon is coming at me, even though I don’t know it.” 

This year we will be holding two Catalyst programmes at Embercombe, in April and August. But many young people cannot fund their participation, particularly those coming from communities who don’t regularly access these kinds of opportunities. We need your help to support the emergence of a generation of change makers. That’s why we’ve created the Young Leaders fund to offer free places to those already working in communities, with the humble wish that they will leave Embercombe equipped to make more great things happen. We’re inviting organisations and individuals to nominate an inspiring young person, and we’re asking you to donate to make it possible.

Thank you for all you are and do in support of young people.

CLICK HERE to donate to Catalyst.

CLICK HERE to nominate a young leader for Catalyst 2020