by Dan Lourie
Dan Lourie lives in Bozeman. He is a lifetime activist for peace, justice and equality, has written to newspapers since 1964.
Twenty-five young women and men under the age of twenty-five, judged the cream of the crop out of seventy applicants, have been chosen as winners of Forward Montana’s “25 Under 25” competition. To read the descriptons of their devotion to making the world a better place is to not only be wowed, but also to truly gain confidence in our future.
My friend Kiah Abbey, FM’s head person in Bozeman, told me about the contest and I knew immediately to nominate a young woman who exemplifies the description of the contestants FM hoped to attract. More on her later, but here are excerpts from the intro to the contest.
The next generation is revolutionizing Montana here and now.We are innovators and students, entrepreneurs and workers, volunteers and movement builders. Most importantly we are the faces of a new Montana, and we want our voices to be heard.We will make sure young Montanans get the recognition they deserve.The project will highlight 25 Montanans under the age of 25 who are shaping Montana through their work. Young people in our state are leading social change, and these…deserve to be acknowledged for moving Montana not left, not right, but forward.With 25 Under 25, Forward Montana wants to recognize and celebrate the impact of young Montanans.Applicants of diverse socioeconomic, political, and cultural backgrounds are encouraged.
My nominee, 17 year old Bozemanite Ava Swanson, one of the 25 to be feted as winners, is a talented singer-songwriter and perpetually in motion activist for justice and equality. I originally knew her as a grade school student of my daughter, then as a dear friend of our family and frequent contributor of talent to progressive events in which I participated. We have developed a friendship around our mutual enthusiasm for the politics of peace, justice and equality.
I was asked to choose areas which Ava has affected for the good of Montana and to describe how she has moved Montana forward in the selected areas.
Education: Ava has participated in HATCH DSEL, an event that brings educators, students and mentors together to work on education reform. She is also an advocate for experiential education, resulting from her semester in Southeast Africa with The Traveling School.
Environment: Ava created a recycling program in her K-8 elementary/middle school.
Equality: Ava has worked with Bozeman High School staff and administration to create policies that make school dances and functions more inclusive for LGBT youth.
As a musician, Ava often shares her gifts with the community. She has played guitar and sung multiple years at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. She played at our rally for the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington, our Medicaid Expansion Victory Celebration Party, a Nepal Earthquake Fundraiser, and more.
Ava recently graduated from Bozeman High School after three years. For her senior project, she studied oppression and oppression theory, and I was lucky enough to hear her give a ten minute talk on that subject – without notes! She has created a social network platform called “Daily Activism” that shares daily quotes and inspiration from activists throughout history. She is also a passionate feminist, and works closely with her feminist club, Project X^2.
Am I wrong to be inspired by our youthful activists and the future they portend for our planet?
This link will take you to information on all 25 winners.