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A Toast to Millennial Magic

Hashtags of hope for the future

Cindy Gabriel
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Julia Weber, Eli Weber

THEIR ROVING WORKSPACES It's another day at the office for Julia Weber and son Eli just south of Bozeman, Montana.

I don’t care what anyone says about millennials. I love ’em. I’m for ’em. These kids born between 1981 and 1996 are my kids, by golly, and I think they are doing a pretty good job with what we’ve left them. They’re spending half their earnings on rent, while juggling student loan debt and general Social Insecurity when it comes to retirement.  

Yes, some monumental shifts are happening, as Mother Earth sends wind, rain, fire and other signals that our lifestyle isn’t agreeing with her. Still, I’m betting that a good number of these millennial rascals are paying attention while following their varied instincts and blazing new trails in all sorts of different directions. 

That kid in Starbucks with the man bun, staring at his laptop, may look unemployed, but he’s probably working on his start-up beer brewery. Lots of kids (I mean, young adults taking over the world) don’t exactly view work as a place you go. It’s just something you do.

#digital_nomads

On the surface, my two sons-in-law seem very different. One designs and markets video games. One creates and runs restaurants. But when they get together, their conversation lands inside a virtual world of apps and programs, Instagrams, hashtags and other words beyond my vocabulary. Daughters Laura and Julia also work wherever they happen to be. Laura is a project analyst for a recruiting company, and Julia is an artist and social media marketer/mom.  

Baby Eli is seldom without a parent as Julia and Morgan symbiotically hand him off between their meetings and his naps. When they’ve had enough of this, the trio packs up and moves the office to, say, Yellowstone Park.  

#laptopsandlullabies 

As I write this, the two couples and baby grandson are on a two and a half week camping trip. I have not yet, in my life, taken a trip that long. Why? Because I have one of those jobs where you wake up, dress for work, get in a car and drive to an office. Then I sit, answer emails, go to meetings, write stuff, boss around staff, then drive home. I put in for vacation time to get my hair cut, stay home, let in the plumber or take my dog to the vet. My real away vacations end up being 4-6 days straight, including the weekend, poor me. (Violins please.)

Millennials, however, won’t have this for long. Smart employers are figuring out that millennials are in a position to demand more from the workplace. 

Why? Are you kidding? We need their technology skills, not to mention their sheer workforce numbers.   

A year ago, Laura and Andy took off for Bend, Oregon, the so-called virtual job capital of the world. Within a year they bought a home and gained a whole new crowd of friends. They hike, camp and snowboard together depending on the season. In between, they work hard.

Another millennial couple I know fixes up vacation houses while staying in them. They’ve spent far more consecutive days in my Hunt getaway than I have, while tackling some long overdue maintenance projects. They’ve worked in the Virgin Islands twice between working for me.  

An enchanting little movie/documentary called The Biggest Little Farm stoked my optimism this summer. A couple, evicted from their apartment complex because of their barking dog, decided to keep the dog and take over an abandoned farm. It was basically a dead, dry patch of land that resembled the moon. 

Apricot Lane Farms, near Los Angeles, is now a lush wonderland of farm animals, fruit trees, ducks and lakes, attracting nesting birds, snails and burrowing critters, including a host of human millennial volunteers. It shows how this crazy mix of critters, plants and people are needed – together – to make the richest soil.

Closer to home, a former Houston couple, Jason and Lynsey Kramer, started a real working farm in 2006 based on the concept, “Know your farmer, know your food.” I’ll leave the rest of that story to Lynsey, Jason and their four farm-raised “chicks.” Lynsey’s social media skills are phenomenal.

#yonderwayfarms 

But hey, Houston is growing its own crop of millennials right here. I’m expecting them to come up with ways to make it more livable.

Somebody will repurpose a downtown high-rise office into a solar-powered communal blend of office/residential/gyms/retail/learning centers or you name it, with a garden on top, or something better.  

Millennials are also insisting more on jobs that fit their altruisms. I had a conversation with a millennial who gave up her job with a prestigious law firm for a non-profit focused on affordable housing. She took a $110,000-a-year pay cut and has moved into a garage apartment. 

Millennials aren’t looking for one-size-fits-all living.  

#millennialmagic

You go, kids.

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