Youth voting encouraged

Instagram campaign created by locals

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A new social media campaign based on Salt Spring aims to get Canada’s young people to take action on the most pressing issue of their time.

Simply Green: Mission Possible was launched on Instagram last month by two people with little-to-no experience with the social media platform. Andrew Haigh and Amy Haysom come from different generations and though both are parents, their respective children are also quite far apart in age. What unites them is an overriding concern about the planet’s future and the desire to get millennials inspired to make political change, primarily through exercising their democratic rights in the federal election this month.

“As somebody who has avoided social media like the plague it was a big step,” Haigh conceded. “But I felt the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and science projections are so dire that we just can’t do nothing anymore. We wanted to get more young people out to vote because they tend to be more environmental, but not very good at voting.”

Haysom is a more advanced social media user, being well-versed in Facebook, but said she is also learning when it comes to using Instagram more effectively. She intuitively felt the way to get more millennials voting would be to create something that went “viral.” The team has been hoping to find the answer by adding to their story with original content and creating short videos with all sorts of people. Haigh’s 16-year-old daughter Chloe, Salt Spring’s Raging Grannies, First Nations elders and Massey lecturer Ron Wright have appeared so far. Haigh and Haysom also share other people’s posts and memes for a mix of climate-related facts, pleas and humour.

“We’ve included some fun, practical things people can do  themselves in daily life, not just broader political policy,” Haysom explained. “I think people are spending less and less time on things. They might not read a full article, but here are some readable ideas presented in a user-friendly way.”

Although the campaign is nonpartisan, Haigh and Haysom are asking people to make climate change their top priority when making their choice at the ballot box. Their hope is that youth will receive their message and send it outwards as far as possible by sharing it with others.

Haigh said he understands why many younger people are not getting to the polls, as he himself didn’t vote for a long time as a young person.

“But with things as desperate as they are, people need to get out and do it,” he said. “As Ronald Wright says in our video, we really can’t wait four more years. That’s just too many political games played.”

As for Haysom, she feels that millennials have been activated during the past month by young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who helped bring 500,000 people to a climate strike in Montreal when she visited that city on Sept. 27. She said now it’s time to keep that momentum going, and that means the Instagram campaign will have work to do beyond the 2019 election.

Simply Green: Mission Possible is launching a contest that invites youth to submit their own videos, and is looking for more active participation and celebrity interviews.

“We’re sparking the conversation and giving that daily nudge: the conversation is still important,” Haysom said.

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