Can A Party Save The World?

I’ve come of age in a time when injustice is ubiquitous. I mean, the same injustices have pretty much always been there, but it used to be so much easier to live in a state of ignorance. My generation, however, has never had the ability to pretend like everything is okay — because we’ve never known life without the internet. For our whole lives, our social media feeds and news notifications have granted blinding visibility to the terrors of the world around us.
The upside of this is that more and more young people are publicly expressing their opinions and finding value in their voices. And with our current administration, there has been even more of an urgency to speak out, push back, and stand up for our rights. It's no surprise that we're in a new wave of activism; you can feel it by simply scrolling through your feeds. But how do we go beyond sharing Facebook posts? How do we take tangible action against these issues?
A lot of us Gen-Z kids are criticized for our “clicktivism” or “slacktivism”or whatever word we’re being devalued by these days. Some people think that posting on social media and signing online petitions (both of which are totally valuable, by the way) are merely ways to feel the gratification of advocacy without physically doing anything. But I know that Generation Z is not lazy, and that we’re actually brimming with passion for justice and a desire to take further action. Getting started can be hard, though, especially if you’re a busy high school kid with ten thousand extracurriculars like me.

Generation Z is not lazy — we’re actually brimming with passion for justice.

If you’ve read articles online about how to take action post-election, you know about the importance of creating an intersectional dialogue among your family and peers, calling your Senators and Representatives to voice your opinion, and attending protests or rallies in your area. All of these methods of action are very valuable and can be integrated into your life. Now, I have another solution that you can add to your list of ways to take action. I present you with PhilanthroParties.
I like to think of these as parties with a purpose. Every time I’m hosting anything, whether it’s a full-blown fiesta or just a casual Sunday afternoon get-together, I always ask myself: How can I make the experience meaningful for my guests and beneficial for others? This started for me in middle school when I stopped asking for birthday presents and instead for donations to causes that were important to me. My family adopted the habit for our holiday parties, too; we asked for canned foods to donate to a food bank and outgrown sweaters to give to a shelter. I was so inspired by the success of these events that I decided to start a nonprofit to provide other young people with the tools they need to throw their own PhilanthroParties. I even wrote a PhilanthroParty-planning book, which was published on May 9. Adding a simple element of action to social events is incredibly easy to do, and I can’t tell you what a difference it has made in my life.
So, how does this tie into activism? I’m not suggesting that you get all Kendall-Jenner-Pepsi and turn serious protests into lighthearted parties. PhilanthroParties are certainly not meant to celebrate in the face of inequity. Rather, they are a means of supporting worthy organizations, and they are a powerful kindness-spreading and community-building tool. Kindness is in serious demand right now. And bringing your friends together to support a good cause is an incredible way to find a sense of unity during these divisive times.
For me, it is particularly important to reach out to organizations that benefit those at risk under the Trump administration. I have a friend who organized a bake sale with her friends aptly titled “Bake America Great Again” to raise money for the ACLU. My mom and her friends have a monthly wine and cheese night dedicated to creating political action plans for the month. In response to the fear-mongering surrounding our neighbors in Mexico, my 15-year-old brother and his friends raised money through pizza parties and lemonade stands and built a dorm at an orphanage in Tijuana.

Kindness is in serious demand right now. And bringing your friends together to support a good cause is an incredible way to find a sense of unity during these divisive times.

PhilanthroParties don’t always need to center around soliciting donations, especially because sometimes, guests might not be in a financial position where that’s possible. Philanthropy is really all about showing your care for others and standing up for causes you believe in, and you can do that in so many ways.
For example, I recently invited a few of my close friends over to hang out, talk about our latest Netflix obsessions, and make thank-you cards for important people in our lives. We wrote letters to our parents and to our teachers. We also thanked Planned Parenthood employees for their courage, thanked our California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein for their commitment to protecting our rights, and thanked Michelle Obama for simply being her radiant self. I know making cards isn’t considered philanthropy, but the impact of this simple handwritten gesture was profound. During a time when many of us are bogged down with pain and frustration, it was so refreshing to balance months of protests by spending an afternoon with my friends, decorating cards with magic markers, and expressing appreciation for those who matter to us.
It is pretty clear that my generation will inherit a lot of problems. But thanks to the internet, many of us have already found confidence in expressing our voices. Still, sometimes it can be hard to take our passion beyond the digital. Not because we don’t care, but because we simply don’t know where to start. For those of you who feel that way, I ask you to consider integrating social action into your social life. Take a look at your calendar. Do you have a birthday coming up? Friends coming over any time soon? If so, you’re already halfway there. Now just add a cause to make your social gatherings meaningful, and party with purpose.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series