Podcast

48 - How to engage millennials in sustainable community development ft. Jennifer Uchendu

December 21, 2020

Today on the podcast, Jennifer Uchendu, sustainability communicator, analyst, and founder of Susty Vibes; a social enterprise making sustainability actionable for young people in Nigeria.

The conversation digs into her sustainability work focusing on climate change, ecofeminism, and meaningful youth participation in the sustainable development agenda. Jennnifer talks about how she positioned Susty Vibes to change the conceptualization of sustainability in Africa, especially among youths, by creating innovative projects and campaigns - such as “Susty Parties” where she hosts gatherings to discuss sustainability issues over movies, food, and games.

Pinar Guvenc  
Hello everyone and welcome to What's Wrong With: The Podcast. Today we're delighted to be speaking with Jennifer Uchendu. Jennifer is a sustainability communicator, analyst and founder of SustyVibes, a social enterprise making sustainability actionable for young people in Nigeria. Her sustainability work is focused on climate change, eco feminism and meaningful youth participation in the sustainable development agenda. Jennifer holds a master's degree in development studies from the Institute of Development Studies in UK. She's a 2018 Mandela Washington fellow, Bill and Melinda Gates, goalkeeper and the co-author of the E-book titled A Guide to Business Sustainability in Nigeria. Jennifer, welcome.

Jennifer Uchendu  
Thank you so much. Hi, everyone. It's such a pleasure to be here. Speaking about my work, yes, I'm the founder of SustyVibes, which is basically a cool way to say sustainability vibes. Yeah, I found that SustyVibes four years ago, when I was looking for a platform as a young person to do sustainability work in Nigeria. Now Nigeria is a developing country faced with really prior, prior parity sustainable development issues. There's poverty, unemployment, sustainability, environmental issues, weren't really parities for young people. So there weren't, there wasn't a platform where you'd have like tree huggers, people who are really interested in the environment and all of that. And I really, really wanted it and a lot of people would think I was crazy then wanting to be involved in that kind of stuff. But SustyVibes literally just came to me as that idea. But funny enough, was there as a blog, it was just a WordPress blog, writing stuff related to the environment. And looking at the DEN Sustainable Development Goals, they were just launched at that time, looking at them to a young person, a young woman's point of view. For a long time, I had identified with the idea of eco feminism, wanting to do work for women and the environment. So SustyVibes gave me that platform to express myself it was that space, you know, the thing about creating space for social change. So I literally saw a need a need that was pressing for me. And then I started it. And I remember four or five months into starting the blog, we decided to have like a readers meetup, we'll call it a party. And it was a Susty Party and a house party and loads of people came with over 50. And it was there knew that Okay, we're onto something here, there's so much that can be done. I didn't realize that there were other young people who are also interested in sustainability like myself. And yeah, that's how we that's how we grew to where we are basically, we've now grown to a full blown social enterprise, doing several projects in different states in Nigeria, was very much useful cost very much youth led very much equal feminists center centric. So there's a lot of work for women development and the environment happening simultaneously. And even recently, we found ourselves even speaking around politics, because a lot of a lot of decisions are made at the federal political level. So if our leaders don't realize the importance for environmental sustainability will be stuck. And the world has been stuck kind of for a long time where we our climate change? Yeah, basically. So what we're seeing is that there's just so many linkages and intersections with the work we do. And every other thing which people would have said what was really, really important even if poverty, you know, there's a lot of links between how the environment relates to how people survive so people are more vulnerable when they're in poorer communities, you know, infrastructure and all of that. So it's just been exciting to learn, learn by doing basically so we do the walk and then we learn and get the experiences Yeah.

Pinar Guvenc  
I know, I love this background like so much because it also speaks to so much of the aspects that you know, we believe in and I guess, like have observed through our lives too like, I think you know, having a presence both in Istanbul and New York and also doing work like so sort of all over we have the like the firsthand experience of witnessing different cultures and approaches to things like you know, looking at some stuff in like  Turkey I might think like, okay, in terms of like sustainability efforts, maybe US is more advanced and then I go to Netherlands I'm like, oh, wow, US is not advanced at all. You know, like there is it really like creates this context real quick, but also, just because, you know, there are, as you mentioned, so much urgent needs such as like, I mean part like hunger, right, like, people are concerned of their day to day, forget a conversation on climate change, but it's really not like that, right. So in the long run everything around climate change that we're discussing, or you know, biodiversity or desertification, that in the end impacts your hunger to so I think like that connection, it's so hard to make in countries where there's so much urgency on like other problems, but at the same time, that realization that if we do not address this that do not seem urgent to you, it is actually pretty urgent, and it will impact your future like that awareness is so so important. And I think that, like what you did, is really made the conversation more accessible and understandable. Like once you see how that might relate to your day to day like otherwise. Like there's a lot of big terms, right, like climate change, what does that even mean? Like, I'm worried about the food on the table today. But then once you understand how that might connect to your day to day, it's actually pretty powerful, and it's hard to ignore. And I think what's important in what you do is like really having an accessible dialogue, a dialogue really, like good things that matter to us, and how that might relate to climate change or sustainability. So did you find I mean, I guess like, through, because it started as a blog, it was more like your, I guess passions and frustrations or everything around COVID, so coming from a personal angle, I'm assuming that really resonated with other like young minds who were actually interested in this subject. So because it was so personal, rather than an academic publications, like did you see that happening? Or it was like, did you see think, okay, because I'm like sharing my like version of this? And like, it's very personal and it's probably more accessible. You think that that would resonate? Or like, how was your own interest arose in the beginning to like, I'm not sure it's from like, academic data, you know?

Jennifer Uchendu  
Well, definitely not academic. I have my undergraduate in biochemistry. So I mean, it's completely different. But I mean, the interest for me is just looking around the environment and seeing that this isn't something people take very seriously. This isn't a Nigerian conversation, even though it should be. I mean, climate change, for the longest was a very Western father thing. You know, I remember my mom, like, five, six years ago, calling me one day she's like, how can I tell my friends what you're doing? Like, how do I explain this climate change thing to them? Because it's difficult for them to wrap wrap their head around, you know? And yeah, with SustyVibes, it was very personal. It was a lot of people saying, even if we want to go into academia, or get a masters or work in a company, we still need the experience, how then do we get the experience if we don't have spaces like this, so that was that need, That was the gap SustyVibes was filling, creating a platform, and that's like our tagline we say, we create a platform where sustainability can be relatable for young people in Nigeria. So the key word is relatable. If it's not something that's understandable, if we can't use pop culture, everyday language and slang to explain this problem, then perhaps it's not so pressing. So that's what we made a case for. And to make a case for the solutions not being as complex either, understanding that it's day to day living, understanding that it's as big as system change, but we can change our lifestyle, we can change our thinking. And we still struggle with that thinking and mindset problem around sustainability. Something as simple as recycling or just disposing of your plastic bottle properly, who has loads and loads of sensitization to the average person, because we tell them they're like, you don't just see why this should like, how does this affect me? But then you break it down you use like local language, you use everything possible to explain to people that Oh, have you heard of microplastics and you tell them what microplastics, but you don't want to leave them there. You make them you will walk on a fuse and explain to them the process and the reality of the problem. And they start to series into it, they start to make commitments on the sports, you know, that's how the message of gospel in quotes starts to spread. But definitely, it was very, very personnel. I've now obviously gone on to do a master's in development. And now I have the academic framing. But when I first started, it was just a passion to make change, you've seen a problem in society, and you think this solution can come from a young person's point of view, it wasn't me, it wasn't me trying to push or join adults to do their thing. So businesses, governments have a role to play in this solution. But I wanted a youth driven solution, something that was by young people for young people. And that's where SustyVibes came in. And we've seen several other organizations springing up after SustyVibes. And it's very exciting to see the different ways young people are now seeing making change, they using different things. So for us, when we started, pop culture was a big tool for us, we do lots of parties, lots of movie screenings. For us, we needed to get into the mind, we needed to do that restorative advocacy kind of thing, like people need to see what we're seeing and understand why this is even a problem. And we were looking for links a lot. So talk about peace and sustainable development, talk about violence. So there are links to climate change and terrorism, you know, links to climate change, and girl child marriage, make these links very obvious, because we have examples in Nigeria, and let people see them. So it was really, really interesting when we when we started. And we've never lost sight of that work that we do. Even as we've expanded with several other projects, it has always been the core who young people understand what we're doing, will they be able to tell tell someone you know, there's this thing we say Nigeria, explain to me like I'm a five year old. So you need to explain to someone else, like they are a five year old, if not, it's probably not as urgent as you say it is.

Pinar Guvenc  
Yeah I mean, as much as this, you know, is very much of a need in Nigeria, this is like a global need, right? We definitely do need the academic research, we do need this like high level, like a very complicated or sophisticated conversations too but talking about actionable like insights, or even like awareness that really requires people to relate. I like I also like to look at, like when we look at different industries, like fashion industry, as much as you know, it's one of the biggest culprits in like, environmental pollution, and there are a lot of corruption within the industry itself, too. But it also is like quicker to raise awareness when they're doing something. And like, I'm realizing is like, oh, because like, in the end, whether we think we have a style or not, we all have a style. And we all wear clothes. So it's a relatable thing, right? But when you're when you're talking about this, like high level thing that may be happening to the planet, it's so hard to like communitcat that so what you said in terms of like using local language that is also so so true. Because, like, which analogies are you going to use when, like, one may resonate with me, one may resonate with someone else. So like, even identifying and breaking that down, that's not dumbing down the profession, that's actually like really intending to educate people rather than giving them facts. Yeah, I think like, that is so cool. And I actually love that you make it fun, like for people to even like remember, like what was told to you at like the party, or the pop culture? Like, if you think of the advertising world, it's all about how they make you feel, right. Yeah. Get car and suddenly, you're the best person on the planet like, like they already mastered this. So like, if this is fun to deal with and learn and do something, then it's only gonna spread from there. If it's just like these scary facts. We tend to there's so much bad news every day, too. We tend to sort of like numb ourselves and ignore that anyway. Yeah, there has to be this like positive connection to it too, which I think it's great that you sort of like incorporated that early on. I think like and you always mentioned youth and I, you know, definitely agree on well, also, you know, we came from like generations who thought like plastic was the biggest revolution and then suddenly they're like, oh, like maybe not and then but you know, sustainability like environmental protection. Those were not big conversations like even like 30-40 years ago. So and it is crucial to like sort of really have the concept even like embedded to your personality. So you can act otherwise like, Oh, yeah. So in that sense, like, youths I definitely understand. But of course, like, in addition to the, you know, obviously governments like the policy lags, we cannot rely on waiting for like something to be here. If use movement is so much more important, but what type of resistance or I guess, like barriers did you face as you started to expand the project scope of SustyVibes, like what type of like really, people acknowledging what was what this was about? Or they were actually open to it and wanting to do some things, then you faced different type of difficulties?

Jennifer Uchendu  
Hmm. I mean, so in terms of getting people to join the community, young people to be part of what we do, because of our branding, and culture and community, it was very exciting to join. When we put out calls for people who get notice of applications, I would have to even tell people No, because we didn't have the capacity to take on so much. But then the success for us is going out to communities and to the streets to make real change. You want to go and do a cleanup and sensitize people, you want to go back there next week and expect some level of change, if not 100%, I think our major challenge was that we weren't getting that. People would easily go to business as usual, people go to go back to what they were doing before, people would still argue against the facts, and not once want to acknowledge it, you know, and that was where that's where we realized that the work is a lot, we need more hearts, we need to work with businesses, you know, we need to work, we need more stakeholders, there needs to be some form of enforcement, enforcement, it needs to be a priority for even the government. If not, it's just going to be a secondary issue that people won't take serious. Secondly, we realize that if you make if you make sustainability attractive for the common man who's issue's poverty, or whose issue is hunger, if you make it attractive for them, if you give them a buy in and win win, so for us, it was incentive based recycling. So we did a lot of a lot of campaign telling people that Oh, if you, if you recycle X amount of plastics, you can get cash, you can get gifts, you know, you can get all of that. And it made sense, it made sense for people's pockets, it makes sense for the environment. So finding win-win strategies like that. For us. For the young people, he was that sense of community, being in a family needs, you know, fun space, where you have that branding and identity, that you're a SustyViber, that's what we call our volunteers, they're SustyVibers. And it's very cool to to have that time. You know, they use their lapels, they talk about it, they've become really close. And you know, they've gone on to do really great things from just that identity. How then does it translate to the average person? A thought barrier would be the eco anxiety. And the overwhelm that comes with the work that we do. I mean, climate change, and climate catastrophe is so it's such a huge problem is so complex, you know, everyday we emit carbon by just living, you know, like we're turning on our laptops, our phones, you guys, what, yes, so difficult to not have that guilt, and that anxiety about the future. And then young people doing this work. They get a lot of overwhelm. They're like, Can we really make change contains really change, especially with climate change. And part of what I've been trying to understand is even eco-anxiety young people. To do my master's, I sort of put put myself in that position to research eco-anxiety, because it's such a huge problem. Viewing hope in young people, how do I motivate people to continue in that positive, optimistic view of life, when we know that things are not getting better, they're even getting worse, you know, like, there are no plans to divest from fossil fuels. You know, we still want to be realistic. This is our major source of building the economy. So what are we really going to do and as things get worse, that anxiety is a lot to deal with. So one of our very last events around it was to have a party to look at climate change and mental health. You know, talk about yoga, talk about what are the positive things that you're doing and that community, the climate strikes even came out of that, you know, wanting to take positive action with people and having those conversations. So those conversations are really, really key. So within our WhatsApp groups, whenever we come out to space, we want people to talk about their feeling, because there's nothing worse than having it changed. A world that has global warming, and then mental health issues at the same time, like that's like double. So we want to also address the mental health fallouts that are coming from, from the climate change conversation, that has been a very big elephant in the room for us, you know, trying to figure it out, even I myself, you know, with all of the leading and like having fun and doing your passion, I still get really anxious, like, Is there really change in sight? Are we just doing stuff. So that's one big challenge that we're still figuring out and the conversation that I have now really been involved in trying to figure out best ways to adapt, and he will live with the changing climates, because young people are here to stay. So we'll be here for a longer time than older people. So our conversation and approach even has to be different, we'll have to think of new ways to talk about this, new ways to manage our expectations. Because...and find balance because we're often tilts from optimism to complete despair, when we think of the news and the problems and all of that. So it's finding that sweet spot, because eco-anxiety is not a bad thing in itself. Because when you start to think about issues around the environment, I want to make a change, it propels you to want to make a change of settings as you're looking for information. But then what do we do with that energy? And that's those feelings young people are having. And that's definitely a new focus for me, and our work with SustyVibes, because we can't take it away. We can't just be solution centric, we need to create that space for conversations. So our solutions can even be meaningful in the long run, basically.

Pinar Guvenc  
So so true. I mean, it's something that we don't think about often, right? Like, we're so focused on bringing the solution and then all these like people who are trying to make progress and push like, there's so many, really like deeply entrenched systematic issues, or institutions, that things are going to be slow. I think the realization, I like on a day to day basis, like yes, this may take generations, right. Like, we have to, I mean, do we have the time like this? Like, like this generation, like, you know, even with, like, human rights movements, right? People died of torture, they didn't see the positive ending, right. And there's no like, well, there are some positive endings, but still, we're not 100% globally, for sure. Right. So I think that like recognition, like what I'm doing is for the long term, yeah. Because, like, if we think about it now, like the generations that are coming up, and like our current generation, they're already growing up with the awareness. Like, there was no such thing in the past. So even if you like, even if you come to the game aware and conscious of your actions, that's already a plus, like one is greater than zero, if you do, like one thing is better than not doing anything, I think, you know, they're they also like, for like, a time, like millennials were made fun of too like, really, oh, like, they want to change the world, like about like, social impact, and then they're bored the next day. Well, I think that's something like for us and like, for all like upcoming generations, a sort of like a self reminder is that it's gonna take a time, it's gonna take a long time. And it might look like what we're doing is very minor. But if everybody was doing that minor thing, that's a huge impact, right? So I think like that awareness and constant reminding of ourselves, is really, really crucial. And also like what you do in terms of like, making it fun, right? I think, and like really having like, almost like therapy sessions together,

Jennifer Uchendu  
Yeah, pretty much.

Pinar Guvenc  
In the end, we're all human, right? We can only take so much and reminding each other like, okay, like, this is better than nothing. Like all of that, like positive conversation and having space for that. That's such a good point. And so, so important. And you said in terms of, you know, you like going into communities and like do cleaning and sanitizing and then like, you may come back and see like, business as usual. I think that's like, one it's an issue, I guess, like recurring in different topics in different ways. Yeah. If the change doesn't happen from the local, like, if you know, a party comes in, they help you out you feel in the moment and then you're like, supportive of it and then when they leave suddenly it is really easy to go back to your old hair. Yeah. So I guess the question is like, how do you...like what are ways? Or like what type of things that you've been like ideating on? How can this happen? like for it to happen from the local somebody from you really Exactly. So that's the ideation part, but then how do you sort of like I guess, make sure it's reminded nonstop, like it lives in the local, even when you leave? Like, what are some things that you were exploring there?

Jennifer Uchendu  
Well, obviously before COVID, lockdown, and also having to go out and being stuck on digital face, we considered tapping into our community. And asking people in our community where the problems that you're seeing it could be a street could be, you know, blocks of flats around you, you then set it up. So we say we're youth lead, don't wait for the management team or the leaders, you set it up, you know, create a budget, tell young people around you tell your friends about it. And then you guys start to make it a culture you want to clean up, then start cleaning up, you want to do a screening start it. So it's basically empowering people, you know, that's this idea of, you're giving them the power, you're not just saying, Oh, I have the power to make change, you're making it very fluid and accessible to say, we want to be youth lead. So young people should then lead this change, you can now do it on your own as a SustyViber, you have written You know, and our community and identity's fine for you. Think of the best way- you know your community more than we do. Think of the best way to approach this issue. Would you need, for example, a religious leader to come with you? Is that someone they respect? Then let's get him on board? Would you need a celebrity, a musician would they listen to him? Would he need to do some partnerships? So basically, we don't want to impose our ideas. And that's the fear. The fear of adoptism and you know, copy and paste solutions. You don't want to just impose a Western idea or a top level idea you have people...

Pinar Guvenc  
That doesn't sustain anyway.

Jennifer Uchendu  
Exactly. And then for us because the journey of SustyVibes has been one of experimentation. Gosh, we keep trying, you know, failing. Sometimes we flub sometimes that's really amazing. We're like, Oh, well, we did that. So making, paying it forward and telling other young people who walk with you be free to experiment, let's try different things. Particularly as this urgency of the matter, we can just be stuck in one way because there's no one size fits all. So making room to just experiment, you know, try different things and see what works basically, like you said, one is greater than zero. So if we have just one person on board, one person said, Oh, From today onwards, I would not throw my plastic bottle to the, to the drainage of something that's good for the environment. So that's how we, we set to evaluate change and success. When we can make incremental progress basically, we can't change the world in one week, or one. We know that for sure. So yeah, that's that's how it that's how it has been so far. And that's the kind of theory of change we're now adopting, To take it slowly as possible. But experiment, you know, be open to change, and yeah, be very open here.

Pinar Guvenc  
And also growth from within is what you're describing, right? Like, the so like, giving local leadership like empowering them, and then guiding them instead of just like, Okay, so now you should do this, but you identify what is the most urgent problem in your community, and then this is the way you may address it. You may also want to try this like we are community I think like figuring out those influential people in the community like that's also really value and it really goes back to what you originally said on finding the local language the local know best the local language, right? You guiding and like to what you're doing in terms of like raising awareness and educating and then these like locals adopting the idea and then they sort of like expand so that will take time, obviously, I like that sort of like fires, local growth and like customization and what they're doing. Yet that is the only one that would sustain like anything that is top down or somebody coming in and doing it for you and then leaving like all of that is like a patchwork thing where you know, things easily go back to normal. I mean, in like different industries, we see, like the models that only work are the ones that work with the local network. And those are the ones who are actually be able to repeat. Because it also like I can imagine, as a community, once you let's say, like, for you, maybe the street was the priority, you clean it up. And once you do that, I'm sure there's a feel good component to it. Yeah. Then you're like, oh, what about this too, like, maybe we should do. So that is also like organic growth from local. Like, let's go back what you said in terms of like incentives. I guess that also ties to, like cultural needs as well. Like when you live in an environment where it's like, everything is about like, today's urgency in the short term solutions, like finding food for tomorrow, right? Yeah, oh, six month one year planning into your like future? Or like even businesses function like that, especially in developing countries where like, yeah, like, what do we look like in the short term? So the incentive model is a very short term results for the person. So that is definitely I think, super interesting in terms of like, how to find local solutions, like in not even not all developed countries, some developed countries, you may just educate people in there, maybe they're on board. Yeah. But I can even see, like, you know, in the United States, from states to states, it will differ how people respond, or there will be a lot of states who would like the incentive to act on things. How do you like, see, how can you collaborate on that with, I guess, on a broader term, like, do you collaborate with businesses so that they will support SustyVibes on allowing for those incentives? Do you collaborate with other institutions or nonprofit organizations?

Jennifer Uchendu  
So basically, there's already a body in recycling culture in Nigeria, also led by young people, social entrepreneurs, what we do because we're, we have the numbers in terms of young people volunteering and wanting to go out to the streets. So we team up with these recyclers. So they need subscribers and people to give them plastic. So we go out together with them. And then we're taking, we're taking names of people telling them or you can give your plastic and get incentives, incentives in return. And it's like a win win for the recycling company. And a win-win for us because we know that directly, we're going to help get the environments to be cleaned up. So we definitely always team up. And that's one thing I probably skipped in my introduction, SustyVibes has been a product of collaboration for like several, a lot of working together, like a lot of a lot of working together, because young people have different interests, you know, the church, you know, they want to go to the movies. So we've kind of keyed into all of those kinds of partners, you know, different stakeholders, that young people will be interested in, and finding people who would help us achieve our joint mission. So, for example, you want to reach young people or a young young audience, we can work with you, you know, to do like your CSR project. And it's a win win for you, basically, you're reaching young people, we're also getting to do our work. So definitely, we would always ask for would also would always work with people in terms of funding and getting sponsorship to do our events and all of that. However, there's a cross with that, because we're always very careful. You have to be poorer and clean, you don't want to you don't want to follow the reeks of greenwashing and being with an organization that isn't really about the environment. So we're always very clear about the organizations we work with, you know, wanting to see their sustainability report, what they are about, how do people perceive them, and if they are not, for example, we won't work with an oil company. That's completely away from what we would do. Like if people don't perceive you as an organization that truly cares for people for the environment, you know, for, for human rights, and all of that, who probably advice you or maybe this is something else you should do, maybe work on your perspective and try to do more stuff than trying to claim your number. And all of that, so, definitely, yeah. And I think that's one thing young people are able to do, we're able to ask for accountability and put people in check, you know, Greta does that they love to, you know, basically called speak truth to power. And that's Yeah, that's really really interesting.

Pinar Guvenc  
I know that's what I was gonna say. I think like, I don't even know if this like started out with millennials, but even like, I think Gen Z and onwards? Um, yeah, definitely for like, they do call out, you know, right away, like if you're faking it right. And I think like social media as much as with its vices, there are huge benefits of like bringing in transparency into how corporates are messing up. So I think you know, there are many corporations for so long now has used sustainability as a marketing thing on there. And then then you look at their work, and you're like, kind of like uuh really? But then like, I think the new generations are really calling them out. And that creates, you know, whether a customer or is loyal to you or not, or whether you're getting customers. So I think that drive, you know, we always say, like, real solutions are only feasible by educating the end user, right, and when demand from the user, the provider has to comply. So that push that calling out i think is sort of in a great thing is is pushing corporates to really walk. Right. And I think like, there's something too, when you're sort of assessing the companies for collaboration, to sort of invite them into the game ones that are not sustainable. You can be like, okay, for if you want to collaborate with us, it has to be a 10 year thing. Sort of a one off because we want to make sure.

Jennifer Uchendu  
Yeah, you're in need. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Pinar Guvenc  
It's, um, I think, you know, in any discussion, we do, like collaboration, and especially like diverse collaboration, whether it's like international or multi disciplinary, that seems the way to go for solutions in any industry, what other collaborations you would like to see more whether that is in Nigeria, or globally in the space that you think might be beneficial?

Jennifer Uchendu  
Well, one thing I'm seeing a lot more of its academic institutions opening up that data and academia, their ways of doing things, and then supporting young people in their ways of doing things. For example, with a climate strike. So you for what I said a lot. There are universities who are very supportive, happy to give insights in all of those theoretical concepts that are often boring, you're trying to translate it into youth movements and community movements and telling the young people what they should look out for what they should know, you know, seeing the research going into youth, youth and social change in a way that isn't tokenistic. Like you're giving youth the power, and you're recognizing that they have the ideas within them to make this change. I sort of like those kind of synergies and those realizations that young people in themselves can see, you know, children, even young children. Yeah, and think and they can make change. So that space opening up a lot. It's happening in Nigeria, although much slower than it's happening in the west for the fact that youth movements are coming up and, you know, organizations in their meeting that said, Okay, we have to watch out for the youth, you know, we have to look at what they're doing. And it's happening across sectors, even in banking and FinTech, you know, startups, a lot of young people that are starting up with this really disruptive ideas, it just goes to show that there has to be a lot more partnership, partnership where you don't feel superior to them, where you see them as people who can also bring meaningful value to whatever change? Yeah.

Pinar Guvenc  
I mean, those I mean that the younger generation is your future customer future employee. So if that generation is coming with this awareness, not prepping is just a poor business decision that you're gonna pay for later on. I we were interviewing a professor who was saying like this year this academic year is the in the university is the first year ever where we had climate strikers as you know, a group of students

Jennifer Uchendu  
Yeah

Pinar Guvenc  
Like yeah, first time a freshman student coming in, like this is the generation of climate strikers so that should be different even the questions they asked in class, right? I don't think like when I'm, I was in college, like, I don't think I was like, aware of anything. Maybe I knew about like, recycling that was pretty much it. Right? But it's an important conversation and it's gonna it's such a different way of even like thinking to your like, academic topics that you're discussing in class, like and asking questions that really relate to climate change or by diet. That is so so interesting to me. And it's just dumb if businesses don't realize that.

They'll catch up definitely. I mean, they have to they have to sell they have to be in business. So they'll definitely catch up.

Pinar Guvenc  
So obviously, you know, trying to push back And make progress is not an easy task, you face a lot of difficulties, what would be an advice or advices that you would give to young people in any field who want to make change?

Jennifer Uchendu  
Well, I guess the first thing is, a lot of times we have ideas of what change can look like. But we think it hasn't been done before. It's too dumb. It's too unserious. But oftentimes, young people have convictions very strong of wanting to do stuff and thinking it's a try. You want to, you want to try you want to do something, make an attempt, make a move, write something, you know, have a plan, you know, just make it move on, try something. It could even be in music, it could be in anything, it could be an artistic expression, the world as it is, with COVID. with climate change needs, he needs more, we need all hands on deck. So we need everyone trying to throw in some lights, you know, make some change to this. There's a lot of problems a lot, a lot of complexities, a lot of things we can't even figure out. So if you figured out something as an as a pathway to make some change, by all means, the world needs you. So don't don't feel don't feel like it doesn't make sense. Nothing makes sense right now. So why not? Just help us out and the world definitely needs you. So because sometimes I think what am I never started SustyVibes, you know, what if I just kept saying, oh, I don't have a master's degree in sustainability, people aren't going to take me serious, you know, and all of that. So from my example of just trying stuff, and it's not like we've become the best or we've changed the world, but we see success on a daily basis, we see the recognition, see the value we've been able to create, and that in itself is something. So definitely try try do something be open to start something you can... You can not have it all figured out. But just start just do something make a move definitely. Tell someone about it is a very good thing. Yeah, tell someone about it. Because I think if I didn't tell my friend who helped us create the blog at that time, we probably would never have started because I don't know how to create a blog, or I didn't know how to use WordPress at that time. So tell someone, tell a friend or tell someone about it. And there's so many inspirations, like right now with young people making change and doing things. So copying from the inspiration, it's sort of like our time now. And there's this body or responsibility or hope put on young people to make change that definitely should throw some light into into this very complicated world.

Pinar Guvenc  
I love them all. I love all the advice. I wish more people told me that when I was younger. Any updates or announcements or news you want to share about SustyVibes that is coming up or we should be on the watch?

Jennifer Uchendu  
I mean, there's always something with SustyVibes. I know we're planning a tree planting, we want to...so there's been obviously the pandemic, there's been the NSAS protests, young people coming together to protest against police brutality in Nigeria. There's been like lots of movements and violent outbreaks, you know, lots of back and forth with the government. So at the moment, we as environmentalists, we've been thinking of ways we can plug in, create a community that restores, because we feel like a lot has been lost from us. Young people have died in the process, you know, properties, and several people have just been shattered and traumatized by the process. So we're thinking of a tree planting exercise, in a way, we can just all come up and plant trees as a form of like, we're still in Nigeria, we're still Nigerian. And we believe that Nigeria can change. And we believe that the NSAS movement would actually make sense. At the end of the day. So definitely, we we want to plant trees in parts of Nigeria. And yeah, just follow us SustyVibes on Twitter and Instagram. Look at our website and what we're doing. Yeah.

Yes, and yet another example where users coming together to really protest against... Yeah, and I'm sure there's a healing aspect to tree planting too, together. It's like a, you know, collective therapy all together that looks more into the future. Well, all right. Thank you so much, Jennifer. And we will certainly be in touch.

Definitely. Thank you all so much. Bye.

Pinar Guvenc  
That is this week's episode. It was wrong with the podcast. Make sure to visit our website podcast that was wrong with dot XYZ and subscribe to the show on Apple podcasts. Spotify or Google podcast so you never miss an episode. You can now also watch our podcasts on YouTube. You can find a link in the description below. If you found value in this show, we would appreciate if you could rate us and leave a review or you can simply tell your friends about us. For more details on our guests, follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Don't forget to join us next week for another episode. Thank you!

Mentioned in this episode:

Website https://sustyvibes.org/

Susty Vibes on Twitter: @SustyVibes


Susty Vibes on Instagram: @sustyvibes

Jennifer on Twitter: @Dzennypha


Jennifer on Instagram: @dzennypha_

Subscribe to our show on