I’m at a point in my life now where I can barely turn the news on anymore. I’ll watch my local stations to get the weather and traffic reports. I’ll hop on Google News to peruse what’s going on in the world. But every day is the same and my heart always sinks. Corruption. Political fighting. Anger. Hatred. War. Death. Every single day, we see the worst of humanity displayed in front of our eyes. This constant barrage of metaphorical and physical blood can make even the most optimistic person feel despair and a sense of loss.
And then one day, I received an email from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Discovery Center. I knew a little about The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation itself – I think everyone always thinks of the “toilets” – but let me tell you, having been to a country where having sanitary toilets would save lives – I’m all for it! I had never heard of their Discovery Center and I was very intrigued to learn more.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center houses special exhibits that highlight connections between a variety of issues that the Gates Foundation and its partners are focused on around the global and here in the Seattle community. They partner with museums and organizations, such as the American Museum of Natural History and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to showcase relevant topics, build awareness of global and local issues, and inspire action. On top of this, admission is always free at the Discovery Center.
Having just spent twelve days in Peru and visiting three non-profits that are changing the world, I was very excited to visit the Discovery Center for their latest exhibit related to their Youth Ambassador Program, We the Future: Young Leaders of Social Change, in partnership with Amplifier.
Amplifier is a design lab that builds art to amplify the voices of grassroots movements. They work with their community of social change partners, in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds, to build symbols, language, and distribution strategies that can change the national narrative. Amplifier draws from a deep portfolio of artists to commission new art, then takes the work and distributes it in unparalleled numbers through creative space hacks, reaching new audiences and driving real change.
Specifically, the We the Future exhibition celebrates the stories of ten young leaders working to build an equitable and inclusive world through social change movements, such as climate justice, criminal justice reform, voting rights, immigration rights, disability justice, gun reform, queer rights, and literacy.
Upon entering the Discovery Center for the first time, I was in absolute awe with all of the bold, stunning displays and interactive exercises. With touchscreen maps that show you how the world is connected through different variables to a history of how the Gates Foundation has been changing lives, the center made me come alive with internal hope for the ultimate future of our world.
I happened to be there the day the We the Future exhibit opened and not only had the chance to chat with the center’s deputy director, Charlotte Beall, but also see some of the young leaders in action! I witnessed a powerful interpretive dance and walked around, taking in everything before my eyes. The colorful posters promoting activism, post-it notes with encouraging words that we all need to love one another despite our differences, I was more than encouraged. It was also a treat to see how many families and young people were in attendance, sharing their ideas, sharing their compassion and sharing the love.
I also was able to listen in on 19 year-old Earth Guardians Youth Director, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, be interviewed by fellow youth. Xiuhtezcatl is an indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and a powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. He has an incredible story and I highly suggest checking out Earth Guardians!
If you are feeling as I have been about the state of our society today, take a breather and head over to the Bill & Melinda Gates Discovery Center for the We the Future exhibit, which runs from now until March 21, 2020. I hope you will feel as encouraged as I felt being surrounded by the positive forward movement of our next generation. Our world just might be in good hands after all!
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Discovery Center
440 5th Avenue North
Seattle WA 98109