By: Logan Ansteatt & Colin McCan
The millennials of today’s generation continue to transform cultural patterns. Social media, one of the most powerful outlets of communication, is primarily utilized to establish relationships and make the most important connections. The Wave and Influence Crew, two social groups used to connect the “young professional,” encourages conversation of social issues while promoting social gatherings. Both groups know bridging the social deficits in the city of Jacksonville is no easy task. It takes people to come together, raise awareness and actively make a difference.
**Please click on hyperlinks to learn more about these social coalitions**
THE WAVE — Larry Wakefield, Jr., also known as DJ Larry Love, organizes more than beats on a soundboard. This father and military veteran helps curate events for young professionals in the city of Jacksonville.
Wakefield is a coordinator for The Wave, a social group with originating roots in Washington, D.C. but have recently made large efforts to spread down the East Coast in our very own backyard. The Wave started as a GroupMe chat, a smart device application used primarily for group messaging, and quickly grew to 2000 members in about seven months, according to Wakefield.
The young professionals involved with The Wave spread to new cities and now comprise as many as 27 chapters, including one in London.
In Jacksonville, The Wave has linked people of similar interests, while also building up the city for current and future generations.
“We’ve been able to keep some of those people here,” said Wakefield. “In turn, [The Wave] keeps the revenue here, it keeps the money here and keeps the impact of how we build on our community”.
THE INFLUENCE CREW — Chris “Slade” Johnson is a co-creator of The Influence Crew, and a teacher at Kernan Middle School. Johnson was born and raised in Jacksonville, and wants to make his home city a better place to stay and live.
Johnson said he helped create The Influence Crew “in order to aid in awareness of young professionals coming together to socialize, gather, mingle, network and engage.
Johnson believes that there are many millennials in the city who wake up, go to work and never go the extra mile to expand their social/professional network. Retrospectively, Johnson believes there are lack of locations in the city where people can network. As a result, Johnson has made it his duty to create and continually promote social/community gatherings.
Johnson foresees a brighter future for the Jacksonville community, especially with the involvement of groups like The Influence Crew, but conversation and action are needed to make that future a reality.
As groups grow and connect with each other, conversation arises and spreads. However, change must reach the people in charge, like city councils. According to Johnson, there is a lack of people trying to attract talent and professionals to the community. Instead, large amounts of young professionals are leaving Jacksonville.
As time continues, these groups will not be sitting around watching social issues grow and spread. They will be at the front lines of the fight, targeting and eliminating these issues. They will make a change, and those involved in the fight, as well as those not involved, will reap the benefits of their determination.