Re: “Next generation of leaders hard to pinpoint,” dated Nov. 14.

By way of a brief introduction, my name is Steve Elson and I am president and founder of a local community organization called Young Santa Monica (YSM). I recently came across your Nov. 4 article in the Santa Monica Daily Press regarding the next generation of leaders on the Westside, and thought it was very interesting and well written (“Movers and shakers 2.0,” page 1).

I founded YSM over two years ago with the belief — similar to the notions conveyed in your article — that young professionals living in Santa Monica needed a vehicle to become more pro-active and vocal in their community. While YSM is by no means agenda-specific, the organization has grown and evolved in such a way that its main focuses are (1) raising money for local charities (including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, the Westside Food Bank, and Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services); and (2) participating in public discussions on city planning and development issues. Most notably, several YSM members sent letters and spoke before the Santa Monica City Council and Planning Commissions on multiple occasions to advocate in favor of smart, reasonable development projects that would provide the community with more affordable housing and local amenities.

Your Nov. 4 article is very accurate in its description of the make-up of those who participate in these City Council meetings and hearings. I have been to many such meetings, and believe that YSM has much further to go in mobilizing young professionals to be more vocal. While I agree that the way young people get involved has changed somewhat, we at YSM believe that we have created a means to reach young people through social media and other new avenues with the ultimate purpose of getting those young people active in their community in the traditional way that people have always become active: by helping those in need and making their voices heard loud and clear to the leaders of the community.

Thank you for your time, and I hope that this [letter] provides you with more of an understanding of the efforts many young people in Santa Monica are making to create a better community for everyone. Additionally, please let me know if and when you endeavor to write a follow-up article to your piece. I know that my YSM board members, many of the organization’s 250-plus members and I would be happy to lend their beliefs as to how we, as a demographic, can make more of an impact in Santa Monica and elsewhere.


Steve Elson

President, Young Santa Monica

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