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Youth Perspective-How to Engage the Next Generation in Decision-Making



Young Women and Youth for Smart Growth


[01:29] Introduction of Zelia Gonzales.

[02:03] Zelia explains what motivates her to be an activist in her community.

[02:48] Zelia shares the first time she got involved with becoming an activist?.

[03:37] Zelia describes the definition of complete streets.

[04:25] Zelia shares about advocacy projects she’s been involved with, including the Sacramento Young Feminists Alliance.

[06:51] Can you explain what feminism means to you and why you were motivated to start the group?

[08:11] How do your parents and other adults react to your activism?

[09:41] Can you tell us how the session at New Partners for Smart Growth Conference went and what did you accomplish or try to accomplish during the session?

[11:12] What advice would you give to people in communities who want to get more young people involved?

[13:53] As communities work on revitalization issues, are there certain areas that resonate more with young people?

[15:05] As the younger generation sees more possibility than the older generation, can the urge of the older generation to stifle the idealism and the potential the younger people seek be a turnoff in the process?

[16:59] Zelia shares some of the issues that SYFA is addressing.

[18:39] Zelia explains how New Partners for Smart Growth Conferences has supported her and made her a better activist.

[20:31] Zelia shares where people can go to learn more about SYFA.

[20:55] Zelia shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.

[21:22] Zelia explains the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.

[21:40] Zelia shares what Sacramento looks like 30 years from now.


Zelia Gonzales is a high school senior and political activist for a variety of causes ranging from feminism to fair wages. She has worked for the City of Sacramento for two years and will continue through college and career as a public servant. Her work with the Sacramento Young Feminists Alliance (SYFA) has led her to presenting at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference.


The Sacramento Young Feminists Alliance (SYFA) strives to unite high school feminists’ coalitions and clubs from all around the Sacramento area. They unite students with the common mission of destroying patriarchy and inspiring all women and people to be who and what they want. SYFA builds solidarity and cooperation between Sacramento area high school feminists, in order to empower young women, through meetings twice a month and facilitating youth led projects and education.

Contact SYFA at


“Seeing unjustices around me and recognizing my privilege from a very young age, that allowed me to see the contrast and try to work towards equalizing that out. When I was younger…I saw how they [Zelia’s peers] were treated unjustly through a system, not by any one individual, and as I got older and I could put words to that and I could work on actual topics, I could change that, it really manifested into creating a space for other people to do the same thing.”

“I’ve found people that have been really, really supportive and believe that what we are doing with SYFA and what I’m doing individually with all these other organizations really does make a difference, and so it’s really allowed another activist wave to form, which is youth advocacy.”

“When you’re engaging with youth, it’s really important to remember that they are not held back by anything—you know, they’re not held back by any of this bureaucracy or preconceived notions about certain people or ideas—and so their ideas may be a lot more innovative and fresh than some of the people that have been on staff for fifty years, you know what I mean?”


Sacramento Young Feminists Alliance (SYFA)

Zelia’s session, Young Women for Smart Growth, from the 2016 New Partners for Smart Growth conference

Practicing feminism: Sacramento area students rally for social change

New Partners for Smart Growth conference

Local Government Commission


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