When TED Radio Hour (a co-production of NPR and TED) explored what defines millennials in their segment, “The Next Greatest Generation?,” they looked to Natalie Warne’s 2011 TEDxTeen talk for an answer. Entitled “How can young people make an impact?,” Natalie recounts her experiences as a young teenage activist organizing rallies, mobilizing fellow activists all over the country, and ultimately captivating Oprah’s attention with her efforts. Her cause? Why, Natalie was none other than a two-time Invisible Children Roadie and intern, working ardently (and succeeding massively) at bringing the the LRA conflict one step closer to an end.
While we are obviously huge fans of Natalie and the incredible work she did at The Rescue event, you don’t have to be obsessed with Invisible Children to be inspired by this young woman (though, naturally, we wouldn’t hate it). In the beginning planning stages of The Rescue (a global event in which attendees “abducted themselves for the abducted” until they were publicly “freed” by a celebrity or media mogul), Natalie set an impossible goal for her team: get their event noticed by Oprah. Of course, you know how the story goes. Through her passion and determination, Natalie achieved the impossible and managed to rally hundreds of people in front of Oprah’s studio in Chicago until Oprah herself recognized Natalie’s efforts, and, more importantly, recognized the mission of Invisible Children. But for Natalie, her “Oprah moment” was not the most important takeaway from the event:
“The ‘Oprah moments’ prove that the impossible can be done….. but the moment isn’t a movement. Even a lot of those moments strung together do not fuel a movement. What fuels a movement are the anonymous extraordinaries behind it.”
Anonymous extraordinaries. Those are the millennials, like Natalie, that are making our generation great. No matter what the age or the cause, Natalie reminds us that no one is too young to change the world. The secret to being an anonymous extraordinary?
“You may want to be the next Shepard Fairey or the next J.K. Rowling, but whatever you want, chase after it with everything that you have–not because of the fame or the fortune, but solely because that’s what you believe in, because that’s what makes your heart sing, that’s what your dance is. That’s what is going to define our generation.”