I feel a profound and continuing compulsion to make.
I find the process of making inherently liberating: in the face of crisis, injustice, and confusion, the act of creation shines, a beacon of solution. The independent maker comes from a place free of the constraints of the present.
Making is not merely a mode I choose for my life; I see making as the vital next step for my generation. In the face of oncoming catastrophe, our only way out is through building creative solutions, yet as a whole, my generation lacks a sense of agency. If our problems are solvable, the solutions revolution can only begin by consistently lowering the barrier to entry. We need millions of young, imaginative minds innovating on our most significant challenges, and I’m starting with myself.
Though early creative ventures included knitting and art projects, I am a web designer-developer now—I spend thousands of hours a year focused on writing code, designing websites and creating apps, and helping others learn to do the same. Coding epitomizes creation in this century: now drastically more accessible, exponentially more powerful, tragically underutilized. But personally, I see coding as what first brought me true agency. Unfortunately, due to inadequate computer science curricula and inclusion initiatives, the majority of my classmates never have the opportunity to experience coding. My high school distinctly utterly lacked a culture of creation, so in response, I founded a Hack Club and organized Pennsylvania’s largest-ever high school hackathon to teach coding. Collectively, we must instill a sense of agency, painting our societal failures as directly addressable through continuing creativity. Code is a key avenue for this.
Young people need this agency—to create the change in their communities that solve our incoming crises and inspire one another. For me, the making is only half the story, because the things I create exist as tangible manifestations of my identities: queer, non-binary, and young in America. Enabled and emboldened by these identities, I find making deeply empowering. I can imagine the alternative path for myself if I had never begun coding, but it would never have gone all the places I’m so glad my life has taken me.
The deepening of our agency begins with setting aside outdated constructions, asserting new identities, and forging onward. A culture of independent creators, representing all backgrounds and working in concert, is the world we always needed, and the one I hope to shape.
(Adapted from my manifesto from last fall)