This Johnson & Wales Student Wants To Fundamentality Alter The Way You Look At Snack Food

Davian Watson is crazy for flavored nuts.

Well, actually he’s loko about them.

A junior at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, Watson is also the founder and CEO of Loko Nutz.

He’s a constant presence at local farmers markets and is hustling to get his unique product out to the masses.

A Kansas City, MO native, Watson says that Loko Nutz was created out of boredom for his usual go-to snacks.

We recently spoke to Watson about his company and what it’s like to be a young entrepreneur in the Magic City.

RISE NEWS: How would you explain what Loko Nutz is to someone who has never heard of them before? 

Watson: Loko Nutz are outrageously flavored nuts designed to help families and friends live a little through snacking guilt-free. The recipes originated from a combination of my Kansas City culture and newly developed pallet for Miami cuisine. I also use customer feedback to create new outlandish flavors via Facebook and in-person suggestions at my farmer’s market booth.

RISE NEWS: What have you learned from starting a business?

Starting a business has taught me the importance of maintaining an organized schedule in my personal and professional life so that Loko Nutz can develop and expand. It is my responsibility to ensure that I am performing well in school and at work as a student assistant for a high volume department so that my business will continue to grow.

RISE NEWS: What are the biggest challenges with your business?

Currently, my biggest challenge is my lack of knowledge about the business world. I want to already be at the top of the small business owner market, for everyone to know about the Loko Nutz brand, and to instinctively think Loko Nutz whenever a snack craving rises—but I know it takes years of hard work and dedication to become a household name. Therefore, I guess you can say that my second challenge is my lack of patience.

RISE NEWS: Is it hard starting your own company as a young person?

Starting your own company at any age presents its own unique set of challenges; but with determination, ambition, and the right support system, I have found myself reaching new heights and learning new information every day!

RISE NEWS: How are your sales? How are you getting your products out to the public?

I am overwhelmed at the positive responses I have received from the Upper Eastside Farmers Market, my peers, and chefs here at Johnson & Wales University. Currently, I am working on the anticipated December launch of my online store,, and expanding my social media presence. I currently sell at Upper Eastside farmers markets located at Legion Park on Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

RISE NEWS: What does your family think about you starting your own business?

My family have been my biggest supporters and advisors. They believe with hard work and persistence anything is possible. It seems they cannot get enough of Loko Nutz!

RISE NEWS: Do you have any friends who help with it or is it all just you at this point?

I have a dedicated group of friends that are my go-to people whenever I am testing out a new flavor that will potentially join the Loko Nutz menu. Fortunately, I already know that no business gets to the top on their own and I am extremely grateful to those who have taken time out of their day to give feedback on packaging ideas, tasting new flavors, and even driving to the Upper Eastside Farmer’s Market to purchase one, two or three bags of Loko Nutz.

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Watch More: Miami’s Secret Tequesta Burial Mound 

1ne Bullet: The BLM Inspired Non-Profit Working To Prevent Others From Becoming A Hashtag

A Miami-based nonprofit foundation is working to raise awareness about police brutality and anti-black racism through affordable t-shirts.

“Truth is, we’re all one bullet away from being a #hashtag,” is a quote that’s been making its rounds on social media ever since 2014.

It can be seen written on cardboard signs at #BlackLivesMatter protests across the country.

It’s also the quote that inspired Marcus Spady and Paul “JoJo” Ghartey to call their foundation “1ne Bullet” when they established it in July of 2016.

The name is the perfect way to emphasis how quickly black lives seem to end.
If the name isn’t enough to generate interest, then the website certainly will be.

The first thing you notice when you visit is the black and white protest photos, most of which are pretty famous on social media.

You can click through and see photographs of a protester with a chain around his wrist.
Another photo shows a woman holding a sign reading, “Who do you call when cops murder?”

The second thing you’ll notice is that Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” is on auto play, and starts blasting after a few seconds on the home page.

“We are at a time where we must unite in order to bring changes to a system that targets and systemically oppresses Black people in America,” the about us page reads. “America has never been a safe place for Black people and due to recent events, we are at a time of necessary action and a consciousness shift.”

The plan is to unite people through the #ItCouldveBeenMe (ICBM) shirts. The shirts are black and have a very simple design: the wearers’ name on the front with a hashtag next to it and the phrase “It could’ve been me” on the back.

Each shirt is customized to who purchases it: you have to specify a name when you place the order. They are available in sizes small-3XL.

The shirts are $15 flat.

Since 1ne Bullet is a non-profit, the price only covers the cost of manufacture and shipping. According to the 1ne bullet website, any proceeds that could be gained will be donated to charities and families of those who have been affected by police brutality.

Spady and Ghartey, the two men who are guiding the one-month-old foundation, are pretty young themselves.

They are both recent graduates of the University of Miami.

1ne Bullet’s own, co-founder, Marcus Spady with Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon Martin’s Mother) 

A photo posted by 1ne Bullet Foundation (@1nebullet) on

They are also both members of the black Greek organization Kappa Alpha Psi, also commonly referred as the Nupes.

They are two black men in their 20s—a demographic category that is often highlighted in discussions surrounding police brutality and its victims.

“Outraged with the tragedies surrounding the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of the police, we saw these tragedies as something that we could easily become a victim to, and we wanted a way to give the community a platform in order to reflect on what it means to be Black in America,” the site reads.

The two are common features of the University of Miami’s Kappa Instagram page, and have been photographed alongside members of the University of Miami administration, including university president Julio Frenk.

Spady even has a picture with Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin.

He met her at the Back to School Extravaganza hosted by the Trayvon Martin Foundation.
“Ms. Sybrina loves the idea!” the photo’s caption reads.

Although 1ne Bullet’s social media accounts are still pretty new, it is the main way the word is getting out about the shirts.

The Instagram accounts features a photo of a young woman who had purchased the shirt and customized it with her full name, a sign that the 1ne Bullet team is taking the right steps forward.

There’s also word-of-mouth: another way for Spady and Ghartey to tell as many as possible about their mission.

And if their mission statement rings true, they will be telling the world about 1ne bullet.

“We cannot stand and let one of us become another #hashtag,” the last line reads. “The time is now.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Why Tomi Lahren Has Pierced Through My Democratic Heart

I love America.

I appreciate and cherish the rights and liberties afforded to me by those who fought for them throughout time.

I also believe in justice and what is fair.

As I grew up and learned who I wanted to be and what I wanted to believe in, I realized that in this post 9/11 world I was living in, there was so much hate, so much injustice and so much sadness that it would be impossible to align myself my ideal system with those who didn’t believe in equality for all across all spectrums.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a registered Democratic voter and a staunch supporter of all things that were supposed to be deemed “Democratic.”

As I spent time around those who didn’t grow up in the privilege bubble I lived in and exposed myself to other ideas and opinions, I started to question everything I had once believed true.

The 2016 Presidential Election has been the most divisive, abusive and zany political experience I have encountered in my very short time as an educated voter.

The rhetoric, the antics and the very pointed “journalism” by both sides to discredit the other has been extremely off putting.

Then I saw a Tomi Lahren video.

The first time I saw a Tomi Lahren video it was on my Facebook newsfeed and it was “liked” by one of my many “friends” on the social media platform.

I took the time to watch the brief two minute video of Ms. Lahren expressing her opinion on the Black Lives Matter movement and the radicalization of it’s members.

Her delivery was sharp, her tone was unapologetic and furthermore she was not afraid of whatever backlash was to come to her.

She wanted her audience to know her “Final Thoughts” on that topic and shed light on what she felt was the truth.

For those of you who don’t know who Tomi Lahren is, she’s a young Conservative political commentator who rose to prominence in 2015 over her remarks about the Chattanooga shootings.

Since November 2015, she has been working for The Blaze, owned by the one and only Glenn Beck, known for his very staunch Conservative views.

She’s gained quite the following among the Republican base both old and new and brings a millennial feel to the Conservative movement.

On a daily basis on her Facebook page she has new content of her show “Final Thoughts” usually about a topic that is in the headlines that day, whether it be the Dallas shootings, the 2016 election, or her thoughts on what’s going on in the world at the time.

READ MORE: Here’s The Ugly Truth About Conservative Talk Radio

She doesn’t hold back and her segments back it up.

Video after video I’ve watched, often times binging if I’ve missed a few, I find her words resonating with me because she brings a different look at headlines, often times forcing viewers to think outside the box, strip away the big media machine telling you what they want you to hear and laying out the facts.

Yes, she is a Republican.

Yes she often says things I don’t agree with, but I also identify with the views she so often shares with her viewers.

She takes her targets to task for their actions, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement, the Clinton & Trump campaign, our government officials, and those who can often times be so one sided.

Her intent is to get viewers thinking, to be engaging in civil discourse about issues that matter.

While her tone and her rhetoric may often be described as subjective rather than objective, she also backs up her pieces with fact, whether it’s statistics or it’s video clips or reports.

She’s a woman who understands accountability.

Her intent isn’t to incite a riot, rather it’s to awake her demographic from the mainstream media news cycle we’ve grown accustom to.

It is because of her I’m able to further engage in conversations with my peers about the issues in our community as well feel confident enough to ask questions and do my research and take an interest in subjects I may not always feel so comfortable with.

If anything, I’m grateful for Tomi Lahren because she allowed my bleeding blue Democratic heart to be challenged and force my hand to continue to learn.

Take a moment, regardless of your political beliefs and view one of her videos and then think about all the issues you weren’t actually thinking about before you watched her.

That is the magic of Tomi Lahren.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Art Personalized: Millennial Designer Caitlin Ashley Tries To Get Us To Look Around Life

Too often in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we forget to take a breath and look at the beauty and art that exist around us. 

But one millennial designer named Caitlin Widener is trying to get us all to do just that.

Widener’s Caitlin Ashley Custom brings the beauty of the world alive in clothing pieces made for women, in the forms of skirts, pants, and blouses, among other styles.

The brand is based in New York City and describes itself as being “wearable art, unique for the individual” on the brand’s official website.  

The description continues labeling the brand as “hand painted and inspired by everyday on goings in the world,” and that “every woman is unique, just like this line and wants that vision to transcend when worn.”

Widener’s inspiration for it all began when she moved to New York City in 2014.

“At the time I was doing fashion blogging and it was fashion week, my first experience,” Widener said. “Everything was on such a grand scale and in some ways had me doubting my place amongst it all.”

It was then when her mind began to reel and the pieces began to fall into place.

“There was an event in particular that I had been invited to that week. It felt as though I had nothing to wear on my current budget that would set me apart from the crowd,” Widener said. “Sitting in my room, I was making an attempt to brainstorm ways to show originality. There was an old white dress hanging up and it got me to thinking, what if perhaps I painted on it? I have painted all my life and perhaps it was possible to combine two of my greatest passions together?”

It was then when the first of many pieces was born.

“I painted a rendition of van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” It was a hit. I realized this was something I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life, it’s like everything came together and finally made sense.”

Widener’s brand is still growing, having nearly 1,130 followers on her official Instagram page filled with different examples of her colorful and intrinsically unique designs.

CAITLIN ASHLEY SPRING/SUMMER is now available online. Feel free to check out the pieces and more images like this one at (link in bio) Would really like to extend a big thank you to everyone who has followed and supported me on this journey, thus far. Believing in yourself is crucial but having friends and family believe in you as well is truly everything. I’m constantly working towards becoming a better painter/designer. This is going to be a long journey and I won’t give this up for anything. If you don’t have your dreams, what do you have? Endless love to the people who inspire me everyday, you’re indispensable xx Photo taken by the immensely talented @tomfraud in the beautiful city of Marrakech, Morocco. @lahandira #caitlinashley #custom #spring #summer #marrakech #morocco #tomfraud #lahandira #nyc

A photo posted by Caitlin Widener (@caitlinashleycustom) on

With time, there is hope that the brand will continue to flourish.

“The brand is still very new. Just over a year in,” Widener said. “It’s currently working with other brands on collaborations and creating time capsule collections for small boutiques.”

Since that first event that drew her to paint her creation on the old white dress, the inspirations for other pieces in the line have come from many different sources, including those found in the outside world.

“The best thing I can do for outside inspiration is put my headphones in and wander around the city a bit,” Widener said. “You start to notice things outside the box, colors in a puddle, flowers coming up through the sidewalk, street art that transforms a building.” 

The designs pictured on her website show the wide array of different creations, including artsy dresses, inspired skirts and other pieces that almost seem like wearable and usable masterpieces.

As for what continues to inspire her to create more pieces today, Widener states that it continues to be the same drive that initially led her to create her early creations.

“Today’s inspiration is still a lot of the inspiration that was at the start. Really just creating things that I love and in turn, reaching out and sharing it with others,” Widener said. “It’s so important to keep that fire to create fueled and never forget what made you start in the first place. Always come back to the roots.”

As for what the future holds and if she will begin to create designs for men as well, only time will tell she said. 

“Last year there was a small stint of time where I dabbled with men’s ties and really loved it,” Widener said. “Got a lot of great feedback! For the time being, my focus is with women’s apparel but it’s something I would love to progress into in the future.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credits: Caitlin Widener/ Submitted

10 Meddling Questions With Local Weather Entrepreneur Spinks Megginson

Spinks Megginson has a rare mix of entrepreneurial spirit and love of weather. He also really can’t stand that weather app you have in your pocket right now and has little patience for national weather sources.

He has a bit of a radical idea- that people want to get good weather information and a sense of community while receiving it.

He launched RedZone Weather, a hyperlocal weather and information brand in early 2015. It has quickly grown into a sustainable business by serving the communities that dot Southwest Alabama and Northwest Florida. But he has dreams for bigger things as well.

Here’s 10 questions with Spinks Megginson:

1) RISE NEWS- Where did your whole fascination with weather come from?

Spinks Megginson: I’ve wanted to study weather and teach others about meteorology for as long as I can remember, and that’s no exaggeration. I am incredibly thankful for my family and their support even when I was quite young. I can remember when I was 3 or 4, they would ask me to point to the “red spot” on the television screen. That’s one of the reasons why my company is RedZone Weather.

Also when I was super young, I was learning states and geography by putting glass stick-on puzzles together on the back door. They bought me maps, atlases, and books.

We also went through Hurricane Opal in 1995 as a family, and that was a defining experience. Nine years later, I had a Gateway (remember that?) desktop computer and I was able to track Hurricane Ivan as a seventh grader.

I think there’s a natural interest there and there always has been. That, in combination with my family fostering the development of an interest, has been a real blessing.


Spinks showing his love for weather as a young boy. Photo Credit: Sandra Morris Clements/ Facebook

2) RISE- How did that development continue when you got to high school? Did you ever express your weather love in class?

Spinks Megginson: I can see #weatherlove trending!

I worked at WEBJ Radio in my hometown of Brewton, Alabama during high school. This allowed me to learn quite a bit not only about communication during severe weather events, but also about announcing news, daily weather, and sports. I also became a student member of the National Weather Association. That gave me some insight into the weather enterprise through their publications.

I didn’t ever really express how much I enjoyed meteorology to others in class during high school, but it definitely was a known fact that I was interested in the subject. People would often ask me about weather, even then.

3) RISE- What about your college experience? How did it help you on your path?

Spinks Megginson: College was an integral part of my growth, both personally and professionally. In addition to learning a tremendous amount about the broadcast communication industry, I connected with many different people across the nation. I am thrilled to maintain these connections even now, more than two years after graduating from The University of Alabama.

My professors at UA were truly spectacular. Dr. Chandra Clark and Dr. Jason Senkbeil are the two professors that really stand out. I learned a vast amount of knowledge and acquired “real world” experience just by taking their classes. Dr. Clark is a former television producer, while Dr. Senkbeil is a former television meteorologist.

I think the specific opportunity that helped me most was being able to work on staff at WVUA23-TV during and after college. It was an honor to be one of the only weather interns to ever be offered a job at WVUA. The staff at WVUA, particularly Chief Meteorologist Richard Scott, involved me in daily operations and also in multiple severe weather events. That enabled me to learn so much more than being in a class ever could. I also worked with WVUA-FM, furthering my radio résumé.

Megginson during a light moment on set of WVUA-TV.

Megginson during a light moment on set of WVUA-TV.

4) RISE- How long have you been thinking about something like RedZone Weather then? Because it seems like you had other career options coming out of school.

Spinks Megginson: It’s true that I’ve had several job offers to do TV weather, right after college and as recently as a few weeks ago. I’m grateful to have those opportunities and I’ll certainly consider each opportunity I’m given. I consider it an honor to even have the chance to work with some of the great people in television in Alabama and beyond. I still occasionally do fill-in work on the evening newscasts at WVUA. I like to “keep my feet wet” in the TV world. Moreover, I like to be reminded of just how wonderful my current schedule is outside of television.

RedZone Weather is a bit of a culmination of my life experiences and a grandiose opportunity that I couldn’t ignore. I’ve been thinking about the concept for years, and that’s not an exaggeration. No “old media (for now, anyway).” Simply “new media.” That’s the goal. Meet people where they are already. People aren’t watching 10 o’clock newscasts. For many reasons, but that’s a discussion for another day. People ARE, however, increasingly on their smartphones and tablets all the time. The initial thought was to build a company around that. My time at UA helped me form the initial thought process on how to successfully do something like this. Ten months after graduating college, I started the company.

I didn’t, and still don’t, have all the answers. It’s a day-by-day learning experience. I’m having a blast though. I’ve done so many presentations about RedZone over the past few weeks and months that I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve met. That’s been a highlight. It’s truly a wonderful company with hopefully a bright, sunny future.

Megginson with well known Alabama weatherman James Spann at a conference.

Megginson with well known Alabama weatherman James Spann at a conference.

5) RISE- What has been the hardest part of starting your own media business?

Spinks Megginson: I’m the “everything” for this company. That means I’m the weather guy, sometimes the producer, director, janitor, PR man, IT coordinator, CEO, editor, “you name it, I do it” individual. That fact has its perks at times, but overall, I wish there were more people involved. It’s a fine balance though because I’m not interested in having a massive company right now, either.

Bruce Thompson has been with me since the start… I told him about what I wanted to see with RedZone, and he helped me set up the company as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Bruce also has been active on severe weather days with the company. He and Leigh Margaret Bostic, who is one of my best friends, have been phenomenal at producing on-screen content during the severe weather events of the past few months. I’m thrilled to not only call both of them friends, but also have them involved in RedZone Group, LLC.

It’s certainly difficult being a “one man band” at times, but so far, thankfully it hasn’t been an insurmountable challenge.

Like this? You can write for us too

6) RISE- So you’ve been active with it for over a year now and things have seemed to go well. Have you been happy with the response from the community?

Spinks Megginson: For me to simply answer yes would be an understatement. I’ve had so many people from around the region rally around what I’m doing. I think it’s obvious, based on the comments that are publicly accessible on Facebook and Twitter and based on the large number of positive comments people have said to me in person, that this service is truly beneficial for our community and our region.

RedZone Weather is one of those things that people didn’t realize they needed until it benefited them directly. Like on February 15 and 23rd, when two EF3 tornadoes moved across our region. It’s a hyperlocal weather service designed with rural communities first in mind. This isn’t about putting profits at the forefront, like most radio and television stations have to do. This is about helping people. Communicating urgent weather information that has the potential to save a life. Being present in the community across the region and actually caring that people know what to do during severe weather. That’s what it’s about.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I don’t know who said that quote, and evidently the Internet doesn’t either based on my Google search, but it’s exactly what I want RedZone to be about. So far, I think we’re doing alright with that.

WATCH: RedZone Weather report on the start of Hurricane Season. 

7) RISE- How do you compete with the notion that some people have that apps do a fine job of giving local weather information?

Spinks Megginson: Great question. Why should weather guys like me still be a part of a person’s life on a regular basis when he or she could easily look at the free iPhone weather app that comes preloaded on every device?

That means I’m competing with the app in almost everyone’s pocket. Android has a weather app. I assume Windows/Blackberry phones do too. I assume even most feature/flip phones have some type of weather access. That’s a pretty daunting challenge.

The difference with what I’m doing versus the apps is huge.

What most people don’t realize is nearly every weather app (including the iPhone weather app, by the way) is a view of raw model output statistics. No specific model is always right. Not one. They all have individual flaws. I take a blend of individual models AND incorporate what I know about specific recurring model errors. Models can’t do that. I can. TV weather guys can. I then apply corrections and refinements and produce a forecast.

Don’t even get me started about how many times I’ve seen the stock iPhone weather app be dead wrong. I can communicate “a line of storms will move through around 6AM Tuesday, followed by cooler temperatures and clearing skies.” The iPhone app displays nothing but a lightning icon for days in advance. The same holds true for many other apps. This isn’t a far-fetched example… It happened recently!

The media for how we communicate weather information is changing — and always will be changing. What doesn’t change is the need for people to communicate weather patterns. Weather-related models, computers, and apps are getting better. Slowly, but surely. I’m convinced that there won’t be any time in our lifetimes, no matter if you’re 4 years old or 84, that we don’t need people to communicate weather info, especially in the high-risk, panic-prone moments of a tornado or a hurricane.

Megginson teaching a class at a school about weather in their area.

Megginson teaching a class at a school about weather in their area.

8) RISE- So in a way, you are trying to push back a bit against the blandness of automated information sources like apps and broad ones like the Weather Channel?

Spinks Megginson: I view the network you mentioned and others like it as entertainment/broad information sources. Certain large weather vendors seem to have lost the local connection and the targeted focus of their past. There are a few large weather vendors that do a nice job, but that’s also a discussion for another day.

Read More: This “Funny Map” Of Tuscaloosa According To An Alabama Student Is Hilarious And Sort Of Spot On

9) RISE- Right now you are entirely focused on a specific geographic area (Southwest Alabama and Northwest Florida). How do you keep up with everything happening in your region?

Spinks Megginson: It’s impossible to keep up with a massive number of events. I do try to keep up with as many events as I can. People seem to really like the hyperlocal forecasting for specific events, so I try to incorporate as much of that as feasibly possible.

Some events are regularly scheduled, like high school and college football games. I had many encouraging comments about providing specific forecasts for those last year, and I would imagine we will do some of those again.

I’ve had requests to do forecasts for other sports and miscellaneous events. There’s a balance, though, of keeping things generalized to cater to a wide audience from across our ten county dedicated coverage area as well.

10) RISE- Where is RedZone Weather going? What do you think the future of it will be?

Spinks Megginson: I have somewhat of a grand vision for RedZone Group, LLC. I think the next step is continuing the daily grind of building the company. What does that look like? I think visiting and being a part of our local communities — and not just my hometown. I think the exposure and brand recognition in my hometown (where RedZone started) has been fantastic. I am SO appreciative to everyone who supports us in Brewton, Alabama. I think there’s more to it than strictly Brewton, however.

Presentations, lectures, helping people with weather radios, seeking opportunities to help communities around the region and around the state.

This next step isn’t as “sexy” as other things we do. It’s not necessarily “in the spotlight” for everyone to see, but I think it’s a necessary step. Getting to know people takes time and letting them know how much you care takes time.

I can’t imagine ever retiring from something like this (says the 24 year old who probably doesn’t realize what he’s actually saying). I’m having a blast. Another ill-defined quote that I love… “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I truly love what I do. It’s sometimes not the most agreeable or pleasant job, but it’s always worth it. What an honor it is to be able to talk with people about something that affects literally ALL of our lives. 100% of us are directly and indirectly affected by… Weather.

You can follow the rise of Spinks Megginson’s weather revolution on Facebook and Twitter

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Spinks Megginson.

A Lower Voting Age Wouldn’t Be The Solution To Youth Apathy

It’s no secret that young people in the U.S. are less involved in politics than other age groups.

More accurately, it is clear that young people between the ages 18 to 25 vote at a lower rate than the rest of the population.

There have been so many theories as to why our generation is the most inactive demographic, but instead of jumping to conclusions, rather, let’s refer to statistics around the world.

The U.S., among many other countries has a voting age of 18.

An article in The Guardian made a list of the various countries around the world with a lower voting age.

They found that “The voting age is 16 and above in Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina […] Austria is the only country in the EU where 16 years olds can vote in general elections. Turnout is roughly the same as in other age groups.”


Photo Credit: Thereasa Thompson /Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Austria presents an interesting example.

This suggests that lowering the voting age might cause younger individuals to be more or in this case, equally involved in politics as the rest of the country.

So the ultimate question is whether or not 16 year olds understand politics well enough to vote?

The answer is, they could.

Countries with a lower voting age have a greater amount of civic education in schools. In an interview with Bill Maher, Michael Moore argues, “It’s like drivers ed., at 16 they should be learning about how the government really works”.

Civics has never been any high school student’s favorite class, and that is because it serves to satisfy a required curriculum rather than to actually teach students how politics work.

In this same interview with Bill Maher, Bob Graham explains that we need to “reintroduce serious study of what it means to be a citizen in this country”.

He also suggests that our lack of civic education might be why “Donald Trump thinks he is going to be elected to be George III rather than president of the United States”. Graham is a very witty man.

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If the U.S. decided to lower the voting age, there would be some valid initial concerns. released information that compared the reasons for and against a voting age of 16. One of the reasons against the change is that “18-25 year olds are the least likely to cast a vote at election time. […] Lowering the voting age still further is therefore likely to reduce turnout even more”.

Though this concern is valid, it focuses less on the voting age and more on the true underlying issues with youth voting in general.

Many young people who are eligible to vote claim that they do not want to participate in an election either because they do not like or understand politics, or they feel that the system is corrupt.

The second reason can be chalked up as normal, historical evidence of youth rebellion against “the man”, but the first reason is very concerning.

When asked, some eligible voters between the ages of 18-25 claimed they don’t like politics because it is so divided.

They said that they didn’t like the process of an election in general, or that candidates never seem genuine.

Every one can agree that these complaints come from a long history of politicians and/or candidates tap dancing around controversial questions, catering to a particular political party, or reiterating the same ideologies over and over again.

But everyone feels that way about politics to some degree. So while this is a turnoff for any intelligent voter, it does not get right down to the reasons why young people just don’t vote.

Young people’s complaints that they do not understand politics should be at the forefront of these low voting rate theories.

A polling website called, The Top Tens, did a polling to rate school subjects from best to worst according to anyone who visits the site.

Best, being the subject of the most value and importance, and worst being the least useful.

Their ranking is as follows:

  1. Science
  2. Math
  3. English
  4. History
  5. Gym

Photo Credit: Dlyl86 /Flickr (CC By 2.0)

And social studies, (i.e. politics) is not even in the top ten. Schools stress the importance of math and science to students starting at a very young age.

Perhaps, it is why our generation is so concerned about the environment.

The evidence clearly demonstrates that when students are given more opportunity to focus on a subject, (like millennials have been with environmental sciences), they carry that subject’s importance with them throughout their lives.

If social studies are so low on this poll, it is clear that the subject did not ensure the same kind of interest or importance as much as other subjects.

With inadequate curriculum for civic studies, it is no wonder that when asked why young people do not like politics they reply that they do not understand how it works!

It is even worse in college.

By this point in time, individuals have developed an understanding of their interests and aspirations for the most part.

Politics becomes this arduous and tedious practice of American culture that students feel apathetic towards.

Emory College’s newspaper, “Southern Changes” wrote an article about why the youth don’t vote.

They interviewed different students to get their opinions. One student explains, “Being a young person myself, I understand both the importance of being an active citizen of the United States, and the overwhelming, “it doesn’t affect me” syndrome”.

Topics like social security and welfare reform are things that young people have never needed to learn about, nor are they very interested in how these issues are dealt with by the government.

It becomes much easier to focus on their individual lives and studies than to be an active voice in the debate of social security benefits.

However, this way of thinking caters towards the stereotypical belief that millennials have a short attention span and lack of interest for things that do not affect their personal lives. But wait, these things really do.

In a recent New York Times article, Tamar Lewin explains that millennials are more likely to move back in with their parents than any other generation before them due to a decline in marriages and a terrible job market.

The economy has affected new graduates in a very bad way. Jobs are scarce and pay is poor, therefore, all of that student loan debt seems a bit problematic to pay back when one barely can find a minimum wage job.

These are things that come up in elections; these are things young people should be at the forefront of in politics.

Young people have to decide as a whole to actively participate in local and national reform that lessens the amount of acquired debt from school, and opens up more jobs with better wages.

This is not to say that young people turn a blind eye to these kinds of issues, this election has been an especially noisy one from this demographic due to candidate Bernie Sanders.

And yet, even with a candidate such as him, it is difficult to rely on 18 to 25 years old to participate in politics past the presidential election.

Young people initially were active supporters of President Obama, but quickly ceased any political action and barely voted in the most recent midterm elections.

The scary part is that if Sanders is not the Democratic candidate, many young people and their disdain for Hilary Clinton have declared that they will not participate in this election.


Photo Credit: Denali National Park and Preserver /Flickr (CC By 2.0)

So do we blame millennials for being the things they are so often accused of being, or do we look at other countries and their youth voter participation, and decide that this is a systematic issue?

Reflecting back on the initial question of whether or not 16 year olds understand politics well enough to vote, the answer as of now is definitely not because our 18 to 25 year olds even claim to be uninformed and uneducated in politics.

But this does not have to be the case.

Evidence confirms that when you include citizens in civic endeavors at a young age, and you provide them adequate means of education for the subject, they do participate as much as other age groups.

For the U.S. it might not be the time to discuss lowering the voting age if we still do not have a more effective curriculum to educate and motivate young people in politics.

That should be the priority and then perhaps we can follow in other countries footsteps and lower our voting age.

Photo Credit: Denali National Park and Preserver /Flickr (CC By 2.0)

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

The Dollar High Club Is Trying To Revolutionize The Way People Get Weed Supplies

Are you a smoking aficionado? Ever run out of smoke supplies and get too slumped to leave your couch?

Well then Dollar High Club’s got you covered.

Dollar High Club is a monthly subscription service that discreetly delivers smoking supplies (intended for tobacco…right).

“A lot of people don’t have access to affordable smoking supplies, and we want to change that,” Harrison Baum, the founder and CEO of Dollar High Club told RISE NEWS.

For only a dollar a month you can receive 1.25 size all natural papers, all natural filter tips, 3.3’ organic bee wick and a matchbook.

That’s a good amount of smoking supplies for a dollar.

They also offer the option to subscribe for the Connoisseur package for $12 a month that comes with 7-9 products or the El Primo package for $30 a month that comes with 10-15 products.

Essentially, it is the smoking equivalent of the Dollar Shave Club.

When I first heard about the company, I was eager to learn more and my question to Baum was, how did you come up with this idea?

“It was a idea I came up with while browsing Reddit Trees and Reddit Entrepreneur,” Baum said. “I put the idea on Reddit, it topped r/Trees, and then I quit my day job that week and it changed my life.”

Sometimes the best ideas hit you out of nowhere, and that’s exactly what happened to Baum.

“We want to change the stigma surrounding smoking, by making it accessible to the everyday person worldwide,” Baum said.

The company has its own warehouse and can ship products to anywhere around the country.

They plan to get the word out using more grassroots means via social media including humorous content creation on YouTube and Facebook.

With that being said they just released a new video on Youtube that topped Reddit videos for a short time. It is a parody of the famous Dollar Shave Club commercial.

Check it out:

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.


Cover Photo Credit: Dollar High Club/ Facebook

Internships Can Suck Real Hard. This Website Is Trying To Help Interns Fight Back

Internships are a way of life for millions of young Americans each year.

And lots of them suck. Like they suck a great deal. They can be soul crushing, demeaning and huge wastes of time and money.

Some people relocate for a semester long unpaid internship in a far-flung locale only to find out that they will be doing little more than getting coffee for the next 10 weeks.

Into this depressing mix enters Internpub, a website promising to give young people “knowledge about what they are getting themselves into when interning for a specific organization, company, or elected official.”

Founded by Ian Crueldad last year, the site boasts more than 2,500 personal reviews of popular internships around the country.

Raised by a single mom in San Jose, Crueldad graduated from George Washington University in 2015 and has been involved in politics for his entire adult life.

The self-described “political junkie” had never been involved in a startup before Internpub but felt that there was a real need for something like this.

“The idea of Internpub came from the experiences I had when I was interning in college,” Crueldad said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “I never had a bad internship myself. Nevertheless, I noticed through interacting with other interns that many of them were either unprepared for the internship, did not receive the internship experience they thought they were going to receive, or were not treated fairly Therefore I knew the idea for Internpub would provide the platform needed to help interns find the internship that best fits them.”

Crueldad said that he thinks that internships are necessary today in the US due to the fact that “more and more employers are demanding that a person have some sort of internship experience before even considering to hire them.”

Indeed, more than 1.5 million internships are filled each year in the US and the trend for more and more of this type of work is only increasing.

While young people may not need more places on the web to find internship listings, Crueldad is betting that they want to make smarter decisions about where to intern.

“I believe that in the future, Internpub could be the main website where interns can rate and review internships and be the platform that help interns start their careers,” Crueldad said.

And what about that whole entrepreneurial element? After-all, Crueldad is a pretty young guy to be running a startup that hopes to revolutionize an important part of the economy.

“I would say to a young person who wants to start their own startup is to overcome any self doubt and just get things started,” Crueldad said. “I started Internpub and received investments for it before graduating from college. I did not have a business background or a technical background when I first started Internpub. Yet I simply got things started, eventually received investments, and now the website is growing.”

For more information about Internpub, you can visit their website:

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: IAEA Imagebank/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This Gen X’er And Her Two Young Daughters Are Trying To Revolutionize Millennial Menswear

Who says that you have to be a millennial in order to know what they want?

After spending five years as a housewife, Mary Di Fede-Garcia, age 47 and a resident of South Florida, decided that it was time for a change.

She focused on the men’s online clothing market for young people, sensing that it was a soft market.

Then Di Fede-Garcia launched Solsburry last December.

Solsburry is a website where men, mostly millennials, can find affordable clothing.

According to Di Fede-Garcia, Solsburry was chosen as the name of the brand because of a story told by former Genesis front-man Peter Gabriele.

“Peter was not getting along with his band member, Phil Collins, and he got to a turning point in which he needed to decide between going solo or take the back seat at the band while Collins was the lead,” Di Fede-Garcia said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “Peter went to a place in England, called Solsburry Hill, where a sense of change came to him, decided to go on his own, and became very successful.”

Picture 1

Mary Di Fede-Garcia, second from left, with her husband Alex and two daughters at a party in 2014.

Change has come to Di Fede-Garcia’s life as well, but the creation of Solsburry, the brand, was not an easy feat for her.

She had to face two of her greatest challenges: the Internet and social media.

“While I was building the brand in my head, I said to myself: ‘Let me face my biggest fears right on’,” Di Fede-Garcia said. “’If I am technologically challenged and I manage to do well on the web and social media, then I would know that there is nothing I can’t conquer.’”

To overcome her fear and after working for some months with a web developer, Di Fede-Garcia established Solsburry on the web, and it is spreading its name in social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Di Fede-Garcia has had support from her family in figuring out how to efficiently use social media as a branding and sales tool.

“Seeing her struggle since the beginning in not knowing how to do certain things on the web led me to help her,” Mary’s 18 year old daughter Lauren del Pino said.

Lauren is helping with the social media marketing efforts for the brand while her 22 year old sister, Danielle del Pino, is leading the web styling and selection of clothing for the brand.

“My sister helps out with the social media section because that is natural for her,” Danielle said. “I love helping out putting together the styling and the organization for the brand, and, of course, the photoshoots.”

The two daughters not only help their mom build and maintain the brand but also, along with their friends have provided significant inspiration since day one according to Di Fede-Garcia.

Picture 3

A view of a Solsburry photo shoot.

“My daughters have male friends who visit the house, and they are always commenting about how the women’s clothing market is over saturated while the men’s one is missing attention,” Di Fede-Garcia said. “I decided that I wanted to provide quality clothing that is durable, easy to wash and wear.”

Solsburry, is aiming at providing clothing for young men from high school to young adults who are starting their careers- men who want clothes that make them to look good but are also affordable.

Di Fede-Garcia said that she understands that young men at those stages have other priorities that are more important than looking good.

She also contributes a portion of the proceeds from each piece sold to some charities each month.

More Info On Solsburry:

[email protected]

Phone: +1 (305) 275-1829

Toll Free: 1 (844) 834-1829

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: Solsburry/ Submitted.

41 Percent Of South Florida Millennials Still Live At Home, And That’s Ok

This story was originally published on on May 28, 2015.

By Damian Gordon

Every year that passes, there seems to be less people who are saying “hold up, let me clean my place” and instead say “hold up, let me tell my parents first”.

The sign of being well off as a young person is no longer having one’s own place; instead it’s just having a place at all.

It’s no secret that living is South Florida is more expensive than anywhere else in the state.

But here’s the thing. There’s no shame in living at home in a city that doesn’t support people of our generation.

Millennials include people born from roughly 1980 to the early 2000’s, basically meaning the age group from 15-35.

Living at home allows young adults to prepare themselves financially for later in life and lets them avoid living in debt.

However, Census Bureau data shows that millennials have acquired more student loans compared to previous generations, despite being better educated. Education costs much more than it once did.

If a boyfriend or girlfriend complains about their “roommates”, the logical question in South Florida would be to ask if that roommate also gave birth to them.

At least when living at home, you’re surrounded by longtime roommates, instead of some sketchy person met on Craigslist or a dorm assignment. There is also less to be paid for, leaving someone additional time to further their career as well as lessen any financial strain.

According to the Census Bureau, a historic 30% of today’s U.S millennials live at home with the number in South Florida being 41%.

If a boyfriend or girlfriend complains about their “roommates”, the logical question in South Florida would be to ask if that roommate also gave birth to them.

Another reason today’s younger generation is living at home is because the average earnings for the age group is lower than it’s ever been in the last 30 years, coming in at just $34,000. Payscale, reports the cost of housing in Miami is 24% higher than the national average, while the average earnings by Floridians in the age group are lower compared to the rest of nation.

During the “Great Recession” when the economy collapsed on itself, many were forced to move back in with their parents after losing their household or job. For many people coming out of college in that period, there were no jobs open to them as companies looked to cut costs.

Recently, Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University commented on the subject in a poignant interview.

“Recessions are always rough on younger people, but this one has been particularly rough. The recovery has been so slow, and it’s also been kind of slow on the labor market side of things,”Rugy said.

While the country is considered to be out of an official recession, the effects from it are still felt today. It’s ok for the younger generation to live at home because the alternative could be a constant struggle that could limit future growth and opportunities. A friend might joke about it while eating ramen noodles the other is chowing down a nice home cooked meal.

If you’re a millennial, don’t pull this article out in another 20 years to point out why you’re still living at home. Instead, be proud that countless others are going through the same thing and plan for a better tomorrow.

Cover Photo Credit: elvissa/Flickr

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