Youth committed to positive change in politics
While some 15-year-olds might be inspired by athletes or musicians, Avram Salzmann's role models include American Linguist Noam Chomsky and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"I stumbled across Noam Chomsky while I was watching his documentary, 'Requiem to the American Dream,'" Salzmann shared. "Then I started reading a couple of his books and I just really got into what he has to say."
Salzmann shared that one of the things Chomsky discusses that he especially appreciates is Chomsky's view on the United States domestic and foreign policy.
"I think that his commentary on the U.S. acting as a leading terrorist and imperialistic nation is very interesting," he said. "All of the times we have gone into other nations, allied ourselves with terrible regimes, strictly out of self interest. Chomsky says, 'Everyone's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's really an easy way: Stop participating in it.'"
Salzmann shared that every time he reads something written by Chomsky, he learns something new.
"For example, in his book, 'Who Rules the World,' I learned about all of the U.S.-funded attacks in the Middle East — attacks that go completely unnoticed by the general public," he said. "This is astounding to me."
Salzmann acknowledged this his interest in politics was nurtured by his parents from a very young age.
"My mom is a nurse and is involved in the community and always trying to find ways to help out however she can," he said. "When I was younger, my dad and I would watch the news and he always got me asking questions and talking politics with him."
This spring, Salzmann marched in the Women's March in Homer, his first time marching.
"I think it's important to make issues public — women's rights, equal rights in the workplace, equal opportunities, the right to choose, protection from sexual harassment — and peaceful marching is a great way to do that," he said. "It's painful to read through the headlines sometimes, so I think it's great that so many people are inspired to come together and organize protests at the same time that a divide is very existent."
Salzmann also finds inspiration in Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"During this election, I liked watching Bernie talk about issues that are going to directly affect my generation, like income inequality and the fact that the United States still has not adopted a universal health care coverage system," he said.
One area that is of special concern to Salzmann is climate change.
"Growing up here and seeing some first-hand effects of climate change has sparked me to want to make a difference in that area, ideally through clean energy and more regulations," he said.
While he is a Homer youth with a vested interest in the political state of the world at large, Salzmann is also passionate about life in Homer. He is particularly enthusiastic about exploring the outdoors.
When he was 9 years old, he participated in HoWL (Homer Wilderness Leaders), a local group that encourages youth to explore the outdoors.
"HoWL taught me so many important wilderness survival skills, everything from navigation and safe foods to one match fires and shelters," he said.
With these experiences under their belts, Salzmann and his friends began planning their own adventures.
"Figuring out how to work out all the details like getting across the bay, finding a place to stay and choosing hiking trails has been great," he said.
Salzmann was 10 years old the first time he summitted Broken Knife, his favorite trail in Kachemak Bay State Park.
"We were eating lunch at the top and fogged rolled in," he said. "We couldn't see where we were, but we knew which way was down and we ran all the way down through the fog. It was super exciting to be on the mountain and have no sense of direction."
Off the mountain, Salzmann has an increasing sense of direction - he is considering a career in politics.
"I think that helping people in the United States and even across the world get basic services like shelter, food, water, a source of income if possible, would be really great," he said. "If I could share something with a United States leader right now, I would tell them that the United States military spending is far too high considering the humanitarian crisis we are facing in the world right now."
Salzmann is grateful to have been born and raised in Homer, a community that he considers to be safe and filled with opportunities for all.
"I think that everyone coming together and these issues that are being discussed is really positive because that's the first step in solving them," he said. "And I have hope for my generation. I think we can get this world on the right track."