One on One: Morgan Copes and Felicia Buck


one-on-one-sept-17-b-metroSome products, services, events or entire movements resonate more with some generations than others. Conventional wisdom says older people have more history and wisdom on their side, whereas their kids may be more open to new ideas. It’s the coming together of these that nudge culture forward, one step at a time. We spoke to two young professionals who are passionate about the causes they represent—environmental preservation in the case of Felicia Buck, and the sport of soccer for Morgan Copes—about how to rouse the troops (and fans) from generations with different life experiences.

one-on-one-leftMeet Morgan Copes:

New Orleans native Morgan Copes has played soccer his whole life, cradle through college. He even became licensed as a coach before taking a detour into the corporate world, spending five years with Regions Bank. But though he thrived in banking, soccer was in his soul. “The idea came a few years ago when my friend John Killian and I were having a few beers and said, ‘We should have a professional soccer team in Birmingham.’” Four-and-a-half-years later, the dream has come to fruition. By 2019, Birmingham will have a professional team in the United Soccer League, playing against teams from Nashville to New York. Copes, the team’s vice president, is confident the city has the soccer fan base to support the team enthusiastically, and the excitement will only grow.

Meet Felicia Buck:

Felicia Buck grew up in McCalla, Ala. with her mother and stepfather. She spent weekends with her father where she learned about sustainability from a young age, when he bought some land in Springville and decided they would build a house by hand. When it was finished, they outfitted it with oil lamps, composting toilets and solar panels, the latter making the family truly ahead of their time.one-one-one-right

It seems fitting, then, that she would gravitate toward environmental stewardship as a career. Having graduated from UAB with an individually designed major in Sustainability, today she is executive director of Alabama Environmental Council, bringing in fresh new ideas and initiatives, managing the day-to-day operations and serving an important role as a local environmental advocate.

When you’re selling an idea—its importance of it, the advantages or the magic—do you need

different talking points when you talk to people of different generations?

Copes: You’re trying to find what really resonates with that individual. Somebody from the Baby Boomer generation may or may not catch the same kind of excitement from somebody who’s a millennial, right? But look at it this way: You probably remember the first concert you ever went to, and if you had the opportunity to do it all over again, you would. It’s a time that you cherish. Probably your taste in music is going to be totally different than a millennial’s, and their first concert is going to be something completely different, but they still have that same thrill.

I think sport has the wonderful opportunity to do the same. And so I think the underlying principle is that we’re there to create memories with friends, family, loved ones. and even business partners that are going to last for years. People can talk about, ‘I was at that game,’ and ‘I remember when…’ and so on. And we have that opportunity. I think it’s a very big responsibility but one we’re excited about.

Buck: Absolutely. With kids of younger ages and even teenagers you can talk about the environment and they’re already excited and gung ho about it. Our niche is recycling, and we are able to provide school recycling and education programs so the students know how and why it is important to recycle. And then with kids and teenagers, what they learn they take home, so it spreads to the family, and then we see the families really getting into it.

But sometimes when you’re talking to an older crowd, you have to really listen to what they’re interested in. For them, they’re motivated either from a public-health standpoint, because serious health issues such as cancer are on the rise, or you have to take it from an economic standpoint by bringing attention to things such as the new jobs that can be created and money that can be saved by diverting waste from landfills. So it all depends on who you’re speaking with and your ability to listen and find out what the people of the community want.

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