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OpinionColumnistsRandi F. Marshall

See nextLI's millennial survey unveiling

The data released Friday emerged from a survey conducted by nextLI, a new Newsday initiative that produces non-partisan research and data analysis to spur conversation about issues important to Long Island.

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Friday morning, more than 700 politicians, business executives, community advocates and civic leaders gathered at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, where they were treated to a breakdown of the trends and attitudes of one of Long Island’s key cohorts: those aged 18 to 34.

The data released Friday emerged from a survey conducted by nextLI, a new Newsday initiative that produces non-partisan research and data analysis to spur conversation about issues important to Long Island. The project is funded by a three-year grant from The Rauch Foundation.

Project director Rita Ciolli said the event, which was sponsored by the Long Island Association, is just the first step in an ongoing conversation. nextLI is a “digital town square,” with moderated forums, and opportunities to build consensus.

Among the key findings in nextLI’s research, which studied 18- to 34-year-olds who live or previously lived on Long Island:

  • One-third of the Island’s millennials are involved in local leadership roles, and two-thirds are interested in getting involved in the future.
  • Two-thirds of young Long Islanders plan to move somewhere that’s more affordable within the next five years. Only 4 out of 10 plan to be here when they retire. Their biggest reason for leaving: Cost of living.
  • The majority of those surveyed said they’re proud to be from Long Island – and that the region’s future is bright.

Amanda Fiscina, nextLI’s project manager, noted that what surprised the nextLI team most was the “universal support” for a variety of housing types.

The results generated more than 150 questions and comments from those in the room, some of whom hoped to translate the data into policy prescriptions and next steps, while others wanted to take a deeper dive. When asked, for instance, if nextLI saw any discrepancies between male and female millennials, Kai Teoh, nextLI’s data journalist, crunched the numbers on the spot and showed there wasn’t much of a gender gap when looking at those who said they planned to leave the Island – 51 percent were women, 49 percent were men. The nextLI team will answer as many questions as possible at nextli.newsday.com.

Ciolli said Friday she dreams of “flash mobs of millennials coming to zoning meetings” advocating for the housing they need.

That may not happen quite yet, but nextLI outreach and engagement manager Coralie Saint-Louis said the conversation will continue, by holding forums and engaging residents with the survey results.

Besides Saint-Louis, Teoh, Fiscina and Ciolli, nextLI’s team also includes digital production manager Michael Cusanelli.

As nextLI’s work continues, it’ll be up to the region’s leaders, many of whom attended the Crest Hollow event, to try to address the region’s challenges and, in particular, what the next generation of Long Islanders wants and needs.

Here’s a link to a video of our Friday launch event.

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