Just when the world needs it most, a new style of social engagement is emerging: Active Citizenship.
A key member of one of New York’s most civic-minded families—one that has supported many of America’s notable institutions and deserving programs—Jonathan Tisch has devoted a lifetime to “active citizenship.” It’s an idea that uses the power of practical creativity and grassroots participation to solve seemingly intractable problems. In Citizen You, Tisch challenges readers to join this movement and points the way toward making our world a better place, one person and one neighborhood at a time.
Tisch has filled Citizen You with accounts of people who you’ll meet, such inspirational individuals as:
Scott Harrison, who has used the networking and marketing skills he developed as a night club promoter to help over a million people in the developing world get access for the first time to clean, safe drinking water.
Steffi Coplan, whose Broadway2Broadway project brought out the hidden musical talents of kids at an inner city school.
Eric Schwarz, who decided to do something about America’s under-performing schools, and parlayed a single classroom mentoring project into the nationwide Citizens Schools movement.
Chris Swan, who is training a new generation of “citizen engineers” to make sure that the projects they build aren’t just structurally sound but also environmentally and socially sustainable.
Dave Nelson, who traded his role as an executive at IBM for a job at a struggling nonprofit that teaches kids about the power of entrepreneurship—and discovered a host of new challenges and rewards in the process.
Through these and many other remarkable stories, you’ll learn how today’s active citizens are transforming thinking about social change. Rather than short-term fixes and hand-me-down charity, they’re striving to build sustainable, systemic solutions to our most challenging problems, building and empowering communities rather than fostering dependency. And they’re using a host of new tools, from online networking and private-public partnerships to corporate engagement and social entrepreneurship, to redefine how change can happen. Citizen You is a potent antidote to pessimism. At a time of unprecedented challenges on the national and world stage, when active citizenship is not a choice but a necessity, Citizen You dares us to reshape the social, political, and intellectual structures that have long confined us, and offers fresh thinking that redefines the very concept of activism. For more information and ideas about how to be an active citizen go to www.citizenyou.org
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JONATHAN M. TISCH is co-chairman of the board and a member of the office of the president of Loews Corporation, one of the largest diversified financial holding companies in the U.S., and is also chairman and CEO of its subsidiary, Loews Hotels. Tisch also serves as chairman of NYC & Company, the city’s tourism bureau, and helped lead the drive to revitalize downtown Manhattan after the attacks of 9/11. Additionally, Tisch holds positions as Chairman Emeritus of the United States Travel Association, a travel industry lobbying group; trustee of Tufts University; treasurer of the New York Giants football team; and a member of the Tribeca Film Institute board. The author of two books, The Power of We: Succeeding through Partnerships and Chocolates on the Pillow Aren’t Enough: Reinventing the Customer Experience, he lives in New York City KARL WEBER writes about business and current affairs. His books include Creating a World Without Poverty, co-authored with Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus, The Triple Bottom Line, with sustainability expert Andrew W. Savitz, and Food Inc., the companion to the award-winning documentary. He lives and works in Irvington, New York.
President Obama’s early career as a community organizer has inspired interest in citizen activism across generations and nations, according to Tisch, head of a financial holding company and major funder of a college of citizenship and public service at Tufts University. Tisch issues a call to action to move beyond volunteerism to more active citizenship, including social entrepreneurship and broader social change that involves the government and the private sector. He points to sustaining efforts such as the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh that funds modest businesses for the rural poor and the Harlem Children’s Zone’s effort to address systemic issues in providing high-quality education to the urban poor. Tisch also examines new philanthropists, including Bill Gates, who apply a business perspective to addressing global social issues. Most compelling are the profiles of lesser-known individuals: Will Allen teaching city dwellers to become urban farmers to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to “food deserts” and Scott Harrison operating a charity to build filtration systems in developing nations. Tisch offers examples of both institutions and individuals who take seriously the notion that citizens can make massive changes. --Vanessa Bush
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