White House Social Enterprise and Opportunity Series: Forum on Citizen-based Innovation

Uploaded by whitehouse on 03.07.2012

Jonathan Greenblatt: Good afternoon, everyone.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Hope everyone is doing well on this sort of hot,
somewhat steamy July 3rd afternoon.
I want to thank everyone for coming here and joining us today
here at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building
at the White House.
My name is Jonathan Greenblatt, I'm the Director of the Office
of Social Innovation and Civic Participation and, really,
just delighted to welcome all of you who are here with us
this afternoon, all of you who are watching on the live stream
to this session, the session on Social
Enterprise and Opportunity.
Specifically we're going to look at the topic of
civic innovation.
So first off, a couple sort of ground rules.
Number 1, all of you have those badges on.
Keep those badges on.
Don't lose them.
Don't put them in your pocket.
You'll need them when you find yourself walking around
the building.
To that end, if you need to use the restroom,
if you need to get a drink of water,
you can go right outside these doors,
just down the hall and you'll see restrooms and you'll see
the Ikes, the small sort of cafeteria.
We've got a pretty packed afternoon.
Hopefully all of you picked up a program on your way in.
I'm really excited because not only do we have some
distinguished colleagues from the Administration you will be
hearing from in a few minutes, today is really not about us;
it's really about you.
It's really about this topic of citizenship.
And I am so delighted that we've been able to bring together a
pretty remarkable cross-section of citizen innovators from all
over the country who are joining us today to share their stories,
to relate some case studies and to help us with what's really
the goal here which is to think about what does a blueprint for
civic innovation look like in the 21st century.
We thought today was an apt moment to pause and to reflect
on our democracy and what makes it most great,
our most valuable natural resource, which is all of you.
It's the American people.
It's the inventiveness, it's the ingenious,
it's the ability to even in times of great adversity,
like we're facing right now, to demonstrate resilience and to
take action to get things done.
And the American people have demonstrated that
time and again.
And so the President wanted to use this series to talk about
where do we go from here.
How do we put together a plan that really leverages this
extraordinary resource to drive the country forward.
You know, he calls this an all-hands-on-deck moment.
Because, again, we're facing a series of
pretty difficult factors.
We're still working through sort of the economic recession.
And even though jobs are growing,
they're not growing at a fast enough rate.
Even though the economy is recovering,
it's not doing so nearly quickly enough to help the
struggling middle class.
So this is an opportunity to remember that we live in the
society that we want to create.
And today is about what do we want that society to look like.
And we realize that the answers aren't here in Washington.
The President realizes, and he's tasked everyone on his staff,
including me to look well outside the beltway to find
those answers.
And that's what today is really all about.
So we are going to, as I mentioned,
hear from some remarkable people over the course of the day who I
think really exemplify this ethos of resilience and renewal.
Who are developing models way outside of Washington
not dealing with politics and just finding a way to
get things done.
And what we really need to understand from you is how we
learn from that and how we go forward.
So today is going to be a series of talks and some hands-on
engagement, because the second half of this afternoon we'll be
breaking up into small groups for moderated sessions that
are going to actually happen not in this room,
but across the way in the White House conference center.
We'll have people to walk you over and I believe it's on the
name tags.
Right, Ronnie?
We'll talk about that midway through the afternoon.
But you've already been assigned to your groups to make it easy,
to get you focused, so we can use that time to really dig in
and figure out what you want from us and how we can help to
scale what works, and to help the country move forward.
So without further ado, it's really my great pleasure to
introduce who I might, a person I might describe as both an
inspiration and a great source of collaboration
to make today happen.
Eric Liu is the founder of Guiding Lights Network.
He formerly served in the Clinton Administration.
But since that time he has really dedicated himself to
thinking about what makes for great citizenship.
Many of you may know him from his work.
He's the author of several books including "The True Patriot" and
"Gardens of Democracy."
He blogs for Time Magazine so you might be familiar
with his column.
But he really is, I think, an important thinker in trying to
consider what does citizenship look like in the 21st century.
I'm delighted that he is here.
Without further ado I would like to welcome Eric Liu to
the stage.
Eric Liu: Jonathan, thank you so, so very much for that introduction.
And I want to thank all of you for showing up on short notice
through searing weather conditions and all kinds
of challenges.
It's a beautiful thing to look out at this room and see the
power and the idealism and the sense of purpose that
all of us embody.
I want to give particular kudos, of course,
to the President and the Administration.
But in particular to Jonathan Greenblatt and his team.
The fact that we have in this Administration an Office of
Social Innovation and Civic Participation is, you know,
I can tell you from my years in the Clinton White House,
is not a given.
It's not an automatic.
That hasn't always existed.
And the fact that it exists, plus the fact that it is led
by someone who is such a great catalyst,
collaborator and creator of opportunity like Jonathan,
is a great thing.
I would be remiss as well not to thank and cite the incredible
contributions of Veyom Behl on his team who really did yeoman's
work in helping to pull this gathering together.
And on my team at the Guiding Lights Network,
Chris Ader as well.
The Guiding Lights Network, just to say a bit of context
for those of you who don't know about it,
we do work essentially to foster a culture of stronger
citizenship here in the United States.
And I think this is one of those moments where it's all about
preaching to the converted, but I do think that there is value
in preaching to the converted, because everybody who is
converted is in turn her or his own choir master going forth and
preaching as well.
And the work that we do at Guiding Lights is the work
of convening and catalyzing and educating and creating
experiences where people can really in a hands-on
experiential way figure out what it means to develop the skills
and the values and the aptitudes of great citizenship.
And it's our honor and pleasure to be working with the White
House and with Jonathan's office here in pulling together this
gathering today.
And one of the things that I just wanted to say as we begin
our program today is just to give us a little bit of
a framework for where we're at right now.
And the framework is about movement, moment,
and the meaning of innovation.
Let me say a word about movement.
We are, all of us here, I think we can feel it, we can sense it,
even if we don't name it as such,
we are woven into a web right now of action and idealism that
really does constitute a movement in this country to
revitalize and reinvigorate the very idea and the concept of
citizenship beyond mere documents and legal status,
citizenship as my mentor and hero Bill Gates, Sr., says,
showing up for life and how we show up for each other in
community and in country.
There are people in this room and in this movement who come
from civic education, from civic engagement,
from the veterans community, from Hollywood, from technology,
from all different quarters, all these folks who aren't
necessarily professionals at citizen action but they are,
as I have talked about before, amateurs in the
best democratic sense.
Citizen citizens.
And we are part of that movement.
And part of our aim today is to give more voice,
more force and more power to this emerging sense of movement.
Which brings me to the second thing which is moment.
The moment right now for us to be doing this is tremendous.
We have an incredible opportunity.
And I think, we were talking earlier before we started
formally here, there is a hunger out there,
I don't care what your politics are,
I don't care what your age group is, what your demographic is,
where in the country you may live,
there is a hunger right now for people to start figuring out how
to fix stuff themselves without waiting for authorities from on
high, without waiting for government,
without waiting for business leaders,
seeing needs in their neighborhoods and communities,
seeing needs in our country that just have to get met.
And we live in an extraordinary moment right now where that
sense of urgency is coupled with a sense of empowerment that
technology and media accelerate.
And so this moment right now is one where we can take that
yearning and that hunger and make it into a contagion.
All around us, all across the political spectrum there are
great conversations about first principles going on right now.
About what's the role of government.
What is government for?
And then correspondingly, what's a citizen?
What does it mean to show up as a citizen?
What are we supposed to do?
And does being a citizen mean acting alone?
Or does it mean acting whether through technology or otherwise
in incredibly network contagious ways.
This is our moment to drive change bottom up.
Which brings me to the final point here which is about
the meaning of innovation and the purpose of our day
here together.
Our aim today is not just to celebrate some remarkable civic
innovators and people who have been creating change in novel,
creative ways, but it is to try to develop as often as we
can ideas for action.
Things that we in this room together might come
together and do.
Things that we might corroborate and collaborate with the
Administration and the government to do.
Things that we haven't even dreamed up yet.
But our orientation is around action and our orientation is
around one plus one equaling three wherever we can.
This idea that we're not just innovating in isolation,
that we're innovating in ways that infect one another and
create this incredible tidal wave of great citizenship.
The arc of the day, as Jonathan mentioned,
after we hear from several distinguished speakers,
both from the Administration and outside,
is we're going to spend the second half of our afternoon
in hands-on sessions where we're going to be talking
about teaching these skills of engaged civic innovation,
where we're going to talk about scaling the work of successful
examples and exemplars of this work.
Where we're going to talk about evangelizing and spreading the
word and the message of what it means to be a civic innovator.
And finally, about how to connect the ideas and the
examples that we're going to be highlighting today to the world
of policy and to the operations of government.
That is a full day's work.
But one of the things that we're going to ask you all to do in
recognizing that it's a remarkable thing that we managed
to come together here on the eve of Independence Day with
all that's going on in our lives and in the country,
is to recognize that everything we do today is a beginning.
And by the time we have finished this afternoon,
I don't know that we'll have solved any problem necessarily
but we have come to a clearer sense of how we can work
together to solve some problems and to make some things happen
and the commitment that all of us have here to lean forward in
a playful, engaged, creative, can-do way is something that
we invite you to share and to infect one another with.
So with that, again, my thanks to all of you.
My thanks to Jon and the White House team here.
And it's now my pleasure to introduce our next panel here,
our first panel of speakers.
And, Jonathan, I don't know if you wanted to
make the introductions.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Great. Thank you, so much.
That's a great way, I think, to kick us off, Eric.
So the first panel, as Eric mentioned,
is going to be some distinguished speakers
from the Administration.
People who are working on what I would say is really about
reclaiming citizenship and redefining what it means to
be a citizen.
And I can think of no better person to start that
conversation today than the Honorable Ali Mayorkas.
By way of background, Ali is the Director of the -- let me get
this right, Ali, sorry -- Citizenship and Immigration
Service at the Department of Homeland Security.
He comes to us from Los Angeles where he had a distinguished
career in the legal field.
But most importantly he comes to us as an American by choice.
As a political refugee from Cuba whose own personal experience,
let alone his professional work, really exemplifies what it means
to be a citizen in the 21st century.
Please allow me to introduce Ali Mayorkas.
Ali Mayorkas: Thank you, very much.
I appreciate the opportunity to address you.
Some of you I know very well.
And many of you I have not had the pleasure to meet personally.
I have already had the honor of running into a couple of
innovators amongst you, Damian Thorman of the Knight
Foundation, Alysa Ullman of Citizenship Counts.
People are doing extraordinary work in communities throughout
the country.
As Jonathan mentioned, I came to this country as a refugee from
Cuba fleeing the communist takeover of that country.
And my mother was twice a refugee in her life having
arrived in Cuba after fleeing the Holocaust in Eastern Europe
during the second World War.
And as Jonathan aptly noted it, it is important that we are
gathering together on the eve of our country's Independence Day.
And lest we forget what it really means to live in this
country and to enjoy its freedoms and to have the rights
at our disposal to exercise and also to have assumed the
responsibilities of citizenship, let me, if I can,
read to you a message from an individual that our agency
interacted with in the course of his application to come to
the United States.
"I want to inform you that I received a letter of approval in
regards for my application of asylum in this great
humanitarian country.
I want to thank you and to thank this great nation for giving me
a chance to find a refuge for my life and to protect me from
being harmed and from death.
I want to show my endless appreciation and deepest
regards to you and your time and consideration to help and save
me and protect me in a way that made me feel that I am human
with rights to live and have a future.
May God bless you for being my guardian angel and may God bless
America for saving me.
In addition, I want to express my family's thanks
and especially my mom who wants to tell you that she wouldn't
forget you in her prayers and her appreciation for saving a
son and a brother.
And I wouldn't forget you as long as I live.
And I wish that I will be given a chance to repay the United
States of America for its protection."
When we speak of citizenship, as Eric so powerfully expressed,
we speak of rights and we speak also of responsibilities.
And it is the responsibilities that I want to just touch upon
very briefly.
And that is a responsibility to have individually and
collectively and for the organizations that we might
represent, a civic footprint.
A footprint in making the lives of others better.
And I have struggled throughout my life to really understand
what innovation means in that context.
I come from two very different individuals as parents.
My father, his favorite maxim as I was growing up was "you can't
teach an old dog new tricks."
And so the father we had was the father we were going to have
regardless of his failings and his wonderful qualities.
My mother, on the other hand, viewed life as a sequence of
individual lives captured in days.
And so tomorrow would bring an entirely new life with a
possibility of remarkable change for the best and unfortunately
for the tragic, for the unknown and for the possibly predictive.
And an obligation to ensure that one as a person has improved
tomorrow over what one is today, over who one is today and over
who one was yesterday.
And an obligation to ensure that that improvement in one's self
inures to the betterment of people around you especially,
of course, one's family.
And in that regard, I am more my mother's child than
I am my father's.
And I bring that thirst for what tomorrow can bring to the agency
that I am a part of, U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services.
And I don't think that most people in thinking about our
agency historically would describe us as
particularly innovative.
And yet we're redefining ourselves limited only by some
of the strictures that afflict many a government agency,
the resource challenges and the actual foundational architecture
of an organization but not in any way limited by the
possibilities of what tomorrow might bring.
And we serve a population that is assuredly represented by all
of you and the people whom you represent.
We represent the affluent, those who can contribute to America's
prosperity by bringing their wealth of ideas and their
financial wealth to the benefit of the United States economy.
And we also represent and serve the disenfranchised of the most
vulnerable, one of whom whose words I captured in the quote
I shared with you.
And it is a critical ethos of ours that we serve them
all equally.
How do we do that?
If you've had difficulty reaching Comcast,
if you've had difficulty reaching Verizon,
you should sometimes try reaching us.
We have an 800 number that very successfully,
very successfully delivers much needed service and information
to a particular slice of the broad and diverse communities
that we serve, but it does not serve the breadth and diversity
of that significant population.
And if we were to reinvent ourselves without guidance from
afar, we would likely recreate what yesterday was tomorrow.
And we don't want to do that.
We want to take a look at tomorrow as a tabula rasa,
truly a clean slate and defined only by our idealism and the
limitations of our own energy.
And so we brought on board a very,
very innovative company from the private sector called IDEO.
And they have developed remarkable things for companies
both public and private.
And what we've said to them when we met with them is: Invent for
us what we should look like tomorrow.
Listen to us in terms of what our needs are.
Listen to the community in terms of what its needs are.
And then go forth and tell us what we should build next year.
And we have devoted the resources to building it.
Each and every one of you has that capacity, organizationally,
individually, and I would say the obligation to go forth and
to find for tomorrow how we can contribute to the value and the
identity of other people's citizenship.
I really just want to emphasize the power of our citizenship,
the power of the rights that we have,
the depth and breadth of the responsibilities that we carry
with that distinct honor and also the importance of not
defining tomorrow by anything other than,
as Eric and Jonathan both noted, our bristling idealism.
We handle a wide array of responsibilities in the agency.
I said a few words about or by an asylee who successfully
arrived here in the United States.
I myself, as I mentioned, was a refugee.
We represent the interests of many, many people.
One of the issues that we are tackling with now is the
difficulty that adoptive parents here in the United States have
of bringing their adoptive children to them from the
country of Guatemala.
Because of the concerns in human trafficking and the abuse of
children, the country of Guatemala is very concerned
about letting children go without an assurances of
relinquishment or abandonment.
There is a great deal of crime to be addressed there.
But in the meantime, U.S.
parents are suffering the continued separation from
children who languish in orphanages now for five years.
Many of whom, quite frankly, because of the circumstances in
which they live, have perished.
Our team, redefining what they could do,
traveled to Guatemala and is in the midst as I speak of reaching
new solutions.
Let me, if I can, read a letter to them from the U.S.
parents just to communicate for you in closing the power of what
each of us brings to the citizenship of others.
"We are writing to profess our profound gratitude for your hard
work and dedication to give our children waiting in Guatemala
the gift of a permanent family.
As parents, we must be the voice for our children who cannot
speak for themselves.
You have amplified that voice and been a powerful megaphone
calling for justice for these children who have been detained
too long through no fault of their own.
We know that you have busy work schedules and families of your
own so we especially appreciate your willingness to take time to
travel to a foreign land and advocate only as you can.
We want to assure you that your time has been well spent.
These children are precious.
Each one a treasure to his or her waiting family.
As future Americans they will learn from us the responsibility
of making their communities and their country a better place.
You will serve as an example of sacrifice for others and of the
bravery to speak for the voiceless.
You will be remembered around our kitchen tables in our
prayers and grateful thoughts, and your names will be recorded
in many life books.
You are part of each family's story.
Insufficient are these words yet we offer them
with all our hearts.
Thank you."
And thanks to all of you.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Thank you, Ali.
Next up we're going to hear from Kumar Garg.
Kumar is a Special Advisor to the Deputy Director of
the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
He has been a clinical lecturer at Yale University.
And here at the White House, he leads President Obama's efforts
to look at innovation and education as well as working
on private/public partnerships.
So he brings a perspective again about how we, the government,
is working with folks on the outside on an issue that is
perhaps one of the most important things that the
President is focused on, which is education.
And I should also note that Kumar comes to the Offices of
Science and Technology Policy today wouldn't be possible,
this work wouldn't be possible if it weren't for collaboration
inside the White House as well.
And, you know, I appreciated the kind words that Eric and Ali
shared but I would be remiss if I didn't point out the good work
of the Office of Public Engagement who also really
helped to make today possible.
Ronnie Cho, Victoria McCullough and Jon Carson.
So thank you all for your help as well.
Kumar Garg: Well, thank you, everyone.
They gave me the invite list for everyone who is here and so I
decided that I would substantially retract what I was
going to talk about to be able to take questions from you all.
As Jonathan very kindly said, I work at the White House Office
of Science and Technology Policy and, you know,
when I started this job, now I'm approaching White House veteran
status, I've been here three years --
-- if I explained what I do now versus when I started this job,
I would shock myself because when I started this job,
you know, they said, hey, the White House Office of Science
and Technology Policy is looking for an education person.
And my story up until that point had had some
intersection with education.
Back in college, you know, I had taken computer science classes,
I had launched a progressive newspaper and I like to build
things and, you know, I said, okay, you know,
I can work on education.
After college I had worked on political campaigns and I really
loved Ali's comments about the aspect of citizenship.
The first political campaign I worked on I couldn't yet vote.
It was like a big joke in the office.
The intern who can't vote yet but is out there campaigning
on behalf of the candidate.
And afterwards in law school I was looking for, you know,
something that would get me out of my usual classes where all I
had to do is reading case law, and so that's how I got involved
in education which is we, Connecticut was going through
a period where there was a major lawsuit being put together to
sue the state for underfunding its poorer schools.
And the law school was looking for law students who would help
on the case and start to go around and interview
superintendents, teachers and start to recruit parents,
because there was a whole series of parents in the community that
knew that their kids weren't getting the education they
deserved but may not know all the choices
that were before them.
And so it was a fascinating experience.
I spent a lot of time in various school districts and talking to
parents, talking about their educational rights and what
their kids deserved.
I got a chance, you know, the case sort of continues,
we went up to the Connecticut Supreme Court and got a major
decision that said the children in Connecticut had the right to
a quality education.
And I was looking, you know, we had a democratic President
elected and I was figuring out what to do next.
And what they were looking for and what the Office of Science
and Technology was looking for and especially working with our
colleagues at the Office of Public Engagement and the Office
of Social Innovation was how do we take the President's bully
pulpit seriously?
Which is the President had given,
just before I had started, a major speech at the National
Academies of Science and he had talked about how to put science
to the forefront of the Administration and really build
it into a lot of the priorities.
But half of the President's speech was actually about math
and science education.
How do we as we start to build and invest in the key building
blocks of our future innovation economy,
do we make sure our students are having the key science and
technological skills to compete in this area.
And in that challenge around making sure that we have a
competitive economy and we're building for education,
the President, you know, broadened the aperture to
not just say here's what the federal government can do,
and here are actions that the agencies can take,
but said that this really has to be an all-hands-on-deck effort.
And the President talked about the real role that citizen
innovators can have in this space.
And I thought, you know, it was a really powerful speech because
the President said, look, if we are going to make progress in
this area, we have to engage in broad culture change.
We have to talk to students and bring the passion to the science
and technology fields in this area.
And they have to be in classrooms,
they have to be people working in that your communities,
and working with students.
The President called on governors, foundations,
nonprofits, everybody to work on this together.
So the President had just given this big speech and then they
said, hey, so you should figure out what we do next!
And so it was actually really fascinating.
So this was the summer of 2009 and the job was how do we take
the President's call to action seriously and start to build a
coalition of actors that included citizens,
nonprofits and others.
And so we started to have a series of meetings where we
said how do we make progress on this area.
And that led to the launch of the President's "Educate to
Innovate Campaign" which was really about moving the country
from middle of the pack to top of the pack in
math and science education.
But I will tell you that one of the big challenges was, well,
how do we think about this culture and citizen innovation
piece because whereas we might be able to have conversations
with some companies and some foundations,
how do we really activate citizens and how do we take
really seriously this idea that there are hundreds of thousands
of people out there that might be able to contribute to this
major social challenge.
So we started to think about this piece by piece.
One was we said, hey, there is a notion of citizenship that
exists within the government by government employees themselves.
So one thing that we did is we had the President issue a call
to action to the 200,000 federal scientists and engineers that
work in the government and said, hey,
you actually have a lot of passion and expertise that you
can actually bring to school districts in and out of school
communities to work with students and giving them more
opportunities to impact math and science education.
And that was really powerful because when the President sort
of issued that call to action a lot of the federal agencies
said, hey, you know, we can actually set up volunteer
coordinators and really push our work into the communities.
The second thing we started to talk about was we started
working a lot with the nonprofits,
the actual working communities and say what are the challenges
when it comes to connecting up with companies,
with foundations and others to do this work.
And what was really interesting is a lot,
a lot of folks had really specific advice.
And so we said, the thought experiment that we always played
with them is if you were President Obama and you could
call anyone and ask them for anything,
who would you call and what would you ask for?
And they said, you know, they had very specific things as to
how they wanted to get companies involved.
And so that led to some really interesting initiatives.
One that I wanted to sort of put on your radar screen as really
powerful was something called the Maker Movement so I wonder
how many people in this room have heard
of the Maker Movement?
We have got a couple of hands.
Yeah, and so the Maker Movement started approximately
six years ago.
And it started in this sort of hobbyist, you know,
as we call an amateur culture which is folks who are building
stuff in their garages and they wanted to come into the
community and show what they had built.
But what was really interesting was each year these capstone
affairs started to get younger and younger.
People were bringing their kids, people were bringing,
teachers were bringing students.
And so the question was, well, what happens after
the Maker Faire.
And so we started to work with a lot of companies and foundations
to think about how do we start to give more students access to
project-based activities.
And so one really powerful initiative that they have just
embarked on is how do we build a Maker Corps,
which is how do we get more and more part-time and full-time
citizens thinking about bringing this into their community,
and they have created a map of how this stuff can grow.
I think, I think this is really powerful because one thing that
I've noticed, we've now worked, we have now initiatives going in
a number of the priorities of the President,
whether it's fostering entrepreneurship,
building math and science education on college campuses,
the use of grand challenges in science innovation as a way to
motivate folks and recruiting really powerful,
recruiting entrepreneurs and citizens into government as
change agents is that almost all of these questions require an
all-hands-on-deck effort that engages citizens and how do we
improve these tools makes a huge difference.
So we've done a bunch of experiments in this area
and have learned a lot about how do you talk to a broad
community together.
But I would, you know, I wanted to sort of make sure that we
hold a little bit of time to have folks give us feedback on
how we could be doing a better job and to really think about
social movements that can have an impact.
One final idea that I just want to throw out there,
because we are the Office of Science and Technology,
is that we are noodling on but I would love sort of thoughts from
this community, is how do we make passion and enthusiasm
more infectious?
So if you sort of think about one question that you can ask as
a technology office is what can we do today that we couldn't do
ten to 15 years ago.
And one thing that we're, I think,
just on the ground level of is that if I'm passionate about
something, I am a Facebook user, a Twitter user,
a social network user and I, you know,
I'm 16 years old and I think math is the coolest thing ever,
how do I spread that enthusiasm on to other students.
Or how do I take something, a cause that I'm really passionate
about and make it more infectious.
And I think this represents a huge opportunity that we have
yet to solve.
But if we can make ourselves better at recruiting others
and use all of these new tools available to us,
I think we can do even more and do it even faster.
So thank you again for having me.
I know this is a very brief window into some of the things
that we think about, but, Jonathan,
thank you for having us.
And thank you for your leadership on this.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Do we have time for questions?
How are we doing on time?
So are there any questions for Kumar before I --
Kumar Garg: Yeah, we can.
I'm happy to -- yes?
Ted McConnell: Thank you.
This Administration has done a phenomenal job of improving math
and English and science education in this country.
It seems to me, though -- and I'm Ted McConnell with the
Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools -- it seems to me,
though, as citizenship and great citizenship as our friend,
Eric Liu, talks about is the theme of today,
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out we need to do better in
civic education and civic and service learning.
As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says,
these are things that are not passed down through the gene
pool; they have got to be taught.
So, please, Administration, we need your help in revitalizing
civic and service learning.
Thank you.
Kumar Garg: No, I totally agree.
And one of the things that we -- it's actually called citizen
science, one of the things that we're really interested in is
how do we get more students working in their communities,
whether it's service-based learning or in citizen science
actually with other students and bringing them into this area.
So I truly agree both on experiential work,
learning in this area, but then also courses in this area.
And this is something that Secretary Duncan is very
passionate about.
Diana: Hi, I'm Diana (inaudible) and I'm interested in finding out
about ways to move civic technology,
civic software from the university to
the public sector.
Kumar Garg: So I will admit that this is something where you
probably can teach us more than we can teach you.
I think, you know, we are, I will say as a government,
and we the Office of Science and Technology Policy,
and sort of tried to experiment with a lot of these tools and
are just learning on sort of when it comes to social
engagement tools but this might be a productive
conversation afterwards.
Monique Mandali: Hi, my name is Monique Mandali and I am with MomsRising.
And I wanted to know if there was any sub-initiative within
the larger one that focused on the gender
path in science and technology.
Kumar Garg: Yes.
Monique Mandali: And encouraging uplifting girls and educating girls.
Kumar Garg: So this is an area that is a huge focus for us.
When the President launched the Educate to Innovate Campaign he
sort of had three arcs which is, you know,
how do we get boys and girls more excited;
how do we sort of focus on performance;
and then how do we focus on the underrepresented which if you
look at the differentials, it's a huge part of when we talk
about the culture gap which is we, by the fourth grade,
girls start to increasingly, you know,
take science classes at much lower rates.
We've tried to attack this problem in a couple
different ways.
One is we're trying to attack it at the workforce level so a
number of the agencies including the National Science Foundation
have launched an initiative called the Career Balance
Initiative which is really trying to focus on how can you
add a lot more flexibility as to people as they're earning
Ph.D.'s and going into the science technical workforce.
But then we have tried to actually move that conversation
into the much earlier grades.
So the one thing that we have been working a lot with the
councilwomen and girls has been recruiting a lot of mentors.
So both, so far we've focused on sort of,
sort of rock stars within government that can go out
there and function as mentors.
But we've been working with a lot of groups that work with
girls and women in the underrepresented fields and
saying what might be key investments that could really
move the ball?
And so I think this is one of those things where we have the
opportunity for a tipping point.
Lots of things suggest that when you start to get to 40%
participation you can then get a big jump up where, you know,
such as we had in biology and in some of those scientific
disciplines which is not there yet.
So we continue to think about it.
I think it's a great space for citizen innovation because we
have to do mass parallel outreach, right,
we have to get lots of mentors and lots of schools and lots of
sort of, you know, career discovery happening earlier on.
So it's a great point.
And you guys can follow-up with Jonathan and my contact
information will be available and I would love your thoughts
as to how we can be doing more in this area.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Great. Kumar, thank you, so much.
Kumar Garg: Sorry about that.
Jonathan Greenblatt: So our final speaker for this session,
it is really an honor to bring up to the stage Mary Strasser:
Mary is the Director of VISTA.
VISTA stands for Volunteers In Service To America.
It is the cornerstone of our national service program called
AmeriCorps and it, really I think it represents a marvelous
heritage engaging citizens in the every day work in building
our communities.
Mary, come on up.
Mary Strasser: Good afternoon, everybody.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Mary Strasser: How many have heard of VISTA before today?
Yay! Yay!
How many VISTAs in the house?
Yay! All right.
Well, thank you, very, very much for inviting
me here this afternoon.
It's an honor and a privilege.
As I was thinking about coming here today to talk to everybody,
I couldn't ignore, obviously, the comments that were made
before earlier this afternoon about the date on the eve of
Independence Day and I'm a native Philadelphian.
And so when I think about Independence Day I think
about the Declaration of Independence even before
I think about fireworks.
And I am also thinking about the Constitution and the framers of
these documents and what innovators they were.
I mean, you think about them being innovative in really
establishing what citizenship meant in the United States.
Not to mention their technological innovation
when you think about people like Thomas Jefferson,
and particularly Benjamin Franklin who if it had not
been for him we wouldn't have the kind of innovation that many
of you are able to do in your work today,
his pioneering with things like electricity and other technology
that was state of the art, beyond state of the art
in his day.
So I look to them as models and patron saints for the work that
we're doing today in so many ways.
And I don't know that we have always seen the intersection
between citizenship and innovation that we saw with
those early framers of the Constitution and the Declaration
of Independence, but I do think that there have been periods
over our history where we have had that kind of burst of an
intersection between civic participation, citizenship,
and innovation.
And I want to fast forward to the 1960s and President Kennedy
who was obviously looked at technology of the time and where
we wanted to move forward with the space movement.
And also looking at citizenship and global citizenship with the
establishment of the Peace Corps which was actually the genesis
of the program that VISTA is.
Some people say to me these days, oh, VISTA?
I remember that.
That was in the '60s.
And I said, but it's still going strong.
And so again, that was a critical moment in our history's
development where you saw this burst of interest in science and
technology and a real commitment to citizenship.
What it meant to participate in our democracy on so many levels
and be a citizen servant through programs such as VISTA.
VISTA actually did not get started until the War on
Poverty, which was Johnson Administration legacy.
And VISTA was used as a catalyst to ignite some of those other
critical programs that were a part of the War on Poverty,
Head Start, and Job Corps and those kinds of activities.
The cornerstone of VISTA has been and will remain always
alleviating poverty in this country.
And so we continue to play a major role in thinking about
solutions to poverty.
And we look to technology and innovation as a strategy for
eliminating poverty.
Single biggest reason that people are in poverty has
to do with probably education and training.
And to the extent that we are focused on some digital
inclusion work, I think it's very important for helping
people along.
Before I came to the Corporation for National and Community
Service rolls right off your tongue; right?
And we sponsor the AmeriCorps programs,
the Social Innovation Fund, and SeniorCorps programs
throughout the country.
I worked for a United Way.
And we had the opportunity to use VISTA to launch a program
called Teaming for Technology.
And I'll say a little bit more about that work in a minute.
But this was primarily designed to be a digital
inclusion program.
VISTAs improved the capacity of organizations to deliver
services to people.
VISTAs don't do direct service.
The joke is how many, how many VISTAs does it take
to change a lightbulb?
And the answer is, none, because VISTAs don't do direct service.
I'm looking at one of the VISTAs now who is looking
at me, like, yeah.
So one of the -- there were three or four important elements
of this digital inclusion project.
One was at that time in the mid '90s very few people from low
income communities had access to computers or the Internet.
Now, you think even ten, 20 years ago if you were --
wanted to know some information about something,
what's the first thing you do?
You go online and either use Google or some other search
engine to find it.
Well, if you're already in a challenging community and have
educational challenges and you don't have access to that huge,
huge, huge resource, you're already handicapped.
So our goal was to make sure that children had access to
the -- families and children has access to the Internet,
had organizations that worked with them,
that had the capacity to use technology to better
deliver services.
This program has been resurrected.
And I see Jackie Norris in the back through Hands-on and a
partnership with Google to really build capacity of
organizations throughout the United States to serve more
people using technology and really innovative technology.
We continue to work on that.
We launched, fast forward again to the Kennedy Serve
America Act.
We launched the Social Innovation Fund.
And that fund actually is looking at really strategic best
practices in solving community problems through innovation in
education, employment, and housing.
And we've successfully made a number of grants.
We're learning.
We as an organization are learning from our work on the
SIF which I actually call VISTA 2.0 because I think we were the
original innovative project.
And they're just carrying on taking it to the next level
making it bigger and brighter.
So we're also doing some creative work with partnering
with other agencies to expand our resources to move into more
communities, because we definitely are a federal
program, a national program, that operates in communities
with communities for communities and by communities.
We're not centrally managed in a way that we ignore what the
communities' needs are.
We really engage the community in all of our work.
So we're working with FEMA, we're working with the United
States Department of Agriculture.
And my time is up.
So thank you, very much.
(laughter and applause)
Jonathan Greenblatt: All right. We're back on time, which is great.
I want to thank Mary, I'd like to thank Kumar,
I'd like to thank Ali, all of you for sharing your thoughts
with us today.
So now we're going to sort of turn it up a notch by getting
outside of government because again I think that innovation
and government often don't seem to go sort of hand in hand,
but some of the most amazing work is happening by some of the
people who are going to come up and join us this
afternoon right now.
So I'd like to welcome to the stage David Smith from the
National Conference on Citizenship;
Cheryl Dorsey from Echoing Green; Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner,
from MomsRising; and Ben Berkowitz from SeeClickFix.
Would you all join us up here, please.
So our first speaker is David Smith.
And what I'm going to do is give a quick introduction of
everybody, let everybody come up here and speak and then when
we're done we'll do Q and A of the group.
So David Smith is the Executive Director of the National
Conference on Citizenship.
For those of you who don't know the National Conference
on Citizenship or the NCoC is doing some of the most important
research, I think, on citizenship and making the
connection between economic health and civic health.
Between community resilience and stabilizing unemployment.
Guys, being an active citizen, you don't just do it because
it feels good.
We do it because it's an economic imperative.
It's part of being a competitive country.
So David is going to talk a little bit about that.
Cheryl Dorsey is a remarkable social entrepreneur in her own
right and yet she manages Echoing Green which I might
liken to a high performing metro capital firm for
social entrepreneurship.
They identify some of the most talented,
remarkable up and coming innovators across the country.
Ordinary citizens who are doing extraordinary things to give
them a little bit of money and a lot of mentorship.
And I think we may have some Echoing Green fellows
in the audience.
Can you raise your hands if you are an Echoing Green fellow?
All of you people are remarkable.
Kristen is the CEO of MomsRising which is an amazing example of
bringing together some of the most talented,
hardest-working people in our country today.
It's moms. We all have one.
And I think what Kristin -- true -- and what Kristin has done to
help to mobilize that community and to give it voice and to give
it power and to amplify the ability of these citizens to
make a difference is laudable and something
we should all appreciate.
And lastly I am so excited to have Ben here from SeeClickFix.
How many of you have SeeClickFix on your iPhone, raise your hand?
So we have all used it.
Or many of us have used it.
It's a terrific tool which is again empowering citizens in
the palm of their hand to make a difference in their communities
with simple easy stuff that people like Mayor Daley long
ago realized are the stuff of creating great communities.
So I'm excited we're going to have them all here with us.
We're going to start with David and then we'll work
down the line.
So, David, please.
David Smith: Well, thank you, very much, Jonathan.
I want to thank the White House as well for convening this
series and inviting NCoC to come and share our research.
You basically did my job for me in explaining a lot about what
we do, but what we have noticed is that over the past several
years there have been many rooms similar to this full
of problem-solvers.
From city councils to county supervisors,
to governors' cabinets, to regional federal reserve banks,
to the President's own economic advisors,
everyone coming together to try to figure out how do we turn the
economy around.
And in these local conversations we're sure that many ideas such
as moving sports stadiums downtown,
recruiting a new research center,
attracting the latest technology conference or launching a new
tourism campaign have been suggested as means to invest
in the local economy and bring jobs.
But in how many of these rooms do you think the word
volunteerism, neighborliness or nonprofits ever came up?
Surely not enough.
Financial capital is always at the table.
Human capital is often included.
But social capital is mostly overlooked.
And while each of these ideas have great merits,
the latter is less expensive by an order of magnitude and will
not only reduce unemployment today but it will build economic
resiliency for the future.
This past fall NCoC in partnership with many
of our partners including Civic Enterprises, CIRCLE,
Harvard Saguaro Seminar and the National Constitution Center,
published a report showing the strong correlation between civic
health and unemployment.
In short, cities and states that had high levels of civic health
in 2006 rebuffed the economic collapse and the unemployment
crisis better than those other less engaged counterparts.
This was true even when controlling for various economic
variables including housing inflation,
the presence of oil and gas industries,
and workforce with professional degrees.
Not only did these holdings find up but we were able to go a step
further and measure the magnitude of how much civic
health indicators connect with unemployment.
Our data shows that a community that has 4% more residents
working together to solve problems will have a 1% lower
unemployment rate.
Public meeting attendance is very similar with the same 4
to 1 ratio and volunteering follows closely behind.
Our data is not without its limitations.
And so to date we have been able to prove correlation but now we
are moving on to looking at causation.
And thanks to the support of the Knight Foundation we are able to
further investigate this connection and we'll be
releasing those findings in the next month.
So how does civic health lead to economic resiliency?
Well, we propose six hypotheses.
First, the human capital hypothesis that participating
in civil society can develop skills,
confidence and habits to make individuals more employable.
Skills such as team building, critical
thinking and problem-solving.
Second, the networking hypothesis.
People get jobs through their social networks and by engaging
in one's communities you are able to build your ties.
Third, the information hypothesis, volunteering,
attending meetings, and interacting with neighbors help
spread information ultimately helping to match employers in
need the talent with those that are seeking employment.
Fourth, the trust hypothesis.
That participation in civil society builds trust.
And high levels of trust in business facilitates
economic transactions.
Fifth, the good government hypothesis.
That communities with higher levels of citizen engagement
would likely have better government.
And in turn they'll attract business that are looking
for stable institutions before they plant roots.
And finally the attachment hypothesis.
As the Knight Foundation and Gallop have found through their
Soul of the Community Project, communities with high levels of
attachment have greater economic growth.
And we look at these highly attached communities as places
with fertile soil upon which civic health can easily take
root ultimately leading to greater social,
human and financial capital.
So I mention that we're again working with our civic health
working group including gurus like John Bridgeland,
Bob Putnum, Bill Galston, Peter Levine and many others and we'll
be giving out some more in-depth response,
a new report coming out in September at our 67th
Annual Conference.
But I wanted to give this group one sneak peek.
We are looking deeper on the role of nonprofits
in communities.
And we are, what we're finding is that the presence and growth
of nonprofits, the nonprofit sector,
plays a critical role in the underlying economic health.
That showing that the density of nonprofits in a city ultimately
accounts for up to one and a half percent of
its unemployment rate.
Now, we're digging deeper into this and we'll have better data
for you this fall, but this makes complete sense as we
already know that there is 1.4 million nonprofit organizations
in our country employing over 10.7 million Americans.
We make up over 10% of the workforce and channel almost
$300 billion of investment into our communities.
This will further backup the claim that my colleagues will be
making that social innovation plays a critical role in not
just solving our social problems,
but also our economic problems.
So moving forward my charge is this: That we must not allow
social capital to be absent from the juntas forming around our
country to address our great economic needs.
First, we call upon our friends at the regional federal reserve
banks to join us in further exploring this correlation and
ensuring that civic health strategies are included in
regional economic plans.
Second, we call upon our friends at the Council of Economic
Advisors to join us in making sure that social capital growth
is part of the President's strategy to improve our economy.
Third, we call upon our friends that serve as governors and
mayors of all of our great states and cities.
And we would like you to ensure that you are targeting your
civic health indicators in the same way you are thinking
about your tax base, attracting corporations
and building infrastructure.
Finally we call upon our friends at the Census Bureau and the
Bureau of Labor Statistics and our partners at the Corporation
for National Community Service and we encourage you to collect
more data on civic health in our communities.
We collect terabytes and terabytes of information related
to our commercial transactions.
But we invest just a fraction of that in helping to better
understand and monitor our social transactions.
Both are essential to build a vibrant and thriving nation.
As our President said in this year's State of the Union,
no one built this country on their own.
This country is great because we built it together.
This country is great because we worked as a team.
Just as we built the interstate highway system and the Internets
together, providing channels for citizens and business to come to
explore, to expand and to connect,
we now call upon each of us to invest in a solid foundation of
social capital upon which our neighborhoods,
our states and our economy can thrive.
Thank you.
Cheryl Dorsey: Good afternoon.
Again my name is Cheryl Dorsey and I'm with Echoing Green.
I want to start by thanking the White House for having all of us
here today.
Jonathan, I want to thank you for your leadership at the
Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.
You were there from the transition team building this
office from the ground up and to see what you've done I think is
really extraordinary.
And for those of us in the field of social innovation,
thank you for your leadership.
I also want to thank Ronnie Cho.
Ronnie, you, before coming to the Office of Public Engagement,
were really creating a social media platform for social
innovation and social entrepreneurs through your
work with the Daily Beast and Newsweek and really helped so
many of us get the stories of what these extraordinary
citizens are doing around the country.
So thank you for doing that and now bringing it to the Office of
Public Engagement.
And Veyom, thank you so much for having Echoing Green,
and so many of our social entrepreneurs in the audience
today we are most grateful for this opportunity.
So I think I'm here today as the representative of the
social entrepreneurship space.
And those of us who do this work really do believe that social
entrepreneurship is a particular and interesting example of
citizen innovation.
It's just one type but it's an interesting type
from our perspective.
And I think for the purpose of today's conversation,
the work of social entrepreneurs is instructive for three
reasons: The first is that these citizen innovators are providing
new models for solving social problems.
That's the first thing.
I would also posit that these citizen innovators are creating
new businesses, new businesses, new economic models to solve
some of our toughest social problems.
And last, these citizen innovators are really figuring
out new and very interesting ways to engage communities to
solve problems.
So I know that sort of sounds kind of disconnected.
And there is no better way to make all of this real than to
tell some stories.
So if you'll indulge me I'll just sort of make this real
through the examples of some of the social entrepreneurs that
Echoing Green has the pleasure and honor to work with.
So I hope I'm not going to embarrass the Echoing Green
social entrepreneurs in the audience if maybe I'll ask
you to raise your hand when I talk about you and your work.
So I'm going to start with one example happening right
here in D.C.
So in the March 6th edition of the Washington Post one of the
Washington Post columnists John Kelly wrote the following: "At
first blush this program, Reach, Incorporated,
founded by Mark Hecker --" Mark?
-- so "at first blush it sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Take kids who need to improve their reading skills and have
them tutor other kids who have trouble reading."
Well, that's exactly what Reach, Incorporated,
is doing here in the city, to flip the script on traditional
literacy programs through its innovative near-peer
tutoring model.
That's one example.
Serita? Where is Serita?
Serita Cox of a new Echoing Green social entrepreneur.
Serita figured out that there is almost no more fragmented
and isolated community in this country than children who are
in foster care and those who are attempting to care
for these children.
Serita who brings to bear both her personal experience in
foster care as well as her executive-level management
experience as a top strategy consultant recently founded
iFoster, a new online platform that connects at-risk children
and teens in foster care to needed resources.
Another example of a new model and new way of doing business --
where is Marquis Taylor?
Marquis, where are you?
There is Marquis, who is the Founder of Coaching for Change.
I think we all know here it's no secret that most kids who need
help in our society also love sports.
They really love sports.
And there are a ton of programs across the country that try to
link the two, but few, if any, have drawn a straight line
between sports and employable skills.
Marquis is in the process of creating a new model that is
leveraging this love of sports and beginning to directly
translate that into actual jobs for these young people.
And I hope throughout the afternoon you'll spend some
time talking to these social entrepreneurs learning more
about their models.
So I also mentioned social entrepreneurs who were crafting
new models, new economic models to build what I would believe,
what I believe to be the new economic models for
the 21st century.
So it's interesting, at Echoing Green,
we have been tracking a very interesting the
trend since 2007.
You know, the number of social entrepreneurs coming across our
pipeline launching new double bottom line,
triple bottom line businesses is really staggering.
In part a lot of this is generational; right?
A lot of these millennials are blurring nonprofit and
for-profit business ideas and entities in a way that certainly
my generation certainly wasn't even thinking about.
And currently there are over 50,000 double bottom line,
triple bottom line businesses here in this country driven by
60 to 70 million consumers who want
to buy from these businesses.
This is values-based spending.
It's only going to catalyze further this trend.
So, you know, make no mistake, Echoing Green and others who
are sort of on the frontlines of watching a lot of this,
we don't simply look at this as altruism.
We think this is going to be the way we do
business moving forward.
And, you know, at a time in our country when most companies have
been shedding jobs like crazy, when you look at some of these
new corporate entities like B corporations, for example,
over half of the certified B corporations in the United
States grew jobs by more than 5% in the last year alone.
That's a formula for economic growth in our country.
So let me just give you a couple of examples of that.
Where is Donnell Beard?
Did I see Donnell here? Yes.
So Donnell is -- you're entering your second year at Columbia
Business School, and Donnell has founded a really interesting new
company called Block Power which is on the frontlines of working
on the issue of weatherization and retrofitting and linking it
directly to employment opportunities for black
men in this country.
Donnell is still working on the economic model of it but most
likely it will be a double bottom line,
triple bottom line business, so we're really excited to
see what will come of that.
Also in the audience I want to acknowledge -- sorry,
I'm just trying to look out and see where everybody is.
Where is -- okay, I'm losing track of my folks here.
All right, hang on for a second.
All right.
Let me come back to that.
You know, and I see that I only have like two minutes left and I
want sort of move on to new models of civic engagement.
You know, Echoing Green was founded 25 years ago and we
really made our early reputational capital on starting
new national service programs.
If you haven't heard of Echoing Green you may have heard of
Teach for America, City Year, Public Allies, Jump Start.
It's very interesting to us that now in the past couple of years
we're seeing some really interesting new models
of civic engagement.
Where is Scott Warren?
Do I see Scott?
Scott is the Founder of Generation Citizen which is
really flipping the script in very interesting ways on civics
education through an action-based student curriculum
working with historically underrepresented youth in
some of our nation's most disadvantaged high schools.
And did I see Anim?
Anim Steel.
Is David with you today? Okay.
Anim Steel, who is the Cofounder of The Real Food Challenge that
is now mobilizing thousands of young people on college campuses
across the country harnessing their political power to really
encourage universities to act in interesting new ways.
So leveraging the purchasing power of these universities,
The Real Food Challenge is working to redirect,
and get this, over $1 billion of college food purchases away from
industrial agriculture towards local sustainable sources.
And that is real money, $1 billion.
And did I see John?
I talked to John Jordan earlier.
So, John, who is the Cofounder of Fight for Light that is
seeking to bring more young people of color into the
environmental movement.
John, who is a Morehouse man, is working with Morehouse and other
historically black colleges and universities to offer
transformational experiences to young leaders of color to
bring them into key leadership positions
in the environmental movement.
So again my hope is by sharing some of these stories with
social entrepreneurs, you get a sense of what this one
particular form of citizen innovation looks like.
It not only is bringing new leadership models online but
it is also contributing to new economic models
for the 21st century.
So, thank you.
Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner: Thank you. What an honor to be here today with all of you.
I'm going to share a little bit about myself,
a little bit about MomsRising and what tactics we're using
in innovative ways to get more people involved in a
participatory democracy.
And then I'm going to share a little bit,
because I just can't resist, about the power of moms.
You all have one.
So how did I get involved?
What happened with me?
Fifteen years ago I had a son who I still have
who was beautiful --
-- glorious and very, very sick.
He had a primary immune deficiency that made it
impossible for him to be in child care with other children.
So I quit my job to stay home with my son.
Now, I had and still have a husband with a job that has
job linked health care.
When I quit my job, I lost my job-linked health care as many,
many, many parents do.
And there are many parents who don't have the option
of a husband or a spouse or a wife that have job-linked
health care.
So this is a terrible, terrible situation for many people when
they have a child with a chronic illness.
My son is healthy because of the care he got when he was young.
And he is going to stay healthy because of the Affordable Care
Act which many people in this room helped pass --
(cheers and applause)
-- and which has -- yes -- and which importantly has a clause
that says that kids with preexisting conditions can
always get access to health care.
So I'm not alone in applauding the Affordable Care Act and
being tremendously helped by it.
And thank you for plodding along and everybody doing everything
out there.
But this issue that I faced really opened my eyes to the
issues that parents across the country are facing each and
every day as did listening to the stories of moms,
dads grandmas and grandpas across the nation.
And it's one of the reasons why I co-founded MomsRising.
Stories are powerful.
The thousands upon thousands of stories that MomsRising
regularly collects from our members on a wide range of
economic security issues from women across the nation have
a tremendous impact.
Not only does research show that a single story from a woman tied
with one fact has more impact than any long list of wonky
facts, but also sharing stories gets leaders interested in
public policies that they otherwise would have ignored,
sharing stories gets news coverage for policy issues that
might not otherwise have had coverage and sharing stories
helps us all know that we're in this together.
We're in democracy together.
That when this many people are having the same problem at the
same time we have a national structural issue;
not an epidemic of personal failings.
And we together as citizens can make an impact and can make a
difference and make a change for all of us.
So what is MomsRising?
What's our story?
The MomsRising story's program is just the tip of an iceberg.
MomsRising is an online and on-the-ground organization that
is pushing the modern citizen engagement toolkit to the limit
using both tried and true old tactics combined with cutting
edge new innovative tactics to make a hybrid that we are
working to increase family economic security,
to decrease discrimination against women and mothers,
and to importantly build a nation where both businesses
and families can thrive.
And importantly, very importantly,
we are also building a broad grassroots movement for change
and for participatory democracy.
And using these tactics we have grown from zero members in May
of 2006, to over a million members today.
Over a million.
In addition to being a grassroots organization,
MomsRising is now a media outlet in her own right
much to our own surprise.
We now have over 700 bloggers and we have been named for the
past three years in a row by Forbes as a top
website for women.
So it's safe to say that MomsRising is now a force
to be reckoned with.
And we are daily bringing forward the voices,
the stories and the actions of women across the country.
And we are making very important policy gains together.
We are making gains in collaboration with over
150 policy partners.
We are making gains like helping to make sure that Medicaid is
maintained during the debt ceiling negotiations and the
super-committee negotiations.
Everybody remember that?
It was at risk of automatic cuts.
MomsRising members stepped up, shared their stories,
shared their actions and made a difference.
We helped pass paid sick days recently in Connecticut and
the City of Seattle.
We helped stop pink slime from being sold in supermarkets.
And from the USDA from mandating that schools had to use that in
their school lunches.
And we've worked with HUD to help stop housing discrimination
against women who are mothers which happens
all too frequently.
These are just a few of our many, many,
many wins because we have people working together,
sharing their stories, sharing their involvement,
participating in our democracy.
So who's in?
Who's making these wins happen?
Everybody who is a mom here, please raise your hand. Okay.
Now, anybody who has ever had a mom, please raise your hand.
All right.
We have a movement you all understand.
To build this movement MomsRising is using the first
rule of organizing: Go where the people are to educate, to engage,
to empower, to build community and to activate.
And where is a huge portion of our population hanging out?
Ninety percent of moms are going to be online by the
end of this year.
More than 36 million women are actively either writing
or reading blogs in America.
This is huge.
Internet access and use is skyrocketing.
And that means that we have significant ability
to reach people.
But getting people involved and engaged is not easy.
We have a number of tactics that I'm going to go through
very quickly to do that.
We have four key principals.
One, be nimble and responsive.
Ride the waves of change instead of looking at them as they pass
you by in the media.
Two, constantly, qualitatively test effective and creative
strategic engagement opportunities.
Three, be a dialogue with your members, don't just broadcast.
Four, have as many avenues for citizen engagement and community
building opened as possible at the same time.
This means that busy people have a choice.
What can you do?
Some people can do one click engagement opportunities.
Some people can actually physically go down to lobby
in person.
Some people can speak to the media.
Some people can just share their story.
All of these actions coming together under a single issue
at the same time makes a significant impact.
And there's a huge ripple effect here.
Moms are an increasingly powerful force.
This is important.
And we're networked together unlike any
other time in history.
And I want to point out that we are not, quote,
soccer moms anymore, end quote.
To be frank, in the political context,
the very idea of a soccer mom has often been used which has
left us with an image of a mom standing on the sideline of an
important game.
But we are off the sidelines.
We are networked moms and leaders are taking note.
Leaders are knowing that we are in the game.
We're playing to strengthen our communities.
We're playing to improve our public policy,
to revitalize our democracy, and to win important gains
for family economic security.
Our story at MomsRising is the story of millions.
Our story is the story of a passion for democracy reignited.
And we are delighted to be reigniting a passion for
democracy with all of you in this room and all of those who
are listening right now and doing the hard work across the
nation at the same time.
Thank you so much for having me and it's wonderful to be here.
Thank you.
Ben Berkowitz: I don't know what pink slime is, but I think -- thank you.
So I'm Ben Berkowitz, and I'm from New Haven, Connecticut.
That is not code for Yale University; I was born there.
And I like bicycles and public art and everything
about my town.
A few years ago, four years ago, actually, in a darker era,
before this administration, I was an angry citizen screaming
at sky gods trying to get what I think was not-so-great graffiti
off my neighbor's building.
And today through what I'll tell you a little bit about,
I am a person who plants trees with my neighbors and my team
members at SeeClickFix and does what I believe is more
constructive participation in my community.
So the story of SeeClickFix is this.
The bad graffiti on the neighbor's building,
I am calling the voice mail of City Hall in New Haven and I'm
getting no response.
And after three voice mails I started to think maybe there's
a way we could publicly document these issues.
And we sat down, me and my co-founders and came up with
this tool over the weekend called SeeClickFix.
It's obviously iterated since then,
but the first version was four hours of programming.
And what we created was a platform that allowed citizens
anywhere in the world to publicly document something
that was broken or needed to be improved in their community.
And the most important part of SeeClickFix was that we created
a platform where governments could sign themselves up to
receive alerts based on freeform geography.
And probably the even more important piece,
because -- and I really do give some credit to this
administration for this -- four and a half years ago citizens
were really restricted from communicating well and openly
with government.
And so we wanted a way that citizens could say let's
communicate openly.
So we allowed citizens to actually sign up their
governments to receive alerts on these public notifications.
(laughter and applause)
14,000 watch-at areas later we were on most continents and in
most major cities in the U.S.
You could receive an alert if, or if you publicly documented
something on SeeClickFix, it would go to a
government official.
I think -- so the first part of the platform when I describe it
probably sounds a little bit like that Homer Simpson pointing
the finger at the sky thing, but with technology.
I think we make an argument that documenting potholes really is
the gateway drug to civic engagement.
And I'll jump to that in a minute.
But, you know, before we could bring all these -- before the
culture shift started in local government towards open and
social communication, we figured out that we could work with news
organizations like the Boston Globe,
who would bring citizens to the platform by encouraging them to
report on widgets on their site.
And I think the important point here is just really not to
underestimate the power of the local media and the relevance
of the local media still today when it comes to participation.
Finally, it makes sense that government came on board,
and this is where our business model came from.
We sell software for enhancing the SeeClickFix platform for the
benefit of governments while, of course,
not taking away from all of the benefits that
it brings citizens.
We have Facebook applications, we have a web interface that
goes on the city's website, and we have a smartphone
application, you can download that here in D.C., either
Washington, D.C. 311 or SeeClickFix,
and you can communicate directly with your city government.
So what are some of the kind of points where we get beyond just
reporting potholes as a piece of civic engagement?
Citizens as inspectors really, you know,
reporting things that could be dangerous,
this is something that city officials do and are paid to do,
but we're able to replace that with citizens.
This is kind of the crowd sourcing meme.
We have citizens that are embedding the tools in their
blog and helping to spread information,
helping to share information, acting as content creators.
And we have citizens that are helping to suggest
solutions for problems.
We have seen people design, redesign bike lanes for roads
or make intersections better and really help city planners
move the city in a direction that works.
This is an example of a dog park.
And this is kind of like a civic kickstarter thing that we're
experimenting with to actually fund resolving
some of these issues.
And most importantly, we have citizens that are actually going
out and fixing the issues.
And you can see here in Guam, I think,
we have this guy who reported graffiti to himself.
Well, actually this is a senator who is reporting it.
And then I guess, if you keep going,
there's this guy who came out and actually fixed it.
You can see a fun video of him cleaning up graffiti on his own.
So I will -- I'll end by telling you about what we're up to in
New Haven these days aside from running SeeClickFix.
What I like to do in my free time is a local version of the
inside out project, which some of you might know.
Ironically it involves putting things back onto public walls as
opposed to removing them.
But these are all faces of our neighbors.
The photos are taken by our neighbors.
It was kickstarted by our neighbors,
and repasted by our neighbors.
And it's crazy, almost a thousand people have
participated in this project.
I have a phenomenally engaged neighborhood.
This is a highway underpass that takes you from New York up to
Boston, has ripped through New Haven,
divided neighborhoods culturally.
This project has really brought them back together.
And there are very little people that are resistant to getting
involved in this.
This kid in the lower right, we didn't have any -- we didn't
have any brushes left, so he brought out -- they brought out
drums and they kept the beat for us on the last day we were out.
We ran out of 20 gallons of wheat paste in the first 45
minutes because we had 30 some neighbors out,
and three of my neighbors went home to actually start cooking
more wheat paste in their kitchen.
It's really been an amazing thing.
And -- keep going.
And so, you know, this is where I've ended up personally back
writing on walls again in chalk.
But, you know, it's been a really incredible experience
and I thank the White House for helping with that.
Jonathan Greenblatt: So it's fascinating, it's fascinating actually to come
back to that idea of like, you know, for your neighbors,
by your -- of your neighbors, by your neighbors,
to sort of paraphrase.
So what's interesting to me is whether it's engaged neighbors
or engaged moms or social entrepreneurs.
So what is the -- what is like the key success factor,
the thing that makes it possible, do you think?
Because everybody wants to do something.
But what makes -- what was the spark that you think you see in
your respective communities that's instructive for all of
us here as we think about how we take this to scale.
Ben Berkowitz: (inaudible)
So I would say for me, low barrier to entry for myself.
I think I'm relatively lazy and I need feedback
loops really quick.
So I need low barrier to entry and I need like --
Jonathan Greenblatt: You are honest.
I think your honesty --
Ben Berkowitz: And I'm honest.
Sometimes too much.
So, right, low barrier to entry and quick feedback loop.
And that feedback loop is for us really I think, you know,
I showed that it was the media that was saying, look,
at least you're getting attention to the issue.
And then it was saying, hey, governments are listening,
and I knew it was actually governments resolving the issues
or other citizens resolving it.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner: At MomsRising, we see two main barriers to engagement.
One is that people are busier than ever before.
Moms are now -- 75% of moms are now in the labor force.
And half of the entire paid labor force is women for the
first time in history.
So busy people finding time to make a difference and to be
engaged is a huge hurdle for us.
So we need to find lots of ways for them to get engaged that
they can choose, because the nature of volunteer has changed.
No more are there volunteers who will give you, you know,
20 hours a week every week.
People have different amounts of time, different weeks.
So providing lots of different engagement opportunities so that
busy people can have time to do what they have time
to do is important.
The second issue that I touched on a little bit is that the
amount of media messaging and marketing hits per day is now
over 5,000 media marketing hits per person.
And so finding ways to break through all of the chaos that
there is out there in messaging to have our messages heard,
to have the opportunities for citizen engagement to happen,
is a big, big issue for us, that we're always working on and love
to hear everybody's ideas, because that is an ever-changing
tactics that we use for that one.
Cheryl Dorsey: I would just sort of make one observation
that I think we all know and is sort of under the rubric of,
you know, demography is destiny.
So at Echoing Green, we've been around for 25 years,
but the trend of social entrepreneurship has really
accelerated, powered mostly by the millennial generation.
So when you look at this demographic bubble that is as
big or bigger than the baby boomers,
you've got this really interesting constellation
of qualities and characteristics of this generation that really
takes its role as planetary stewards,
as change agents in their communities, very seriously.
And it is a really powerful force to behold.
David Smith: I guess I'll chime in as a millennial social
entrepreneur myself, which I think the other key thing with
this generation specifically is that you've got to get
to the impact.
And you have to be able to see and feel
the impact very quickly.
And so -- and I think it's not just millennials,
but across the board, as you are giving the gateway drug
of engagement, you've also got to make sure that whatever that
small thing is, that they're tied into the
larger conversation about what really is getting done here.
I'm not just sending a message to a member of Congress or
sending a message to an elected official where I might get a
form letter back.
But I'm actually seeing the difference I'm making
in my community.
Jonathan Greenblatt: So that may be a good segue to the next question,
then I want to open it up.
So part of the goal this afternoon is to think about
how we take these studies and these learnings and
develop blueprints for action.
That's the idea.
But tell us now, maybe you can start, David,
like what should we be doing, what do you want the President
to know, what do you want folks here at the White House to know,
what conditions can we create to make this civic innovation,
help it to flourish?
Clearly it's already happening.
But what can we do to sort of create a platform so that it
can truly, you know, take off in scale?
David Smith: I mean, from our perspective, and really what our research is
all about, is trying to shift this conversation from a "nice
to have" to a "need to have."
And I think that that's really the piece that we -- that the
NCOC's working on is trying to make sure that we're not just
talking about how do we expand more volunteering opportunities
in the sphere of the very limited funds that are currently
put towards volunteering, but that this is actually part of a
conversation at every economic conversation that's happening
out there.
Be that through Federal Reserve banks,
be that through mayors and governors, be that through,
you know, individual communities coming together and saying how
are we going to drive our community forward, well,
where is social capital playing into all of this.
And are we not just thinking about how are we bringing in X
number of businesses and, you know,
focusing on it through that realm,
but really ensuring that citizens are included in
the process throughout.
Cheryl Dorsey: I guess I'll just keep the focus on economic opportunity.
Where's Carrie Ferrence and Jackie Gjurgevich?
Where -- Jackie and Carrie.
These two young women have started a company,
a for-profit company, called Stockbox Grocers.
And they are basically starting this business to place small
format grocery stores that provide healthy organic foods in
low income urban neighborhoods across the country.
Think sort of Redbox for healthy foods, right.
So these young entrepreneurs, they need capital,
and how can the administration start to do that.
I think you guys have done extraordinary things like
the $1 billion SBIC fund.
But how do young entrepreneurs like Carrie and Jackie get
easier access?
Do they know about the SBIC program?
Are there technical assistance opportunities to help them grow
this double bottom line, triple bottom line business faster?
I think those are the sorts of connections that need to be made
to sort of unleash this entrepreneurial activity
across the country.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner: Well, I think one of the -- I have a loud voice.
I think one of the most important things is for people
to understand the theory of change, why are they involved.
So the government sharing, if you do this,
then this will happen, because of this.
Too often that step is missed.
And so it sort of feels to people who are busy and who
have an onslaught of other media stuff coming at them,
like why waste my time on this other thing.
So clearly, sharing that theory of change
is critically important.
And I have an idea.
I'm a lady who gets a lot of ideas.
But wouldn't it be cool if you all started a site, like yours,
that said, here, on the opposite.
Instead of this is something that's wrong,
this is something that's right, and here's how many people took
action to make it right.
You know, really making it clear that we do actually still have a
participatory democracy.
Because all too often in the media it's reported as if,
you know, there's corporations that are controlling everything.
There's dismal, you know, sort of outcome for people
who are engaged.
And actually the opposite is true.
My experience at MomsRising is that the voices and stories of
real people have a tremendous impact.
And guess what?
There's very few real people walking around in Washington, D.C.
I know this, because we were among the first to try to get
strollers through security.
You know, there are a lot of people bringing strollers
through security.
And so really showing, unearthing on the positive
side that real people, real moms, real kids,
have an impact I think could make a world of difference,
because people need to be inspired to know that their
voice matters and that we do, in fact,
still have a participatory democracy.
Everybody say that five times fast.
Ben Berkowitz: So in the spirit of saying things that you've done right,
I guess, we've had a few experiences with
the federal government.
None of them in the procurement fashion.
I'd like to change that, but that's the hard part.
We haven't figured that out.
On the evangelism piece, I think that's huge and it needs to
continue to happen.
I'll give an example of something that did indirectly
generate revenue and continued to help make SeeClickFix thrive
was that the last CTO for the White House, Aneesh Chopra,
used to walk around with a slide presentation,
and one slide would be how much New York City 311 cost,
$50 million a year or something, and saying like that, right.
And then it would be how much SeeClickFix costs,
thousands of dollars a year.
And we would get calls after he had left the stage almost
immediately from city managers saying, you know,
can we talk about your software.
So that's been huge.
I think the opening government partnership, as well,
for our specific business and partnerships between the White
House and the State Department to help spread platforms like
this internationally is really helpful.
And strangely, a few weeks ago, a couple of guys and gals called
me and said, we were at this White House open data jam and
we came up with this idea that there should be this,
similar to your municipal reporting application,
there should be a reporting application
for utility companies.
It probably would be pretty good right now,
considering all the power outages.
SeeClickFix does work for that.
And the White House was nice enough to -- or someone in the
conversation was nice enough to tip them off and say, wait,
don't go build that, because someone's already built that.
And now we're working with them on tailoring that so we can
present at the end of the year.
So I would say keep up the evangelism.
Jonathan Greenblatt: What questions do we have out here in the
audience for this group?
Can you state your name -- there's fixed mics over there,
by the way.
So if you can go to the mic, that way we make sure
it gets recorded.
So people, feel free to queue up if there are questions you have.
Please tell us your name and where you're from
organizationally, and your question.
Caitria O'Neill: Hi, guys, thank you.
My name is Caitria O'Neill from Boston with Recovers.org.
I work in disaster recovery at the local level.
And we have components of something each of you guys do.
You have social capital, you have social entrepreneurship,
lots of moms, and technology.
The problem is that none of the people organizing a disaster on
the local level were planning to.
They don't know what tools are out there.
They don't know what networks they can leverage.
And I think a large part of this has to do with preplanning
between all of these networks that you guys represent.
Are there ways that you guys can sort of work together more to
prepare your own communities or your own networks for disasters,
or are there technologies that you guys can use together in
order to provide locals with lists of things that they can
do or need?
Thank you.
Ben Berkowitz: Crisis comments, I would say.
Are you familiar with that?
Caitria O'Neill: (inaudible)
You know, this small town in Ohio is hit by a disaster,
here are the things that you can do to fix your own town.
Ben Berkowitz: Right, right.
There's also something called civic comments,
which is I think pointing in that direction,
not specifically for crises, but, you know,
for preparing cities for -- with tools that other cities
have benefited from.
But I think it's a great idea.
David Smith: You know, one of the examples that's doing
a great job with disaster preparedness and disaster
response is out of California.
Actually, California Volunteers, which has actually been promoted
to be a cabinet level position.
So the head of California Volunteers now reports directly
and works directly with the governor.
They partner with Deloitte on a lot of technology solutions and
actually use the recent -- the 20-year anniversary of the
Oakland Hill fires, which was a very affluent community that
ultimately just devastated the entire community because
of the fires.
And one of the major reasons was that they realized that
there was just a lack of social capital completely.
That people did not know each other,
they did not talk to each other.
They did not have the resources, as you were saying,
to be able to connect with one another.
And in a lot of ways, it's exactly what we're talking
about, which is we shouldn't respond to an economic tragedy
or a natural disaster by then trying to rush all of this
social capital into place, where we should be looking at how do
you create that sitting there so that the resilience is very
quick and responsive.
And that really has to do with us staying vigilant,
ensuring that those connections do exist and that the
conversations are there well before they're actually needed.
Jonathan Greenblatt: I see a question over here.
Andrew Slack: Hi, thank you.
My voice is a little bit gone, so excuse me.
My name is Andrew Slack.
I am from the Harry Potter Alliance.
We mobilize Harry Potter fans, about a million of them,
across the world using parallels from the books.
So leveraging (inaudible) change.
And my question, I was thinking about what we do and about
something John Kerry did in 2004 during the debates.
It was one of the most memorable moments is when he compared
something they said around ethics and George Bush to
Tony Soprano.
And the fact that he brought up a popular cultural reference
really hit people.
It got past a certain kind of barrier that people have.
In the Harry Potter Alliance, we're currently working with
education to get schools to begin looking at what
blockbuster books, TV shows and movies people are at right now.
We're working with a new school that's starting,
it's entirely based on video games.
It's a choose-your-own-adventure school.
So we're seeing video games.
There's an Echoing Green fellow here who's apparently using
sports, which is incredibly exciting.
And so I'm interested in both from the administration level
regarding education, as well as from all your work in terms of
just any examples or case studies that you found in
meeting people where they're at who are gathering in populations
that are relatively untapped on the civic level but in a very
easy shift can be tapped in a civic engaging level.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner: I can start out with blogs.
And as I said in my remarks, 36 million women are now either
writing or reading blogs.
Twitter is another area where using hash tags you can reach a
tremendous number of communities directly who may not have been
previously engaged in citizen advocacy.
And I think it's very important what Andrew just said in terms
of looking at communities that already care about our issues,
reaching out to them with our theory of change and providing
multiple avenues for them to engage and have an impact and
then importantly reporting back about the impact, you know,
and following through with the promise.
If we say we're collecting signatures for an open letter,
we deliver those signatures to an open letter and show pictures
of the delivery and so forth.
So really making sure that we're rounding out
the cycle of engagement.
Jonathan Greenblatt: So we probably should take more questions,
we haven't got much more time.
I'm going to ask you to give us your name, your question,
then we'll go to yours, then we'll go to yours,
then we'll try to answer all of them in the last round.
Jake Brewer: Great. I have a -- it's a question framed as a request, as well.
So this is for you, with OSTP.
My name is Jake Brewer.
I'm with the digital agency called Vision Strategy that
focuses on civic innovation.
And one of the things that I know that Dave is working on
with the civic health indices and like a civic data challenge,
that's actually trying to help visualize and map out how civic
health is playing around in the country,
combining data sets like theirs and the kind of data
that Ben's collecting with actual government data is
extremely critical.
And I know that folks like Code For America that are here are
also doing this kind of stuff.
We need more data and we need more data out of the government.
We need it to be more accessible.
And I know that Data.gov has, you know,
by predecessors has been out there.
It's not there yet.
I think we can all agree that it's not there yet.
So one of the requests is, let us help you guys in figuring out
which data sets to prioritize.
That's still not something that's been easily doable
by the developer community and by the folks trying to innovate
on these things.
So whether it's a request form on Data.gov that says this one
would be really great for us to have,
or something that allows these other initiatives and other
innovative ideas to be easier, more easily connected with what
you guys are already doing would be fantastic.
And I'd love to know how close we are to that,
given the announcements from Todd Park and Aneesh Chopra in
the last couple of months.
Jonathan Greenblatt: So that's the first question.
This section over here.
Speaker: Sure. Hi, my name is (inaudible),
and I'm with Young Americans for Diplomatic Leadership,
and I have a question a little bit more on the practical side
about coordination and partnerships.
One thing that I know, David, you brought up several times
is partnerships and the wealth of productivity that's come
out of that.
I know with Echoing Green you guys are all about like lending
your weight behind and supporting people who
are coming up with new ideas and new models.
We're on the precipice of obviously a hugely
transformative era in terms of new technology that's enabling
people to connect with one another, and on that same token,
organizations to connect with each other and
collaborate on projects.
I am certain there are tons of moms who read Harry Potter to
their kids, so you're probably going to go
talk to Andrew after this.
In terms of coordination method, what do you guys see
as potential for not only the Office of Public Engagement or
larger coalitions of groups to sort of coordinate and help
different corporations that may not necessarily seem connected
work together on new projects or innovative ideas?
It's more like a thematic question,
but just really about harnessing the potential for organizations
that may not have seemed able to really meet on the same level,
to do so now, because we have technology that is enabling
us to do that.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Okay, great.
So last question over here.
Julie Keefe: And my question is very similar to that.
I'm Julie Keefe with the Hello Neighbor Project.
My project is very similar to Outside In,
except I work with all sorts of populations to interview and
photograph each other, and then we create large-scale banners in
communities to begin conversations for everyone.
So what I am asking is, so small organizations, like me,
mentoring, you all have such great ideas and such
great wealth.
And I am just wondering about using what we have, like how do,
I guess, finding how we tap into all these great ideas that are
out there by getting mentors who help us understand how we can
economically make a difference.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Okay. So there's a question about mentorship.
There's a question about partnership and coordination.
And there's a question about government data.
So let's work backwards.
I might point to Cheryl to tackle the mentorship question,
since this is really what, you know,
Echoing Green does and has done for a quarter century.
And then whoever wants to take the partnership question.
I'll answer on the government data question.
Cheryl Dorsey: Sure. So I'll just -- everybody here knows this -- I mean,
you know, in working with these amazing young social entrepreneurs,
increasingly Echoing Green, because we're a small angel
fund, has increasingly had to rely on
skills-based volunteering.
And that's a great example of sort of mentorship,
one-off mentorship and more sustained mentorship that allows
you to increasingly break down the silos between the sectors.
So quite often we will match our social entrepreneurs with
leaders from the business community,
allowing each to sort of bring to the table their particular
skills and gifts.
And it's been a wonderful opportunity to build community,
to share resources, and to further sort of bring together
the sectors.
And I think there's an increasing realization that our
problems are so complex, we're in such an interesting time,
that we're only going to get towards clarity in solving
these problems if the sectors work together.
So I think skills-based volunteering as a big push
is really important.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Coordination partnerships, who wants to tackle that?
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner: MomsRising has over 150 aligned organizations and would not exist
without coordination and partnership.
We are part of a movement instead of
just an organization alone.
We are truly a networked nonprofit.
One of the partnerships which I mentioned briefly in my remarks
that I think has been really, really,
really successful is our partnership with HUD in terms
of getting information out that is already there about what is
legal and illegal in terms of housing discrimination against
women and mothers.
Now, what's interesting about this and what I think is
significant and can be replicated is that this
information is a central core information that lots
of organizations can use.
MomsRising can use it.
Lots of our policy partners can use it.
And what's important about this time of networked nonprofits is
that it used to be that nonprofits would hold the
information and not share it.
It would be kind of like, this is my thing,
I want people to come to me only.
Well, now what happens is that when we have readerships that
are searching for new content, new data,
it actually builds our readership to share the content
of other folks, to share exciting content of other folks.
This is a revolutionary change in the way nonprofits are going.
MomsRising, because of this sharing,
now has a readership estimated at about 3.5 million readers
between our blog, social media, and other outlets.
So what I want to point out is that partnerships with folks
like HUD, partnerships around disaster relief,
I think they're becoming increasingly prominent and
there's increasing opportunity for those to happen with
increasing gains for people who are getting that information.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Any other quick thoughts on partnership?
David Smith: Yeah --
Jonathan Greenblatt: 30 seconds.
David Smith: Okay. So in terms of partnership, you know,
the National Conference on Citizenship was really chartered
by Congress to be able to help forge a lot of these
partnerships from the folks in the civic education field,
national community service fields,
to the everyday democracy field here.
We do have an annual conference that takes place every year,
this year at the National Constitution Center on September
14th, and we invite everyone who's here to join us there.
And we'll have smaller conversations to be able to go
into making those connections in the great ways that folks like
Eric Liu and Guiding Lights and Jonathan has been doing.
So we're very -- we're at your service in helping to create and
facilitate those partnerships.
Ben Berkowitz: And I would say Code For America is --
Speaker: (inaudible)
Ben Berkowitz: I'm one of the mentors.
But I've been totally impressed with Code For America's ability
to get to cities and find out what their problems are and
bring really talented engineers and designers
in to solve those problems.
I can't say who they are, but I've seen the winners of the
Code For America accelerator.
Not only am I impressed, I'm slightly threatened and nervous.
Which is a good sign for I think everyone in this room.
Jonathan Greenblatt: More of that honesty.
So -- and I'll just answer quickly the question about
government data.
The answer is yes.
The longer answer is yes, yes, yes.
So we are working on opening up government sort of databases.
So I am working with Todd, Todd Park, our CTO, on this,
and I would be delighted to talk to you on one of the breaks
about what you want so we can figure out how to get it to you.
The goal is to take the data that's sort of,
we're collecting on our servers and get it out there so you can
get easy access to it, make it machine readable so you can do
things with it.
Because we realize, we don't have the answers.
You do.
Which is a great way to then set the next sort of session.
Because now we're going to talk about telling stories.
Two things I'll say beforehand.
Number one, we've got those hash tags up there.
Some of you may or may not have access from your mobile phones.
We want you to tweet this.
And if you're not tweeting it now,
you can go to Facebook or your Tumbler site or some of you may
be taking photos, you can use Instagram.
But we want you to tell stories.
The goal is this is the start of a conversation.
So that's really important.
Secondly, we're going to do these breakouts afterwards,
and Ronnie will tell us a little bit about that.
But the goal, guys, is to develop an action plan and
a blueprint, what should we do next.
So these thoughts are really helpful to get us started.
So let's thank the panelists.
And I want everybody, if you will, just stand up and stretch.
You've been sitting for two hours.
Stand up and stretch.
Everybody, one, two, three, stretch.
High, high!
Ben Berkowitz: I just got a text message from my office that we need
to partner with the Harry Potter Alliance.
So someone has -- (laughter)
Jonathan Greenblatt: All right.
Now, folks, Eric's going to take us through the next session.
Eric Liu: Thank you, Jonathan.
That stretch break is brilliant.
Panelists, why don't we come on up here.
We only need three of these chairs.
And as our panelists come on up, let me just frame
up this conversation.
(crowd chatter)
Okay folks. Let's be seated.
And we're going to continue this conversation here.
So as Jonathan mentioned, one of the great things about what
we've heard already today is the way everything connects.
We've been hearing a lot thus far this afternoon
about platforms, about technology platforms,
about people platforms, about idea and story platforms.
And I think one of the most important things for us to
recognize is that there is no deeper platform than the story
we tell ourselves about what it means to be a citizen.
That is foundational.
And to recognize that whether or not we're being explicit about
it, we're always telling some kind of story about what it
means to be a citizen, what citizenship means.
And over recent decades, that story has become
narrower and narrower.
It's become much more market focused.
It's become much more about us, as Annie Leonard is going to
describe in a moment, as consumers rather than creators.
And the story that we tell together is foundational,
not only because we have people like the Harry Potter Alliance
here and others who will tell us about the centrality of
narrative, but because if we want folks like our previous
panel, and all of you in this room here today to add up to
something that's greater than the sum of the parts here,
we've got to have connective tissue.
If we want to be a movement, we've got to have a collective
sense of purpose.
And just hearing the conversations and the
presentations thus far, I wanted to pull out and tease
out several points that got made that I feel like add up to an
emergent sense of story.
One was a common theme and point that several made was about this
idea of citizen engagement is not about altruism.
It is about self-interest properly understood, right.
Whether you are talking economic self-interest or civic,
even just kind of spiritual, purposeful self-interest.
Another thing was that what we are talking about here,
and you see it particularly with something like SeeClickFix,
but you see it in everything else, as well.
We are talking not about government,
we are talking about self-government,
about a restoration of a spirit of self-government which treats
us not as clients or recipients, but as agents
of action and change.
Another theme that came up throughout is the centrality
of culture and norms.
Culture matters, right.
And all of us are creating a culture here.
But I feel like one of the things we're going to get to
hear from our panelists here is what are the elements of that
culture story about great citizenship.
Fourth -- I've got five here.
The fourth one is this.
All citizenship is local, right.
We're very kind of accustomed to hearing
that all politics is local.
And yet one thing that we often forget is that civic action and
the skills and the habits and the aptitudes are developed
first through the gateway drugs of potholes,
through the actions of seeing and saying hello to a neighbor
in that most kind of tangible way.
And the final theme that I want to just draw out and reflect
back to you that we've heard thus far and that we'll now
segue into this conversation is that power is networked,
that this is about power.
We are having a conversation, make no mistake,
about power and the nature of power and the ability of us as
citizens and leaders of citizens to reclaim power.
But the theory of action that's being told over and over again
here is of a network.
And that's partly about technology,
but I don't want us to just fetishize tech for
tech's sake, right.
It's also about old school people seeing each other and
building relationships in different ways.
And so that allows me to segue to introduce our really
wonderful panel here.
And as we did with the last one, each of them is going to make
some remarks and then we're going to have a conversation
with Q&A and comments from all of us here in the room.
First in line is Scott Heiferman,
who is a serial entrepreneur, both technology/business
entrepreneur, but I would say also civic and social
entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Meetup.
A few of you might have heard of Meetup before,
which in a few short years has just become sort of a
paradigmatic platform of peer-to-peer citizen
engagement and action.
Next, we're joined by Maria Cardona,
who many of you know her voice and face as a contributor to
CNN, but also has had a really fascinating career in the
business of story.
She served in government during the Clinton Administration as
the press secretary in the Department of Commerce,
and is a partner now in the Dewey Square Group and thinks
a lot about story and the strategies of story,
and how if you are to think about this room here as a
client, and, you know, hey, Maria,
we're the citizenship movement, we want to be your client,
what do you tell us to do about the stories we need to tell.
And then last but not least, my friend, Annie Leonard.
If any of you -- let me just ask by way of taking a quick poll,
who here has heard of or seen "The Story of Stuff"?
Yeah, okay.
So a big part of this room.
"The Story of Stuff" is the creation of Annie Leonard and
her remarkable team as storyteller, film maker,
activist and catalyst, and I'm sure Annie will describe more
what "The Story of Stuff" is about.
But the short headline is a short animated film about how
our stuff gets made and the streams of stuff that we create.
And that was a wonderful film that went viral like nothing
you've ever seen before and has created and yielded now a new
platform for new forms of storytelling.
So just a great, great, rich panel here.
And Scott, why don't we start with you.
Scott Heiferman: All right. Thanks, Eric.
Actually, you mind if I go from here?
Eric Liu: Yeah, absolutely.
Scott Heiferman: Let's see.
Here we are.
Okay. That works.
Hey, you know, before I get started,
the most important thing is Eric said -- talked about saying
hello to a neighbor.
I'm going to use one of my few precious minutes to just get you
guys, to give you guys permission to talk to each
other and introduce yourself to someone around you who you
haven't said hi to.
(crowd chatter)
You're taking this too seriously.
I didn't say get up and make a day of it.
So my time is almost up.
And it was really nice talking with all of you, and thank you,
good night.
God bless America.
So, you know, Eric -- Eric also said something earlier that I
thought was really great, this notion of showing up
for each other.
And, you know, I sort of interpret it as we're
stuck with each other.
And this -- we see this word "social,"
office of social innovation, you know,
I didn't get a graduate degree so I don't really know what that
word "social" means besides, you know,
what we do on Facebook being social.
But, you know, social really, what it means is that we're,
you know, unless you're living in the woods completely
independently, living off, you know, the land,
like we're stuck with each other.
And so we could either be stuck with each other and say,
all right, you know, screw you, or ignore each other or don't
say hello to neighbors or, you know, all that kind of stuff,
or realize that we've got to, you know,
that we can actually be useful to and with each other.
And so that's, you know, that's my story.
I'm the last guy in the world who would be invited here today,
the last guy who'd be interested in, you know,
civic stuff or social stuff or even local community,
community anything.
I stumbled into it.
I, you know, moved to New York from Iowa after growing
up in Illinois.
9/11 happened.
I was living in New York, this is now ten years ago,
and I talked to more neighbors in the days after 9/11 in my
apartment building than I had in the years previous in New York.
And just, you know, simple looking out for each other and
realizing again, this feeling of we're stuck with each other.
So coming off of that, I stumbled on the book called
"Bowling Alone," which -- and other things,
which basically led to an easy, obvious idea that it should be
easier for people to find their neighbors,
to talk to their neighbors, to organize a Meetup, you know.
We invented this word called "Meetup."
And so here we are a few years later,
and let's take a look at what happened.
So this is a -- that's you, okay.
So -- we haven't met before.
So we locked ourselves in a room ten years ago and built a
website that made it easy for people to organize a Meetup,
a gathering, about anything with their neighbors.
And to actually talk to their neighbors, gave permission,
just like I did a few minutes ago.
So this woman, did you start it?
Speaker: Two of us.
Scott Heiferman: Two of us, okay.
So they basically said, here we are in D.C. and people want --
have these passions and they want to work on projects and
develop their lives and their careers, but they have day jobs.
So they're willing to work on that at night and maybe they
could help each other out at night.
So they started something called the D.C. Nightowls using Meetup.
And all of a sudden, people show up how often?
Speaker: (inaudible)
But we have 400 members now.
Scott Heiferman: So they've got 400 members, they Meetup a lot.
But what's great is stories like this.
Talking to the guy who just sat down -- this is a story that
they gathered for us of one of their members -- next day he
makes an introduction and this person has a new job.
Simply people making connections with others and then doing what
they can to help them is what human beings do.
But they need that sort of spark, thanks to these,
you know, these heroic community organizers, there's 100,000
-- almost 100,000 Meetup organizers in America who have a
collective 15 million members of these various Meetups.
Another story from D.C.
Nightowls is this person saying that it opened -- helped him
rapidly build -- or maybe it's a her,
I don't know -- build relationships in the D.C.
entrepreneurship community while getting work done.
I met and started a business with my current co-founder.
Next here, another example -- I'm going to show you about five
or six Meetups real quick.
This is the New York healthcare innovation Meetup.
This is them a couple of weeks ago.
Next, you know, they have almost
2,000 people interested in healthcare innovation,
and this person talking about how that they've been laid off
in 2008 and wanted to get in the healthcare field,
so resolved to go back there, but didn't know anyone.
And that's that critical thing is how do people who have a
dream of a passion or are unemployed or want to move their
life forward, but they don't know the people that they would
want to meet.
Whether that's the other new moms in their neighborhood or
the people interested in healthcare innovation.
And so this person started a company or a couple companies
I think that now have 25 employees.
Next here, this is the New York Tech Meetup,
someone talking about how they met their first employee at this
meetup and helped get the word out.
Now they've raised $20 million and they got a
good business going.
Without computer clubs, there would be probably
no Apple computers.
That's Steve Wozniak about the Homebrew Computer Club.
And so this idea of, of course, beyond the technology field and
every industry and every field, how is it that people can
connect with each other and help each other.
And again, beyond technology, in this area here,
the DC Maryland Small Business Meetup.
Someone had the inclination to start, and it's now,
if you can just move forward on the slide,
now it's about 1300 people.
They meet up regularly.
And I got sent this story yesterday about a person
who started a sign store, Sign-a-Rama.
And it was through the other people that they met in the
meetup through funding and PR and events and all this other
finding customers that they were able to get this business going
and had a successful first anniversary last month.
Again, trying to show a little diversity of the kinds of
businesses, the kind of economic and professional engagement that
happens when people form community.
This is this Pet Sitters of San Antonio.
We're going to just fly through here.
The Fort Lauderdale Photographer Meetup.
And then these unemployed people meetups, who basically say,
who else would understand what it feels like to wake up in the
morning and not have a place to go to get a regular paycheck.
This meetup gives you support and encouragement to get that
next job.
I love this story.
I know my time is up.
If you could just give me -- can I get an extra two minutes since
I wasted time there talking to each other?
I'm sorry, guys.
So, great story here.
This woman named -- Katherine, what's that name?
Oh, shoot.
Okay, anyway, this woman, she graduated college a
couple years ago.
She had trouble getting her career going.
She went to one of these meetups that people have started all
around the country called Girl Develop It,
which helps women become computer programmers or
different types of roles in the technology field.
And because they did it themselves and they formed
this community where they taught each other,
she got the job that she wanted, and it's a great thing.
So the last thing I want to just say is that we,
what we see with the about 20,000,
10,000 meetups that are happening a day that, you know,
there's so much data and so many words flying around,
but the word that we -- one of the words we see most often is
this word "let's".
That's the word that comes out of what happens
when people meet up.
That's what comes out of when people have this connection to
each other and they realize the power of each other.
They say let's.
So they say, let's get together and support the small business
community of Austin.
Let's find out how we can all help each other at the Charlotte
business area, Charlotte Area Business Builders Meetup,
which is meeting up tonight or last night.
I don't know what July 2nd was.
That was last night.
Let's have another resume review mock interview practice at the
New York City Young Asian American Meetup.
Let's get together and share ideas for our businesses,
as well as motivate one another, at the Central Florida Business
Women Meetup.
Let's get together once a week for coffee and tell our stories
and support one another at the York Region's 50 + Faced with
Sudden Job Loss Meetup, which was started just a few days ago.
Oh wait, that's Canada.
Forget them.
Next -- (laughter)
Let's get off to a great start at the Orlando Women
and Business Meetup.
Let's build something together at the New Work City Coworking
Community, a great phenomenon.
I hope you meet Tony later.
And let's dare to experiment push the sliders and invite
creativity at the Seattle Photoshop Meetup.
To wrap up here, you know, these photos,
you look at these photos, and they are reminiscent
of something to me.
These gatherings of people, they are kind of in a circle,
they are not in rows like here, and it looks a little bit not
unlike this.
And, you know, so all I got to say is, you know,
the best things happen when people meet up.
Maria Cardona: That's great, Scott.
Thanks. Thank you.
Thank you, thank you so much for being here.
And I'm honored to have been asked by my friend Jonathan
to come and speak to you all.
And it's very fitting that it's Jonathan the one who brought me
to speak about something that our former boss always talked
about, and that is that you can do well and do good at
the same time.
And everybody that has talked here today,
and I came in a little bit late, really exemplifies that.
So I want to give you guys a round of applause.
Thank you.
I want to talk today a little bit about a twist
on citizenship.
And the reason I want to do this is because when Jonathan called
me to speak here, he talked about the reason for the White
House convening this series was partly because citizenship has
become almost a bad word.
And the reason for that is because it has really become
ingrained in a vitriolic manner because of the
immigration debate.
And I think that everything that you guys are doing today
and everything that everyone is starting, the entrepreneurship,
the social consciousness, the really working in your local
communities, is giving citizenship a new and,
a new brand name, if you will.
And that is all terrific and well and good,
but I think that citizenship, also we need to cast a new light
on it in terms of the actual new citizens that come to the United
States and that want to do all of the things that you
all are doing.
And maybe there are some immigrant citizens in the
audience today, and there are tons of them in our business,
in our business industries.
And, in fact, 40% of Fortune 500 companies,
and you all have probably heard this mentioned before,
were started by either immigrants or the children
of immigrants.
And even the famous names that we love and hear about so much
-- Google, eBay, Intel -- were all formed by either immigrants
or the children of immigrants.
So I think speaking about citizenship in terms of the
new citizens that actually come to this country for that better
life to really start to work in their communities,
no one knows better than the person who actually chooses
to come here to take a risk, to leave everything that they have
behind, and everything that they know for this new country,
for this new ideal of the American dream,
because they know that back in their home country,
because of their economic situation or because of the
lot that they have in life, that they were born into,
they cannot achieve that, and they know that they can come
here and achieve it.
So I just want to talk a little bit about that and casting
citizenship in a whole new light.
And it's not something that one party has ownership of but
something that brings on only tremendous opportunity for those
of us who do have it, but also tremendous responsibility.
And again, no one understands that better than each and every
new citizen who actually takes that oath of citizenship as they
pledge their allegiance to our flag,
their new allegiance to that flag.
So, you know, in talking, we can talk about all of these Fortune
500 companies, but I actually want to focus on a story that is
much more personal, and that's the story of my father.
And then I'll bring it back to social innovation, I promise.
My father came from Columbia, and I was two years old when
we came to this country, and he had $10 in his pocket.
And we came and settled in a small town in Leesburg, Florida,
central Florida, about a half an hour from Orlando.
There were very few Latinos at the time,
but the very few Latinos that were there,
of course my father had them gather every Sunday at our
house, and we all became a family.
But more than that, and this is what really resonated with me,
a lot of the words that were used here today, culture,
community, storytelling.
My father basically showed every part of that and instilled in us
the importance of reaching out not just to other Latinos,
the people that we felt immediately comfortable with,
but my father had every single gringo that we had in our
community, which was basically everybody,
also come to our house every Sunday to have empanadas and to,
you know, during Christmastime to pray the novena with us.
So that we could share our stories.
That we could share our culture.
To basically show them that we were not that
different from them.
And he even got us written up in the Leesburg commercial,
and he was sort of a minor celebrity in town,
because he did that.
He really reached out to everybody.
He even started his own community theater and starred
in that community theater.
And one of the starring roles that he had was that
of an Indian chief.
My dad has dark skin and dark hair and dark eyes,
so of course that was the role that they wanted him to play.
But, you know, he basically took it and ran with it.
And opening night we invited all of our Latino friends and
families into the community theater.
And one of the roles that my dad had,
one of his lines was that he had to start basically speaking
Native American gibberish.
And what he did was that he proceeded to speak every single
bad word in Spanish that he knew.
And I was a little girl, so I was like, oh my God,
I can't believe my dad is speaking all these words.
And everybody, all the Latinos who were there that night,
were just laughing hysterically.
And then afterward, of course, the Americans that were there
could not understand why, but then my dad explained.
And, of course, they loved him even more after that.
So I say that to basically say that no matter where you're
from, you come to this country with that same kind
of entrepreneurial spirit that everybody here is
speaking about.
And those new citizens really come here and want to join us
in making this country better.
And I'm sure that a lot of those new citizens,
a lot of those immigrants, are part of the tremendously
successful businesses that all you all are either working in,
have founded, want to found, and I just think that that is one
thing in our storytelling that we have to continue to focus on
is that new citizenship to add to the citizenship that we're
all talking about is going to continue to
make this country great.
And one of the things that I have been so happy to talk about
on TV is not just, you know, I go on TV and I talk about all
manner of issues, but of course because I am a latina and an
immigrant American myself, I get asked a lot about immigration
and about the Latino vote and all that,
and I just I love it when I'm able to talk about immigration
as it being a purely American story.
And as this country being a country of immigrants.
And that sometimes in this vitriolic debate we forget that
and we forget that we are all immigrants and that it's that
coming to this country and taking that oath of citizenship
is something that all of us most all of us have done,
unless we're Native Americans, but most all of us have either
us done ourselves, our grandparents have done,
our great grandparents, generations of Americans
have done it before us.
And that is exactly what has made this country great.
And one of the things that has really just touched me as I've
talked about this immigration story and I've just been so
thrilled with the White House recently because of the
President's new policy on the DREAMers -- I'm sure you all
have heard about this.
I just -- (applause)
Yes, thank you.
My time is up, but just a very quick story.
I just came from a couple of the Latino conventions that have
been going on in Orlando, and President Obama spoke at one,
at NALEO, the Latino Elected Officials specifically,
but the DREAMers were there, all of the DREAMers were there.
And the DREAMers, for those of you who don't know,
are these young kids who have come here through no fault of
their own, who know America as their home country,
and they know nothing else, and they want to give everything
that they have to this country, but right now they can't because
they are American in every single way, shape or form,
except for that one piece of paper.
So once we are able to actually figure out how we can pass
immigration reform and working with this president and with
this White House to do that, we can make sure that all of those
DREAMers become part of the American dream.
And you all will be responsible for doing that.
So, thank you.
Annie Leonard: Thank you so much.
Thank you to the White House for sponsoring
this important conversation.
Thank you, Jonathan and Eric, for inviting me.
Thank you to all of you who have watched and shared
The Story of Stuff.
You know, people often congratulate me -- whoops,
I'm not ready yet.
People often congratulate me for making a viral film,
and I always say one can't make a viral film.
I made a film, and the community made it viral.
So thank you so much for that.
So I am a huge believer in the enormous potential of citizen
innovators to strengthen the health of our democracy,
our communities, or economy, and I would like to add our
environment and remind everybody that all the previous three
ultimately depend on that one, the environment.
So let's not leave that out of the conversation.
I also believe that we are drastically underutilizing
that potential in this country.
In fact, in the area that I work on,
which is systems of production and consumption,
or how we make and use and throw away stuff, in that area,
we have every single thing that we need to transition to be
sustainable, healthy, equitable, and even to create more jobs.
We have model policies.
We have case studies.
We have technological innovations.
We have clean production.
We have green chemistry.
We have every single thing except one missing piece,
which is enough engaged citizens to make it real.
So while there are some very, very smart,
effective organizations in this room and beyond working on this,
I have a fear that overall our nations,
we have a problem that our citizen muscle has atrophied,
that we are forgetting how to use them.
So let me show you the story about how I have come to this
worrisome conclusion.
So about five years ago, I made this film with the help of Free
Range Studios.
It's a 20-minute long look at where our stuff comes from and
where it goes.
Now, that might not sound that interesting,
but it's a really funny film.
So the film, much to my surprise,
had this huge response.
I put it online free on the Internet to watch.
We've had over 20 million views now in every single country in
the planet.
It has been crowdsourced translated into dozens of
different languages.
We've received hundreds of thousands of emails.
I have traveled coast to cost for five years now screening
this film.
Now, for those of you who have seen it,
you know that The Story of Stuff offers a pretty broad,
pretty systemic critique about things that are wrong with our
materials economy today.
There's a lot of problems I run through in that 20 minutes that
clearly need fixing.
So the number one question that we get on email and in person
over and over that I get, people raise their hands and say,
what can I do?
How can I get started?
So at first when people started asking me that,
I got so excited, and I started rattling off all these different
campaigns and community projects and ideas for them to do,
but the question kept coming over and over.
So I started wondering what people were thinking.
So I turned the question back to the audience.
And when people said, what can I do, I asked them,
what can you think of doing?
And all across this country, the response that I got
was so consistent.
People said, I can buy CFL light bulbs.
I can carry reusable bags to the store.
I can buy organic.
I can stop buying bottled water.
I can recycle.
I can ride my bike.
It's all I, I, I, and it's all individual lifestyle change or
consumer options.
It's not we can work together to actually make solutions.
Now, all of those things I just mentioned are very,
very good things to do.
I do all of those things.
I hope you do all of those things.
I'm not dissing those things.
Those are excellent things to do.
But there's a difference between a good thing to do and making
big bold change, and that's what we need more of.
Yet in this era, we are so stuck in our individual consumer role
that we're not connecting up with our potential to make
change as engaged citizens.
So in all these conversations I started to realize that all of
us have two different parts.
It's almost like two different muscles.
We have a consumer muscle and a citizen muscle.
And that consumer muscle is validated and spoken to and
nurtured from day one, and all the moms in this room know,
it is from day one we start getting Indoctrinated
as consumers.
So being a consumer is the primary way
that we're spoken to.
We are called upon to be consumers many times each day.
It's the primary way that we demonstrate our value
and interact with each other.
So, as a result, we're really, really good at it.
We know how to do that.
You know, any of us could get online right now on whatever
our hand-held is and get any product on the planet and get
it delivered to your home by the time you get there.
We know how to be good consumers.
So our consumer muscle has overdeveloped and our citizen
muscle has atrophied, because we are not spoken to as citizens.
We are not called upon to be citizens in the same way that
we are called upon to be consumers.
So that's a big problem.
The Story of Stuff Project now we're based out in Berkeley.
We have a small team.
We've now made eight online films that are all cartoons
and fun to look at that explore different aspects of today's
systems of production and consumption.
If you haven't seen them, they're all available for
free to watch at StoryofStuff.org.
All of films aim to provide a popularly accessible vocabulary
and story for more people to join this conversation and then
get involved, and it is slowly working.
We've had 20 million views.
We get 10,000 visitors a day.
We have now begun to build a huge online community,
hundreds of thousands of people who are ready to work for an
economy that is good for people and the planet.
So The Story of Stuff Project now our work is evolving as
we've realized this huge need for people to reexert their
citizen muscle.
Our work is evolving away from making films.
We're still going to make a couple more,
and I'll show you a sneak peak of our next one.
But what we're really doing is working to engage our viewer
base, to move them up what we call the ladder of engagement,
from passive movie viewer to information sharer,
to collaborator to local leader, to be active citizens.
We think that a primary step, if we're going to turn this country
around and get back on track, is to get people to step out of
their consumer self and into their citizen self.
There's two reasons we think that is so important.
The first reason we think it is so important is that
we want to win.
This is not some virtuous exercise in the value of civics.
This is because we actually are in it to win it.
Like all of you, we want to build an economy that is
sustainable and healthy and fair and equitable,
and we believe that engaged citizen is,
engaged citizenship is the most important thing we need to build
the power to make that real.
The second reason engaged citizenship is so important is
because by engaging as citizens, we reinvigorate our democratic
processes and systems.
It's not just our bridges and roads and our physical
infrastructure that's in disrepair from neglect
in this country.
It's our democratic infrastructure too.
So by reengaging, we rebuild that democratic infrastructure,
which allows us to not only win on the issues that we care about
but to leave behind a democracy that is more responsive,
more accountable that actually is by the people, of the people,
and for the people.
So that's why our next film which comes out July 17th is
called The Story of Change.
And it is a call to action to step out of this individual
consumer perfecting our day-to-day eco choices
to actually engaging as citizens for real change.
This film is different than the others,
because the previous ones have just been a film.
This film then has an online citizen assessment tool that
comes up after it.
We're finding that these hundreds of thousands of
people in our community write to us and they say,
I don't know where to start.
They look at the occupiers and they say,
I don't want to camp out in the park.
I'm like, it turns out 99% of the 99% doesn't want to camp out
in the park, but there's a lot of other things that we can do.
So, at the end of our tease -- at the end of the film,
there's a citizen assessment tool where people can take a
quiz and find out what kind of citizen change maker they are.
And then there's this new platform that we're launching
that is going to crowdsource ideas to make things better.
So it's actually similar to SeeClickFix where we're actually
asking people what ideas do they have to address some
of these problems.
I'm going to quickly show you a 20-second teaser that is just
like a sneak peek at our next film and then show you a couple
of pictures of what a citizen assessment tool looks like.
(Excerpt from film)
See that we all have two different parts of ourselves,
a consumer part and a citizen part.
It's almost like two different muscles.
The consumer muscle is spoken to and fed and validated so much
that it's become our primary identity.
While our citizen muscle is atrophying.
And this is a problem, because when we're faced with gigantic
challenges, like disruption of the global climate,
or babies being born pre-polluted with 250 industrial
chemicals already in their blood,
the best that we can think of doing is carrying a reusable
grocery bag to the story.
So how do we make big change?
(music playing)
(End of excerpt from film)
Annie Leonard: So if you want to see how do you make big change,
go to the StoryofChange.org on July 17th.
Then, if I can have the first image,
at the end of the film comes a very cute little citizen
assessment guide.
Let's see if it's here.
While he's finding it, we've done a bunch of communication
with our community to find out how they view themselves.
Because a lot of them don't view themselves as citizens right
away, and we wanted to show them that to be a citizen that all
kinds of people are welcome to engage in all kinds of ways.
So there's a resister, a networker, a nurturer,
an investigator, a communicator, and a builder.
So after the film, you'll take this little quiz and you'll find
out what's your main type of citizen character.
And then you'll be able to link with other people who have
similar citizen characteristics, as well as link with other
people who want to take on different roles.
Because sometimes a nurturer needs a communicator,
or a networker needs a builder.
So we can diversify and strengthen our entire citizen
movement, crowdsource ideas to get involved,
and then together build a better future.
Thank you guys so much.
Eric Liu: Thank you.
Thank you so much, Annie.
You know, I just want to tie this together.
And I'm not even going to ask a question.
I want to throw it open to questions to all of you.
But my way of tying together is just to pull a few key words out
of what each of you has said, and it kind of adds up to its
own sort of story.
The idea of starting with let's is foundational.
You know, Maria, the idea of in a sense recommitting and
renewing our vows as citizens, right.
Not everybody here is either an immigrant or like me a child of
immigrants, but whatever one's citizenship status,
this is an opportunity to recommit in that sense, right.
And what Annie is talking about, of course,
here is this notion of citizen muscle, right.
And if you add that up of let's recommit to building a citizen
muscle, you actually get something sort of analogous
in a civic sense to the First Lady's Let's Move
physical fitness thing.
We're not talking about physical fitness.
Well, we are, I guess, in a sense, right,
but it's the body politic, right.
It's not my body, your body.
It's about our body, us collectively,
and how fit we are and what story we're going
to tell about that.
You know, these ideas of -- let's it boils down to a story
of we not me, right.
Recommitting and the citizen muscle boil down to a story of
we are owner-operators, not customers, right.
And everything that you are talking about in terms of
the stories of immigration challenges us to tell stories
constantly about what's an American.
What is an American, right?
We get to be the authors of that.
And the character, the typology that Annie put forward there of
resister, communicator, nurturer, so forth,
these are six kind of archetypal ways to be an American,
to be a citizen and to show up.
I bet crowdsourcing it we can come up with more or variations
on those six, but this is the challenge and the opportunity
right now.
How do we together start making a story,
start making character types, and start inhabiting that story
so that we're not just doing what we're doing,
but we're telling everybody that what we're doing is part of a
much greater narrative.
So thank you all for what you've shared here.
And now let's -- again, we have the mics here on either side.
Please come down to the mic if you've got
a question for our panelists.
And Chad Beecher, why don't we start with you,
and introduce yourself.
Chad Beecher: Yeah, hi. Is this on? Yeah.
Chad Beecher with Participant Media out of LA.
So my question was, you know, we talk a lot about stories
and storytelling.
Can you talk a little bit about the role of the storyteller?
And we found that oftentimes whoever is telling the story may
impact who acts from it or who is listening.
So, can you maybe couple of you speak to that?
Maria Cardona: That's a great question, because a lot of times we get,
you know -- and every storyteller, just because
every storyteller is human is going to have a bias.
So what I think what we have seen the transition of mass
media, and it includes all of the networks,
has been for viewers to tell their own stories.
And I think a lot of that comes from all of the social
innovation that we've been talking about here today
where we are no longer just communicated to in a one-way
manner, but it has become much more interactive.
And in that interactivity, we realize exactly what you're
saying, that so much of the story is compelled by how
the story is told.
And so, therefore, if you want to compel -- if this is your
story and you want to compel an audience, a government official,
the President, the White House, however, right,
to take some sort of action from your story,
who is the best one to tell it?
You, as the person who knows best how that story came about
and what you want others to learn from that story.
So I think your question is a terrific one,
which I think compels then even more so for everybody to become
their own storytellers.
And, you know, to your point about everybody having a role,
it's true.
A lot of people feel like they are not good storytellers.
So if that's the case, then find somebody who is close to you in
your community who understands what kind of story you want to
be told and have them tell it.
But, again, I would urge each one of us to urge our
communities to become our own storytellers.
Annie Leonard: Yeah, I'll add a little bit more about that.
When I think of storytelling, I think of two different
kinds of storytelling.
So one is when people tell their own story, their experience.
And that is incredibly powerful because it makes
phenomenons visible.
Like Kristin from MomsRising said,
when so many mothers stood up and told their story,
they realized then that it wasn't just that they were
personal failures, but that there is a structural epidemic
of inequity that is discriminating against moms,
making it hard for them to succeed.
So there is a real power in taking the invisible story
and making it visible.
But there is another kind of storytelling that I also think
we can use very powerfully, which is that tapping into
the sort of stories and the narratives that are the basic,
basis or foundation of our culture.
You know, all cultures are heavily embedded with myths and
stories, and we are hardwired to process information through
a storytelling narrative.
And so the more that we can understand that and then frame
our messages in a storytelling narrative,
the more receptive people will be to learning that,
to accepting that information.
And in those storytelling narratives,
there is usually a hero.
There's always a hero.
It's always a hero in these stories.
And I have found that framing the stories so that the audience
and the citizens are the heroes is an incredibly powerful
communication technique.
If you want to learn more about that, Jonah Sachs,
who works at Free Range Studios, who is my co-writer with all of
my Story of Stuff films, just released a fabulous new book I
think yesterday called "Winning the Story Wars."
You know, why those who tell the best stories survive.
So if you're interested in storytelling,
please check out this amazing new resource.
Scott Heiferman: If I could just add to, you know,
the -- is this thing on?
There we go.
So, you know, the phenomenon that is driving so much change
across the country and around the world is this phenomenon
that we're not all, thanks to social media,
now like have personal CNN broadcast towers.
It's that people are doing what they've always done,
but they are doing it more and more now,
and that is they are talking to each other.
And so, you know, when I hear stories,
and with all respect to CNN and Hollywood and communication,
thinking about communications, what is really exciting and
fantastic here is that people are -- everyone
has something to teach.
To that mom who hasn't gone through potty training with
their kid, it's the other moms that could teach them that that
is to much more better than thinking everything as media,
as you can watch a You Tube video about that.
And so what's being unleashed right now is that people are
selling to each other and renting to and from each other
and teaching each other and funding each other on
Kickstarter, and doing all of these things.
So we're turning, you know, turning to each other as opposed
to being turned away from each other and being turned to big
media or big finance or big media or, you know,
big food and all the other big stuff.
And that's what's really exciting.
And so the stories -- we are natural -- the stories is just
us living, and we're waking up to the power of each other.
Eric Liu: Great. Yes, Tom?
Tom: Thank you, Eric.
You know, I've really enjoyed this day,
and I just found out today how I was so privileged to be a part
of this through a great friend and mentor, Eric Liu.
And my name is Tom Brown.
I run a small organization here in the District of Columbia
called Training Rounds.
But I have a question or request.
I don't know how to preface it.
I have been hearing the word citizen like thrown around.
And here in the District of Columbia,
there is a huge debate.
So I'll give you a 15-second story.
There's a 57-year-old gentleman who just celebrated his birthday
on Saturday, and he is now supervising a project that is
worth about $300,000 annually, and he just came home from
serving 31 years straight of prison.
He happens to be my uncle.
And one of the things that I'm fighting for in this city and
around the country, hopefully, is how do we deal with this
new population called returning citizen?
I mean, I understand all -- I respect everything in the room.
I love it.
But I'm challenging and asking help and support
on the returning.
Because my uncle, I love him, just as though he never left.
And I'm sure there's millions of others who have relatives
who love their relatives as though they never left.
Can we posture ourselves better?
Can we drill down deeper and start to talk about all the
great innovation around supporting resourcing and
propelling returning citizens?
I don't know if any of you all have thought about that.
And, Miss Cardona, I hope I'm saying it right, Cardona,
I love the passion you came with talking about your dad.
So I think you have a sense by covering,
and maybe there's a way that we can frame the stories better.
Because the way the stories are told now are really creating a
larger deficit in the truth than we need to have out.
Eric Liu: I've gotten the signal about time.
So we're going to take the other questions,
if you could just state your questions and then speak to
whichever ones you are moved to speak to in our remaining
minute or two. Yes?
Michael Weiser: Hi. I'm Michael Weiser.
I chair the National Conference on Citizenship,
but I am also a Miami resident, which is a community that is
challenged by its diversity, people from 50 odd countries who
have settled there all observing the traffic laws of places they
came from.
And I mention that because the building of cohesive community
seems a terribly important part to me of creating the demand for
active civic engagement.
We talk a lot about the supply of active civic engagement
opportunities, but precious little until this panel about
the demand, about creating demand for those.
And it seems to me that a shared sense of place is a terribly
important part of creating the fertile ground for
active civic engagement.
Just there's a program now in Miami called Miami Stories,
which is a joint venture of some of us involved in the History
Museum there, the Miami Herald, Comcast, and others,
where we have encouraged Miamians,
75% of whom come from other places,
to share their migratory stories and build a shared sense of
themselves and another part of this program that teaches local
Miami history to school children sense of place.
I'd appreciate your commentary on that.
Eric Liu: Thanks Michael. Saket.
Saket Soni: Thanks for this great panel.
I guess my question is --
Eric Liu: Will you introduce yourself too?
Saket Soni: Oh, I'm sorry.
My name is Saket Soni.
I run the National Guestworker Alliance in the New Orleans
Worker Center, and for the last 6 years I've been able to look
close up at many, many different populations of workers,
immigrant and nonimmigrant, and how they work.
And as I was listening to the discussion earlier today and
this one, it occurred to me that there was a time in America when
exercising citizenship, one of the ways you did that was
getting up and going to work.
You know, for a long time, your ability to contribute to the
community meant going and working.
People were proud of their work, what they built, what they did,
the school they taught in.
There have always been three things people depended on in
their work.
One is to feed your family.
But the second, importantly, is to be of some use to
the community.
And thirdly, to step into your own full potential.
That was the promise of work.
That promise is no longer true for most people in this country.
For most people in this country with the rise of low wage work,
temporary work, you can't be a citizen just by going to work
anymore, you know.
And for immigrant workers, the incarcerated poor white workers
out of work, it's even worse.
It's not just you can't be a citizen.
There are actually threats when you go to work.
So I guess my question is, at a time when wealth and equality
is so great, at a time when people need to work,
the pain is so great in the communities,
how are you all thinking about the transformation of work as
part of your narrative about how we need to
transform citizenship?
It seems like it's really fundamental to think about
this relationship between work and broader democracy.
Eric Liu: That's great.
I'm going to ask our panelist each to do the impossible,
which is to speak briskly to these three very profound
points that have been made about returning citizens,
about the demand side of the social cohesion and civic
cohesion, not just the supply side that we're offering here,
and this question of work and its centrality to any idea of
being able to be a citizen.
Why don't you each in turn speak to whatever moves you.
Annie Leonard: Okay.
They are all so interesting, but I'm going to talk for a second
about the work thing.
One of the things that we talk a lot about The Story of Stuff is
different models of work, like worker-owned cooperatives and
different models that allow people to bring their citizen
muscles and work their citizen muscles when they are at work,
so they are learning democratic skills at work and beyond.
We also talk about something that's a little more
controversial but I think it's a really important part
of the solution which is reconsidering what a typical
workweek looks like.
And rather than having part of our population totally
overworked -- we work longer hours than any other
industrialized countries.
We have less vacation.
We are the only industrialized country in the world without a
mandatory vacation law in this country.
I mean, in the U.S. Rather than having some people
totally overworked and stressed out and then massive unemployment,
I'd like to see a shifting where there is a shorter workweek so
that more people can have jobs and those who are working are
not killing themselves but have the leisure time to then be able
to engage in civic and community activities.
Eric Liu: Maria.
Maria Cardona: It would be nice where we could switch to a
country that actually lives, works to live instead of living
to work, which essentially is a lot of what we all do.
But I think that it is a tremendous challenge,
all of these three questions.
And I do want to speak to what Tom talked about, because, Tom,
I believe you know my husband, Brian Weaver,
who ran for office.
And this is something that he is very passionate about,
because he is a mentor in DC, and he knows a lot of these
kids, and a lot of them are not only incarcerated but have
either lost people or have themselves been killed in
this sort of -- it really is basically another life that
the youth live in D.C., and it is a shadow life,
and I don't think that there is enough attention put on it.
But I think part of what we need to do as we're talking about
social entrepreneurship is, and the idea of the young woman who
started iFoster comes to mind, I don't know if she's still here,
but there are so many opportunities that are out
there to help all of these folks who are either returning to be
citizens or the cities who are struggling or challenged with
diversity, I would say blessed with diversity,
but definitely there are challenges that come with that.
I think that there are certainly tremendous opportunities where
we can apply all of the techniques and technology
and creative outside-of-the-box thinking ideas that we've been
talking about today in social innovation to figure out how,
exactly how we tackle those problems.
I think the only way that we can do it is together
and in community.
Scott Heiferman: I read last week that for the first time in
a hundred years in America, cities are growing faster than
suburbs, and you know meetups happen as much in suburbs and
rural areas as they happen in cities.
But what's fascinating about the question about work is this
notion of pride and that you're contributing to, that, you know,
the town or the city needs that work that you're doing,
and you're making something that you're proud of.
And I feel that we're heading into a spot where I hear people
all the time say that because their city, you know,
now has like a 1,000 or 5,000 or 10,000
meetup groups that they now feel like their city is alive,
that their city is, you know, people come out of the woodwork,
that they've gotten permission to talk to each other,
that there is just a sense of a city because there is all these
opportunities that these communities are there when
they need it.
And I'm really excited about where that is going.
That only covers one slice of a dimension of where you're going
with that question, but I -- part of that is sort of waking
up to each other.
I don't know if that's a -- you know,
is that citizenship or is that just being, you know, people?
But it's -- I really hope that that translates towards people
realizing that, hey, you know, I'm a part of a city and there's
other people here and I'm working at this restaurant.
Maybe I'm chef.
Maybe I'm a busboy or busperson.
Is it busperson?
And that they are just playing a vital,
they are playing a vital role because they see that their city
is a living thing.
Eric Liu: By way of wrapping this conversation up and seguing
now to the very fun part of these breakout sessions,
I wanted to say something to be responsive to Michael's question.
And first note, by the way, that throughout this entire
afternoon, the people who have been standing at the mics posing
questions are just as worthy of sitting on the stage,
and everybody here has been -- these have been remarkable
comments, questions, and experiences shared from your
lives and your work, but the question about the demand side,
Michael, I guess I would answer this way.
One of the most important ways we can generate from our fellow
Americans a greater sense of demand to participate in the
kinds of things we're talking about here is to not forget the
dimension of story that is about purpose.
Purpose. You know?
There are some folks here for whom the language of purpose
is a language of faith and religion,
and that's a beautiful and powerful thing.
But I would submit to you that what we've got to do here is to
revive a sense of civic religion and that what we're doing here
should have as much of a spiritual and purposeful
dimension that feeds our soul as anything else we might be
able to spend our time on.
And I can tell you it doesn't matter up and down the line of
income brackets, whatever life situations,
when people have a spiritual, purposeful yearning to be part
of something, they find a way.
They find a way.
It doesn't matter if they are fully employed, half employed,
unemployed, in the shadows, guestworkers, it doesn't matter.
So we've got to figure out ways to make this not just about
purely technical approaches to solving problems but to tap into
that yearning that people have to be part of something bigger
than themselves, to be part of a greater story,
and to be woven together where our faiths are shared.
And that, in all those respects our panelists are not just great
voices of that story but great embodiment.
So please join me in thanking our three panelists.
We're going to segue now.
I think Ronnie is going to give us a big of direction,
but let me just say by word of context for these breakout
sessions, we're about 15 minutes behind.
So I think our breakout session time, if you go by the program,
instead of running from 3:45 to 4:30,
we'll run them from 4:00 to 4:45 and still aim to be back here at
5:00 for a wrap up.
Okay, Ronnie will get to that.
Go ahead, Ronnie.
Ronnie Cho: Yeah, thank you guys so much.
So, I want to first say thank you for coming here.
My name is Ronnie Cho, and I'm an Associate Director here at
the White House Office of Public Engagement.
I just want -- a couple of pieces of housekeeping:
We're going to be moving across the street to the White House
Conference Center.
Now, if you came in this morning,
you should have received a program and also a map that
looks like this.
If you didn't, we'll have some handed out to you as you leave.
We want to make sure that we get there in a prompt manner,
about 15 minutes all together.
So there's a bit of time for you to take a break,
go to the White House Conference Center.
I want to make one announcement here.
So we have four breakout groups.
And if you look in the back of your name tag,
you'll have a number and a name.
So if you're number one, for instance,
you'll actually stay here in the South Court Auditorium.
If you are number two, you'll be in the Truman Center at the
White House Conference Center.
Number three will be the Eisenhower Room.
And finally number four, you'll be in the Jackson room.
Anyone who does not have for some reason a number or a room
number on the back of your name tag, let me know.
Otherwise, those are the instructions.
There is going to be a number of staff and interns who will
be there to guide you.
Really you just want to leave where you came in.
So you want to go north onto 17th towards Pennsylvania.
There will be someone stationed there.
You'll cut across.
You'll make a bit of a right turn diagonally up
to Jackson Place.
Again, there's a map here.
You'll find it very easy to get to.
One quick change, we may call an audible here,
we are not going to reconvene here.
So what's going to happen is in your breakout groups,
you wanted to expand some time for folks to get to know one
another, really dive in and be a part of this in a collaborative
nature to find solutions.
There will be a form that you'll fill out.
Because what we want to do is capture this information.
We don't want the things that we discuss here and the ideas
that we come up with today to live only in this glamorous,
you know, conference center that we have here.
We want to be able to capture it.
And with Eric's help in Guiding Lights Network,
we'll be able to distill the biggest themes and hopefully
have an outcome and some products to share with everybody
who came today and with folks who are watching online.
So, again, we're going to be transitioning.
Please be in your assigned rooms by 4:15 and we'll adjourn right
around 4:45, 5 o'clock.
And again, thank you so much for your time.
Eric Liu: Ronnie, before we break, and let me just clarify,
so we are not all reconvening here after the breakouts?
Speaker: (inaudible)
Eric Liu: Oh, reconvening at the White House Conference Center.
So there will be a plenary after our breakout sessions,
just not here?
Okay, great. Thanks.
And one quick word about these breakouts.
Each of them has a facilitator who can be sort of a pied piper
both to help lead you there but also will lead the conversation
and the idea generation within these sessions.
And we urge you as you stretch and make your way over there to
really lien forward and contribute to these.
This is where we want to harvest your ideas for how to teach,
how to scale, how to evangelize, and how to connect these ideas
to policy.
Thank you.