Big Citizenship: How Pragmatic Idealism Can Bring Out the Best in America

Big Citizenship: How Pragmatic Idealism Can Bring Out the Best in America

by Alan Khazei
     
 

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Throughout his career, Alan Khazei has pioneered ways to empower citizens to make a difference. His work as cofounder of City Year, the model for President Clinton’s AmeriCorps, and with his second start-up, Be the Change, have put him at the forefront of a generation of innovators who have revolutionized social entrepreneurship.

Big Citizenship

Overview

Throughout his career, Alan Khazei has pioneered ways to empower citizens to make a difference. His work as cofounder of City Year, the model for President Clinton’s AmeriCorps, and with his second start-up, Be the Change, have put him at the forefront of a generation of innovators who have revolutionized social entrepreneurship.

Big Citizenship tells how, in the face of drastic budget cutbacks, Khazei led the effort to save AmeriCorps by convincing a huge coalition of people—members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, governors and mayors from around the country, private sector leaders, editorial boards of major newspapers, and thousands of American citizens—to lend their support to the fight. His journey—from the most local of grassroots engagement to Washington, D.C.—is an extraordinary story, and a vital model of idealism in action.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As a young Harvard law graduate, Khazei resolved to serve his country by creating an urban organization in the style of the Peace Corps called City Year. Based in Boston, City Year has grown from a few volunteers into a massive operation with branches in 20 cities filled with young people eager to serve where they live. Khazei offers a touching memoir of what young entrepreneurs with vision can do to change not just communities but the world. Much of the book is dedicated to the pursuit of this ideal, with reference to Khazei's past efforts, Save AmeriCorps and Be the Change, allowing him to offer words of wisdom to other civically-minded would-be entrepreneurs. The late inclusion of a run for the United States Senate comes as a distraction, but may offer a further level of inspiration for readers. Khazei's Citizenship is an accessible motivational tale that is short on concrete advice but long on heart.
From the Publisher

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, co-author of Built to Last
“Alan Khazei is the walking definition of a Big Citizen. One of the great entrepreneurs in America, he has created not just an idea, not just an organization, not just an impact—he has helped launch an enduring great movement that carries forth with exponential momentum. Read. Learn. Be inspired.”

Former Senator Harris Wofford
“You can read Alan Khazei's extraordinary book forward or backward, starting with his personal saga of social invention in founding City Year and becoming a major leader in the movement for national service, or you can start with his concluding section that conveys his larger vision of a Service Nation in bold detail. But read it. Khazei has rolled into one ball his rich experience and creative ideas that will challenge and inspire those ready to be big citizens, and make social entrepreneuring contagious.” 

Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone
“Alan Khazei connects readers with the contagious enthusiasm and great ideas of the remarkable people he has met on his own inspiring journey of empowering young people. This is a must-read for anyone committed to bettering the world on a grand scale.”

Jeff Swartz, CEO of the Timberland Company
BIG CITIZENSHIP is not a ‘feel good’ book, not even a ‘do good’ book, but an invitation and challenge to ‘be good,’ written by one of the most accomplished social entrepreneurs of this generation—or any other generation. Alan Khazei lives the change he seeks to create, and Big Citizenship is the story telling invitation to each of us to be the Big Citizen we can each of us be.” 

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian
“‘Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others,’ Robert Kennedy famously wrote, “he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.’ No one better exemplifies the truth of these words than Alan Khazei, the co-founder of City Year. In this stirring call to arms, Khazei lays out a path for the renewal of America, which should provoke conversation, debate and action.” 

Brad Meltzer, author of The Tenth Justice
“Forget the debate between big and small government. BIG CITIZENSHIP gives an alternative—and far more inspiring—answer. From being one of the creators of City Year, to his work preserving AmeriCorps, Khazei knows exactly how idealism works.” 

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor, Harvard Business School, and author of Confidence and SuperCorp
BIG CITIZENSHIP is a brilliant tour de force and force for change. Alan Khazei masterfully weaves together a big idea for the future of America with his personal journey as a savvy leader building a successful national organization and social movement. His engaging story will both inspire and yield practical models for action."

Boston Globe, August 31, 2008
“Alan Khazei extols the virtues of volunteerism and service in “Big Citizenship,’’ a combination memoir and call to action that lays out a framework for everyday people to solve major social issues.”

Educated Quest, September 22, 2010
“A very appropriate and useful book for a student interested in public and non-profit management or an executive who is considering a role in serving others.”

Library Journal - BookSmack!
Khazei is one motivated dude. He founded City Year, leads Be the Change, ran for Senate in Massachusetts (came in third), and still holds the record for the fastest oil-and-filter change in the Quadrangle of his alma mater, Harvard (set summer '82). For Khazei, "Big" refers to the positive impact one has on others, not the fact that you need stretch-waist pants. He believes that "we need a fundamentally new approach to our politics and how we solve problems." Said approach has dudes stepping up to the plate to become real Americans-leaders, doers, makers, shakers, and bakers-through social entrepreneurship and national service. Also, the government would create new structures to help the effort, such as student loan breaks or G.I. bill-esque benefits for volunteers. He also makes a convincing case for a marriage between the private and public sectors because while both want to Improve the Situation, neither is capable of independently accomplishing such a huge task. Often self-congratulatory, the author echoes JFK, with Big Citizens cast as those "prepared not to seek what their country owes them...but how they can contribute to making it stronger." Still, it's a jazzy, energetic, and inspirational read on the individual and policy level. — Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes," Booksmack! 2/3/11

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610390521
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
12/06/2011
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Alan Khazei is an award-winning social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life and work to strengthening American democracy through the engagement of citizens in service and public policy. He is the founder and CEO of Be the Change, Inc. Prior to that he was cofounder and CEO of City Year.

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