In "Citizen You," Jonathan Tisch and Karl Weber share inspiring stories of individuals that stood up to make a difference in their community, state or country and discuss the power of a single motivated person to change the world for the better.
Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the www.CitizenYou.org to find out how you can become an active citizen
The story of Scott Harrison offers a vivid example of the power of active citizenship to transform lives— the lives of those who find new meaning in service to others, as well as the lives of the less fortunate who are benefiting from today's new spirit of civic engagement.
Next to the air we breathe, water is surely the most basic of human necessities. In the developed world, we take for granted the availability of clean, safe water for drinking, cooking, and washing. But more than 1.1 billion people in the global south—one- sixth of the world's population— lack access to clean water. The result is epidemics of disease, tens of thousands of deaths every week (many from conditions that may seem trivial yet are often deadly, like severe diarrhea), and the destruction of countless lives from the ancillary effects of water shortages. Those effects range from warfare over water supplies to the inability of millions of children to attend school because they must spend their days gathering water for their families instead— for example, hiking up to three hours to get to the nearest well or, in some cases, a dirty riverbed where they fill a bucket with water swirling with mud and raw sewage.
Solving this global problem is obviously an enormous challenge, far too big for one person or even one organization. But three years ago, a young man named Scott Harrison decided to find out what kind of impact a single individual could have on the lives of millions of thirsty people around the world. The answer has amazed even him.
Harrison's organization, known as charity: water, has become one of the fastest- growing nonprofit groups in the world. In its short lifetime, it has attracted fifty thousand donors from two hundred countries who have contributed over $10 million, which has gone to fund more than thirteen hundred water projects in fourteen developing nations. These projects, managed by local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with proven track records of integrity and efficiency, like the International Rescue Committee and Living Water International, are modest and human scaled. Rather than massive dams or desalinization plants, charity: water funds wells, village clinics, and filtration systems for local ponds in countries like the Central African Republic, Bangladesh, and the Ivory Coast. The individual projects are small, but taken together, their impact is huge. So far, almost a million people have been provided with potable water through the efforts of charity: water . . . and if Scott Harrison has anything to say about it, this is just the beginning.
Yet almost as remarkable as the humanitarian impact of Harrison's work is Harrison's own story. The creation of charity: water represents not the first but the second personal transformation this thirty- three- year- old New Yorker with the shy smile and the hipster style— jeans, black sweater, scraggly beard— has experienced in his young life.