Harwood *84 examines people’s aspirations for civic engagement

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Richard Harwood *84 (Photo: Courtesy The Harwood Institute)

New book: The Work of Hope: How Individuals and Organizations Can Authentically Do Good, by Richard C. Harwood *84 (Kettering Foundation Press)

 
The author: Harwood is the founder and president of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a nonprofit organization that aims to help people work for the public good. He seeks to improve political conduct and to get citizens engaged in important public issues; he has helped develop civic-minded organizations in dozens of communities in the United States. Harwood also is the author of Hope Unraveled: The People’s Retreat and Our Way Back, about politics and public life.
 
The book: Over the course of a year, Harwood and his colleagues held conversations with citizens in communities across the United States — from Detroit to Sonoma, Calif. — about how they felt things were going in the country today, what they were concerned about, and how they feel about politics, among other issues. What he found is that “There is a yearning within [people] to come back into the public square to engage with one another, to find ways to get things done together, and to restore their belief in themselves and their fellow citizens.” This new trajectory, people told him, will take shape through actions that start small and locally.
 

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From the book: “In our new discussions with Americans across the country we learned that people have been left bereft of a sense of possibility. We learned that people condemn our individual and collective inability to come together to get things done. And they are exhausted by the public recriminations and acrimony that hold our discourse hostage. There is palpable fear among them over their ever-increasing sense of isolation from one another. At the heart of these feelings is the deep sense — the belief — that current conditions in America actively undermine much of what is good and right in our in society — and in our very selves.”
 
Read more: PAW’s profile of Richard Harwood posted Jan. 26, 2005.

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