Breaking: TIME’s Third Annual National Service Issue is Out!

Posted by Zach Maurin on September 11, 2009

The way that this issue covers service, active citizenship, and social change is different than might be expected. It reflects changes in how people are solving problems and changing the world.

The Obamas in their first sit-down interview together since the Inauguration.
(The Obamas in their first sit-down interview together since the Inauguration.
Brooks Kraft / Corbis for Time)

There is certainly a great discussion about traditional, face-t0-face service with the Obamas. And that’s critical to solving problems and building social capital. President Obama emphasized that a couple of times, especially during tough times. You can read the full interview here. Here is one excerpt from President Obama:

“Now, I would argue that now is exactly the time where we need more volunteerism, not only because needs are greater, more people are hungry, more people are out of work, more people are falling through the cracks, but when I talk to young people, for example, I say to them now is the time to get experience — since you may not be able to find a job right away — get some experience doing some good for your country, and that will not only be in the interest of the people you help, but it’s going to be in your self-interest. You’ll get work experience, you’ll make contacts, you’ll network, you’ll expand your community in a way that ultimately will be good for you.”

The issue also includes a wider view of how to create social change: corporate responsibility, social change businesses, responsible consumerism, socially responsible investment (SRI) mutual funds, and more. TIME’s Rick Stengel has a great article (“The Responsibility Revolution“) in this issue that elaborates on the intersection between social change and business. Here are some excerpts:

“America has always been a great laboratory of social innovation, from Ben Franklin’s creation of the volunteer fire department and the lending library to the rise of online collectives like Wikipedia and Facebook. Usually it has been an invention, some innovation in commerce — the car, the lightbulb, the television — that has changed how we interact with one another as well as how we think of ourselves. We are again entering a period of social change as Americans are recalibrating our sense of what it means to be a citizen, not just through voting or volunteering but also through commerce: by what we buy. There is a new dimension to civic duty that is growing in America — it’s the idea that we can serve not only by spending time in our communities and classrooms but by spending more responsibly. We are starting to put our money where our ideals are.”

“Since 1995, the number of socially responsible investment (SRI) mutual funds, which generally avoid buying shares of companies that profit from such things as tobacco, oil or child labor, has grown from 55 to about 260. SRI funds now manage approximately 11% of all the money invested in U.S. financial markets — an estimated $2.7 trillion.”

“It’s not just big companies that are doing well by doing good. Increasingly, social entrepreneurs are starting companies rather than nonprofits, to capitalize on the power of the market to create public benefit. And some of these entrepreneurs are choosing to form “B Corporations,” a new corporate structure that requires enterprises to build into their foundation strong social and environmental standards for their operations. More than 220 companies, whose combined revenue tops $1 billion, have become B Corps since their certification began in 2007.”

Great stuff from TIME!


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