Participation Nation
7:38 am
Wed August 1, 2012

(W)E Pluribus Unum

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 12:58 pm

With your help, NPR is writing a story across America. About the good things that Americans are doing.

You already know that our country is split by political partisanship, socioeconomic disparities, religious differences, geographical inequities and other factors.

Surely you have noticed: We are living in disunited states.

Sometimes it's hard to focus on the ways we work together, the similarities among us.

So that is what we will try to write about. Together.

We will begin in Washington, D.C., but we hope that additions to the story will come from all over the country. The story is about good deeds — people actively helping people. We are looking for examples of folks working creatively to serve others. A soup kitchen. A building project. An after-school program.

We're calling this project Participation Nation. It's a cooperative effort about cooperative efforts.

What this is not: It is not a "Feel Good" blog or an attempt at "Good News," but a straightforward look at Americans in action.

What this is: It's a sincere story. With no arch, unless you count the one in St. Louis. No hate, but we welcome tales from Haight-Ashbury. And no malice, but maybe a little Dallas. It's a story of many parts all sewn together in a single saga, like a multi-square quilt. A sort of we pluribus unum.

We are asking you to participate. Please send us a report, in one short paragraph (100 words or fewer), on some person or group who, by contributing to the community, is changing the world. And please include good, colorful photos of your subjects.

Want to participate but don't know what to write about? Please send us an email (participationnation at npr dot org) and we will help you find someone or some group to showcase. We are here to help. We just need your participation, nation.

We only have a few rules:

1) The story must be true.

2) And factually accurate.

3) It's OK if your subject has received attention, but we are especially looking for those who have not been in the national spotlight.

4) Please keep your part of the story to fewer than 100 words. We will, too.

5) Please provide photos (and requisite permissions) and contact information so we can check the facts.

We may trim a blog post and edit it for clarity. We will also edit the photos for same.

At the end of August, we will put the whole story together — as one grand American saga — and your name will be in the byline.

And what a byline that could be.

So how do we get started?

Well, this is the beginning of the story. We will write the first entry from here in Washington. And we may contribute some other reports along the way. But you will write the rest — and the best — of the tale.

Participation Nation: Tanya Ballard Brown, Wright Bryan, Linton Weeks

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, once MORNING EDITION gets our drone up and working, we'll send it out looking for inspiration, because NPR's launched an online project called Participation Nation. We're looking for stories of people in your community who are doing good.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

At the end of this month, we'll put them all together. To kick things off, we talked to people from Arizona to New Jersey and asked: Do you know someone who's going something great in your town?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BASAIL JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely.

JIMMY DIRKS: David Weaver. He is the head of the food bank.

CHABELI ARROJO: My mentor is, like, the best.

SCOTT BIXBY: My friend, Brent Miller.

LAURYN SCOTT: I'm just helping her because she's my best friend, but it's her idea. It's her money, her vision, everything.

PATRICK WILLIFORD: He is definitely taking some really great initiative, and it's great to see.

JESSICA BANWART: She was really organized. She definitely held it together and gave everyone a vision.

ARROJO: She helped me get jobs. She takes me to see colleges. She educates me. Like, we meet up every Thursday.

MARJORIE CAVALIER: I'm from Middletown, New Jersey, and Bon Jovi has a restaurant there. And if you can't afford to pay, you can sit down for a really nice dinner and volunteer your time. It's a wonderful thing.

KENYA JENKINS: His name is Pastor Frankey Grayton. He's really great, and he's changed a lot of people's lives.

JENNIFER SPENSIERI: In Flagstaff Arizona, we have two teachers who take students down to the border, to share that experience and meet migrants who are coming and help drop off water.

LOREN KELLEY: My tennis coach, Eric Seymour, he gets kids from off the street to, like, play tennis for free.

SCOTT: We're doing, like, a back-to-school barbecue, raising money for school supplies.

GAYLA DIRKS: We have too many to list.

DIRKS: That's right. We, yeah, there are a lot.

DIRKS: Lubbock is very community-minded.

INSKEEP: OK. There's some of the answers to our question. Now we turn to you for answers. Who is community-minded where you are? And what are they doing?

MONTAGNE: Go to npr.org or send an email participationnation@npr.org. Tell us in 100 words or less about who inspires you. This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.