Like many of us, YES! Magazine cofounder Sarah van Gelder was alarmed about the state of American society. The deep divides, racial violence, climate change, economic insecurity, and inequality - is our society coming unraveled? Has anyone got answers? She confided her fears to a friend, who said, "If the universe could deploy the one small person that is you, what would it have you do?" Her answer surprised them both: "I'd go out traveling and see for myself."
Driving a 12-year-old Toyota pickup with a tiny camper, she visited 18 states and five Indian reservations, big cities, and small towns. Instead of staying in the centers of power, where people are richly rewarded for their allegiance to the status quo, she headed out on the back roads of Montana and North Dakota; to the abandoned neighborhoods of Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Newark; to Appalachia and Greensboro, North Carolina; and home via Texas, New Mexico, and Utah.
Van Gelder invites you to come with her as she meets the quirky and the committed, the local heroes and the healers who, under the mass media's radar, are getting stuff done. The common thread running through their work was best summed up by a phrase she saw on a mural in Newark: "We the People LOVE This Place." That connection we each have to our physical and ecological place, and to our human community, is where we find our power and our best hopes for a new America.
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