Our society is yearning for a new kind of citizen activism," says Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of New York City-based Loews Hotels, "citizens who are prepared and willing to tackle some of the global challenges we face." To that end, Tisch has written a new book, Citizen You (Crown), in which he presents inspiring stories of people from all walks of life and offers a prescription for getting involved in ways that go beyond traditional do-gooding.
Tisch explains, "An old model for giving back might be to volunteer at a soup kitchen, a noble cause, but it is inherently limited. Active citizenship means examining the root causes of hunger and considering the entire range of actions you can take as a citizen to eliminate those causes."
Among the subjects in his book, Tisch lauds the achievements of Scott Harrison, who used the networking and marketing skills he developed as a nightclub promoter to help more than a million people in the developing world get access for the first time to clean, safe drinking water (for more, visit charitywater.org), and Christopher Swan, associate professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., who is training a new generation of "citizen engineers" to make sure the projects they build aren't just structurally sound but also environmentally and socially sustainable.
Meeting professionals have special skills that can be employed for the greater good, Tisch notes. "The sheer numbers of people and scale of events that planners deal with gives them the ability to work with communities to solve problems," he says. "Adding an element of caring for the community makes a meeting even more successful."
For more information and ideas about how to be an active citizen, go to citizenyou.org.