Martin (who I didn’t discover until after reading the book is an editor for one of my favorite blogs Feministing.com) interviews and tells the stories of 8 people under the age of 35 who are contributing to their communities as activists. Martin takes the approach that this generation has been told from generation that they need to “save the world” but are often criticized for being aloof and narcissistic. Through these essays Martin shows that while they can’t “save the world” there are in fact many young people who are far from self-centered.
- Rachel Corrie, a peace activist killed by a bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the Israelis from destroying a Palestinian home. Martin goes beyond the sensationalist headlines to tell the story of Corrie’s hopes for transformation through peace.
- Raul Diaz, a social worker who helps young men reenter society after prison sentence as part of his work with Homeboy Industries. Diaz lives a life shattered by gang violence and persists despite the deaths of many friends and mentees.
- Maricela Guzman is an activist for veterans and against the military culture that contributed to her being raped by an officer and failing to get the support she needed after the attack. A highlight of this chapter is when Martin brings together Diaz and Guzman together to share common experiences of trauma and violence.
- Emily Abt who found her voice as an activist through making documentary and dramatic films through Pureland Pictures.
- Nia Martin-Robinson, an environmental justice advocate, who carries on her family’s activist tradition by fighting pollution’s inordinate damage on communities of poor and people of color (as well as giving a minority voice often shunned by the green movement).
- Tyrone Boucher, who chose to establish a philanthropy to give away his trust fund and fight for social justice outside the confines of the capitalist system.
- Rosario Dawson, an actress who dedicates much of her time away from the set to various charities and social causes.
- Dena Simmons, a teacher who grew up in the Bronx and remains as an inspirational teacher to her middle school students.
These are all inspiring stories of people doing good in their communities tied together by their common respect for humanity, perseverance, and big dreams with strategic visions. This is a good book to read if you want to read something positive about people in our world today.
Recommended books: Respect: An Exploration by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot and From the pews in the back : young women and Catholicism by Kate Dugan.