Illustration: The Spectator
Monday, August 12, 2019
MEDIA MONDAY / RENEWING AMERICA FROM THE CENTER
The following is a letter from the CEO of an organization dedicated to renewing America from the center. New America is dedicated to renewing America by continuing the quest to realize our nation's highest ideals. Just as couples can renew their vows to enter a new phase in their marriage, nations can renew their ideals to enter a new phase in their history.
New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter says by recommitting as individuals and a nation to equality, liberty, justice, democracy, and tolerance, knowing that even if we can never fully attain them, we can continually improve.
“...New America was founded in 1999 as the New America Foundation, an organization dedicated to bold and visionary thinking from the “radical center” in an age of transformative technological change. But renewal was part of our DNA from the beginning. As two of our co-founders, Ted Halstead and Michael Lind, wrote in 2001, “America will be reinvented again,” driven by the forces of “technological and economic progress, along with demographic change,” said Slaughter.
Read more about New America. Click here.
GUEST BLOG / By Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America--When I stand on the sidewalk in front of New America’s offices on 15th and H in Washington, D.C., just a block from the Treasury Department, I look up at the 1907 granite building and admire the cornices and columns, the solidity and gravitas of a building meant to last for centuries.
This is new America growing out of old America. Indeed, the offices on the 8th floor have the Corinthian capitals of the building’s exterior decorative columns outside their windows like sculpture. And on the 10th floor we are treated to a wrap-around terrace, which was added in an earlier renovation of the building. Old and new together, ripping out what is ugly or no longer serves, but keeping the foundation and frame, while renewing old spaces to adapt them to present needs.
This same renewal is happening in the downtowns of so many American towns: old movie theaters turned into co-working spaces, old banks turned into restaurants, old factories into tech incubators. The developers, architects, and builders preserve brick and stone walls, wood banisters and masonry moldings, lacy iron railings and stained glass chandeliers. They replace what has not stood the test of time.
And as New America’s founding board chair and continuing board member James Fallows and his wife Deborah documented in their 2018 best-selling book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America, towns and cities are coming together to reinvent themselves economically and socially as well.
Renewal can also mean a new commitment to old ideals.
Just as couples can renew their vows to enter a new phase in their marriage, nations can renew their ideals to enter a new phase in their history. We recommit ourselves to equality, liberty, justice, democracy, and tolerance, knowing that even if we can never fully attain them, we can continually improve.
New America was founded in 1999 as the New America Foundation, an organization dedicated to bold and visionary thinking from the “radical center” in an age of transformative technological change. But renewal was part of our DNA from the beginning. As two of our co-founders, Ted Halstead and Michael Lind, wrote in 2001, “America will be reinvented again,” driven by the forces of “technological and economic progress, along with demographic change.”
In 2017 we adopted a new mission statement committing ourselves to American renewal by continuing the question to realize our nation’s highest ideals in an age of rapid technological and social change. A grand vision! But not an abstract one. We also adopted six broad goals that aggregate and distill the work of our many programs and initiatives and define our vision of what a renewed America can look like.
In 2018, as this report illustrates, we continued conducting and publishing world-class research and writing, in books, blogs, reports, articles, op-eds, films, and even virtual reality. We are knitting together a big vision of what this country could look like, a vision of sweeping reform of our democracy: an educational system from cradle to career, our lives better at work and at home, access to and protection from technology, an economic and social foundation, and our national and resource security informed by accurate data.
We also continued our experiments with doing, with pioneering new ways of solving public problems that fall under the heading of “thinking plus.” Thinking plus technology creation and adoption, leading to our efforts to create an ecosystem for public interest technology and technologists that mirrors the ecosystem for public interest law and lawyers. In 2018, we welcomed the creation of The Commons, a public interest tech newsletter that was listed as one of the top 10 influencers for innovation in government.
We also saw the beginnings of the University Network for Public Interest Technology to grow the pipeline of computer scientists, engineers, designers, data scientists, ethicists, and others who want to spend all or part of their careers developing, applying, or regulating technology in the public interest. We announced the network in January 2019 with the Ford and Hewlett Foundations: it includes vitally important national universities such as Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, CUNY, Florida International University, Howard, Miami-Dade Community College, and Arizona State University.
Another example of our doing is building: building networks and coalitions, like the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), a multi-year, collaborative, national initiative that will support the success of efforts in states and cities to expand access to high-quality apprenticeship opportunities for high school-age youth. Still another is bringing business, education, union, civic, and public leaders together in Indianapolis, Phoenix, and Detroit to talk about—and, more importantly, plan for—the future of work in their towns, based on tailored research predicting the likely impact of automation and AI on their economies. Yet another is building out a civic architecture in Chicago, serving as a connector and community concierge in ever wider circles radiating outward from Indianapolis, and supporting social entrepreneurs in California.
Turn the page to find out more on all these initiatives. And join us this year as we celebrate our 20th anniversary with as many of you and in as many ways as possible. Welcome and meet Tyra Mariani, formerly our Executive Vice President, as she now takes the reins as President and COO, working closely with me every day. Take your place alongside us in our ever-growing community of partners, collaborators, and fellow-travelers on the journey of American renewal, at home and in the world. We have never needed it more.
DOWNLOAD THE 2018 ANNUAL REPORT. Click Here.
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