An Idea Whose Time Has More Than Come
Karl Zinsmeister’s book comes at precisely the right moment. We’ve just had a contentious and vexing presidential election in which the severe limitations of political activity as a vehicle for social improvement have been made evident to us all. We are just as divided afterward as we were before. We are ready to consider another way.
People who have been materially blessed have often used their wealth to support political candidates and movements that promise dramatic changes. But it is no longer clear that the financial support of candidates even makes much of a difference in their electability. The myriad donors who contributed lavishly to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, and to well-funded Republicans like Jeb Bush, have come away with nothing to show for their largesse. If this leads well-intentioned donors to reconsider their priorities, and explore other avenues to social improvement, that will be valuable.
When they are ready for such a reconsideration, they will learn a great deal of what they need to know by reading Zinsmeister’s book. It explains the virtues of vibrant local institutions and direct civil action as alternatives to overreliance on national government. This longstanding American approach to national improvement was pushed aside by a variety of factors, including the shock of the 9/11 attacks, but above all by a mistaken insistence, coming from Republicans and Democrats alike, that decentralist and private-sector ideas overestimated the capacities of the private sector to meet our country’s challenges and undercut vigorous national governance. Local action was deemed by some to be too parochial, too unambitious, too lacking in comprehensive purpose.
Well, after several polarizing Presidencies, Congress running the federal government for decades without a serious budgetary process, Washington careening from fiscal cliff to fiscal cliff and ballooning the national debt to $20 trillion, what do we have to show for the D.C.-centered approach? A deteriorating culture and a demoralized, fearful, impoverished, and divided citizenry, in whose eyes nearly every formerly respected institution and occupational group in American life stands profoundly diminished.
Something went wrong with us in the years since we stopped talking seriously about civil society and localism. It’s high time to speak of them again.
Zinsmeister’s argument makes more sense today than ever. And he gives us four very compelling case studies drawn from the American past to show how non-governmental reform movements can effect profound transformations of American life. We need to relearn these lessons.
So what tasks should philanthropists apply themselves to in twenty-first-century America? One crucial insight of Zinsmeister’s book is that we must use our own eyes and intuitions and draw on the knowledge we already have—local, grounded, experience-based—to guide our reforms of society. This may sometimes mean greater modesty in formulating our goals. But it will yield plans we can actually accomplish.
My friend Michael Cromartie was addressing a college audience when he was queried by an earnest student searching for his “calling” in life. The student approached the question with all the touching grandiosity of which youth is capable. Should he go to Africa and provide clean water to impoverished peoples? Should he run for office and change the world legislatively? Should he enter science and invent a carbon-neutral form of energy production? Where should he begin?
Mike responded bluntly: “That’s easy. Begin by cleaning up your hall.”
There was laughter, but it was a real answer. The greatest good, William Blake wrote, is done in minute particulars, but those who loudly seek to change society often ignore the minute particulars begging for their attention—the things that they know, but regard as too lowly to amount to a calling.
We need to look at what is right in front of us, and get a handle on our addiction to big ideas, big agencies, and big experts that are illusory. We need to have the courage to invest our resources in the things we can see, and touch, and evaluate for ourselves. We need to recover the principles of self-rule and self-trust which are the beating heart of republican government. This fine book is a very good way for us to begin thinking about what is entailed in this reorientation.
—Wilfred McClay, professor of history at the University of Oklahoma
A Patriotic Playbook
Some of the most interesting American political and policy writing of the last year or so has touched upon the need for decentralization, a sense that we need to redistribute authority from controlling elites to citizens and communities. Much of that writing has been one part concept, one part advocacy. Karl Zinsmeister’s masterful short book invaluably adds history and details to the mix.
The biggest contribution of What Comes Next? is how it frames local, non-state action as the essential civil enterprise. Voluntary cooperation unites communities and enables them to differentiate themselves; it empowers individuals and ties them to larger causes; it allows us to act together rather than being acted upon.
Decentralization isn’t just a way of creating immediate social solutions; it’s a strategy for nation- and community-building. This book couldn’t come at a better time. America is suffering on many fronts. We have too little trust, too much resentment, too much uncertainty. What Comes Next? explains why imposed national solutions to tricky social problems must be avoided. They seem well-intended but are actually emasculating—merely empowering the state while “shrinking the arena of American citizenship.”
As a diverse pluralistic society, we have many different visions of the good life, many different priorities, and multiple levers of influence. Civil society offers a “vast variety of experience-tested operations of all complexions—secular and religious, material and moral, ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal,’ national or local.” We must use these valuable mechanisms.
Zinsmeister’s latest offering provides perspective on the past and optimism for what’s over the horizon. Most importantly, it presents a compelling philosophy and practical playbook on how to improve America in the future.
—Andy Smarick, Philanthropy contributing editor and resident fellow at AEI
Wanted: Social Entrepreneurship
What Comes Next? isn’t primarily about kindness, generosity, or even social change. Rather, it’s a story of entrepreneurship. The men and women who reinvigorated American faith, created Sunday schools, crusaded against drinking, and built a moral consensus against slavery created new enterprises to carry out their work. America has never been short on associations, but these citizens working toward social change saw the need for new ones, and formed them to meet the demands of their times.
In the world of for-profit business, this would be taken for granted: people with big, bold ideas rarely take them to existing firms but instead tend to strike out on their own. These new companies often out-compete old ones to become industry leaders. America’s modern charitable sector needs to revive the entrepreneurial energy and drive it has shown in previous eras. The solution isn’t to make the nonprofit sector just like the for-profit world. Rather, philanthropists should inculcate some of the “best practices” seen in What Comes Next?, such as these:
Local action is the essential civil enterprise. It unites and distinguishes communities; it empowers individuals and ties them to larger causes.
Invest for the long term: Lewis Tappan never came close to seeing the full racial equality he so passionately supported. Frances Willard died more than two decades before the peak of the movement she helped create. But like good business leaders building great organizations, they weren’t deterred by long timelines and gradual progress. They invested time, money, and entrepreneurial energy to achieve goals that seemed distant and almost impossibly ambitious.
Consider new business models: There were plenty of educational institutions before Sunday schools, but the idea of voluntary schools that were privately funded and had a religious base was a new one. Immoderate consumption of alcohol has been a social problem since the dawn of civilization, but independent groups led by women mobilizing citizens to change their own behavior were an innovation of the temperance movement. The fact that an existing charitable business model accomplishes good things at reasonable costs doesn’t necessarily mean the model should be left alone. There may be other ways of operating that work even better.
Embrace messiness and differences of opinion: Not only were the movements Zinsmeister describes genuinely diverse in approach and participation, they were messy. Central-command models were absent, and even the great philanthropists intent on starting their own organizations were careful to support the parallel efforts of others. People fixed on a crucial social goal worked with (and even for) people with whom they disagreed on important questions. The Sunday-school movement, although deeply Christian in its roots, provided services to people irrespective of their faith. Anti-slavery activists didn’t all have the same view of racial equality. Differences are important, but principled people can put them aside to work for lasting social improvement.
America already has the money, the generosity of spirit, and the talent to confront major social problems through philanthropic means. Actually solving our deep social problems is going to require vision and, above all, entrepreneurial ability.
—Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute
Finding a New National Story
The sheer variety of American philanthropy is one of its glories. By tapping the power of decentralized knowledge and entrepreneurial imagination, charitable action can repair both individual problems and civilizational threats. As for what should come next in our civic life, I have two suggestions.
First, we must counter the culture of disrespect. Tribal politics and cultural isolation have encouraged a poisonous atmosphere in which we attribute the worst possible motives to those who disagree with us. The first step in reversing this dynamic is to stop feeding it. Don’t engage in or reward rhetoric and behavior that treats fellow Americans as cardboard villains. Seek to understand people’s actual motives rather than assuming bad intentions. Follow the Golden Rule.
This doesn’t mean giving up on one’s own convictions or values. It can in fact make you a much more effective adversary and advocate. It can also permit cooperative efforts on some things while agreeing to disagree on others.
Beyond encouraging personal respect, supporting common interests across political and cultural lines can help improve our society. Groups that bring together people from diverse backgrounds around shared enthusiasms self-organize all the time, generally without significant outside funding. What philanthropists could do is facilitate gatherings among enthusiasts who wouldn’t normally encounter each other because of geographic, ethnic, religious, or other differences. Familiarity and friendship breed empathy.
Second, we must find a new national story. Cultures are held together by the stories they tell about themselves. The story of America that I learned in high school, where history culminated gloriously in the New Deal, Great Society, and civil-rights revolutions, has turned into a dangerously corrosive argument that American history is a long train of abuses and usurpations. Can a more nuanced, accurate, and resilient view of what America is emerge?
Creating new national narratives takes time, and cannot be controlled in simple ways. Smart actors, however, can change the culture, as What Comes Next? demonstrates. Supporting historians, anthropologists, critics, teachers, authors, filmmakers, advertising copywriters, and storytellers who are able to accomplish this is one way donors might help.
—Virginia Postrel, columnist and author of The Power of Glamour
Forget Elections, Get to Work
What Comes Next? sets out a new agenda for an increasingly divided country. Karl Zinsmeister rightly makes the case that we have seen political ugliness before, and that even in the darkest times, individuals have risen up to meet major challenges.
There is no headquarters for protecting grassroots action. Philanthropists should fill that pressing need.
Given the parlous state of most governments, it will be increasingly critical for localities to tap the ideas and resources of philanthropy. Philanthropists fuel new ways to improve education, the arts, job training—often with greater efficiency than governments. But the most important contribution of philanthropy, as Zinsmeister suggests, is to boost citizen engagement.
We put far too much emphasis on elections, particularly for President. The key to better governance is more citizen involvement and local control. The federal government is a blunt tool, one that is used in ways that don’t fit into the realities of many communities. Policies that work in New York or Los Angeles may not be so useful in places like Peoria or Bismarck.
Localized policymaking will allow for a diversity of ideas—very different from the phony surface diversity that Zinsmeister skewers. If America is to be great again, as has been recently suggested, it won’t come primarily from the Oval Office, Capitol Hill, the government bureaucracies, or the academic Ivory Tower. Our greatness will be restored because Americans decide to put energy, time, and money directly into improving the lives of their fellow citizens.
—Joel Kotkin, fellow in urban studies at Chapman University
Avoiding Despotic Centralism
For generations, ordinary Americans willing to act directly and cooperate with their neighbors have achieved great and noble things, as What Comes Next? explains in fascinating detail. Each of the four movements used as case histories in the book started with the view that “We are not helpless subjects! We don’t need to wait for governments to define and order our lives! We can band together, conceive a better way, marshal our talents and resources, and produce positive change.” This volume—and The Almanac of American Philanthropy, with which it should be read in parallel—makes it very evident that this kind of voluntary action for beneficial purposes remains powerfully alive in America today.
The greatest danger we face is the same one recognized as a threat by Tocqueville—a suffocating, paternal government that “covers the whole of social life with a network of petty, complicated rules that are both minute and uniform…. It does not break men’s will, but softens, bends, and guides it; it seldom enjoins, but often inhibits, action; it does not destroy anything, but prevents much being born; it is not at all tyrannical, but it hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end each nation is no more than a flock of timid and hardworking animals with the government as its shepherd.”
There is no headquarters or active network for protecting and promoting grassroots action. So an ever-advancing tide of government intrudes on what ought to be the province of thousands of civil institutions. Will centralized control creep ever further into our communities? Or can citizens reverse the diminution of their liberties and strengthen our civil society?
If they will take their cues from What Comes Next? and The Almanac of American Philanthropy, philanthropists (and that means anyone willing to give and invest time to better our country, not just the rich) may fill that pressing need. For the sake of an America with a bright future of enterprise and happiness, let us hope donors and volunteers provide the much-needed leadership.
—John McClaughry, vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute
Fewer Governments = Poorer Governance
As Americans, we must not lose sight of the fact that our traditional, federalist approach to governance can, and historically has been, a vehicle to encourage, not dampen, civil society. President Woodrow Wilson observed that American communities are not governed but rather “govern themselves.” Municipalities were largely responsible for their own affairs—and accountable to local citizens for their performance.
Smaller communities encourage friends and neighbors to join together and start organizations that address local problems. But changes in our governing structure pose a threat to these local attachments and activities. Thanks to the consolidation of school districts and the regionalization of local governments, we’ve seen a sharp decline in the overall number of governing jurisdictions in the U.S. In 1942 we had 155,000 units of government in the U.S. By 2012 that number had fallen to 90,000, even though population more than doubled.
I was warned against being dazzled by the desire to do grand things with big players.
Government consolidation was driven by a false premise: that larger units of governance would be more efficient and effective. That has not borne out. Meanwhile, communities now face diktats on education, building and development, environmental questions, and many other issues that they once decided on their own (often through the help of volunteer-based boards that build social cohesion and foster new ideas).
We don’t need more government to foster a more robust civil society. But allowing more bodies of government, operating closer to the people, could help. The trend toward more expansive and expensive government in the U.S. and away from locally accountable government should be resisted and reversed.
—Howard Husock, vice president at the Manhattan Institute
Charity Begins at Home
As Karl Zinsmeister puts it in his very fine and hopeful book, What Comes Next?: “Decentralize power and let people govern themselves much more locally.” Let Utah be Utah, and let San Francisco be San Francisco.
My late friend Barber Conable, for many years the ranking Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the winner, on multiple occasions, of various “most respected congressman” polls, did not shun national affairs in his retirement; he chaired the executive committee of the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. But his labors and charity and heart were mostly given to local affairs: the county historical society, the living-history museum, the planting of dozens of flowering crabapple trees throughout his little village of Alexander, New York.
Be Conablian. Participate in larger ventures in those rare cases where you can make a genuine contribution. But focus your energies—and your charitable gifts—on matters homely. Give to the symphony. The local Scout troop. Sponsor a Little League baseball team. Plant trees. Tend the graves of your ancestors. Subsidize the publication of local histories. Find performance space for a grassroots theater troupe.
Every four years you throw an ort into the ocean by casting a vote in a national election. So do I. But every time we open our wallets or write a check or volunteer, we’re marking a more gravid ballot, putting our resources where our heart and soul and family reside. Choose home instead. The revolution starts with you.
—Bill Kauffman, author of Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette
Start in Your Community
I am probably better off not reading the annual issue of Forbes on giving. Stories of people like Bill Gates, Bono, and Paul Tudor Jones—who are, in essence, displacing corporations and governments in finding answers to complex problems—can make you wonder if anything you are doing makes any difference at all in comparison. That is an illusion.
John Gardner, who brought the Carnegie Corporation back from years of mismanagement, and also founded Independent Sector, was an international ﬁgure, but I once heard him say something surprising about philanthropists being attracted to solving global problems. He expressed concern that it distracted people from the vital core of American philanthropy—local and small-scale giving. He warned against being dazzled by the attention of the media and the natural desire to do grand things with big players. He emphasized the importance of the thousands of modest funders who work in their own towns in simple ways.
The relationships we build by serving at volunteer organizations, civic boards, church committees, and other places where we must interact and sometimes challenge our neighbors are what John Gardner urged us to focus on. That can be challenging. “Community,” Wendell Berry once admitted, “is made through a skill I have never learned or valued: the ability to pass time with people you do not and will not know well, talking about nothing in particular, with no end in mind, just to build trust, just to be sure of each other, just to be neighborly. A community is not something that you have, like a camcorder or a breakfast nook. No, it is something you do. And you have to do it all the time.”
This is not always visible, and rarely given prizes, or cover-story treatment. But it is the best way to alter the human trajectory. And it can be the most satisfying work in the world.
—Fred Smith, president of The Gathering
Philanthropic Muscle on the Governmental Skeleton
Karl Zinsmeister’s fabulous book really got me thinking. It’s not only an encyclopedic tour through the history of heroic philanthropy, it’s a vibrant and spicy vision of the different roles for government and private giving. Zinsmeister has this great concept that by giving and serving, people are not only consumers of government, they become producers of governance as well.
But that raises an issue: How should we envision the interaction between these two spheres? I am, maybe more than Zinsmeister, a believer in the essential role of government. As Michael Gerson has put it, not caring about politics is the luxury people who live in well-run societies have. If you are afraid of getting shot in the head or if you have to pay bribes every day, you do not have the option of being apathetic about government. Moreover, if government is not effective, there is only so much private philanthropy can do. There are thousands of charities in Haiti, but so long as the government is dysfunctional that nation can only rise so far.
The best way to understand and solve cultural problems is from up close.
So government is necessary, but it is utilitarian. It can create the skeleton of a good society, but it is not good at creating the spirit, which is essential for a healthy nation. The philanthropic programs Zinsmeister describes are about providing spiritual muscle to fill out the governmental skeleton. Democracies depend on moral feeling to motivate people to behave as good citizens, and shared moral understandings to form the basis for community. Government doesn’t produce those things. It is up to private citizens to create moral cultures.
I fear that philanthropy has recently become more utilitarian, more value-neutral, more like government. Many foundations and donors shy away from spiritual content. As a result, the nation’s moral capital suffers. Vocabularies of honor and shame, sin and grace, good and bad, are no longer in use. People are given food and housing, but their yearning for dignity and meaning is unmet and even unrecognized. People have no language or models about sound character-building, no context in which good character is cultivated. So they find it harder to resist short-term temptations for the sake of long-term goals.
Social trust is declining today. Relationships, especially across different groups, are fraying. These problems, which undergird issues like family breakdown, suicide, and drug abuse, are not fundamentally material. They are problems of character and connection.
Souls, as Emerson said, are not saved in bundles. They are saved one at a time. And every transformed life is unique and incomparable. That’s where emboldened philanthropy is needed today.
—David Brooks, New York Times columnist
Sturdy Religious Culture Undergirds Social Progress
When political leadership has failed in America, Karl Zinsmeister shows, “direct citizen action” has brought about some of the most consequential changes our country has ever seen. Will this continue in the future?
Most of the earlier movements Zinsmeister cites drew upon a culture that was deeply religious, one that heeded the “thou shalt nots” of the Bible and was willing to pass judgment on those who trespassed against them. The older American culture was Christian, but tough and distinctly “Old Testament” in its roots; the new American culture, even on the right, is increasingly soft and post-Christian. Popular and high culture alike are now shaped by a relativism that refuses to pass judgment (except on those who transgress against what is politically correct). Lacking the wellsprings of religious belief, civil society seems less capable of the profound transformations achieved in the past to address vexing social problems.
I do agree with Daniel Patrick Moynihan that “the central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society.” Our culture has been corrupted. And the task of restoring it is Herculean.
—Kenneth Weinstein, president of Hudson Institute
Puritanical Philanthropy, Then and Now
Karl Zinsmeister has brilliantly reminded us of the philanthropic antidote to the excesses of individualism in the American political tradition: the thought and deeds of our first founders, the Puritans. Our Puritans were the most serious of philanthropists. They became pilgrims not in the service of a get-rich-quick scheme, as did the first colonists in Virginia, but to make real an idea: the equality of all citizens under God. Their political actions created a new liberty balanced with a philanthropy that reduced the distances in wealth, power, and status that freedom can bring.
We must recognize a new kind of neighborhood authorities, instead of looking for saviors in government agencies or the ranks of certified professionals.
The successors to our Puritans are the social reformers Zinsmeister describes. Like the Puritans, they were fervent, serious, and dogged in pursuing their causes. In their spirit, I recommend two philanthropic projects for today’s philanthropists.
The coming apart of Americans into two distant classes is especially clear in the lives of men who have been detached from work and family life. My first target would be to minister to these wounded and vulnerable men who are experiencing the loneliness of being superfluous. Our churches need to function as homes for these socially homeless souls, because government cannot fill that role.
Second, we must protect our remaining moral and religious conviction. As part of this we should use philanthropic money to help our religious schools wean themselves from any dependence on government. It’s our religious schools—such as the Catholic parochial schools—that have most devoted themselves to the gentle egalitarianism of our original Puritans.
—Peter Augustine Lawler, professor of government at Berry College
Who Can Save the Addicted?
When Rhonda Pasek and James Acord were pulled over by the police earlier this fall, they became the faces of the heroin epidemic that is sweeping the nation. A photo of the two passed out in the front seat of their car while Pasek’s four-year-old grandson in the back stares out the window went viral. When police were criticized by some for releasing the photo, the local government responded, “It is time that the non-drug-using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis.”
There are indeed Americans who need documentation to understand how addictions can blast social functioning. Karl Zinsmeister’s window into drinking in the nineteenth century is a reminder that Americans’ problems with intoxication didn’t begin with drugs. And also a reminder that the effects of intoxicating epidemics are always felt most severely by children whose parents neglect their care.
A broad coalition of churches, businesses, and civic leaders eventually significantly curtailed alcohol abuse. Can Americans recreate the success of the temperance movement in fighting our current drug epidemics? The biggest obstacles are the weakening of religious institutions and marriage in America, particularly in the places where our drug problems have hit hardest.
Most drug addicts have weak connections to family and faith. The people Charles Murray describes in Coming Apart or that J. D. Vance remembers in Hillbilly Elegy hover so far out on the fringes of society that it will not be easy to bring them back. They have no spouses trying to keep them off drugs, or preachers offering strength beyond their own resources.
A lesson of the temperance movement is that government cannot fix people’s deepest disruptions. Whether the civic fabric of this country remains strong enough to transform lost citizens instead is an open question.
—Naomi Schaefer Riley, New York Post columnist and Philanthropy contributing editor
The Power of Habits
Karl Zinsmeister’s book interested me, as a Lincoln and Washington biographer, for resurrecting the Washingtonians, the society of reformed drunkards founded “in admiration of the self-discipline shown by the father of our nation, and with the idea that just as Washington had defeated political oppression,” they could beat “the ‘tyrant’ alcohol.”
The Washingtonians knew the dominating pull of booze, from the inside. They knew the solution had to be cultural, not political. Their self-help methods anticipated those of Alcoholics Anonymous. What A.A. crucially added to their recipe of mutual reinforcement was a formalized program of steps and goals.
Recalling the Washingtonians now can remind us of the power of habits—bad ones, and good ones. It should also remind reformers that finding and applying the right cultural approach is as important as the impulse to reform.
—Richard Brookhiser, historian and senior editor at National Review
There’s No Substitute for Personal Contact
The enterprising, self-controlled Americans that Karl Zinsmeister describes are still recognizable in many parts of our society. But twentieth-century innovations that liberated us from old constraints—ranging from the automobile to the birth-control pill to television to the Internet—have profoundly altered families and communities, and our moral and political lives. In particular, the screens on our walls, on our desks, and in our hands can give us a misimpression of intimate knowledge of social problems.
We might feel that we can offer social solutions with a well-placed swipe of a finger—“liking” a video, adding our name to a petition, donating to an urgent appeal. This’s fine as far as it goes. But as What Comes Next? makes clear, unsnarling knotty social problems usually requires intimate human contact.
The best way to understand and solve cultural problems is to be involved up close—seeking out the needy and lost where they reside. This is slow work, and not practical for everyone. It has little to do with the instant gratification of clicktivism. But if we don’t do it, we’re unlikely to fix the deepest problems that bedevil us.
—Adam Keiper, editor of The New Atlantis
A New Brand of Experts
In the recent Presidential election, the discord between the American electorate and the governing elite was on full display. “The power of the elites to persuade us has evaporated,” writes blue-collar political pundit Salena Zito. “The public no longer has faith” in big government or big companies or controlling experts.
One of the most important points made by Karl Zinsmeister is that the principles of the market economy—“the creative energy of entrepreneurship, and the cool discipline of investment strategy”—should be applied to the social economy. And like economic entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs should be supported on the basis of the outcomes they produce, regardless of the credentials they hold or lack.
The brave philanthropists and committed community activists who risked all to wage campaigns to eliminate slavery and devastating alcohol addiction took it upon themselves to attack huge, widespread, and deeply rooted ethical problems. It was against seemingly insurmountable odds that they pursued their vision and prevailed.
In my work over four decades with neighborhood leaders ministering to seemingly hopeless individuals, I have witnessed similar victories against great odds. It’s true that the poverty and social problems that stem from bad choices like substance abuse and criminal behavior are deeply rooted. No amount of income distribution, safety nets, or government programs will make a sustainable difference in the status of people ensnared in these behaviors. To reclaim their lives they need new vision, character qualities, and values.
That kind of internal transformation is possible, but it can only be engendered by community-based (often faith-inspired) personal relationships. The good news is that hundreds of committed, indigenous neighborhood leaders are providing this kind of life-transforming outreach. Once grassroots leaders have sparked an internal conversion, even men and women who had virtually lost their lives can emerge as responsible employees, spouses, and parents.
To fully harness the power of transformative neighborhood healers requires that we recognize and support a new brand of “experts”—operating in civil society rather than government agencies or the ranks of certified professionals. America is ripe for a revitalization of values. But this must be led by mentors and healers who personally understand the problems they address and have a stake in their solutions. What Comes Next? can speed the arrival of this critically needed renewal.
—Robert Woodson, founder of the Woodson Center