America's Path Forward

Conversations with Social Innovators on the Power of Communities Everywhere

Konstanze Frischen and Michael Zakaras, Editors

“Grab this book! It dives into the wisdom of nearly two dozen Ashoka Fellows whose solutions are alive and working in today’s America. These stories should be filling our news feeds.”—Baratunde Thurston, Author and host of How to Citizen with Baratunde
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Critiques and solutions offered by social changemakers from all walks of life

The United States is living through a period of polarization and upheaval. We hunger for answers, yet too often turn to the same people and institutions, expecting different outcomes. How can this be?

America's Path Forward takes a different angle. It features award-winning social innovators from all walks of life with decades of experience of working in and with their communities across America. In twenty-two deep, idea-packed conversations, they share their analyses, practical insights, and policy recommendations—on how to gain common ground, get the country unstuck, and increase prosperity and well-being for all.

These narratives share a common thread: They see community members—workers, young people, parents, neighbors, from Appalachia to Silicon Valley, from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes— as creative, resourceful, and strong, with unique expertise and lived experience of the problem at hand, whose changemaking energy can be tapped to build a better future for all of us.

Table of Contents

Frank McCourt

Konstanze Frischen and Michael Zakaras

1. The Power of Mutualism: Building the Next Economy from the Ground Up
Sara Horowitz

2. Jobs You Write Songs About: Ocean Farming and Overcoming the Class Divide in the Environmental Movement Bren Smith

3. When Black Women Walk, Things Change: The Radical Response of Self-care and Joy
T. Morgan Dixon

4. You're Welcome: Making Immigration Work for All
David Lubell

5. We See What We Look For: Race and the Power of Asset-Framing
Trabian Shorters

6. Let's Start Where We Agree:Gun Ownership
Casey Woods

7. Momentum Now: The Path to Indigenous Self-determination
Nick Tilsen

8. Poor People Do Not Need Charity: The Resourcefulness of Communities Everywhere
Mauricio Lim Miller

9. Beyond Coal:Rebuilding the Appalachian Economy
Brandon Dennison

10. The Power of Corn, Beans, and Squash: A Culture of Health on Indian Land
Denisa Livingston

11. Defending Each Other: The Ability of Ordinary People to Help End Mass Incarceration
Raj Jayadev

12. A Road to Repair: Violence, Accountability, and a Common Justice
Danielle Sered

13. The Goal Is Liberation: Public Education for Undocumented Young People
Laura Emiko Soltis

14. You Are Being Watched: Defending Privacy in the Digital Age
Albert Fox Cahn

15. It's My Life: Young People Redesigning Child Welfare
Sixto Cancel

16. A New Social Fabric: Supporting Young People, No Matter What
Sarah Hemminger

17. It Takes a Village: Black Parents Protecting Black Genius
Will Jackson

18. We Belong Here: The Privilege of Feeling Safe in the Outdoors
Angelou Ezeilo

19. Building Community Wealth: Black-Owned Businesses in the Mississippi Delta
Tim Lampkin

20. Toward an Ownership Economy: Keeping Jobs Local and Employees in Charge
Alison Lingane

21. Getting to Zero: Communities Solving Homelessness
Rosanne Haggerty

22. Democracy Reborn: A New Culture of Citizenship
Eric Liu


In Practice: Some Recommendations


About the Editors and Contributors

About Ashoka


"One-by-one, the changemakers whose stories are collected in this book are inventive, brave, and effective. Taken as a group, they are full of positive, practical insights for increasing America's opportunities and addressing its failures."—James Fallows, co-author of 'Our Towns'

"Grab this book! It dives into the wisdom of nearly two dozen Ashoka Fellows whose solutions are alive and working in today’s America. These stories should be filling our news feeds."—Baratunde Thurston, Author and host of How to Citizen with Baratunde

"Frischen and Zakaras do an excellent job of illustrating solutions that are simpler than we think and playing out in communities across the country. While the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to physically isolate, it showed the way communities in crisis find a path to solutions together, and this book is an excellent, timely example of what those solutions can grow into given time and attention."—Philanthropy News Digest

"The strength of social networks helps you get through racism, sexism. It helps you emotionally. That mutuality within a community is the factor that anti-poverty programs tend to overlook. They promote a relationship back to the social worker. They don’t promote the relationship between families."—Mauricio Lim Miller, Founder, president, and CEO of the Family Independence Initiative and the Community Independence Initiative

"One in five [people in foster care] experience homelessness the day they age out. Why? Because think of it: we’re asking teenagers to go from having all these case managers in charge of all aspects of their life, from being micromanaged, to being full-on responsible for their own survival, their food, shelter, job. With zero support. And literally overnight. We don’t have that kind of expectation of most eighteen-year-olds, right?"—Sixto Cancel, Founder and current CEO of Think of Us


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Konstanze Frischen is a member of the global leadership group of Ashoka, a global organization that invests in transformative ideas for social change. A social anthropologist by background, she has co-led Ashoka’s emergence and growth in Western Europe. She has been a writer for CNN and a writer/editor for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, as well as a board member for GLS Bank, Germany’s leading ethical financial institution.

Michael Zakaras is the director of Ashoka US and co-founder of Ashoka’s “All America” initiative which pushes the boundaries of social entrepreneurship beyond the traditional coastal circles. Michael has previously worked for Ashoka in Ireland and Central Europe, and before that in the California wine industry. He writes regularly about social entrepreneurship for Forbes, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and more.

280 pp., 6 x 7.5

ISBN: 978-1-64712-314-7
Feb 2023

280 pp., 6 x 7.5

ISBN: 978-1-64712-315-4
Feb 2023

280 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-64712-316-1
Feb 2023

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