Ford Public Voices Fellows Answer the Question: Why Do You Do What You Do?

The OpEd Project launches Write to Change the World in Denver — November 15 , 2015

Denver sits at 5,280 ft, exactly one mile, above sea level. (That’s why it’s called the Mile High City!) The air affects us differently, going on a run is a little bit harder, and one beer gets makes us more tipsy! The way the air alone can affect us makes me think of how our the world around us can change us in all kinds of unexpected ways. Spending a day in a room full of leaders and change-makers, working on a wide range of issues, from different backgrounds, talking about what we know and why it matters — can change the way we think, act, and even breathe.

Today’s program brought together a diverse room: scholars, elected officials, non-profit leaders, teachers, and small business owners from around the Denver community and beyond. These brilliant minds are shaping the conversation around a wide range of topics, such as working with survivors of domestic violence and trauma, watershed management, educational equity — and much more. We are looking forward to hearing their voices influence the public dialogue in Colorado and far beyond.

We were joined by Boulder City Councilwoman Mary Young. Mary spent many years as an engineer and since 2008 has transitioned full time to being an activist and non-profit leader in her community of Boulder. In 2012, she was chosen for a Rose Community Foundation fellowship to develop a transportation project that focuses on the well-being of Latino elders. We love to see the different ways that people, like Mary, are tirelessly working to change their communities — in Boulder, in Denver, in Colorado and other cities across the country and the world.


A special thanks to our partners at Green Spaces for hosting our launch in Denver today.

Do you want your voice to be heard? Come see us in action. We run Write to Change the World seminars in 15 major U.S. cities on a rotating basis. Visit our website to find upcoming cities and dates.




Until next time, Colorado. (By the way, next time happens to be February 6, 2016)

What we talk about when we talk about legacy

711Here is what we know: we are born, and we die.

What happens in the middle is our work. To carve out our time and figure out why we want to keep waking up in the morning.  To ask the questions that have no answers, as poet Wendell Berry invites. Thrive, fail, flail, move, procreate, choose not to, go on walks, love people. Let people love you. Make mistakes — repeatedly. Make meals. Find vocations. Play basketball. Forgive yourself, etc. We make our decisions and adjust accordingly.

In Greek mythology, the gods are said to have envied the mortals. It was in its finitude that everything had the potential for meaning.

12193810_10205168560440279_2810799668021644123_nAnd this weekend at Dartmouth, the Public Voices faculty fellows ruminated on “Legacy” — what does it mean for their research, their teaching, their ideas and scholarship. Five, ten, fifty and five hundred years from now, what will they have contributed that endured? They’re my favorite questions, and also why I work for The OpEd Project. This photo is my answer to our “why do I do what I do?” prompt, which we ask every set of fellows.

Go ahead, ask yourself too.

–Court Baxter, Chief of Staff at The OpEd Project 

Generating good ideas — San Francisco, November 8, 2015

IMG_5257Today, alums from our “Write to Change the World” core seminar gathered at the ACLU of Northern California to further explore themes of expertise, influence and what it means to be a change-maker in our world.  The 25 experts built on their knowledge from the core seminar and explored how connecting disparate ideas, fields and geographies can increase value and relevance in the world.  We also played games around time and timeliness, and conducted a thought-experiment that required participants to generate a concrete piece of thought leadership together in just 15-minutes.

The program brought together alums representing a range of fields and areas of expertise, including scholars, social entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and righteous thinkers in parenting, technology, the performing arts and more.  Since coming through the core seminar, these 25 experts have transformed their lives in a variety of ways:  Grant Writer Nolan Pack used the tools of powerful argument to secure his first $100,000 grant.  Wild Rivers Program Director Jen Pelz published 3 pieces on water and the environment in just a few months.  Ana Homayoun got her third book deal after publishing an op-ed in The San Jose Mercury News, and paid it forward by sending her mentee to the seminar, who also published a widely-circulated op-ed.  “This training has undoubtedly changed my life,” she said.

Do you want your voice to be heard?  Come see us in action. We run Write to Change the World seminars in 15 major U.S. cities on a rotating basis.  For more on our upcoming cities and dates, click here.



IMG_5101Twenty-five underrepresented experts gathered today at the ACLU of Northern California to explore themes of expertise, credibility and what it takes to create meaningful change in the world.

The program brought together scholars, social entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and community activists from a wide range of organizations and institutions, including Harvard, Slack Technologies, the Kapor Center for Social Impact and the University of California San Francisco.  These brilliant minds are shaping the conversation around various topics, including the impact of man-made chemicals on the environment, providing medical care to vulnerable populations and what it takes to effectively campaign against human trafficking.

Do you want your voice to be heard?  Come see us in action. We run Write to Change the World seminars in 15 major U.S. cities on a rotating basis.  For more on our upcoming cities and dates, click here.