With your help, NPR is writing a story across America. About the good things that Americans are doing.
You already know that our country is split by political partisanship, socioeconomic disparities, religious differences, geographical inequities and other factors.
Surely you have noticed: We are living in disunited states.
Sometimes it's hard to focus on the ways we work together, the similarities among us.
So that is what we will try to write about. Together.
We will begin in Washington, D.C., but we hope that additions to the story will come from all over the country. The story is about good deeds — people actively helping people. We are looking for examples of folks working creatively to serve others. A soup kitchen. A building project. An after-school program.
We're calling this project Participation Nation. It's a cooperative effort about cooperative efforts.
What this is not: It is not a "Feel Good" blog or an attempt at "Good News," but a straightforward look at Americans in action.
What this is: It's a sincere story. With no arch, unless you count the one in St. Louis. No hate, but we welcome tales from Haight-Ashbury. And no malice, but maybe a little Dallas. It's a story of many parts all sewn together in a single saga, like a multi-square quilt. A sort of we pluribus unum.
We are asking you to participate. Please send us a report, in one short paragraph (100 words or fewer), on some person or group who, by contributing to the community, is changing the world. And please include good, colorful photos of your subjects.
Want to participate but don't know what to write about? Please send us an email (participationnation at npr dot org) and we will help you find someone or some group to showcase. We are here to help. We just need your participation, nation.
We only have a few rules:
1) The story must be true.
2) And factually accurate.
3) It's OK if your subject has received attention, but we are especially looking for those who have not been in the national spotlight.
4) Please keep your part of the story to fewer than 100 words. We will, too.
5) Please provide photos (and requisite permissions) and contact information so we can check the facts.
We may trim a blog post and edit it for clarity. We will also edit the photos for same.
At the end of August, we will put the whole story together — as one grand American saga — and your name will be in the byline.
And what a byline that could be.
So how do we get started?
Well, this is the beginning of the story. We will write the first entry from here in Washington. And we may contribute some other reports along the way. But you will write the rest — and the best — of the tale.
Participation Nation: Tanya Ballard Brown, Wright Bryan, Linton Weeks