GOOD

What the Designated Drivers Campaign Can Teach Those in the Youth Service Movement

In the mid eighties, nobody in the U.S. knew what a designated driver was. The concept simply didn't exist here. It was actually a Scandinavian...


In the mid-eighties, nobody in the U.S. knew what a designated driver was. The concept simply didn't exist in America. It was actually a Scandinavian idea. Harvard Public Health Professor Jay Winsten cleverly and systematically seeded the notion in popular culture through a partnership with all the major Hollywood studios and the television networks beginning in 1988.

Within four television seasons, 160 prime time episodes addressed drinking and driving and the notion of the designated driver as "the life of the party" swiftly went mainstream. By 1991, more than half of Americans under 30 reported that they had been a designated driver. Winsten's coup of harnessing the power of popular entertainment media for a broad pro-social campaign was revolutionary.


Right now in Washington D.C., Zach Maurin, a social entrepreneur and Founder of ServeNext, is hoping to replicate the Jay Winsten approach with another fairly unknown concept: the year of community-based service for young Americans. Think City Year, Americorps, or Teach for America. "Those are all programs we celebrate," he told me recently. "But we're out to elevate a concept, not a brand."

In the last three decades, much progress has been made to increase opportunities for national service. Americorps was started by Clinton, expanded by Bush, and has actually not grown at all under Obama (but let's not get off on that tangent). "As a country we largely don't understand a year of service and what that could mean," says Maurin. "We understand going to college from high school or college to career, but a year of service should be part of the American experience as well."

So how will Maurin repeat the victory of Winsten? He's got his eyes on Hollywood. "We'll hire someone in Los Angeles to work with show runners and writers with the hope that, over a course of years, this idea will become part of the conversation about what characters are thinking about doing or their parents are talking about."

Take a recent episode of Parenthood, says Maurin, with a kitchen table scene and a young person talking about wanting to figure out what to do with her life. He suggests scenes like this provide opportunities to ask young characters, "Which national service program are you going to apply to? Which ones accepted you? The audience would go through this experience with the character. That's the dream scenario." Just think of how many times you've seen some variation on the scene of some high school senior anxiously awaiting for a thick envelope in their mailbox.

Another part of this "cultural campaign" is developing shareable creative web content. "Look at College Humor's incredible work with Malaria No More," says Maurin. He also aims to build "a stable of surrogates—leading Americans with powerful stories of service—who can create a regular drumbeat for this conversation in the traditional news media; people who can show that this thing is real, it's working, and it's a good investment."

While there's plenty of advocacy out there, he says what's missing is the ability "to reach young people in their living rooms and at their kitchen tables and the offices of their guidance counselors.

"I did City Year right after high school and I had people ask me, 'Is everything OK, why aren't you going to college?' " said Maurin. "And I'd say, 'Actually, everything isn't ok. I'm tired of school and I want to go do something and get some experience outside the classroom.' Nobody at my high school told me about Americorps. I had to go out and find it on my own."

My own experience, 10 years earlier than Maurin's, was similar. When my high school printed its graduation program, along with all the prestigious institutions students were bound to join the following fall, I asked that they indicate that I had opted out and would be heading to a South Boston classroom for a year of service with City Year. Instead, they printed one of the colleges to which I had deferred admission; the notion of a year of service just didn't resonate widely in 1993, and in large part, it still doesn't. Maurin has set out on an ambitious path and I wish him much luck and persistence.

designated driver image courtesy of shutterstock

Articles
Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

Keep Reading Show less
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture