For our third annual service issue, we've tried something a little different. The first issue was "The Case for National Service," a full-throated call for universal service by Americans young and old. Last year we did "21 Ways to Fix Up America" and convened a summit on service with ServiceNation, a coalition of more than 200 organizations. The high point of that summit was a televised conversation that Judy Woodruff and I had with candidates Barack Obama and John McCain at Columbia University on the evening of Sept. 11.
Even apart from that memorable discussion, our service issues have had a real-world impact. Many of the ideas and proposals Time made over the past two years have been incorporated in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, a bill passed by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law by President Obama in April.
So this year, in the midst of a historic economic downturn (our cover story is on unemployment), when many people are struggling, we commissioned a poll to look at how people are serving these days. The most striking results centered not on volunteering but on the cash register. (See page 40.) Even as people acknowledged that times were tough, 38% of Americans 18 and older, some 86 million people, reported taking a number of socially conscious actions this year, including buying green products and goods from companies they thought had responsible values.
This is a sea change in the mind-set of Americans and represents the rise of what we're calling the ethical consumer. Just as our DNA as Americans contains a commitment to volunteerism and civic participation, there is a new social contract evolving between many Americans and businesses about what goes into making the products we buy. This does not change the need to serve in traditional ways. In fact, according to our poll, ethical consumers in the past year volunteered at higher rates than the rest of the population did.
As part of our special report on service, I spoke with the President and the First Lady in their first joint sit-down interview since the Inauguration. They agreed to do this because of their extraordinary commitment to service. The President noted more than once not to forget that the commitment to face-to-face volunteering was good for both the giver and the receiver.
This issue comes out on 9/11, which was officially designated by Congress this year as an annually observed National Day of Service and Remembrance. ServiceNation and MyGoodDeed have long worked to establish 9/11 not only as a day of remembrance but also as a forward-looking day that honors all the people who rose in service in response to the tragic events of 2001.
This issue also features our first list of 25 Responsibility Pioneers, which includes a range of social innovators, from individual activists and nimble nonprofits to megacorporations. Their work covers everything from the environment to poverty eradication, community-building, fair trade and better health.
The whole package would not have been possible without the tireless reporting of contributor Jeremy Caplan, who also worked on the previous two service issues and wrote the final page of this year's, "New Ways to Make a Difference." And it was all ably edited and managed by senior editor Julie Rawe, whose rigor improved the entire issue. That's service too.
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR