Announcing the Top 10 Ideas for Change in America
After the submission of 2505 ideas and 209,950 votes, we’re happy to announce the 10 winners of the Ideas for Change in America competition.
The winning ideas illustrate that the issues important to people across the country are much broader than those few that consistently dominate debate in Washington. Because they challenge the status quo, these ideas will face resistance from many in power. This is why citizen-driven initiatives like Ideas for Change are so important; by connecting more than one hundred thousand people from all 50 states around ideas that do not always gain national attention, we’re taking an important step toward building a powerful movement for change on these issues. And we’ve only just begun.
Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Ideas for Change in America:
Legalize the Medicinal and Recreational Use of Marijuana by Spencer Pearson and Larry Talley. Spencer is a sophomore at the University of Missouri where he’s focusing his studies on the impact of drugs and drug policies on society, having been inspired by the positive impact of medical marijuana on the health a family member. Larry, a retired member of the US Navy from Flower Mound, TX with over 20 years of service, spent much of his military career working to eradicate drugs both domestically and in South America. But, after observing the futility of his efforts and the violence endemic to the black market drug trade, he became an active member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Move to Amend: Constitutional Rights for People, Not for Corporations – Abolish Corporate Personhood by Move to Amend, a grassroots coalition in Madison, WI fighting to end the legal doctrines that advantage corporations over the American people in the electoral process, including most recently the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. “Every day America knows that a deep injury has been done to our democracy, and that only constitutional reform can repair the damage,” said Ben Manski, executive director of the Liberty Tree Foundation, and a spokesperson for Move to Amend.
Increase Federal Good Time Allowances by FedCURE of Plantation, FL, who are working to pass legislation that would return the US Federal prison system to an earlier system of good time allowances that would not only create more humane conditions for those who are incarcerated, but also relieve American taxpayers of the tax burden of unnecessarily long prison sentences. A mere 10 percent reduction of prison populations through good time allowances would save the US taxpayers a minimum of $1.2 billion.
Send the Tobacco Treaty to the Senate for Ratification by LIVESTRONG, an Austin, TX based organization founded by Lance Armstrong, whose idea aims to reduce the millions of deaths each year around the world resulting from tobacco. “Cancer became the leading cause of death worldwide this year; at LIVESTRONG we are calling for transformational results rather than simply incremental ones,” said Doug Ulman, President and CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Create 1.5 Million American Jobs by Fixing Our Crumbling Schools by USAction of Washington, DC, whose idea hopes to solve the dual problems of unemployment in the construction industry and poor conditions in our schools. According to USAction, if we invest $180 billion in our schools over the next few years – a fraction of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – we can put 1.5 million Americans back to work and improve education for every public school student in America.
No Farm No Food: Save the Land that Sustains Us by American Farmland Trust from Washington, DC, whose idea focuses on America’s quickly disappearing farmland. Every minute of every day, we lose two acres of agricultural land to development. AFT’s idea seeks to protect farmland in order to strengthen the national economy and world food security, protect the environment, bring fiscal stability to local governments and provide fresh, healthy food for all Americans.
Good Food For All Kids: A Garden at Every School by Ethan Genauer who worked with sustainable community farms and led activities to increase youth engagement with sustainable food systems in New Mexico before moving to DC in 2009. Today, he is a volunteer with Washington Youth Garden, helping to bring garden science into DC classrooms. His work with third grade students in DC is what first inspired his national call for Universal School Gardens.
End Chimpanzee Experiments, Pass the Great Ape Protection Act by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, DC based organization that aims to phase out the use of chimpanzees in research. “People may be shocked to learn that laboratories in the United States are permitted to keep chimpanzees in cages about the size of a kitchen table, sometimes for decades,” says PCRM primatologist Debra Durham, Ph.D. “It’s time for us to join the growing list of countries that ban invasive experiments on these amazing animals.”
Establish a U.S. Department of Peace-building by Ted Nunn, a peace activist from Columbia, Maryland, in partnership with the Peace Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for a culture of peace through civic engagement. Through their idea, Ted and the Peace Alliance seek to raise overall awareness around non-violent solutions to international and domestic conflicts in order to bring about a more stable and peaceful world and reaffirm our right to independence from violence.
25 Million+, It is Time to Care About Rare Disease by Catherine Calhoun from Saint Francisville, Louisiana, who was inspired to start advocating on behalf of those with rare diseases after attending a January 2010 conference at the National Institutes of Health hosted by the Office of Rare Disease Research. She has dedicated herself to fighting on behalf of the almost 30 million people in America who have such diseases, with the aim of encouraging knowledge sharing between doctors in hopes of finding cures.
Now that the voting has concluded, the hard work of real change begins. We will be presenting these ideas to relevant members of the Obama Administration and Congress, and subsequently helping to initiate national campaigns behind each winning idea.
For those of you whose favorite ideas aren’t among the winners, we also want to send a message: we’re here to help. One of the things we’re dedicated to at Change.org is supporting grassroots campaigns for change regardless of their size. To enable this, we recently launched a powerful free petition tool that enables you to easily start online campaigns to pressure Congress, government agencies, local officials, or companies on any issue. You can find out more about how to start a petition on Change.org here: http://www.change.org/petition.
Thanks for being the most important part of Ideas for Change in America 2010. This initiative is successful because of people like you, and we hope to continue to have you as an active member of the Change.org community as we work together to transform these ideas, and others, into real change in the weeks and months ahead.