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The Long, Sexy Tail of Citizenship

Full citizenship is the idea in which all members of society see themselves as change agents. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Full citizenship is the idea in which all members of society see themselves as change agents. Instead of relying on power users — people who regularly vote and attend meetings — full citizenship can harness the collective intelligence of the entire population. So if that’s not the case today, how do we get there?

Rishi Jaitly, who directs the Knight Foundation’s philanthropy in Detroit and is the co-founder and chair of Michigan Corps, says that creating full citizenship isn’t about getting people from 0 to 60. It’s about everything in between. If 60 is voting and most people are at 10, Jaitly says it is essential to nurture early stage behavior, and even make citizenship into something that is sexy. 

For instance, Kiva Detroit is a micro-lending platform in Michigan that is not some kind of third world network, but a platform with real sex appeal, Rishi says. Neighbors lend money to their neighbors to help fund business enterprises because people have deep pride in their communities. This pride of place is something that simply needs to be tapped into. 

What’s the Significance?

Rishi built on his experiences in India, where he took videos of ordinary citizens and witnessed the results. “The pixie dust effect of people feeling their voice amplified was staggering,” he said. 

Jaitly presented his idea of “longtail citizenship” at The Nantucket Project, a festival of ideas on Nantucket, Massachusetts, 

Watch the video here: 

Images courtesy of ShutterstockMeghan Brosnan

To learn more about The Nantucket Project and how to attend the 2013 event visit


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