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City Year Founding Story: Never Doubt

Designed by Ginmann Bai

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

– Margaret Mead

Each component of Margaret Mead’s compelling formula for changing the world is an essential element. Her command to “never doubt” tells skeptics that they are wrong–you really can change the world—and also underscores the transformative power that belief plays for those who have successfully sought to change the world. History, has demonstrated that small teams of thoughtful committed people have achieved extraordinary things. The Civil Rights Movement began as a series of small groups carrying out small actions, such as sitting down at a segregated lunch counter. India’s historic independence from Great Britain began as a series of small strategic actions from a dedicated few. Habitat for Humanity began with a few people building houses for the poor in a small town in Georgia and has since built more than 175,000 houses in countries around the world.

A “small group” underscores the remarkable power of teamwork to transform, to inspire, and to succeed. Teams can accomplish amazing and seemingly impossible things because they have the ability to generate new energies. Just as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts–because the whole includes the connections between each part–high achieving teams generate more energy, will, passion, and ideas than the sum of what their individual members could muster alone.

To be successful, a team must also be “thoughtful,” constantly generating strategies, tactics, and analyses for success.

But the critical component for success is “commitment.” Those who succeed in world-changing activities have an unwavering, passionate, almost irrational commitment to their cause.

Any of us can choose to use this formula, to find a cause we are passionately committed to, to recruit a team as passionate as ourselves, to generate ideas and strategies, and to stay the course, to be committed, fundamentally committed, until success is achieved.

About the Artist: After graduating from Brown University in 2008, Ginmann Bai moved to Boston, MA and joined the City Year marketing team. This piece uses type as art form to express how something small can produce enormous change. Only after reading from top to bottom does the viewer realize that it is meant to be read from the bottom up. In the same way, we often see the larger, more noticeable aspects of change, only to realize later that those changes began from a single point.