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City Year Founding Story: Shoulders of Giants

Art by Jason Solo

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

– Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton is one of the great figures in the history of human thought. He was responsible for, among other things, formulating a theory of physics that his contemporaries considered to have all but solved the problems of describing the movements of physical objects. It would have been too easy for Newton to have taken all the credit for his discoveries. However, he was well aware of how much he built on the foundations laid by previous generations of scholars and the efforts of those around him.

Recognition of the debt our achievements owe to the work of others reminds us all, whether we are the ones offering thanks or being thanked, how important every element of service is, not just the ones that grab headlines. We can’t all be the great figures whose names live on, but Newton reminds us that the behind-the-scenes work done away from the limelight can add up to a giant, on whose shoulders the famous few stand to push their heads into view.

Newton was also aware of how much more remained to be done. Perhaps he considered himself one of the quiet contributors to a later giant, when he said, “To myself I am only a child, playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.”

About the Artist: Jason Solo is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan but now lives and works as an illustrator in Melbourne, AU. He wanted to participate after admiring City Year’s work from afar, and was immediately interested in “The Shoulders of Giants” and its point that even our greatest achievements are derived from the ones who came before us. Jason was happy to try and bring such a dramatic metaphor to life in an exciting and hopefully unexpected way.