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New Dream's $10K in 10 Days Campaign!

Today, New Dream is launching our $10K in 10 Days campaign. If you give to New Dream by July 3, a generous donor will match your contribution up to $5,000. If you think New Dream’s work is vital to countering the commercialization of our culture and promoting greater well-being, please donate now!

My seven-year old son, Benton, recently spurred me to think about why we need to reclaim our future. In his first grade classroom, Benton and his classmates were asked to write down what they wanted to do with their lives, and I saved his list of responses.

While I love the pet snake idea (as long as it’s not endangered!), Mexico, and skydiving, I thought the rest of the list was a good illustration of what we, as Americans, are taught at a very early age. It’s a certain bill of goods, a certain set of assumptions about what our life should look like. We get a job, we buy a house, we buy a really cool car, all is well. It’s not too bad, this old American Dream, really—the land of opportunity, right?

But somewhere along the way, that dream got corrupted. It became the land of endless striving for more. Somehow, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness became work, debt, and the pursuit of stuff. Look at what Benton has included on his list: an iPad and a phone. OK, but we all know it’s not just an iPad and a phone, it’s the iPhone 5—or 6 or 7. It's the latest Xbox, and all sorts of gadgets; it’s the latest and greatest of whatever advertisers are selling us. And it goes on and on, and the goods begin to possess us rather than the other way around as the cycle of discontent begins.

I believe that as a country, as a culture, and as communities, we are at a crossroads today. Maybe, as some believe, it’s true that Americans will always want more. But I believe that many of us are tired of a culture of consumerism. I believe we are ready for more of what matters. We are ready for more happiness, more fun, more time for friends and family, and more freedom to lead meaningful lives. Imagine a future where Americans work fewer hours and have the rest of their time to spend creatively, pursing meaningful activities and enjoying more time with their families and communities.

We have an opportunity to re-imagine the American Dream—one that emphasizes community, ecological sustainability, and a celebration of non-material values. To reclaim our future, we need new examples, new stories, new narratives, new role models, and new heroes to help define ourselves and provide us with alternative social realities that are plausible remedies for our own circumstances. And that is what the Center for a New American Dream works on every day.

And so I’ll leave you with these questions: What do you want to accomplish before you are 100? What is your personal American Dream? And what do you want our American Dream to be as a country, as a culture, as a people? We need to have the courage to re-envision the world and then have the courage to share that vision, and help people find the path to it. Together, we can imagine a New American Dream.

If you’d like to help us shine a spotlight on positive solutions that not only protect the environment and promote social justice, but lead to greater well-being and personal happiness, we hope you’ll give to our $10K in 10 Days campaign today. Thank you!

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