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2000 Citizen Awards

Acting Globally, Thinking Locally

Think globally, act locally. It's a fine maxim, and judging by the bumper sticker vote, a popular one among progressives for some time now. By that we mean everything we do on this earth affects others around the globe, and we should live our lives accordingly. When we shop, for example, how we choose to spend our money can encourage--or inhibit--positive environmental, labor and human rights policies.

But there is another side to that philosophical coin that is often overlooked. What about those that think locally and act globally? These are the folks who bring the world to us, who make it possible for us to see that world in ways that enhance our understanding of it and guide us in making choices. Without such people, thinking globally would be a more difficult task, more dependent on dubious government and media sources.

For the 2000 Citizen Awards, The Independent went looking for local folks who are acting globally for the betterment of local residents or fighting for justice on our behalf around the world.

It was not an easy choice. Some two dozen names and organizations were considered, from which our five winners were ultimately chosen.

John Herrera was instrumental in creating the Cooperativa Comunitaria Latina de Credito (The Hispanic Credit Union). The CCLC provides essential financial services to the Triangle's growing Latino community. These services have made it possible for Latin American workers to participate in the local economy in new ways, improving their prospects for someday achieving their own American dreams.

The Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, headquartered in Pittsboro, is headed by Executive Director Betty Bailey. RAFI-USA has advocated for more than a decade for local farmers and rural communities against the forces of global trade and multinational agribusiness.

For a dozen years, Bertie Howard, head of the Durham-based Africa News Service, has worked to bring us news of Africa, and to change our perceptions of that troubled continent. Howard's clients include such organizations as National Public Radio, the BBC and CNN.

For four decades, Bill Towe of Peace Action has been fighting for peace and human rights around the world. Towe is living proof that individuals can make a difference.

Since 1981, the Internationalist Books and Community Center of Chapel Hill has often struggled to stay afloat, but during that time, it has provided the Triangle with a place where alternative ideas are welcomed--and put into practice.

Congratulations to all. We are honored by their presence in our community.

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