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Off the couch



If you're one of those Indy readers who works on political campaigns, serves on a nonprofit board, mentors at-risk teenagers or plans to serve Thanksgiving dinner at a local soup kitchen, then stop reading this now. Go on and enjoy the rest of the news, music, arts and entertainment in our pages this week.

But if you're one of those readers (or, as we sometimes call them around here, users) who picks up the paper every week to see which movies or bands are playing where and when, or maybe just to clip the coupon for $1 off a burrito at Cosmic Cantina, then this editorial is for you.

Sometime over this long holiday weekend, take an hour and read the profiles of our 2006 Citizen Award winners.

You'll meet Margie Ellison, who got involved in minority voting rights as a young woman because the Chatham County African-American community that raised her up expected her to give something back to those who'd sacrificed for her to have a better life. You'll meet Lanya Shapiro, whose group Traction has brought a whole new generation of young Triangle activists to life. You'll hear how Andrew Pearson's anti-war efforts once required him to get naked in public and why Chad Johnston is fighting for the life of public-access television. You'll find a reason to thank the folks at the Pesticide Education Project, who helped make N.C. schools safer for children this year.

One tenet of the Indy's mission statement is "To help build a just community here in the Triangle." Our annual Citizen Awards are one way we carry out that mission each November. We honor a handful of groups or individuals who make our corner of the world a better place to live—especially for the underprivileged, the marginalized and the disenfranchised among us who lack the power and the resources to help themselves. These winners—and all those who've come before—do more than just work hard on this particular project or that specific issue: They offer all of us role models and leadership by example of what all of us could do to carry our share of the common burden.

The Triangle is growing, but it's still small enough that one individual's effort, or one group's, contributes to the good of the many in a way that's recognizable and helps build a community of which we can all be proud.

So if you're one of those who generally flips through our pages and skips all the pieces longer than a couple hundred words, do all of us here at the Indy just one favor this Thanksgiving weekend while you're recovering on the couch from an overdose of pumpkin pie: Read our Citizen Awards.

And then do your community another: Come Monday, find a project you want to tackle, a problem you want to help solve. Maybe next November, we'll see you here in our pages.

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