Memento Vita
January 14, 2013 8:25 AM   Subscribe

In the past few weeks, MetaFilter has introduced me to Beate Sirota Gordon and Aaron Swartz, each of whom made the world a better place to live. I'm so happy to know of them and their work, but sad that I'm only learning of them via obituary; I celebrate them, and I want to celebrate the living, too. So help me out: who are the people I may not have heard of who, still here and still fighting, have worked or are working to make the world a better place?
posted by davidjmcgee to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Michael Moore (YMMV on this one)
Dana Beal
The Adrian Dominican Sisters
The Capuchins in Detroit.
posted by HuronBob at 8:38 AM on January 14, 2013

Jacob Appelbaum of Tor.
posted by limeonaire at 8:51 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Lawrence Lessig?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:56 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

A medical name that came directly to mind is Peter Pronovost, AKA "The Checklist Guy". I heard him speak at a meeting last fall and he really is working to make medicine much safer.
posted by TedW at 9:11 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sue Marsh, and this is why.
posted by Gilgongo at 9:11 AM on January 14, 2013

Maggie Doyne. She went to travel after high school and ended up staying in Nepal to found an orphanage and a school. She's not even thirty.
posted by lemniskate at 9:30 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Paul Farmer
posted by woodman at 9:32 AM on January 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

Brewster Kahle
posted by MsMolly at 10:43 AM on January 14, 2013

Stephen Lewis
posted by dry white toast at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

David Macaulay gets my vote as someone who has done an incredible amount to make complicated ideas accessible to laypeople. I FPP'd about him because I was so struck by his brilliance in explaining how all kinds of things work -- to all audiences. His books are empowering in a technical and profound way.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:36 PM on January 14, 2013

Christopher Soghoian
posted by el io at 2:29 PM on January 14, 2013

Karl Fogel - a colleague of Aaron Swartz and a peer in the fight to keep information free.

Theresa Amato - Lawyer, writer, nonprofit advocate, and utter dynamo. ED of Citizen Works, which she started with Ralph Nader in 2001.

Bob McChesney - Communications activist, professor at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, brilliant scholar.

There are so many people out there doing this kind of work, yet flying under the radar until something terrible goes down a la Aaron Swartz. Thanks for asking this question - it is high time we started to put the word out about the people we know who are busting their asses for the benefit of the rest of us without us even knowing their names.
posted by deliciae at 2:31 PM on January 14, 2013

I have met (and hugged) these people and so may be considered biased: Kazu Haga and Jonathan Lewis of the Positive Peace Warrior Network are working to carry on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s work and message. If you're at all interested in Kingian nonviolence, they're worth talking to.
posted by Lexica at 8:43 PM on January 14, 2013

Somaly Mam, who escaped sex slavery in Cambodia and has since helped 7000+ others do the same.
posted by judith at 9:43 PM on January 14, 2013

Srdja Popovich and Ivan Marovic were founding members of the non-violent youth protest Otpor! that helped to bring down Slobodan Milosevic. Srdja recently gave a great Carnegie Council talk on the trials and tribulations of helping to organize non-violent protest against dictators in other countries.
posted by dubusadus at 6:08 AM on January 15, 2013

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