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Citizen University Founder Says You're More Powerful Than You Think

Courtesy Eric Liu

People have been getting more involved in politics since the presidential election, calling their lawmakers and marching in protests.

Eric Liu, founder of Citizen University, says this "civic awakening" has been in the making for awhile. His new book is called "You're More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen's Guide to Making Change Happen." He argues that individuals can learn the language of power to enact broader change.

Liu sat down with KNKX to talk about his new book and civic life. He will also be at The Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood at 7 p.m. Thursday to talk more about it.

Read on for interview highlights and to hear Liu describe how the story of KNKX serves as an example of citizen power.

Interview Highlights

On Whether This Is A Self-Help Book

"It is decidedly not a self-help book in the sense of Chicken Soup for the Soul and personal enrichment. But it's meant really to be an antidote to the cynicism that pervades in civic life right now. And part of what I think we need to do to cut through the miasma of cynicism right now is just some straight-up belief that power is infinite, and that power is infectious, and that if you assert is -- as we are seeing all around the country right now -- then you create it."

On Changing The Game

"Talk to the baggage handlers and the hotel hospitality workers who organized the $15-minimum-wage campaign in SeaTac. These were folks who were not working in the White House. These were folks who not big-dollar donors to political fundraisers. These were folks who weren't writing op-eds in the newspaper. And they changed the game ... And don't just look at folks on the left; look at the Tea Party ... Tea Party activists from the get-go were people who said, 'You know what? We can change the game.'"

On What Can Be Done

"Start a club. It doesn't even have to be a political club. Get two or three other people and start doing something together... The other piece of advice is pick anything ... you'll figure out which of these particular forms of action most grooves with you and who you are and what you like to do."

Learning The Strategies of Power: KNKX

During the interview, Liu said one example of citizen power in action was the campaign to save 88.5and the birth of KNKX. Click below to hear him describe how it works.


A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.