Why we wrote "The Power of Half"
Posted by Kevin Salwen on 01.27.2010Share

There are a host of reasons authors write books -- to tell a story, to push a message, to bolster their egos, among others. Hannah and I often are asked why we decided to write The Power of Half as the chroniclers of our foursome's journey.

So, I put the question to Joan and Joseph, and here are our family's main reasons.

1. About six months into our project, we grew increasingly aware of how our efforts to give were strengthening our family. We began to feel strongly about the benefits other families or communities could reap by joining together for a common purpose. So, we felt moved to share our story and methods. In other words, maybe we could help other families be stronger too -- and help the world a little in the process.

2. When we decided to do a "half" project, we couldn't find the stories or methods of others; we had to invent the process ourselves. As a result, we stumbled and wasted time. We wrote The Power of Half because we felt we could create a roadmap for others who wanted to pursue their own "half" projects.

3. During our journey, we met some amazing and inspiring people. The characters in our family's drama -- from John Coonrod and the entire staff of The Hunger Project to our housekeepers, Hector and Rosie -- played a vital role in our transformation. Writing the book was one way of giving shape to our gratitude to them.

4. We wanted to keep the spirit of the project alive for our family. After we had sold the house, chosen The Hunger Project as our partner, traveled to Ghana to visit the villages, and settled in to our new smaller house, there was little more of the project to do on a daily basis. Writing the book prolonged our project, and provided new ways for us to be creative together.

5. I write for a living and I think it's a pretty honorable profession. We will use the proceeds from the book to make up the shortfall between what we pledged to The Hunger Project and what our house sold for. And, of course, we'll use a chunk of the money to continue funding the organizations we believe are doing great work in our local and global communities.

Thanks for asking.

Thanks for sharing your family's reasons for documenting this journey. I am so compelled by the ways in which it brought your family closer together. I suppose it is somewhat intuitive that you would grow closer within a smaller home in which you were all working towards a common goal. I think that a lot of families are ready for change in our consumer driven culture. Simplification, downsizing, and contributing to the greater good are all acts that will not only transform the world but nurture our families, too.
Posted by Laura at 3:49pm on 01.30.2010

I just saw a story about you and clicked through to your blog. Diane and I are hoping to learn how to order an autographed copy. We think of you every other Sunday, when we stop at El Pollo Rico for chicken on the way back from our WV farm. It moved long ago to a new space, triple the previous size and still packed.
Posted by Jim at 11:05am on 01.30.2010

John, Great lesson. Wouldn't that be a cool question for kids: What dream are you seeking? T, I love it your site!! Such a cool idea. Maybe we need a Power of Half shirt... (oh, and feel free to wave the book around on the subway anytime! LOL)
Posted by Kevin at 1:34pm on 01.28.2010

As I have been sitting on the subway reading your book, I have noticed people looking at the cover. Maybe it is the NYTimes article that is making it catch everyone's eye. When I explained to a friend what I was reading, he said, so why did they write a book? To me the answer is obvious. It is a great story, and it is one that might catch the eye to inspire someone else to give their own half. But things that inspire some people fall short of others expectations. Find what inspires you, and then act on it. Along with your book- this has inspired me too! Congratulations to you and your family for inspiring good deeds in other people!
Posted by T at 09:31am on 01.28.2010

This story is compelling. It's a testament to what can be done when you realize you have far more material abundance than you need. The lesson for young people who may not have material abundance is not to seek it, but rather to seek only the minimum and spend the rest of their energy seeking other dreams like equality for everyone. Truly, if given a choice, it may be better to skip the accumulation phase of life altogether than to accumulate, and later run the risk of not realizing you have too much.
Posted by John at 07:33am on 01.28.2010