Alumni Spotlight: Austin Halbert

by Samantha Spoll

 

Former GES delegate, Austin Halbert, has just released his new book The American Workday that documents the lives and careers of dozens of workers from diverse backgrounds and aims to foster empathy among fellow Americans.

Austin’s inspiration for the book derives from his past experiences. His upbringing in a working class community, as well as his college experience stimulated an interest in the labor conditions many Americans face every day. Austin also became increasingly interested in the effects of these conditions on people’s lives.

“Many Americans do not have the opportunity to learn and really understand how other people live outside of their own silos,” he said

During his journey as an author, Austin was fortunate to find a funding partner, The Leon Levine Foundation, which provided him with valuable resources and support.

Yet he soon realized the difficulties of finding a publisher and ultimately decided to self-publish The American Workday. \

After a couple years of working day in and day out on [the book], the realization that it would not sell a million copies out of the gate came as somewhat of a shock to my idealistic nature,” he said.

Austin also said the interviews he conducted with various American workers motivated and inspired him. He believes that the book captures the positivity and optimism of those interviewed, even with the stories of hardships.

“That’s what the book is about, showing America for what it is today, and relaying a message that with the strength of the people who make up this country, we can come together and push through to even better days,” he said.

Currently, Austin  serves as a Fulbright Research Fellow in Stockholm, Sweden and is attempting to map a framework for how corporate, governmental and civil society actors can best work together towards sustainable development. He plans to publish another book with his findings, called The State of Sustainability, later on.

Austin’s advises other social entrepreneurs to seek out support wherever they can and to not go at it alone

“It’s not always easy to ask for help, but humbling yourself and engaging the right people can make the difference between a project that is adequate and a project that makes real impact,” he said.

The American Workday is now available for sale in both eBook and hardcover formats here. Sales will go towards job programs for unemployed citizens.