OZY Pays It Forward

OZY Pays It Forward

Why you should care

Let’s bring the warm and fuzzy back into the holidays with a look at some of OZY’s favorite humans: the couple who helped give us Harper Lee, the inspiring Irena Sendler and the little media owner that could.

Harper Lee’s Big Break

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, received one unforgettable gift that changed her life, and all of ours, forever. More than half a century after its publication, Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird still sells over 750,000 copies per year, yet it might never have happened. In 1956 Lee was a rather taciturn 30-year-old ticket agent for the British Overseas Airways Company, who, like many aspiring writers, had come to New York City to pursue her dream. But after seven years of struggle, it seemed beyond her grasp.

Luckily, Lee had made two very good friends in New York: a Broadway composer named Michael Brown and his wife, Joy, a Balanchine dancer. This generous couple provided Lee with a gift that made all the difference.

A Light That Never Went Out

Arrested, tortured and sentenced to death, Irena Sendler managed to escape her sentence for smuggling over 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and saving them from certain death. She often smuggled the babies and small children disguised as packages or hidden in trams or ambulances.

After the war she spent much of her time trying to reunite surviving children with the parents they’d been separated from. Read this moving story of an indomitable woman devoted to reuniting families at great personal peril.

Agustín Ferrando

Many of us feel jaded about the state of the news industry, but Uruguayan videographer Agustín Ferrando upends the very idea of news in his weekly Web show, Tiranos Temblad, bringing elements of wonder, innocence and spontaneity to his chronicle of life in “the best country.” He wanted to produce local news to help represent the everyday people he felt were being ignored by the media. For Ferrando, minuscule moments of daily life are news, and when he strings them together in his oddly soothing, gently amusing weekly videos, you can’t help but be convinced.

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