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The Power of Half

The Power of Half:
One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back
Power of Half.jpg
Author Hannah Salwen,
Kevin Salwen
Country United States
Language English
Subject Consumption (economics) and consumer behavior; Moral and ethical aspects
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date
February 2010
Media type Hardcover;
Audiobook on CD
Pages 256
ISBN
OCLC 317917971
174 22
LC Class HC110.C6 S255 2010

The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back is a book written by Kevin Salwen and his teenage daughter Hannah in 2010.

The book describes how the Salwen family decided to sell their home so that they could donate half the proceeds to charity. It discusses the initial decision-making, the process of selling the home, making the donation, downgrading to a smaller home, and what they learned in the process. The book details the Salwens' process in choosing a charity partner that would fit their values and effect a lasting change, and how their actions supporting and empowering a village in Ghana differed from their original idea of "direct involvement".

The book details why and how the Salwen family decided to sell their home in 2006. The home was a luxurious, 6,500-square-foot (600-square-meter), 1912 historic dream-house in Ansley Park, in midtown Atlanta, Georgia. It had Corinthian columns, five bedrooms, eight fireplaces, four ornate bathrooms, and a private elevator to Hannah's bedroom.

The family down-graded by replacing their home with a house that was half as expensive and less than half the size. The Salwens donated half the proceeds ($850,000) of the sale of their original home to The Hunger Project, a charity that works to lessen the hunger of 30,000 rural villagers in over 30 villages in Ghana, and helps them gain self-reliance.

The book describes the consensus-driven process that the parents and their two children used–over a period of time–to reach the decision to give away half the value of their home, and how they chose the charity from a number of non-profit organizations that they considered. It describes the challenges that the family faced while turning their family project into a reality, from economic ones to keeping the project a secret for a period of time so that they would not appear to be "freaks" to their friends.

Before they embarked on the project, the family members had little contact with one another, other than at meals. Hannah notes that The Power of Half "is a relationships book, not really a giving book." She feels that the project helped her family grow closer to one another.The New York Times Book Review notes how the family "became happier with less—and urges others to do likewise."



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