Mar 28, 2022 - News

Screen Time with Rohit Malhotra of the Center for Civic Innovation

A black-and-white photo of Rohit Malhotra speaking into a microphone and gesturing with his hands

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Center for Civic Innovation

Rohit Malhotra of the Center for Civic Innovation has helped counsel countless nonprofit leaders, educated more than 100,000 voters and fought inequity in local philanthropy.

  • On March 31, CCI's Good Troubles Honors at the Fox Theatre will celebrate people fighting inequality in Atlanta.

We caught up with Malhotra to learn how he stays online and connected.

👇 First tap of the day: It's probably SlickDeals. I want to see if there's anything on sale that I can buy that can improve my life, like a nice pillow or a nice new duvet. They find slick deals where you can get 20% off random things that you don't need. You can get a costume of Lilo and Stitch for $20. Essentially, it is every Indian person's dream of what America should be.

After that, my news always starts with Atlanta. If I don't know what's happening in my own backyard, I have no business looking at anything else happening in the world. I look at the AJC and other sources.

I'll look at the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Next City to see how people in other cities are trying to create transformative change. What does that look like and what does that mean?

Then I’ll look at international news, like what’s going on in Ukraine, and development work around the world.

If I have some more time I will look at outlets like The Atlantic for longform journalism. The last long pieces I read were about Paul Farmer, the global health pioneer who recently died. He was so important to the social sector and movement building work around the world.

📺 Currently streaming (Netflix/Hulu): If I'm feeling nostalgic, I go back to "The West Wing." I think it's the greatest TV show ever made. I mix that with "The Wire." I like to remember that there were a lot of thoughtful works of art that existed and that shows didn't always need to have an intense heart-thumping plot line.

I watch stand-up comedy maybe once a day. Comedy has found its lane and can push the envelope on really tough discussions and conversations that don't feel comfortable on any other type of platform.

I like watching Asian American comics because a lot of us have very shared similar experiences with the world, of being lost in America, where your identity is really up for someone else's debate and discussion. Not often is that something we talk about as Asian Americans.

🎙 Podcasts: I am enjoying the Dissect podcast. The host breaks down different albums by artists like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye that have shaped hip hop. It shows you the intentionality of how music is woven together and how much these artists think about that.

🎧 Music: I’ve been listening to a DJ named Black Coffee. I like how Spotify introduces me to another artist like Sparrow, or music that I would never otherwise explore. I end up somewhere halfway across the world.

If I'm feeling a little bit cultural I’ll throw on some Indian music. I love Kaytranada and Oddisee. Kendrick Lamar is always in my rotation and then I get a little bit of Drake and Justin Bieber when I need it. It’s great.

📚 Reading list: I’m currently reading "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her work on the dangers of a singular story and the importance of understanding the diversity and complexity of people has been one of the most inspiring things for me. I love re-reading Jumpha Lahiri.

In addition to "The Color of Law," and other nerdy things on my shelf, I like to look at 1700s history. I really find the founding fathers to be hilarious. They were so young, and when you read authors who have spent their life on one of the characters like James Madison, or whoever, you realize how many things are similar to today. Them trying to go to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia was such a mess. James Madison was punctual and always on time and then a bunch of other folks were late to the Zoom call. Other folks drank too much the night before. There’s a book called "Plain Honest Men" that humanized these characters.

📲 Most used app: At CCI we use Slack a lot. I also use Redfin, which is the millennial’s new dating app, with houses. I try to go on a date with a few different houses every day. What would it look like for me to be in this 1920s broken-down million-dollar palace?

I use Etsy a lot. I’ve been trying to support more small businesses and artists. It's how I grew up. It’s how my family survived in so many ways. Etsy is a good visual on how people are reimagining the world in a fun way.

🐶 How I unplug: In addition to music: I adopted a puppy in 2020. I love my dog, Bernie. Owning a dog forces you to go outside and breathe in and pay attention to something else. All he cares about is making the most of every minute of the day. That's been super cool.


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