Editor's Note: If you'd like to learn how to use NIOT.org, please see our Getting Started article.
It takes a village to build an anti-hate site.
By Patrice O’Neill, Not In Our Town Executive Producer
We knew we needed this site at the first Not In Our Town National Gathering in Bloomington, Illinois, when we met some of the amazing leaders from around the country who are fighting hate. After a short weekend of hearing their stories and lessons, we knew we had to find a way to share the vital local knowledge that was emerging from these communities.
Our big breakthrough came in 2007 when we participated in Bay Area Video Coalition’s first Producers Institute for New Media. Supported by the MacArthur Foundation, BAVC set out to train documentary filmmakers in the use of new technologies to tell their stories. It was a perfect match for the Not In Our Town project.
Associate Producer Kate McLean and I attended the Institute and worked with team member Ann Bennett. Theresa Riley, director of POV Interactive, and Michelle Halsell from Missing Pixel were our mentors and helped provide some of the key ideas that drive this site, including the action map. The amazing Abigail Rudner built a Flash-based prototype for the site in just days. Abigail and her partners Laura and Eckart Hilliger then created the technical specifications we needed to help develop the site. We also learned a great deal from our peers at the Producers Institute who have continued to share ideas and resources.
We especially want to thank Wendy Levy and Ken Ikeda from BAVC who have been like godparents to this project. This site would never have been possible without their ideas, encouragement, and connections.
That part was easier than the next. How could we fund this very ambitious project?
One of my first meetings about NIOT.org was with Stephanie Rapp, Director of the Jewish Life Program at the Walter and Elise Haas Sr. Fund. The Haas Sr. Fund made a significant initial grant for the site which made the development possible. Haas Sr has continued support for NIOT.org outreach.
The Cheryl and David Einhorn Family Charitable Trust provided a capacity building grant for the Not In Our Town Initiative, recognizing that the site is one piece of our overall work with civic engagement and our films for PBS. Jenn Hoos Rothberg worked with us to develop our plan.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, and Righteous Persons Foundation have made significant contributions to the production of this site and the ongoing outreach. We’d especially like to thank the program officers and leaders who worked with us, including Rachel Levin and Rebecca Goldman, Claudine Brown and Lance Lindblom, and Debbie Findling. Our regional work in California has been supported by the California Council for the Humanities.
Not In Our Town was launched by a public television broadcast in 1995, and the relationships and creative collaborations with PBS stations across the country have been vital to the Not In our Town story. We look forward to the next Not In Our Town film broadcast and to exciting new collaborations with stations across the country as we share this content and these stories.
One of our key partnerships is with Facing History and Ourselves and their Choosing to Participate exhibit. We have worked with Facing History teachers and staff for many years and seen the powerful results from our collaboration. The Facing History curriculum, teacher guides, and participation from Facing History teachers across the country and around the world have provided vital lessons as we begin to build a knowledge bank of resources and stories for the Not In Our School campaign.
Now we need you. A site is just a site until we make it a community. Whether you are a founder or a donor, an organization with a shared mission, a community group, or an individual with a passion to stand up with your neighbors, we need your energy and engagement. And we look forward to sharing your contribution and your stories.
It may take a while, but together, we can make change in our communities. We look forward to learning from you and including you in the ongoing story of Not In Town.