Walnut Creek, CA-
Three dozen residents of Contra Costa County, California, gathered January 14 to discuss new ways to coordinate community responses to hate and intolerance through NIOT.org
at a breakfast meeting co-sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa.
After a welcome by Reverend Brian Stein-Webber, the Interfaith Council's Executive Director, and Mary Alice O'Connor of the Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Not In Our Town Executive Producer Patrice O'Neill led a group discussion about emerging local issues that ranged from concerns over bullying in the local schools, attacks on day laborers, and the challenges of community response after a recent gang rape.
Several people spoke of the need to develop a quick response mechanism to acts of hate-based violence. Others said the media does not report all such incidents, another reason to register as users of NIOT.org in order to publicize acts when they occur. Doug Dildine of Independent Living Resource spoke of a violent attack on a group of deaf people having a party in a local garage. Few in the audience had even heard of the case.
The diverse attendees included long-time NIOT members like Mollie Fujioka (pictured at left) who spoke about her motivations for continuing to be a part of the NIOT movement. Mollie shared that for her, as a person of color, NIOT helps her to feel more confident in speaking out against injustice.
Members of Contra Costa's nine-year-old NIOT group, including founding veterans Barbara and Ed Tonningsen, invited others to join their group
, or form new groups
in other parts of the county. Attendees discussed the need to hold another community meeting at a larger location, with input from more cities in the region. The group is looking for volunteers to help convene a larger gathering. The January 14 event was co-hosted by the Mount Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church.