The Not In Our Town National Leadership Gathering in June brought together leaders from 46 cities in 21 states. As these leaders returned to their hometowns, they continued the conversation about why preventing extremism, hatred and bullying matters.
Here we feature four great news articles and opinion pieces that feature our leaders and their presence at the gathering.
Alternet, “Why do people hate? And Is There a Way to Counteract It?”
A recent New York Times op-ed explored a white supremacist website and the demographics of its members. Author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz concluded with a question, “Why do some people feel this way? And what is to be done about it? I have pored over data of an unprecedented breadth and depth, thanks to our new digital era. And I can honestly offer the following answer: I have no idea.”
In response, Frank Joyce’s Alternet op-ed poses Not In Our Town’s work as part of the solution.
“I am convinced that sooner than we might think, breakthroughs in neuroscience, psychology, cultural anthropology and other fields will give us dramatic new ways to understand where hate comes from and how to address it. And fortunately there is one organization that has very good ideas about ‘what is to be done about it.’”
Joyce is president of the Not In Our Town project’s board of directors and presented the new Gold Star City campaign at the National Leadership Gathering in June 2014.
“The idea behind Gold Star Cities is that local communities can portray themselves as welcoming, safe and inclusive by taking concrete action to qualify for the Gold Star designation,” said Joyce. “The Gold Star Cities concept was greeted with enthusiastic support. The shared understanding was that in a globalized economy, acceptance and tolerance are not just the right thing to do. Diversity represents a competitive advantage in building vibrant, economically successful cities.”
Oak Ridger, “Working to keep hatred, bullying out of Oak Ridge”
The Oak Ridger, the hometown newspaper of Oak Ridge, TN, featured an article about their local Not In Our Town group’s participation in the National Leadership Gathering.
Group founder Valerie Hughes, who attended the gathering, told the Oak Ridger that she wanted to fight against hate in a proactive way after hearing about community hate crimes, rather than to wait for a major incident to occur.
Hughes has already taken action by holding community training events, implementing a Not In Our School anti-bullying campaign and more. However, she wants to accomplish more.
She plans on making her town a role model for preventing intolerance by "working aggressively to become one of the safest, accepting, and inclusive communities possible."
WJBC, “Not In Our Town looks to re-energize movement”
Bloomington, IL helped expand the NIOT movement by being one of the first cities to screen the original 1995 film, Not In Our Town. Now, two representatives who attended the National Leadership Gathering, Camille Taylor and Dontae Latson, plan on re-strengthening the movement in their town.
"Not In Our Town views us as a city that is well on our way to becoming a Gold Star City, and that is what our steering committee is going to be looking at going forward,” Taylor said. “To try to meet the criteria and get the campaign re-energized.”
According to Bloomington's WJBC, Taylor believes that more can be done to inspire change in local policies and laws in order to stop hate of all kinds.
“It is about standing as one against hatred of any form,” said Latson.
The BG News “Not In Our Town explores future plans”
The National Leadership Gathering last month gave representatives from Bowling Green State University helpful tools to bring back to campus.
Campus Police Chief Monica Moll said one of the key things she brought home from the gathering was the importance of proactive work. For example, it’s important to prevent incidents like the racist tweets that galvanized the community in 2013 rather than respond to them, Moll told The BG News.
Since 2013, the campus and community have come together with a Not In Our Town campaign. Moll mentioned that an argument against Not In Our Town is that it can “put a negative mark on a city: a sign that racism is a problem.” Most of the towns at the gathering, Moll said, have never had problems with racism, but embraced Not In Our Town to show they were against hatred.
“It’s not a political movement,” Moll said. “Everyone should be able to embrace [NIOT].”