community responses to hate | Not in Our Town

community responses to hate

How can Marshalltown, Iowa sustain and build on the Not In Our Town efforts launched in 2012, so the community can achieve lasting change? That was the big question a group of more than 20 civic leaders gathered to discuss at their first-ever retreat held at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Marshalltown. The group invited speakers from three areas their campaign to stop bullying was working to address: Schools, Home, Community and Workplace. Non-profit and advocacy organizations from Immigrant Allies, Domestic Violence advocates, the school district and chamber of commerce presented needs to the group for support and action. Not In Our Town Executive Producer Patrice O'Neill and evaluation coach and consultant Grace Carroll were there to observe and told the group that their efforts would be watched and shared with communities nationwide. They presented ideas for benchmarks that are particular to Marshalltown, but also universal for other towns who may want to strive for Gold Star City status on the map.
By Matthew Tullis, Project Director for Safe Schools/Healthy Students in Marshalltown, IA Originally published by the Iowa Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development  The city of Marshalltown understands the importance of collaboration. For years the community and its school district have risen to embrace challenges and work together. In the spring of 2012, Mike Schlesinger, Publisher and General Manager of Marshalltown Newspaper, LLC, gathered key community leaders together to address the issue of bullying and hate. Based on a common concern about tragic consequences resulting from bullying that have been reported in Iowa and across the nation, Marshalltown decided immediately to be proactive and spread a common message that this type of behavior is not acceptable in our town.
Today we uploaded three new files to the Not In Our Town Action Kit: Materials from West Virginia's successful multi-pronged action campaign titled, West Virginia: No Place for Hate. Though this counter-protest occured in 2010, we believe these resources remain relevant and inspiring today. West Virginia leaders came together after Fred Phelps' Westboro hate group announced it would picket Catholic and Jewish institutions in the two towns, a local university, and a mine where more than a dozen miners had recently lost their lives.  The Not In Our Town Action Kit is a hidden gem on, compiling resources from communities standing up to hate and intolerance. In addition to these materials from West Virginia, you will find:
"Who is this group that's coming? And I realized ... it's Fred Phelps and my heart just dropped. I can't believe they're coming. Why us? Out of all the schools, why us?" —Daisy Renazco, Gunn High School teacher02/2011—Above is one of's most popular videos, "Gunn High School Sings Away Hate Group," which has garnered more than 225,000 views on our YouTube channel. Ellen DeGeneres, in a Tweet, said she was "so unbelievably proud of Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA for demonstrating love & acceptance in a peaceful way."What's significant about this video is that it showcases how a community can stand up to hate in a peaceful and constructive way. The video was shot in 2010, when the Kansas hate group known as the Westboro Baptist Church (Fred Phelps' family) announced they would picket Bay Area schools and Jewish institutions. The students of Gunn High School, located in Palo Alto, Calif., decided they could not sit quietly.