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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Beyond Us and Them: Follow Up Conversations

After participating in Beyond Us and Them, the next step is to continue conversations and begin putting plans of action into motion. In the posts below, you can discuss the breakthrough sessions you participated in and share ideas to continue working to make Silicon Valley a welcoming and inclusive community that stands up to bias and hate.

Action Steps: A Launch Pad for New Activity

After participating in Beyond Us and Them, where do you see room for improvement in your community? What can you do as an individual to fight hate? What actions will you take to make Silicon Valley a model of diversity, acceptance, and respect?

When The Population Shifts

How is your community changing? What will you do to promote cultural exchange and understanding in your community?

New Models for Confronting Bullying and Harassment at School

How do bullying and harassment in schools affect the community as a whole? How can we teach young people not only to not participate in bullying and harassment, but to stand up against these things in constructive ways? What models have you seen, and how do they work?

Welcome To Our Town: Creating Safe and Inclusive Communities

Many people feel that Silicon Valley is already a safe and inclusive community. After this event, what do you think? Where is there room for work and improvement, and what successes should be celebrated? How important is public awareness of a community’s commitment to diversity and inclusion?

Communities of Faith: Standing Against Bias

There are many different faith communities in Silicon Valley. If you belong to a faith community, how do issues of diversity, bias, and intolerance come up there? Could interfaith initiatives be helpful for sharing ideas about preventing bias incidents in addition to promoting understanding of different faiths?

The Challenge of Diversity in the Workplace

How does your workplace deal with the challenges of diversity? What ideas did you hear today that you could bring back to your own workplace? Share your own ideas and experiences.

Working Together With Law Enforcement

Did you learn more about how your local law enforcement is addressing issues of hate and bias? How can you work with them to prevent bias incidents? As law enforcement representatives, did you gain any insights about how to respond to bias incidents? How can you help to strengthen relations between your community and law enforcement?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why "Beyond Us and Them"?

Why are we asking you to give up half a day to engage in a discussion about how to address intolerance?

Short Answer: Because we believe this community has the capacity to provide new models for preventing hate crimes that can be used by people across the country and around the world. This event is designed to spark action deep inside our communities that will raise awareness about bias and create an atmosphere that may help us to prevent hate crimes.

Not In Our Town is a national movement of civic leaders and community activists to address hate and bias in proactive, unifying ways. For the past twelve years, The Working Group has been documenting Not In Our Town stories of communities who are working together to address intolerance and prevent hate crimes. As these towns become engaged, they help build on a social innovation model that becomes more nimble and sophisticated as it progresses. Although the first two Not In Our Town films were created for a national PBS audience several years ago, we teamed up with KQED to create a first-ever regional special, Not In Our Town: When Hate Happens Here.

Our early screenings of this film for Palo Alto school leaders, students and teachers launched a deep and moving discussion—but more importantly, it led to action. Palo Alto Schools are now planning their third year of Not In Our School activities. Last year, we received a grant from Silicon Valley Community Foundation to plan two events that would help broaden the discussion and launch new action in other communities in the Mid Peninsula. The Not In Our School Event last November sparked a lively and meaningful discussion among three hundred students from Mountain View, Los Altos and St. Francis High Schools. (We’ll screen a short film clip from this event on March 13.) We look forward to follow-up action from students and school leaders.

It takes effort and sometimes courage to step out of our comfort zones to talk about bias and prejudice. But in the words of Billings, Montana Police Chief Wayne Inman who helped inspire the Not In Our Town movement, “Silence is acceptance.” We hope you will engage and speak out at this Not In Our Town event—and then take new ideas and actions into your community. We’d like to document your stories—and what you do next--and tell the world in our films and the on new social networking site we’re developing.

We look forward to learning from you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Beyond Us and Them: Confronting Hidden Bias": A Leadership Workshop of Not In Our Town - Silicon Valley

“Beyond Us and Them” is a half-day forum with an emphasis on ideas and networking about diversity issues that can make or break the fabric of our communities.

When: Thursday, March 13, Noon - 5:30 PM
(includes half-hour networking time at end)
Where: Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road, 94303
Cost: Free, includes lunch

For registration information, please email Elliot Margolies, Event Organizer.

Despite great strides over the years, there is still much work to be done in addressing intolerance. Whether your position is in law enforcement, business, education, or government, you will gain from a day with peers where we examine issues that too often are left off the table.

We know we can do better, but to do so requires that we acknowledge the problem and work together to make sure all of us feel welcome and secure in our communities.

What is it like to be perceived as a threat because of our religion or skin color in a post 9-11 environment? What are the everyday effects of racial bias in our community? Are recent immigrants in our towns feeling personally vulnerable—regardless of their legal status? What happens in the workplace to make talented gay and lesbian employees want to leave their jobs?

These few, interactive hours will be a launch pad for ongoing communication and action throughout key organizations and institutions in our community.

Not In Our Town is a national movement of civic leaders and community activists to address hate and bias in proactive, unifying ways. NIOT was launched by a series of PBS films that told the story of how people in towns across the country came together to respond to hate crimes.

Not In Our Town Northern California: When Hate Happens Here,"a documentary co-production of KQED –TV and The Working Group, tells the story of five communities who took action when their neighbors became the victims of brutal acts of hatred.

The film has inspired frank and meaningful discussions in over seventy community screenings in Northern California. This will be the first screening for Silicon Valley community leaders. It will be followed by breakout sessions targeted for law enforcement, educators, corporate officials, communities of faith, civic and municipal leaders. Don’t miss this opportunity to enhance your leadership endeavors and the vibrancy of your community.

Co-sponsored by The Silicon Valley Community Foundation; Santa Clara County Network for a Hate-Free Community; Palo Alto and Mountain View Human Relations Commissions; and the Palo Alto Art Center.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not In Our School Event Tonight at Los Altos High!

A documentary co-production of The Working Group and KQED, "Not In Our Town Northern California" follows five nearby communities that were shaken by hate crimes but found a creative, unifying way to respond. Viewing these local stories can help spark discussion about issues facing young people that may be festering but often go unexpressed.

This blog is a space where students, parents and educators can share their experiences and strategies for overcoming intolerance and embracing the diversity of the Silicon Valley. Get involved! Share your thoughts in the comments section.