When the election season was happening last year, I tried to stay out of it for as long as I could. Not because I didn't care, not because ignorance is bliss, but because I'd just moved across the country and was busy setting up our new life and trying to find my own personal center again. But I couldn't stay un-involved for long; it's not in my nature. I'm as curious as my cats, and as soon as I realized I was living next door to someone whose sign indicated they were on the polar opposite side of the presidential campaign than I was, I was forced to confront reality.
No matter what camp you fall in, there's no denying the reverberating effects that the November election results have had on us all. For me, I was forced to wake up to my own prejudice, preconceived notions, judgmental thoughts, and anxiety. I have even become friends with a couple of women, whom I truly adore, who voted differently than I did. I am trying to understand how we can be so in tune with each other in so many ways, but when it comes to how to run this country, so seemingly far apart.
We took a much-earned family vacation over over inauguration weekend, and when my husband and I had the chance to eat dinner alone one night, I asked him what he thought I should do, in this moment of national polarization, as a filmmaker. How could I help? How could I remain awake? He suggested that I create a documentary series. Immediately, the ideas started rolling through my mind, and as my ideas often do, they took the form of images.
I saw the whole series unfold in my mind's eye -- the positive, profound effects of deep listening, radical empathy, and difficult conversations that could happen because of the show. I saw how the series could help different communities to converse with each other, and for all of us to be able to see our neighbors not as "others over there", but as part of our own human family. There could be a huge shift in the way we relate to each other, the way we make assumptions about each other based often on ignorance and prejudgment. I saw how personally, creating a show like this, I would have to confront my own prejudice, judgments, and false premises head-on.
In my work over the past 12 years as a Legacy Filmmaker, I've had to interview people from many walks of life, with beliefs, and practices, and politics, and religions different from my own. I've always been able to leave my judgment at the door. I've been able to allow the person I am interviewing to be who they are fully. I've been able to witness their humanity. I've created a safe space for them to be seen and heard deeply, openly, without bringing my own ideas into the room. This has allowed for some pretty amazing interviews, and has also given me the mind-opening experience of relinquishing my own beliefs to simply be present with another. Finding presence in this way has been a very healing experience.
I feel that the time is right for me to expand the Legacy work that I’ve been doing for the past decade to include more diverse voices. As a filmmaker, I want to continue to explore the healing potential of storytelling as our nation struggles to find its footing in such a divided time. So, this past February we began filming for our new documentary web-based series, “Belonging in the USA: Stories from our Neighbors.” Central to this series will be outreach, free public screenings, and facilitated discussions about the themes raised through each character’s life story.
Now we need your help to both:
a) make a tax-deductible donation to the post-production of the pilot episode
b) help us spread the word about the show.
We’ve raised $107,000 so far toward our goal of $151,000, which has covered research and production for our pilot episode filmed in LA and Chicago. Our goal is to raise $10,000 by May 31, 2017 to complete a trailer for the pilot and the pilot episode.
If all of my 700+ Linked IN contacts and 700+ FB friends donate just $26 we will be able to reach this goal as well as raise the necessary money to fund the planned outreach and free screenings for the pilot episode. Any amount that you can give will help -- even $5.
Please make a tax-deductible donation* today here.
Ways to Donate*:
1. You can donate by credit card online here.
2. If you prefer, you can also donate by check. Please contact me for instructions.
3. If you are unable to donate financially at this time but would like to help in some other way (volunteering, non-cash or in-kind donations, matching gifts, or even just helping to spread the word), please let me know.
To find our more about the show and how we plan to spark radical empathy, deep conversations, and a paradigm shift, view our website.
Now more than ever it is essential that artists continue to receive financial support from individuals like you so that we can create work that opens hearts and minds. I believe that this show can help create a paradigm shift towards radical empathy and away from the trend towards polarization into our separate camps. I have a vision for creating dialogue and understanding that go beyond all of the labels, identities, and "isms". When we truly witness one another, as one human to another, transformation occurs.
If you believe in supporting our vision please make a tax-deductible donation* today and help us reach our goal of bringing cutting edge documentary work to a wider audience.
Thank you in advance for your generous support.
Legacy Connections Films
“Belonging in the USA: Stories from Our Neighbors”
*“Belonging in the USA: Stories from our Neighbors” is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of “Belonging in the USA: Stories from our Neighbors” must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
$100+ thanks in the credits.
$10,000+ special thanks in the credits & phone call from me.
$20,000+ helps us to produce an additional episode & an Associate Producer credit, in addition to the things listed above.
If you or someone you know are interested in being an Executive Producer, please contact me for more information.
Originally published on LinkedIn