In many parts of America today, the art of community has been lost. Many communities lack a public square where neighbors meet to discuss issues of common concern. Citizens and the policymakers that represent them often lack the information and opportunity they need to engage in thoughtful debate. Public media fails to deliver a full spectrum of reliable information and well-reasoned opinions to the marketplace of ideas. Instead, partisan views and strident voices dominate public discourse. Dale Bell and Harry Wiland created a new media model that combines a nationally televised documentary with local coalition building, local and national town hall meetings, guidelines and support for community outreach and action. They are documenting a new spirit of cooperation among neighbors, community leaders, elected officials, and government agencies. Through a documentary filmmaker s lens, they show people from disparate backgrounds and political leanings taking action where society s institutions have failed, and finding encouragement and help from neighbors.
They founded the Media & Policy Center Foundation to use socially relevant media to turn viewers into doers by showing what individuals and small groups can achieve, and by giving people the tools they need to be effective agents of change. Their stories impact viewers deeply, inspiring them to take action. By capturing and disseminating personal and community stories that would not otherwise gain media attention, they help citizens in communities across the country understand and address the issues that confront them. They then use public television broadcasts to catalyze this civic engagement.