Spreading a Message of Tolerance
In this politically heated atmosphere, when tea parties and coffee parties are springing up everywhere, there is this organization that is striving to reduce hate and further tolerance between people by fostering increasing activities and interaction between them.
Appropriately named, Not In Our Town (NIOT) started in 1995 with a PBS documentary that told the story of a real time incident that happened in Billings, Montana.
Fed up with a series of hate crimes in their town, neighbors set together to form a group that would encourage better relationship in the community through increased communication. When ordinary people bands together to stop violence and hatred, the message becomes strong and far reaching. Viewers all over the nation watched what common people of Billings had achieved on their own, and it gave them hope and inspiration. Many started their own neighborhood groups against hate and intolerance.
Ten years later, NIOT is a national organization and its message is spreading deep in the country thanks to PBS who had been instrumental in the organizations success.
To NIOT, it is all about connecting people together and the rest follows. They organize grassroots events, utilize media and encourage online activities to promote contact between people. The idea is to break the cultural barriers and remove the stereotype bias by bringing people together where they can exchange ideas openly and learn from each other. People share stories, form human bond, and with mutual discussion develop strategies about how to enhance safety in the neighborhood and prevent crimes.
One community’s lessons can help another community. NIOT teams visit across the nation to talk with citizens, and community members and carries the lessons that had been learnt in other communities. This helps to set the process of dialog, and eventually new concepts and problem solving techniques are born.
Every where they go, NIOT carries the message of hope and tell people that everyone can make a difference; anyone can effect a change however small the person is.