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“Embody the very notion of active citizenship. If the ideal of active citizenship means anything, it means that people in every walk of life need to consider the social impact of their daily decisions and actions‚ that civic life is not just a once-a-year activity on election day, or even once-a-week action like volunteering at the local soup kitchen…Volunteerism tries to alleviate the symptoms, active citizenship strives to cure the disease.” ~ Jonathon Tisch, Citizen You: Doing your Part to Change the World
“We’re not going to get there in America on race, poverty, on all of those issues until we come to an understanding that we’re all in it together. There’s only one American destiny, not a Republican destiny or a Democratic destiny just one American destiny, not rich or poor. We’re all in this boat together.” ~ Newark Mayor, Cory Booker
How do we grow an ecosystem of change?
Engaging People, a documentary series by Voices of Hope Productions explores the lives of effective change-makers and concerned citizens seeking to understand what makes an actively engaged citizenry and how/what would help more Americans to come together in a spirit of collective responsibility and civil discourse. Engaging People shows citizens, who instead of blaming others for social dysfunction decide to take an active role in solving societal problems, ultimately effecting systemic change by creating ripple effects that make communities stronger, but also positively moves American democracy forward.
Engaging People seeks answers about how citizens effectively act as a counter-balance to government officials and lobbyists through their actions: advocacy, mobilization, social entrepreneurship, creativity and imagination, culture and media-making—all taking active involvement in the very fabric and outcome of their communities, state and country. The Engaging People series refocuses the media lens onto positive stories about responsible, high-spirited citizens in an effort to counter 24/7 celebrity media, consumerism and reality programming. These citizens inject inspiration and hope at the core of their efforts illustrating that those who foster social progress, negotiation and understanding create a legacy of impact and social change that’s illuminating and exciting.
Individual short profiles will be available online, and 30 minute profiles will be produced for television audiences. Eventually, all will be compiled to create a full-length documentary showing American citizenship at its best.
“Human Beings are Creatures of Meaning, Seeking Ways to Give Our Days Value” ~ Frances Moore Lappe, Yes Magazine
Interviewed for the Series
Kasso and the S.A.G.E. Collective (Artists), Mercer County, New Jersey
S.A.G.E. (Stylez Advancing Graffiti’s Evolution) Collective is a Trenton-based art collaborative that seeks to transform symbols of urban blight — crumbling, abandoned homes and buildings — into showcases for art. SAGE artists remind those in neighborhoods that unity in community and pride in heritage are still alive. Their humanitarian goal is to uplift the lives of their communities and create a source of pride around the soul of their messages. Their impact can be seen in their widening network and visual “take-back-the-streets” attitude. You’ll be taken behind the scene to see how this artist coalition is changing things up in Trenton.
Fair Haven Fireman’s Company, Monmouth County, New JerseyThe Fair Haven Fire Company has produced their Firemen’s Fairs for most of their 100-plus year history, and is one of the largest fairs in New Jersey with thousands attending every August through Labor Day. Hundreds of volunteers successfully come together to manage a huge fundraiser for the all-volunteer fire company, which helps them with their work fighting fires throughout the year. Not only do they give back during crisis times, but the Fair truly shows the community at its best giving back to friends, families and children in a most genuine way.
Bonnie Kerness, Human Rights Activist, Essex County, New Jersey
Bonnie Kerness has been an anti-racist activist since she was 14 and in 1961, at the age of 19, she moved to Tennessee to participate in the Civil Rights Movement. Bonnie moved back North in 1970 and became active with welfare rights, tenants rights and anti-war groups. Bonnie has worked as a professional organizer on gay rights, welfare rights, women’s rights and other campaigns. Bonnie speaks publicly on behalf of people in prison on US human rights violations of the UN Convention Against Torture and has been quoted in articles, books and other publications on prison related subjects. As viewers we don’t often get to see how a professional activist and community organizer works. Activists are often treated in the media as tree huggers, or hippies, but Bonnie shows us how she uses her life to make change, regardless of what others think of her ideals and passion.
For more about the Engaging People Series, please go to engagingpeople.tv.