Story + Policy

Welcome to Shelbyville

As part of its ongoing commitment to outreach and public education, the Program on Immigration and Democracy has partnered with Active Voice’s Story + Policy project. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation, Story + Policy champions the role of narrative in setting the stage for reasoned decision making at the individual and the institutional level. EPID hosted screenings of an award-winning documentary, WELCOME TO SHELBYVILLE, that showcases one American community grappling with the challenges of new neighbors.

To date, screenings and discussions of WELCOME TO SHELBYVILLE have been held at the Princeton Public Library, the Newark Museum and the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. (flckr photos of the Princeton eventare here.)

For information on bringing Shelbyville Multimedia to your community, contact us or Active Voice.

Change has come to rural Tennessee. Set against the backdrop of a shaky economy, “Welcome to Shelbyville” takes an intimate look at a southern town as its residents — whites and African Americans, Latinos and Somalis — grapple with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life. “Welcome to Shelbyville,” directed and produced by Kim A. Snyder and executive produced by BeCause Foundation in association with Active Voice, is set to air on PBS May 24. Check local listings for details.

The documentary has already spurred quite a buzz through a limited series of community screenings and conference presentations. NLC recently held a screening of webisodes from the documentary with more than 100 local leaders.

The session included small-group discussions about actions that communities are undertaking to bridge the gap between cultures.

The launch of Active Voice’s new Web platform, Shelbyville Multimedia, promises to broaden the reach and heighten the impact of the documentary by providing an opportunity for audiences to deepen conversations about how this town’s story relates to their own.

Designed to promote community-building and harmony between native-born Americans, immigrants and refugees nationwide, the interactive website features a series of webisodes, social media tools and several creative campaigns that use online video to inspire story-sharing and bridge-building on the ground.

National League of Cities (NLC) is proud to join forces with this creative and exciting campaign to create more welcoming and integrated communities. There are a variety of ways city leaders can connect:

1. Attend a Community Cinema event during the weeks leading up to broadcast. Check the Community Cinema screening schedule to see if there is an event coming to your city or town.

2. Gather your friends and colleagues to watch the PBS broadcast on May 24. Check for local listings.

3. Add the Shelbyville Multimedia logo to your website or blog to make sure your friends know about the film and broadcast. Be sure to link your visitors to

4. Join the Conversation on Facebook. Become a fan, invite your followers to become a fan, share news and stories on the wall and help inspire our growing network to get to know their neighbors.

5. Embed a Webisode. Active Voice has produced 12 short Web videos that explore a range of themes — faith, family, civil rights, community-building, etc. — through the stories of Shelbyville’s dynamic residents. You can use these videos on your website, blog, Facebook page, or show one at your next conference or gathering. They each come with discussion questions to inspire sharing and learning, whether it’s on an online forum or a dialogue circle.

Plug into The Shelbyville Multimedia Welcoming Stories Campaign

Many immigrants on the road to “becoming an American” were helped by someone along the way. Active Voice paired up with First Person American to create Welcoming Stories, a series of five short videos that capture these small acts of kindness, big-hearted moments and simple but life-changing connections.

Inspired by the new documentary, “Welcome to Shelbyville” — set to broadcast on PBS May 24 — the campaign is collecting and hosting these videos on their Welcoming Stories Tumblr page at with hopes of inspiring more stories from all over the country.

NLC encourages all city officials to submit stories of their own — video, photos, text and even audio — so that together we can demonstrate the power of welcoming in our cities.

• To learn more about the documentary, directed and produced by Kim A. Snyder and executive produced by BeCause Foundation, in association with Active Voice, visit:

• To learn more about the broadcast, visit:

• To learn more about Shelbyville Multimedia, visit:
Sahar Driver is a project coordinator with Active Voice. She can be reached at

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