We came together from the entertainment industry, philanthropy, journalism and the tech industry with a common goal:
To fight the swell of religious intolerance, racism and cultural isolationism that threatens us, our children, and our society.
CREATING POSITIVE CHANGE THROUGH AWARENESS AND EMPATHY
We are so familiar with oppression. It's a common thread in the collective history of all cultures. When we demand rights for ourselves we may diminish the rights of others. We have found that when we work to defend the rights of others, we defend our own rights. Once we recognize that oppression is a shared symptom of all mankind, then we can build bridges between us that are fortified with tolerance and understanding. When you add empathy to that awareness, understanding follows. We strive for a collective perception that will nurture what is good, and fight against what is bad.
GIVING VOICE TO THE ELDERLY
When the decree came down from the Motion Picture and Television Fund that long term care services at the fabled Motion Picture Home were to be eliminated, we joined with other concerned entertainment industry workers, guilds and unions to put a stop to their plans. We took to the blogosphere and to the streets. We organized and enlisted the help of the powerful Screen Actor's Guild under Ken Howard and Anne Marie Johnson. Our own Peter Samuelson screened his movie 'The Man in the Chair' (that was filmed at the Motion Picture Home and addressed the challenges of the elderly) at an industry awareness event. We were unstoppable. The facility is now flourishing under the control of CEO Bob Beitcher who renewed the commitment of 'we take care of our own'.
Our fight became a template for other battles for the elderly and was documented in a Vanity Fair article: "No Comfort For Old Men" that you can read here.
FIGHTING RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE
Inspired by the heroism of Holocaust survivor and hero of the Dutch Resistance, Curt Lowens - Man/Kind founder Richard Stellar co-founded The Bestemming Project that fought religious intolerance through music. Lowens, who was responsible for saving the lives of over one hundred Jewish children, taught us that the power to effect change is within us, as individuals.
Richard and his team cold called, and brought in consul generals from Israel, Germany, the Netherlands, and other nations who sent our message of tolerance and understanding to their communities. Bestemming's message went viral, and at an event co-hosted by the Screen Actor's Guild, the consul general of Germany, Dr. Berndt Fischer, tripped on the stage and fell at the feet of Curt Lowens - who bent down and helped the German leader to his feet.
The optics were not lost on anyone. In this gesture of empathy a bridge was built that night that cannot be demolished.