NET has been participating in the Indie Lens Pop Up film series for a few years with spotty results. In 2017, we looked at this series of community conversations differently. Racial incidents had been increasing on the University of Nebraska Lincoln campus more frequently, the University had set up a diversity dialogue series and we saw an opportunity to engage around difficult topics more deeply using our content as a catalyst. We partnered with the University and key departments across campus to set up screenings of independent films and discussions focused to promote dialogue and understanding between diverse groups.
Over the last few years NET has been working to change the internal culture and mindset of the station to be more externally focused. We’ve intentionally built in community engagement opportunities to deeply connect with our various audiences. NET had a solid reputation as a connector bringing the state together, but we sometimes fell short of digging deeper in conversations consistently with partners. In 2017, NET worked to forge a new dynamic group of relationships. Using the Indie Lens Pop Up series of independent films, we saw an opportunity to engage our community around issues related to diversity and racism. Racial incidents were on the rise on campus and the University of Nebraska had loosely formed a group to address these issues – the “Husker diversity dialogue series.”
NET contacted the group and pitched the idea of being a facilitator with partners around films that showcased difficult topics. The partners were the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s: Center for Civic Engagement, Office of Student Affairs, the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center and UNL Housing. The attendance at these events tripled any of our other previous attendance numbers. NET gained new insights as well as partners, which was seen as an integral part of convening audience around difficult topics on campus and are now part of a larger conversation.