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After Sept 11 –  COMMUNITY

After Sept 11 – COMMUNITY

After 9/11  ‘Community’  Was Born – The Proposal Was Rejected By President George Bush Jr  Government

 

To promote understanding of shared human values worldwide

The concept of ‘community’ is that sharing human values provides a focus, a starting point for personal growth and economic opportunities for communities that will lead to an improved quality of life.

Background

This concept paper is the distillation of many meetings, telephone discussions and an Internet dialogue among a small group of international thought leaders and media communicators (see below).  These conversations have taken place in the months since the tragic September 11 terrorist attack on America.

The outcome is the creation of an international institute (provisional name: ‘Community’) with ambitious educational and advocacy goals.  A board of internationally respected business, religious, education and communication leaders will guide the institute.  They will charge ‘Community’ with developing and delivering messages and content that promotes the understanding and sharing of human values using a wide variety of media channels.  Television, radio, newspapers, distance learning, the Internet and other media will communicate with audiences so as to inform and educate our diverse cultures and communities throughout the world.

The Urgent Need

There is no question that ‘Community’ is both timely and urgently needed, as September 11 has turned into a defining moment for the future peace and prosperity of the world.  Our initial focus is to improve the information flows and educational opportunities throughout the world, thereby attempting to remove the root causes for the breakdown between Islam and the west.  In the process we want to create a new understanding of different cultures and a realization that we all live in an inter-connected world.

“Community’ has made a promising start but there is clearly a lot of important work that is urgently required.

Mission Objective

In the months since Sept 11 many have struggled with identifying the root causes of terrorism and finding ways to reduce the cultural and religious tensions making our world an increasingly dangerous and violent place.  We all want to mitigate hatred and mistrust amongst nations. While the underlying causes of hatred and mistrust are many, the solution begins with the simple truth that all peoples and all cultures share basic human values.  Communicating that fundamental message to everybody, especially the Middle East, Asia, Africa and parts of South America, is our important task.

This will be achieved by raising literacy and developing educational programs that highlight shared human values and encourage respect for cultural differences, the work of ‘Community’ cross-relates cultures and uses the education systems and the diverse mass media outlets of many countries in order to achieve its goals.

Action and Advocacy

‘Community’ has ambitious educational and social goals. It will be set up to provide:

Education-a freedom from ignorance.  We envisage that there will be a complete range of digital media products developed both externally and in-country, as we believe that local production preserves all the important cultural aspects of our educational mission.  This means that there will be the opportunity to develop software for use in schools, universities and, of course, for electronic distance learning, so reducing the ‘digital divide’.

Information – a freedom to exchange and disseminate ideas.  Our working groups will research extensively to determine which are the messages that resonate and create an impact on the target audience.

At a time like this when the world is becoming an increasingly difficult and dangerous place, these messages will undertake.  Once again we see opportunities for local involvement and production.

Language training – in all major languages.  We have the opportunity to teach English and the other major languages using digital products that will either adapt or originate.  We will utilize networks for electronic distribution of these materials, coupled with rich media distributed on VCD and DVD disc formats.

Early childhood Development – with help from multi-cultural specialists.  We will also contact development agencies in the USA/Europe to secure materials.

Quality of Life – special emphasis on balanced diets, correct nutrition and food crisis issues.  Our media will inform and educate on the basic practices of healthy living, reducing infant morality rates.  We will work with experts to help healthcare practitioners and patients.

Advocacy Focus

“Community’ will start by advocating core messages that are vitally important in our information age.  These messages will include the following:

We all share basic human values Education and freedom of information are critical to improving quality of life in all communities.

Millions of people already live a harmony in cross-cultural societies that integrate Islamic, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist religions, as well as other belief systems.

People can keep their own religious values while sharing human values on our modern world.

Sacred texts like the Koran and the Bible do not advocate violence.

Differing cultures need not threaten one another.

‘Community’ will distribute our educational and social messages using all forms of mass media.  This includes radio, which we all know has great potential and reach for these materials and audiences, particularly in parts of the developing world.

The Goals of ‘Community’

‘Community’ has set ambitious goals that will profoundly influence world affairs.  It has been formed to combat and help prevent any repeat of the recent tragedies that have afflicted all of us.  The goals of its action and advocacy are to:

1) Promote the peaceful and positive exchange of thought, especially about human values, among the cultures and     religions of the world

2) Stimulate personal growth and opportunities for people everywhere

3) Show how everybody can benefit and prosper by expanding trade and commerce worldwide

4) Facilitate the exchange of information

5) Use education as a powerful way to nurture children, promote healthcare, teach languages and emphasize the exchange of information on human values

The Planning Team

A small group of business, education and government leaders have already helped in the creation of ‘Community’.  There is now a joint effort by them and the Consulting Team (see below) to continue the recruitment of other thought leaders to  – which will eventually lead to a Board of Advisors- and to begin developing programs that further the goals outlined above.  The first program is currently being planned (see below) and will be researched in several countries including Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan. The planning Team is as follows:

Dato’ Professor Gajaraj Dhanarajan
President and CEO, The Commonwealth of Learning, Canada.
World leader in distance education.

Dr. Neville Fernando
Chairman of Asha Central Hospital, Sri Lanka.
An entrepreneur and distinquished medical practitioner.

Professor Olugbemiro Jegeda
National Co-Ordinator, The Federal Ministry of education, Nigeria.
Electronic learning systems expert who works in Africa, Australia and Asia.

Mrs. Sevinc Soysal
National Co-Ordinator, UNICEF, Turkey.
Management expert who develops children’s education and
healthcare programs in Turkey.

Ms Betty Williams
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Humanitarian activist,
Founder and chair, World Centers of Compassion for Children.

Mr Stephen Yeo
President and CEO, Singapore Computer Systems, Singapore.
Distinguished IT leader from Singapore.

The Planning Team will be completed by:

Mr Chowdhury
Director of the Centre for the Elimination of Child Poverty,
Grameen bank, Bangladesh.
Expert on the ‘digital divide’.

Executing the Work of ‘Community’

The fundamental concept is to use a diverse and rich mix of media to deliver these important messages to audiences around the world.

‘Community’ will create programs using television, radio, the Internet, CD-Rom/DVD (including video games), newspapers and literature.  The formats will range from information spots to documentary programs to television features to distance learning courses.

‘Community’ will purchase time or space in broadcast and print media to deliver these messages to the desired audiences.  In other instances programs will be produced and provided to the media that can be advertising supported. ‘Community’ will also work with media publishers to incorporate relevant messages into their existing materials.

‘Community’ will always respect the cultural values and traditions of its audiences and tailor individual messages so they resonate with local people.  While the ‘Community’ campaign will use powerful communications techniques, this is not a “Madison Avenue ad campaign”.  ‘Community’ will not be putting slogans on the air, in newspapers or posting them on the walls.  ‘Community’ media messages will be thoroughly researched with local audiences, reviewed and produced by professionals from diverse cultures. It is envisaged that the work of ‘Community’ media will be carried out in-country if at all possible.  The Consulting Team (see below) has already begun researching and developing programs that advocate the goals of global peace and co-operation.  These programs will be reviewed and revised with the Board of Advisors, then produced in a wide variety of multi-media materials for distribution to key audiences throughout the world.  A brief outline of the first program on ‘Community’ is described overleaf.

‘Community’ will always coordinate the creation, production and distribution of materials with local communications, education and business leaders.  So production enters in Asia, Middle East and Europe are being identified.  As mentioned already, many of the materials will be produced in the region in which they will be used.

The production process will be under the supervision of the Executive Committee, whose composition will include selected Board members, content specialists and where appropriate, individuals who are funding the programs.

The Consulting Team

‘Community’s’ immediate plans are being initiated by three internationally known media practitioners: Two American and One British. (Their professional experience is briefly outlined below.)  As programs develop, this core team will be augmented with education and communications experts from around the world.

Ben Goddard

A founding partner of Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli with over thirty years experience in political communications. Ben Goddard and John Ridgway created the successful Russian Referendum campaign that endorsed democratic and free market reforms for president boris Yeltsin in 1993.  Ben was the creative force behind the goundbreaking campaign that defeated the Clinton healthcare proposal in 1994, the campaign to pass permanent Normal Trade Relations with China in 2000 and dozens of other successful advocacy campaigns for organizations such as The business Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce, national Association of broadcasters, TechNet, Edison Electric Institute and corporations such as Duke Energy, New York life, Columbia Pictures Television and DuPont.  He has produced and directed hundreds of television commercials, numerous documentaries and an award winning feature film, has been honoured with dozens of awards from advertising, broadcasting and political organizations and his work is part of the Smithsonian permanent collection.  He now serves as Vice president of the International Association of Political Consultants.  Ben lectures frequently at Duke University and the Kennedy School of government at Harvard University.

John Ridgway

President and Creative Director of Via Worldwide. John designed the on-air look of the CBS Evening News, CNBC, ABC Sports, NBC Nightly News, the Academy Awards, much of paramount Domestic Television’s product and The Discovery Channel.  His television design work launched al Jazeera network and established the modern look for RTL in Germany, ORT in Russia, Sky Broadcasting in the UK, TCS in Singapore, Astro in Malaysia, bsFuji in Japan and Nimbus in India.  He has worked closely with Ben Goddard on dozens of political efforts including the co-creation of the successful Russian referendum campaign. John has won over a dozen Emmy awards and has been honored by the Broadcast Design Association.  He teaches design for film and television at UCLA and Otis College of Art and design in Los Angeles.

Dr Andrew Crilly

Andrew serves as senior Vice president International of the Ohana Foundation in Hawaii where he led development of distance learning projects now used in China, Europe and America.  A British citizen, Andrew earned his PhD in mathematics from Kings College, London. He has lectured at the University of Liverpool, Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore and at UCLA among other highly respected institutions.  His television career began as a producer for the BBC, being involved in founding the BBC-Open University Department.  He spent over twenty years with the BBC, garnering many International prizes and rising to be Executive producer, Science in charge of the Science output of The Open University.  He has spent the past decade working in television and distance learning in Hawaii, South East Asia and the Middle East.  He is also president and CEO of the Singapore-based multi-media company, MACH2 Pte Ltd. He has teamed up with John Ridgway on a range of interactive media-based projects, including the creation of curriculum for schools worldwide.  He has published dozens of articles on physics, astronomy, mathematics and media education.

Overview of first Programs

‘Community’: twelve five-minute informational spots shot in-country by local media outfits.  Companion educational materials will be created to complement these informational spots.

‘Home from Home’: Broadcast documentary series featuring expatriots/immigrants sharing their values with their adopted communities.  Each segment will show the expatriots in their daily lives.  The audience back home hears in their native language how they have integrated into Western society, and of the benefits and disadvantages of being away from their native land.  Short sequences with questions from relatives/friends back home may be included.  Establishing an ‘interactive’ two-way communication channel across borders and cultures. A linked website will develop some of the issues in depth.

‘Media training programs: these will be held for in-country leaders and professional experts to give them the ability to air authentic views on values, personal development opportunities and economic improvements.

‘Education programs: language, science, history and geography modules will be developed on a country by country basis, packaged as distance learning courses.  These modules will carry the core messages and content of ‘Community’.  The modules will broadcast, be available on CD and DVD with associated print materials and distributed using Internet where possible.

First Program Outline: ‘Community’

We envision that the first program will be a series of twelve five-minute programs built around the theme of “community” (known as “ummah” in the Islamic world). The themes that thread through the series show that values can be preserved, the quality of life improved, education expanded and healthcare upgraded through co-operation among the communities of the world.

It becomes clear, through modern advances like “Cyber Community”, that information, education and trade advances all peoples.  By contrast, violence and terrorism hinder all peoples and have no place in a global community.  We will use real-life examples from Asia and the Middle East to illustrate these themes.

Our plan is for the programs to be broadcast as a series, with each five-minute segment running multiple times each week.  (In Western Europe/Americas we might do them as two-minute pieces.)  So the complete program airs over twelve weeks.  The entire sixty minutes will also be packaged as one or two long form programs. We will also develop educational curricula using DVD, CD-ROM, VHS or Internet distribution for the media content.  These integrated teaching and learning materials will become learning modules on ‘Community’.  The companion radio program is also being developed, and field testing for the idea will get underway shortly in the countries mentioned earlier.

Working Title/Logo for The New institute

‘Community’ and its many translations also serve as a working name for the new international institute.  The logo currently under development will show intersecting spheres that symbolize our diverse communities coming together as core human values.

Conclusion

This paper serves to introduce the concept, the Planning Group and the Consulting Team behind the setting up of ‘Community’.  This innovative forum of thought, leadership, action and advocacy clearly has its work cut out during its opening months

The years that follow will be equally challenging for all of us who remain involved with it.  We will have an obligation to make it grow and become an increasing important voice for moderation and tolerance in a fast-changing world.

We thank you for contributing important ideas and helping to facilitate the ambitious work of ‘Community’ as it finds its feet over the next few months.

We will maintain regular contact with you, and make arrangements to meet with you personally when the occasion allows.  In the meantime, we will be able to continue to meet and work with you “virtually”, and we look forward to achieving our important initial objectives with your help and assistance,

Ben Goddard
John Ridgway
Andrew Crilly

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