I want to take this opportunity to share my experience in working on the Welcome to Our City Music Video. This video project opened my eyes to many wonderful people, organizations and the positivity that exist in our community. This blog post is long, but it is important that I share the entire story behind our video project.
Friday September 16th marked the kickoff to National #WelcomingWeek, a nationwide initiative to embrace the cultural diversity in our communities and send a welcoming message to all. With all of the tensions occurring in our country right now and the negativity we hear on the news, we wanted to present a unified message that our community is a welcoming city, where we respect one another’s unique perspectives and talents and work together to provide opportunity, enjoyment, safety, and support.
Why Create A Video?
This idea of a video project began after the constant negativity, rioting, protesting and divide I was hearing about in the news. The news does a great job of communicating what is going on… and it always seems to be something negative. I knew that I wanted to make a difference in our community and show that not all cities/towns are divided. In fact, in Nashua we are a community that celebrates diversity and respects one another. No matter your profession, your religious view or your ethnicity, we are one community.
My husband Kyle participated in the Leadership of Greater Nashua program through the Chamber of Commerce. He came home one day after listening to a presentation and shared how Nashua is one of the most diverse population’s for its size in the U.S., yet there are inequities that exist and people that feel excluded from the community as a whole. That night we talked about how we still live in a world where one’s skin color, religion, age, gender, or physical appearance, is judged and often times discriminated against. As white caucasians we are afforded special privileges because we rarely face discrimination. Kyle shared the challenge he was given and asked me if I wanted to take on a challenge with him: in order to make a difference in our community, we have to better understand others’ perspectives and experiences. In order to do this, we have to be willing to constantly step out of comfort zone and do things and meet people that are outside of our social circles.
Challenge accepted! From his experience and our passion for our great community of Nashua, a video project was born
One of my first experiences in filming this video was getting to know a wonderful transgender family. This family shared with me their struggles to fit in and be a part of the community. They took part in our video project and had such a fun time. We invited them back to our house after the video shoot to celebrate and have some food. As we sat there on that hot (and I mean 100 degree HOT day), I learned more about this family. I learned that people often looked at them strangely and make comments behind their backs. I learned that they cared for and appreciated the same things that I did. All that this family wanted was to be appreciated and loved like any other person. Getting to know them and learning about their experiences in our community was probably the best part of that day. Before this conversation, I had never truly heard someone tell me that they had a hard time fitting in. One of the women came up to me afterwards to thank me. Thinking that she was thanking me for the food, I said of course you are welcome. She proceeded to say
“No. Thank you. Thank you for including us. Thank you for looking at us and treating us with respect, love and appreciation. You showed us why we love being a part of Nashua and never looked at us any differently.”
I felt very touched by her comment and moved that this meant so much to her. The last thing she said to me as she left was
“We may never see each other again, or maybe we will. But I want you to know that you made a friend for life by going out of your way to be so nice to us.”
Her comments truly resonated with me. It was her comments that made me realize that there are people who do not always feel like they fit in. There are people that struggle to see where they can fit in.
Over the next few weeks, my team and I would attend numerous community and cultural events, in order to not only capture scenes for our video, but more importantly to meet and learn more about our city’s residents. I attended a mosque for the first time and learned so much about the Islamic faith and Muslim culture. I danced and ate food at the Latino American, Brazil, and Indian festivals. I visited several non-profit events, such as the YMCA’s Silver Sneakers class and the Boys & Girls Club National Night Out, where I spoke with several of our amazing service members from the police, fire, and emergency. I would say, for the first time in my life, I fully immersed myself in my community and it enriched my life!
Lets All Make A Difference!!
This is what I challenge all of us to do. Love. Show respect. Take the time to get to know someone you don’t know. We are all human and deep down care about the same things. A quick smile. A high five. Even a handshake. Those little gestures might not seem like much to you, but they can mean the world to someone else.
About the Video:
This video project was a collaboration of many different organizations and people, celebrating the welcoming community of Nashua, NH. Most notably the United Way, Great American Downtown, Positive Street Art, and the City of Nashua. Every person in this video, including my staff who filmed and edited the video, donated 100% of their time because they wanted to make a difference in our community. After we released our video on the 16th, we learned on Monday, September 19th that Money Magazine ranked Nashua, NH #16 on the best places to live in 2016!! I am also happy to say that in just a few days, we have watched our video go viral and be shared over 500+ times and counting!
We want to take this opportunity to share this message to our community. We have received so many positive messages from all of you over the last few days. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. As many of you know, we did not film this video for the recognition. We did this because we love our community, we believe in the people, and we want to send a positive message to all. Thank you to everyone who donated his or her time, dancing skills, and resources to make this video project incredibly successful. If you have not seen the video, here is the link: Welcome To Our City Music Video
Amanda Schneck and the entire team at Pearl Marketing & Design