Community members and Not In Our Town leaders turned out for "Light in the Darkness," the one-hour documentary about the effects racial discrimination had on a small New York town.
Following the showing, the Orpheum Theater held a panel discussion led by Sister Chris Feagan, with St. Mary's Hispanic Ministry, where community members were encouraged to share their experiences with bullying.
Feagan said insulating ourselves from those who are different from us engenders a disconnect that sows the seeds of bullying.
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
Joan Jaimes, Marshalltown Community College outreach counselor, right, makes comments during a panel discussion Thursday night at the Orpheum Theater following the Not In Our Town film “Light in the Darkness.” Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper, center, and Sister Chris Feagan, left, all partook in leading the discussion on bullying.
"When we do that, we are missing the amazingness of others who are different from us," she said.
Joa LaVille, chair of the steering committee for Immigrant Allies, Joan Jaimes, Marshalltown Community College outreach counselor, and Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper were on the panel, which acted to guide the conversation.
Tupper said although Marshalltown is a welcoming community, it still faces challenges. Many members, specifically undocumented residents, are afraid to call the police.
"It's important that we work together to solve problems, as part of a team," he said. "If you see something, say something We don't call immigration. We don't get people in trouble for calling the police."
Several audience members stood up and shared their stories. Many of them had suggestions as to how to improve the Not In Our Town campaign. Suggestions ranged from encouraging schools to teach children a second language at an earlier age to continuing dialogue about the problems Marshalltown faces and continuing to involve community leaders.
One woman shared a story of how a group of kids followed her one day telling her they hated her. Her solution was to tell them she loved them.
Jaimes said the turnout showed the commitment of those in attendance to affecting change. Our differences are what make use great, she added.
LaVille said the effort will continue with discussion circles and those interested in participating could contact her at the Marshalltown Public Library or Feagan at St. Mary's Hispanic Ministry.
Only by getting to know one another can we hope to stamp out bullying, Feagan said. It doesn't take much, she added, simply talking to a neighbor who comes from a different background can get the ball rolling.
"If you see someone, say something," she said.