Daily, on the streets and in the organizations of Memphis, people are committing acts of selfless love. Helping strangers, uplifting others, making connections with neighbors – these are the kinds of everyday, but remarkably special, stories of compassion that Community Foundation donor Alison Wetter and a team of Memphians are bringing to life through their Watch Love Work video series.
As the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination approaches in April 2018, a new Watch Love Work video goes live each Monday afternoon on watchlovework.org and the watch love work YouTube channel. Fifty 2-3 minute videos share a story of love in action from Memphis and shine a spotlight on individuals and local nonprofits including MIFA’s Meals on Wheels program and the Carpenter Art Garden in Binghampton.
As a student of truth and reconciliation for several years in programs in the U.S. and abroad, Alison Wetter was searching for a way to catalyze her passion for healing work in a meaningful way in her hometown of Memphis. She was inspired to produce the video series after taking a class taught by filmmaker and philanthropist Tom Shadyac that connected the power of film with “opening hearts.”
Wetter assembled a team including seven other diverse volunteers (left) to spearhead the project and to offer their perspectives on people and organizations to include in the videos. Their mandate: spread love in the spirit and in memory of Dr. King. “When the world pays attention to us about an event in our history, we have an obligation,” says Wetter. “Your brokenness becomes your strength, and it’s what you use to heal others in the world.”
She found a video production, marketing, and social media partner in City Leadership, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening and promoting Memphis. A project fund at the Community Foundation provided a convenient and efficient way for donors to help turn Wetter’s dream into a reality. Published videos have already showcased renowned saxophonist Kirk Whalum’s volunteer service as barber to the homeless at Manna House and nonprofit Just City’s work to ensure social justice for the formerly incarcerated.
Alison Wetter says, “We want love to be spread for people to share worldwide. As Dr. King taught us, through love there will be healing and problems will be solved. Terri Lee Freeman [president of the National Civil Rights Museum and Community Foundation Board member] recently said, ‘We’re trying to eventually change systems and structures. It doesn’t start without changing hearts. And until we change people’s hearts, there is a whole bunch of heart work that needs to go on.’ This is opening the hearts of people through the power of story and the power of film.”
You can sign up to receive a weekly email of the films at watchlovework.org.