Playback Memphis

Peace - Unfunded Finalist

Cultivating empathy is core to the mission of Playback Memphis. The organization uses a unique form of improvisational theatre, based on true stories of community members, to bring diverse human stories to life so they may be heard, seen and understood. Playback Memphis integrates strengths-based mindfulness practices and the language and lens of nonviolent communication to achieve significant results in bridging the divide between people with histories of distrust and conflict. Through a unique collaboration with the Memphis Police Department (MPD) and Lifeline to Success, a re-entry program based in Frayser, Playback Memphis created an initiative that brings cohorts of MPD officers and Lifeliners together to learn the artform of Playback theatre as a tool for breaking down barriers of distrust, building authentic relationships, growing in trauma awareness, and working collectively to increase safety, kinship, and hope. By building on lessons learned and further extensive research, the organization intends to expand this initiative’s reach across the police department. By helping to build a culture of empathy, Playback Memphis believes it can have a significant impact on community-police relations by reducing negative police-community interactions and increasing officers’ capacity for resolving conflicts peacefully.

Playback Memphis will leverage its past success and the relational trust it has built with MPD leaders and officers to take this peace-building initiative to the next level. The organization will work alongside officers and Lifeliners who are past program participants, as well as national experts in police trainings (focused on empathy, anti-bias, cultural sensitivity, trauma awareness), to design and implement a custom orientation for Field Training Officers and a training experience within the in-service week for all MPD officers. In the initial year of implementation, Playback will launch the Field Training Officers’ orientation and create pilot groups of officers to test, adapt, and finalize the in-service curriculum to be implemented in the following year among all active duty police officers. The organization seeks funds to support this pilot program.

If you have a fund at the Community Foundation and would like to donate to support this project, click the button below and designate MLK50: The Next Step Forward in the "Grant Purpose" field.

You can make an online donation with a credit card or through your donor-advised fund at Playback Memphis's profile. Click "Donate Now" and designate MLK50: The Next Step Forward in the "Special Instructions" field.

To learn more about the MLK50: The Next Step Forward grant round and see other grantees and finalists, click here.