PROJECT ORIGINS

While our campaign is just starting now, this project really started 15 years ago.  In the spring of 2000, after a string of school shootings and unceasing youth violence in Washington, D.C., a small group of young artists and educators came together determined to shift the paradigm; they wanted to use their music, visual art and spoken word poetry to inspire youth to put down the guns and choose love oveTriumph_Over_Tragedy_Rally_r hate. They also wanted to teach youth that expression didn’t always have to be negative to sell. The founding members’ passion and commitment to youth development and cultural transformation was the impetus for organizing themselves into a 501(c)3 called One Common Unity (OCU). 

Fast forward to 2011, Hawah, a co-founder of OCU, and the talented filmmaker Ellie Walton, decided to document the journey of four youth who were participating in the OCU’s pilot ‘Fly By Light’ retreat.  Ellie, Hawah, a group of facilitators and educators, and a group of inner-city DC youth, packed into a bus and headed into the mountains of West Virginia for 8 days.  The film took a 5 years to complete; and it was well-worth it- since it’s completion it has been screened nation wide, been in over a dozen festivals, and won numerous awards.  

The impact of the film on audiences around the country made its creators realize it could serve as a catalyst for long-term sustainable change, and that it could bring awareness and action to communities across the country.  OCU teamed up with the distribution and impact firm Slow Media, and together they are working to build a national movement around these 83 powerful minutes.

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