The Importance of Reaching Out|Background & Content|Program Overviews
Project Plan|Working Group & Advisory Circle


Preparations for Broadcast Launch

During the coming period, the Reaching Out Project will present the broadcast premiere of a television series that models a process of deep community healing, and begin to engage viewers in carrying that process forward in their own lives.

The Reaching Out television series is a sequence of seven 30-minute programs that invites viewers to active participation in the quest for racial healing, ecological awareness and compassionate community. Reaching Out offers an integral and global vision, and is presented as a resource for people who are seeking healing at every level.

Bay Area PBS affiliates KTEH (San Jose) and KRCB (Santa Rosa) will initially present Reaching Out to the entire San Francisco metropolitan area, early in the coming year. KTEH will then serve as presenting station to the PBS network, making the series available throughout the United States by the spring of 1998.

With the series now completed, we are turning our attention to creating the largest possible and the most culturally-diverse audience for the Bay Area premiere. As part of the promotion, audience members will be encouraged to watch the series in "wisdom circle" viewing groups, and, after each program, reflect together in a safe space in which they can be open to self-knowledge and change. Viewing groups will be encouraged to hold an eighth meeting after the series ends, where participants can share what changes in perception and behavior have occurred for each of them, and ask the group to bear witness to the changes they want to continue to make in their daily lives.

A Reaching Out Viewer's Guide, now in development, will contain program highlights, guidance on conducting and/or participating in a wisdom circle, and questions for reflection and discussion. This Reaching Out Website will offer additional resources and practical assistance, and provide a vehicle for ongoing dialogue among viewers throughout the region and, later, the country at large.

The seven programs will be also available on video cassette for individual and group viewing, and use by organizations.

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The Importance of Reaching Out

Reaching Out is the first public television presentation to

Throughout the Reaching Out series a recurring theme is offered by Latino/Chicano course participant Roberto Vargas. He speaks of conocimiento as a pre-condition for developing trust, unity, and the capacity for shared action. Conocimiento, a Spanish-language word for which there is no precise English-language equivalent, means "to create knowledge of each other, and mutual understanding, by talking together."

Many of us yearn to be part of a cross-cultural community of kindred spirits where we can work together to solve the problems that confront us all. The Reaching Out television series reminds us that learning how to listen, and how to speak from the heart, is the first and most crucial step toward realizing this goal. (While the series title is "Reaching Out," it becomes apparent from the beginning of the first program that "Reaching In" is an implicit and inseparable aspect of the process.)

Our aim is to catalyze and rekindle nothing less than the capacity to meet one another across perceptions of difference with the presumption of friendship. With a commitment to work together to air our conflicts and overcome our denial about the seriousness of our predicament, those of us who enter this process can deepen our compassion and begin to discover what we are able to accomplish once we feel safe with each other.

The great challenge for all of us is to restore relational harmony--among individuals, between communities, and within the natural world. Reaching Out addresses this challenge with these enabling objectives:

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Background & Context

The Reaching Out television programs grow out of a sequence of community gatherings in Oakland, California where 1,000 people came together in ten weekly town-hall meetings and small-group "wisdom circle" dialogues, addressing this fundamental question: "What keeps us so separate--and what can we do about it?"

The community meetings were hosted by Ram Dass (author of How Can I Help? and Compassion in Action). They included live and pre-recorded interviews with:

Carl Anthony, African-American environmentalist, President of Earth Island Institute, Director of the Urban Habitat Program,

Father Thomas Berry, Author, Catholic priest and Teilhardian scholar,

Carolyn Cottom, Environmental and nuclear test-ban activist,

Winona LaDuke, Native American attorney and environmentalist,

Joanna Macy, Author, Buddhist scholar, founder of the Nuclear Guardianship Project,

Rabbi Zalman Schachter, Hasidic rabbi and scholar,

John Seed, Australian deep ecology and rainforest activist and author,

Brother David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine monk,

Mililani Trask, Native Hawaiian attorney and sovereignty leader, and

Jim Wallis, Evangelical minister, founder of Sojourners Community.

The sessions also featured presentations by:

Martín Cano, Latino/Chicano diversity trainer,

Lakota Hardin, Native American diversity trainer,

Bharat Lindemood, AIDS care-giver, and

Roberto Vargas, Latino/Chicano community educator,

as well as live performances by:

The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir,

Robert Shields, mime, and

Cris Williamson, singer and songwriter.

Course participants met in racially-diverse "wisdom circles," and shared their griefs, expressed their yearnings, built trust, and found common vision and purpose. The Reaching Out television series weaves highlights from the course sessions with this more intimate material from the small-group dialogues.

Reaching Out is designed to inspire and equip television viewers to carry forward, in their own lives and their own communities, the healing process depicted in the programs--to become participants in our shared journey toward wholeness. Indeed, this is the whole point of this entire project.

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Overview of the Seven Television Programs

This brief written overview is no substitute for actually experiencing the programs, but it does convey a sense of subject matter and scope, and suggests the overall trajectory of the personal and small-group process, and larger-community engagement, the series seeks to facilitate.


Program One--We Come Together--begins with the challenge faced by the predominantly white, middle-class course participants to learn how to relate with people who are not white and middle-class, in a way that can become healthy and functional for all concerned. The program then introduces the interplay of social, environmental, and spiritual issues that will be developed in depth throughout the rest of the series.

This program enables viewers to experience the humanity of the course participants, and elicits the resonance that comes from seeing "ordinary people" acknowledge:

The people depicted in the Reaching Out television series enter into this dialogue, modeling a process that viewers can identify with, be moved by, and have the means to undertake as well. In a nutshell, the entire series is designed to attract viewers to enter into this process.


Program Two--We Cross a Threshold--is derived from a pre-course meeting with a group of Chicano community activists. This program grounds the entire Reaching Out process in the actuality of the great racial and class gulf that separates us from one another, and impacts all our lives.

One Chicano viewer exclaimed after seeing this segment: "It makes me proud to see Latinos and Latinas speak forthrightly and intelligently about our culture and concerns--something I have never before seen on television." And for viewers who are not Chicano/Latino, and not people of color, this program opens a window to hear people speaking in a way they may never have experienced, either on television or in real life.


Program Three--We Care Together--addresses this fundamental issue: how do we, and how might we better, respond to suffering--both other people's and our own? And how might those who are relatively privileged in this society respond to the suffering of people who are relatively disadvantaged, going beyond a 'helper' role, opening to the reality that we all experience suffering, and understanding that we need each other?

Brother David Steindl-Rast observes, "The fear of coming too close to other people's suffering is really, when the chips are down, a fear of your own suffering."


Program Four--We Feel Together--extends this process of personal and community healing into the ecological domain, addressing what is probably the greatest suffering we are called upon to face together: the very real possibility that we are now undermining the capacity of the earth to sustain us. This program weaves selections from interviews with Thomas Berry, Winona LaDuke, and John Seed with footage of course participants facing our environmental reality. They respond in a visceral way that opens them to a deepening experience of connectedness with one another--and with the ecology of all being--and an intensified commitment to planetary healing.


Program Five--We Think Together--addresses the inter-connected environmental, social, and spiritual challenge we face to create a just and compassionate community and a sustainable world.

The program opens with mime Robert Shields in a performance piece. As a robotic animatronic, he reflects on humankind: "The human design has an unlimited source that can be tapped by the opening of the heart. Unfortunately very few humans are aware of this." Carolyn Cottom articulates the need to transform into a "partnership society," including the requirement for changes in lifestyles and patterns of consumption. Roberto Vargas puts it very simply: "We have to love each other. We have to care for each other. And that's environmental work. It's the caring for each other."


Program Six--We Heal Together--returns to the issue of racial healing. Given what we have to face, the critical question is how can we do it together, as allies. Buddhist scholar and earth activist Joanna Macy asks us to look at one another and recognize strengths and potentials, such as compassion, intelligence, ingenuity, endurance--and then think what it might mean for the world if these gifts were to be released, these powers acted upon.

This program shows a small multi-racial group of course participants encountering an all-too-familiar threshold barrier: anger on the part of people of color and defensiveness and incomprehension on the part of white people. The group finds its way through this mine field, discovering that hard issues need not end a relationship, but can be an occasion for inter-personal truth, an opportunity for building trust, and a necessary preliminary for acting in concert.


Program Seven--We Are Together--climaxes the series with a palpable experience of people finding common unity. Participants and viewers alike discover the power to be found in facing our demons, and in looking together at what seems most threatening and painful in our personal, social and ecological realities. This program is a celebration of 'reaching out,' being 'reached out to' in return, and discovering the essential vision we all share.

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The Project Plan

The Reaching Out Project has these seven major objectives for the coming period:


FIRST OBJECTIVE--To present the public television premiere throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area early in 1998.

With the series now completed, this first objective includes only one remaining major element.

A) Scheduling precise airdates with two participating Bay Area PBS affiliates.

Two PBS affiliates (KTEH and KRCB) are collaborating to bring the television premiere of Reaching Out to the greater Bay Area, covering the entire San Francisco metropolitan area from north of Santa Rosa to south of Santa Cruz. We have requested that the series air on a weekday evening, over a seven week period, beginning late in January, 1998. Both stations will finalize their January program schedules by early December.


SECOND OBJECTIVE--To generate the largest and most diverse possible intentional audience for the Bay Area broadcast premiere.

This second objective includes six major elements.

B) Developing and maintaining the Reaching Out Website

The Reaching Out Website can be found at Initially our 3-person working group and 20-person advisory circle will use the Website as an internal communications vehicle to coordinate project planning, outreach, and promotion, and to develop the Viewer's Guide and the Website itself. It will also serve prospective viewers seeking information in advance of the Bay Area PBS premiere. Once the broadcasts begin, the Website will become a vehicle through which viewers can access resources, post their own reflections, and connect with one another.

C) Cultivating a cohort of organizational co-sponsors

The Seva Foundation in Berkeley is joining with the Reaching Out Project as our primary organizational sponsor for the Bay Area and national broadcasts. In collaboration with the Seva Foundation, we are now inviting additional organizations to serve as "organizational co-sponsors." Participating groups will encourage their members to watch the broadcasts, utilize the Reaching Out Website, enter into the larger community dialogue, and perhaps carry that dialogue into the organization itself. Prospective co-sponsors include a broad array of racial, ethnic, and cultural community groups; educational, social service, conflict-resolution, peace, environmental, and spiritual organizations and publications, and religious congregations and denominations.

D) Completing and printing the Reaching Out Viewers Guide

A Reaching Out Viewer's Guide is now in development. It will present background information on the television series and highlights from the programs, suggest questions for personal reflection and/or group discussion, encourage viewers to keep a journal of their own thoughts and feelings, provide resources for communicating with other viewers, offer guidance on conducting and/or participating in a viewing group "wisdom circle," and furnish contact information for community groups and organizations.

E) Designing and disseminating promotional materials

As already indicated, much of the broadcast promotion will be accomplished through newsletter announcements, web-postings, and membership mailings by co-sponsoring organizations. For additional promotion to the general public, we will draw upon the grass-roots base generated by that direct networking to circulate and post flyers and posters in public places throughout the broadcast area.

F) Staging a project kickoff gathering and making promotional appearances

On Friday evening, December 12th, from 7:00-10:00, we will host our a project kickoff gathering, bringing together the living core of people most involved in the project, including many original course participants, and people featured in the programs. Thereafter, members of the working group and the advisory circle will be available to speak about the project with directors and staff of co-sponsoring organizations and at public events.

G) Generating print media stories and booking media appearances

Our approach to the media will frame Reaching Out as an innovative participatory use of television, an instrument for small-group dialogue and community healing. The project director and several members of the advisory circle who are featured in the series will be available to speak with print journalists and on radio and television talk shows.


THIRD OBJECTIVE--To provide services to viewers before, during, and after the Bay Area broadcast premiere.

This third objective includes three major elements.

H) Responding to calls, letters, e-mail

As we approach the broadcast premiere, we will gear up to process an increasing volume of information requests and orders for Viewer's Guides and video cassettes of the programs, which will rise markedly during the period of the broadcasts, and continue to rise afterwards with broadcasts by PBS affiliates around the country. We will also tally viewer comments and feedback, for use in promotion with programmers at the PBS affiliates and with national media.

I) Encouraging formation of home viewing groups

Day-long trainings for people who wish to convene home viewing groups for the broadcasts will be offered at the Seva Foundation office in Berkeley on Saturday, November 15th and Saturday, January 3rd. Participants will be introduced to the "Wisdom Circle" process developed by Cindy Spring, co-author of the forthcoming Wisdom Circles: A guide to self-discovery and community building in small groups (Hyperion Press, 1998).

J) Enlarging website as a forum for viewers

As the airdate for the premiere approaches, the Reaching Out website will be expanded to enable prospective viewers to access and download resources, including the Reaching Out viewer's guide. By the time the broadcasts begin, the website will be expanded again to enable viewers to post and share their own reflections, and to facilitate dialogue within the Reaching Out viewing community.


FOURTH OBJECTIVE--To arrange for national broadcast distribution, and do advance promotion to maximize carriage by national PBS affiliates later in the year.

This fourth objective includes two major elements.

K) Reaching agreement with one of three national and 'regional' programming services for satellite delivery to all PBS affiliates

Program Directors at three programming services (APS--American Program Service, SECA--Southern Educational Communications Association, and CEN--Central Educational Network) have expressed interest in Reaching Out, in preliminary conversations with Danny McGuire, Executive Producer at KTEH, our PBS presenting station. We expect to arrange with one of these services early in 1998 to deliver Reaching Out via satelliute to all PBS affiliates throughout the country for their possible acquisition and use.

L) Promoting to program directors at all PBS affiliates

In conjunction with the satellite delivery of Reaching Out to all the PBS affiliates, we will contact the program director at each station to encourage carriage. This will include mailing a brochure and other promotional materials, including tallies of viewer response to the Bay Area premiere. We will follow up with personal phone calls. In addition, we will suggest to prospective viewers throughout the country that they call or write their local station to register their interest.


FIFTH OBJECTIVE--To begin advance promotion to generate the largest and most diverse possible intentional audience for the national broadcasts.

This fifth objective includes two major elements.

M) Cultivating a cohort of national organizational co-sponsors

Cultivation of national organizational co-sponsors is an extension of the process described above in element C. An initial core of participating national groups will come out of the Bay Area premiere itself, as relationships are established with local and regional offices and chapters.

N) Publicizing through national media

Our strategy here is twofold. We will seek coverage in niche-market publications serving the racial, ethnic, and cultural, educational, social service, conflict-resolution, peace, environmental, spiritual, and religious communities that our organizational co-sponsors represent. We will also seek mainstream coverage of participatory viewer response to the Bay Area premiere as a newsworthy event in itself.


SIXTH OBJECTIVE--To find appropriate outlets for cassette distribution to educational, 'home,' and/or international markets.

This sixth objective includes three major elements.

{O) Finding appropriate educational market distributor

{P) Finding appropriate 'home' market distributor(s)

{Q) Finding appropriate international distributor(s)

The Reaching Out broadcasts will include an on-air cassette offer. We will contract with a duplicator to fulfill the cassette orders that come in response. In addition, we will seek to contract with other distributors to market video-cassettes of the Reaching Out series, independently of the television broadcasts. We are beginning discussions with several distributors who specialize in the relatively higher-priced educational market. The challenge is to find an educational distributor who will not insist on restricting parallel distribution to a mass audience, reached only through the much lower-priced 'home' market,' which includes video stores and catalogs, as well as community groups, religious congregations, libraries, and other grass-roots users of all kinds. Once we resolve this threshold issue of educational distribution, we will seek appropriate distributors to the 'home market' in the United States and beyond.


SEVENTH OBJECTIVE--To explore prospects for television broadcast in other countries.

This seventh objective includes two major elements.

{R) Exploring broadcast prospects in English-speaking countries

{S) Exploring broadcast prospects in non-English-speaking countries

Once arrangements are completed for satellite delivery to PBS affiliates throughout the United States, we will explore international broadcast possibilities. By their nature, the Reaching Out programs would appear to be difficult to sub-title or dub, and English-speaking countries probably represent the most likely prospects. Nevertheless, InterNews, a company doing business in many Eastern European countries, has already asked for right of first refusal for the Russian broadcast market.

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The Working Group & Advisory Circle

This phase of the Reaching Out Project is currently being carried out by a 3-person Working Group, with the assistance of project volunteers, and the advice, participation, and support of a 17-person Advisory Circle.

The Working Group

Joseph Tieger, M.Ed., J.D., is the Executive Producer of the Reaching Out television series and Director of the Reaching Out Project. An Angier B. Duke Scholar at Duke University, he graduated in 1963 into the southern civil rights and anti-war movements, working as a field organizer with CORE, SNCC, and Vietnam Summer. After graduating in 1970 from Duke Law School, he maintained a civil rights/civil liberties and constitutional law practice throughout the South. He later completed doctoral coursework in counselling and psychotherapy at the California Institute of Integral Studies, developed a private counselling practice, and did volunteer work with terminally-ill clients. With partner Johanna Luther, he co-founded Original Face Video to produce and distribute socially/spiritually-conscious television programming. How Then Shall We Live?, their nine-hour PBS series on death & dying, personal awakening, and the challenge to preserve a habitable planet, aired throughout the country in the late '80's.

Cindy Spring is the Executive Director of Wisdom Circles, a non-profit educational organization. She provides assistance in initiating wisdom circles, and serves as a speaker and circle-maker at organizational conferences. She is the co-author, with her husband Charles Garfield, of Sometimes My Heart Goes Numb--Love and Caregiving in a Time of AIDS. She is also a nationally-recognized spoken word audio producer with over 100 productions to her credit, including John Bradshaw's Homecoming and Creating Love, Sam Keen's Fire in the Belly, Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline, and Deepak Chopra's Quantum Healing and Return of the Rishi. Her work in audio continues through the production of the Wisdom Circles CD Series. The book, Wisdom Circles, A Guide to Self-Discovery and Community Building in Small Groups, co-authored by Garfield, Spring, and Sedonia Cahill, will be published by Hyperion in February of 1998.

Bharat Lindemood, M.A., M.F.C.C.-I., has for 20 years explored compassionate service as a path of awakening, capable of sustaining both care-givers and care-receivers. For 15 years he worked as a counselor and psychotherapist in medical and clinical environments serving a full spectrum of racial and class diversity. For the last 6 of those years he worked as a Shanti Project Counselor for patients and their families on the AIDS ward of San Francisco General Hospital. He has also lived as a person with HIV--and frequent care recipient--since 1985. He has lived, studied, and served abroad, including a term as a Peace Corp Volunteer, and extended periods of spiritual quest in India, Southeast Asia, and Mexico. His writings include publications on contemplative and integrative approaches to psychotherapy and AIDS caregiving. For the last 2 years his primary muses have been the World Wide Web as an appropriate technology for humanity to realize its interdependence and shared awareness, and gardening as a complementary activity contributing to his own healing and well-being.


The Advisory Circle

Carl Anthony, Executive Director, Urban Habitat Program of Earth Island Institute

Carolyn Chan, Occupational Therapist/ Rosen Work Practitioner

Ezzie Davis, Healing Center Director, Wilbur Hot Springs

Jesús De La Rosa, Psychotherapist, Kaiser Permanente

Charles Garfield, Clinical Professor, UCSF Medical School

Línda Gonzalez, Attorney, La Raza Centro Legál

Shams Kairys, Founding Board Chair, EarthSave International

Alan Levin, Executive Director, Holos Institute

Johanna Luther, Producer, Reaching Out Project

Joanna Macy, Author, World as Lover, World as Self

James O'Dea, Executive Director, Seva Foundation

Skip Robinson, Organizational Consultant, Robinson & Associates

Belvie Rooks, Environmental Education Coordinator, Urban Habitat Program

John Seed, FounderRainforest Information Centres

Nancy Thompson, Workshop Leader, Healing the Wounds of Racism

Roberto Vargas, Planning Consultant, New World Associates

Cris Williamson, Singer & Songwriter

©1998 Choice Point

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Project Plan|Working Group & Advisory Circle