Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"Love is the key to the problems of the world." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Alison Wetter (CTF 2015) from Memphis, Tennessee, is part of a team that has launched a project called Watch Love Work to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in their city in 1968. They are releasing a video story of love from Memphis every week this year. They ask us to watch, love, work."Watch the films, allow them to open your heart, share them with others, and add your own stories of love. Then, let’s watch love work. Let’s see what happens when we overwhelm the world in memory of Dr. King.” You can watch the films and sign up to receive a weekly email of them at watchlovework.org. 

Watch love work




It all began when Alison attended the 2013 Healing History Conference in Caux, Switzerland, at the invitation of IofC USA board chair Alex Wise, who had recently moved to Memphis and encouraged a cohort of people from his new city to attend. Alison credits the opening remarks by Dr. Gail Christopher of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation about the power of love and story and the necessity of moving people through their hearts with preparing her heart for the planting of the seed of Watch Love Work.

It was in a session based on the city of Richmond and its efforts to heal its history that she was “moved to do something” to help heal her hometown in connection with the approaching 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King.

For the next few years, Alison educated and prepared herself for the task, offering herself to help and trying to stay open to what exactly it was she was to do. As part of that preparation, she made several trips to Richmond to observe the work of Hope in the Cities. She attended the Metropolitan Richmond Day forum and took part on a walk on the historic Slave Trail. 

Alison was so impressed by what was going on in Richmond that she signed up for the Community Trustbuilding Fellowship (CTF) class of 2015. During that five-month class, she was inspired by the power of personal transformation as well as the power of film.

On a weekend retreat while she was back home in Memphis, Alison first watched the documentary I Am and later heard its creator, Tom Shadyac, speak about the power of sharing stories and opening hearts. When she started attending Tom’s classes at the University of Memphis and learned about the hero’s journey and using brokenness as strength, the idea of Watch Love Work began to take a more specific form.

Alison returned to Richmond to help with the Healing History conference in the spring of 2015, where she heard faculty from Eastern Mennonite University who introduced her to the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. That summer Alison attended EMU’s summer institute class on using film for social change.

Watch love work


Though she was hesitant to pitch her idea of a video project, when she finally did so that fall, she was introduced to a nonprofit group that was interested in partnering to make it happen. They were able to help her come up with a budget to make the 50 films, brand the project, design the website and manage the social media. A few days later they secured funding from Memphis philanthropists and Watch Love Work was born.

Alison says that her CTF training was very helpful in building trust when she formed a small committee of volunteers, who didn’t know each other but represented different parts of Memphis, to help look for and select the stories they would make into videos.

She hopes that IofC and Hope in the Cities will use their international network of organizations and friends to help spread the videos. She encourages participating groups to add video stories of love from their communities to Watch Love Work’s effort to overwhelm the world with love in memory of Dr. King. Alison says, “I am so grateful for the work of IofC. For me it was both the impetus and vehicle for Watch Love Work, helping me to be open to a call and providing me with the inspiration, skills and experiences to live out that call.”

Watch love work


Watch the videos

Photo: Alison Wetter is second from the left in the back row of the group photo.