This profile was prepared when Harry Wiland was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Dale and Harry are finding and documenting a new spirit of cooperation among neighbors, community leaders, elected officials, and government agencies. Convinced that understanding engenders civic engagement, they use their unique talents and media outreach model to spread the seeds of locally inspired solutions, and to sustain interest and dialogue for the extended time necessary to achieve profound systemic social change. Through a documentary filmmaker’s lens, they show people from disparate backgrounds and political leanings taking action where society’s institutions have failed, and finding encouragement and help from neighbors. Dale and Harry want others to recognize and engage in this resurgence of civic energy. They founded the Media & Policy Center Foundation to use socially relevant media to turn viewers into doers by showing what individuals and small groups can achieve, and by giving people the tools they need to be effective agents of change. Their stories impact viewers deeply, inspiring them to take action. By capturing and disseminating personal and community stories that would not otherwise gain media attention, Dale and Harry help citizens in communities across the country understand and address the issues that confront them. They then use public television broadcasts to catalyze civic engagement.