Projects

Public Square is a new company, but we’ve been busy. This is what we are working on.

FAITH IN ACTION

More than 70 million Americans have some kind of record that impedes their access to employment, housing, occupational licensing and educational opportunities. This short film, produced by Titi Yu, reveals the devastating long-term impact of living with a criminal record. In Georgia, a group of faith leaders have joined forces with justice partners in their community to hold one-stop, one-day expungement events that give hundreds of people with past criminal justice involvement the chance to clear their record and their name. Public Square produced the film and a companion how-to guide to encourage replication of these innovative expungement events. FAITH IN ACTION is being showcased at multi-faith gatherings, to legal professionals and to criminal justice reform advocates throughout the year and is available free of charge to inspire dialogue and change.

Watch video and download the expungement toolkit.

THE RIGHT TO VOTE

While we think of voting as the principle inalienable right of our democracy, the fight to cast a ballot is as old as the nation itself, and by no means a guarantee for many Americans. In this short video, produced by Andrew Fredericks and Marley Cogan, we look at two stories of attempts to suppress the rights of citizens to vote and how activists, attorneys and voters banded together to defend their access to the ballot box. Filmed on location in Texas and North Dakota, the documentary illustrates how hard many people have to fight to exercise their right to vote. The stories in THE RIGHT TO VOTE are currently being used in campaigns to protect voting rights. It is available free of charge to inspire dialogue and change.

Watch the video and learn more.

AFTER RIKERS: Justice by Design

This short film, produced and directed by Pamela Mason Wagner, explores the vision for new community-based jails that New York City has proposed as part of its plan to reform the criminal justice system, significantly reduce incarceration, and close the massive Rikers Island jail complex. Created as a catalyst for civic engagement, the film takes a step back from the site-specific concerns that have dominated public discussion to consider broader questions about these new facilities. How will they be different from Rikers Island? What problems are they intended to solve? Can new facilities help to change the culture of violence that has plagued Rikers Island? Throughout the spring and summer of 2019, the film was screened for dozens of audiences across the city from NYU Law School to the Red Hook Center for Community Justice to the Queens Museum and the New York City Bar Association. Public Square partnered with Thirteen/WNET to produce “Justice Week” on MetroFocus in April 2019. The week of half-hour news programs kicked off with AFTER RIKERS, and then throughout the week episodes of MetroFocus explored issues including women and incarceration, alternative uses for the land on Rikers Island, incarcerating people with mental illness and how issues like bail reform and parole policies effect the number of people in jail. “Justice Week” was rebroadcast in July and is available here.

Watch the video.

NO CHOICE

1 in 4 women have had an abortion, but no one talks about it. This web-based video series, produced and directed by Pamela Mason Wagner, breaks the silence and the stigma. As reproductive rights are being eroded in states across the country, what’s at stake for women, and what might be the consequences for our families, our communities, and even our health care system? These videos are an ideal tool to get that conversation going and inspire action. Forget the vague hypotheticals. Let’s grapple with real stories of human impact to think hard about public policy. #NoChoice was recently broadcast on the public television series, To The Contrary with Bonnie Erbe. To engage college-age viewers, Public Square partnered with Advocates for Youth to organize campus screening events across the country in spring 2019. Thousands of students watched and talked about the stories from University of Massachusetts in Amherst to James Madison University in Virginia and the College of DuPage in Illinois.

Watch NO CHOICE stories.

Multifaith Movement to End Mass Incarceration Action Toolkit

The Multifaith Movement to End Mass Incarceration launched in June, 2019 with a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Over 300 faith leaders and criminal justice reform stakeholders gathered for the three-day conference to galvanize faith communities to collectively organize to stop the human rights catastrophe of mass incarceration. The movement was started through the collaboration of three historic institutions—Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was senior pastor until his assassination; Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City; and The Temple in Atlanta, the largest Jewish congregation in Georgia. Public Square’s film FAITH IN ACTION—which was filmed at Ebenezer and The Temple—premiered at the conference. Public Square was also commissioned by the conference leadership to produce a criminal justice reform toolkit as an action resource for the movement. This 90-page toolkit already widely distributed in print and digitally, is currently being converted into a dynamic website to support the movement.

Everything We Know About Russia and President Trump

Donald Trump’s connection to Russian interests dates back more than 35 years. This web-based resource now includes over 1,500 entries in an easy-to-navigate timeline that starts in 1979. Initially published at BillMoyers.com, the timeline is now live on Dan Rather’s News and Guts website. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow called the timeline “the greatest tool we journalists have.” Lawyer Steven Harper and producers at Public Square continue to update the timeline as the complex network of connections continues to unfold in today’s headlines. Readers can browse entries chronologically, focus on a particular date range, or use the name filter to click on one or more individuals to see where they fit in the overall narrative.

Track the history of President Trump’s Russia connections here.

Redistricting 2021

Throughout the country, while some organizations are pushing to end partisan gerrymandering through the Supreme Court, others are working to achieve reform through ballot and legislative initiatives. This explainer video answers the questions: What is gerrymandering? What is redistricting? Why does it make a difference? And what’s being done about it? OneVirginia2021 used this video in its campaign to establish an Independent Redistricting Commission in Virginia.

Watch the video.

More Just NYC Explainer Video

The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, chaired by former Chief Judge of the State of New York Jonathan Lippman, is an independent body of more than two dozen experts, policymakers, and advocates from a variety of backgrounds, including law enforcement, academia, the judiciary, advocacy groups, business, and those who have spent time behind bars. In April 2017, the Commission issued A More Just New York City, a groundbreaking evidence-based set of recommendations for improving New York City’s criminal justice system, including closing the dysfunctional jail complex on Rikers Island, significantly reducing the number of people in jail, and shifting to a modern system of smaller facilities located near the borough criminal courts. As the Commission has continued to educate the public about the changes in public policy needed to achieve decarceration in New York City, MORE JUST NYC hired Public Square to create a brief “explainer video” to summarize the Commission’s recommendations. Public Square collaborated with the award-winning animation company The Studio to produce this short animated video.

Watch the video.

RIKERS: An American Jail

This PBS documentary, broadcast in May 2017, was commissioned by Bill Moyers and produced with Brick City TV. It raises up the voices of the incarcerated, bringing viewers face to face with people who endured Rikers Island Jail. Winner of the RFK Human Rights Journalism Award for Media Advocacy, RIKERS has been the centerpiece for hundreds of screening events that focus on the urgent need for criminal justice reform. Public Square has collaborated with campus faculty and student groups, faith-based conferences and local congregations, bar associations and law schools, libraries and advocacy organizations across the country to drive dialogue and action using this documentary as a catalyst for discussion. Central to this campaign have been people featured in the film who travel to screening events to directly share their experience and their expertise.

Watch the film on the project website and consider hosting a screening.

AGAINST ALL ODDS: The Fight for A Black Middle Class

“Have black Americans had a fair shot at the American dream?” Acclaimed journalist Bob Herbert, the executive editor, has been covering and commenting on American politics, poverty, racism and social issues for over 45 years, and he answers that question with this PBS documentary that probes the harsh and often brutal discrimination that has made it difficult for African-American families to establish a middle-class standard of living. Screened at several film festivals across the country, the film has engaged audiences from the Chicago Ideas Festival to Atlanta’s Auburn Library for African-American Culture and History to the Brooklyn Historical Society, helping to change the narrative around the economic reality facing America’s black families today. In October 2018, MIPCOM—the world’s largest entertainment content market held in Cannes, France—honored the film with the Diversity TV Excellence Award for non-scripted television.

Watch Against All Odds. Plan a screening.

#MeToo, Now What?

In the wake of a tumult of public revelations, this provocative and timely five-part series explores the cultural and systemic issues that underlie sexual harassment. Produced for PBS in conjunction with Adin Productions and Women in the World Media, with executive producer and host Zainab Salbi. In a media interview in February 2017, at the time of the series premiere, Salbi commented on the many women coming forward with their stories “now for the first time, we’re all united in saying this is not limited to a class, race, or culture—we all have this issue.”

#Me Too, Now What? is streaming on PBS. Watch it here.

BillMoyers.com

The definitive web archive with over 1,000 programs that Bill Moyers and his team produced over more than 40 years, Public Square produced this site’s robust weekly blog featuring essays and videos by managing editor Bill Moyers as well as the perspectives of other journalists, scholars, activists, and creative men and women in the arts and sciences. When Bill Moyers retired from weekly television in early 2015, the site rapidly became a go-to destination for those seeking the truth about power. The Public Square digital team led by Theresa Riley, produced original stories about lobbyists, secret PACs, media consolidation and deep state networks amplifying this journalism content to hundreds of thousands of readers through Moyers’ Twitter feed and Facebook page as well as weekly newsletters. Stories were often also syndicated to Salon, Alternet and other heavily-trafficked websites. Both the Trump/Russia timeline and the video series No Choice originated as special projects of BillMoyers.com that Public Square continues to screen and promote to reach new audiences.

Explore the Bill Moyers archive.

Faith & Justice

“No matter how blue, red or purple your state, the polarization and injustice rampant in our nation is devastating to people of faith. These are hot-mess times!” So says the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, who welcomes dynamic faith leaders at the forefront of social justice in their communities to her church each spring to share their moral courage and imagination and focus on solutions. Produced and directed by Titi Yu, Public Square partnered with Revered Lewis to take advantage of this extraordinary gathering to produce a series of six interviews for a new Thirteen/WNET initiative called Chapter&Verse.

Watch here. What other voices does the public need to hear? Let us know.

REDEFINING RIVALRIES Podcast Series

Inspired by the intense competition between Chuck and Axe on Showtime, Wall Street Journal brought Billions fans a podcast series that takes a deep dive into rivalry in four distinct areas: finance, sports, music, and food. Produced by Jessica Wang, the series was produced in association with Sandblast Productions for the Wall Street Journal Creative Studio.

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