Blueprint for Belonging

The Haas Institute’s Blueprint for Belonging project is a collaborative initiative of over 20 organizations united in achieving transformative change in California through the development of a strategic narrative that underpins all our collective work across movements, issues, and policies. Such a narrative has to be centered on an outcome of inclusion and belonging for all marginalized groups. It must focus on eliminating racialized inequality, creating empathetic identities that bridge differences, and promoting an inclusive and responsive government.

Get Out The Vote, Public Service Announcement Videos
Through a grant from Open Society Foundations, the Haas Institute worked with the Perception Institute and other collaborators to create content designed to confront and counteract the anxiety, anger, and fear that was strategically stoked for political gain during the 2016 presidential election. The project led to the creation of three 90-second PSA videos targeting specific audiences with messages that named out loud the tensions and anxieties gripping these groups and offered alternative narratives of inclusivity while promoting civic engagement through voter participation.

The Haas Institute recognized that a Get Out The Vote campaign could create a timely and unique opportunity to use a strategic narrative to promote belonging despite a landscape of increasing anxiety. During the 2016 election, growing diversity, economic insecurity, and inequality and demographic changes were grounds for a deeply polarizing politic of fear. This was further compounded by a growing constituent of disenfranchised voters, particularly millennials and people of color, and swaths of progressives feeling unheard and unrepresented by an out of touch federal government in the run up to the 2016 presidential election. 

Three PSA-style videos were developed and tested to determine their impact on targeted voter groups. The narratives produced attempt to create space for bridging across and within racial and ethnic lines by “wrestling out loud” with the conversations already being had within families, organizations, movements, political parties, and even within individuals internally. 

Based on the results of initial testing, two 90-second videos were finalized and distributed prior to the 2016 presidential election:

  • Being a Man is Hard Sometimes: Produced by filmmaker Jennifer Dworkin and writers Dan Trujillo and Issac Butler, this PSA aimed at addressing gender bias toward women in leadership.  In the video a white male protagonist wrestles with a changing America and his feelings around his stature as a man being challenged as values change in his country. Ultimately, he decides that being a man doesn’t require linking himself to hostility.
  • #Vote4BlackFutures: Produced by Whalerock Industries, this PSA used a dynamic presentation of spoken word, music, protest footage and beautiful black imagery to highlight the issues that stand to impact the black community. The goal of the video was to extend black activism on issues like structural racism and the criminal justice system to the ballot box through voter participation and civic engagement. 

The large-scale studies led by Professor Robb Willer, Stanford University Department of Sociology, revealed specific information on how video content affected the views of  particular audiences. By developing an effective, research informed, intentional framework, the project fit seamlessly into the broader Haas mission regarding the analysis of structural inequity in the economy and government. Through the engagement of dozens of community, advocacy and labor organizations  the project provided a multi-media content aimed at  supporting  a meta-narrative that reflects a set of humane values and shared vision of inclusion and equality for all.

For more information on this project, download this report.