In response to several incidents of anti-immigrant harassment in 2016, a non-partisan group of Lewiston and Auburn residents began meeting to discuss ways to support their community at a time of increased public hostility. This group, the Community of Kindness, partnered with YWCA Central Maine to engage Green Dot, an internationally respected leader in bystander training.
Three intensive days of focus groups in April 2017 involving individuals from multiple community leaders, organizations, and groups enabled Green Dot to learn more about our community and its recent experiences. Using this focus-group research, Green Dot then created a customized curriculum and provided a four-day instructor training, which was completed by 46 participants at the Lewiston Public Library in August 2017.
Over the next six months, many of those newly certified instructors worked together to preparing presentations and workshops on bystander intervention for businesses and groups in the Twin Cities. Others have been more informally sharing what they learned in their own organizations, neighborhoods, families, and friendship circles, which helps bystander training ripple throughout our community. We also had a series of public events to raise awareness of the Green Dot initiative and our coming launch.
In March of 2018 we had our formal public launch, with presentations at both the Auburn and Lewiston City Councils. The Auburn City Council unanimously approved a Resolution of REcognition. We also presented to a power lunch at the LA Metro Chamber of commerce and held a Lisbon Street Walk where we collected and walked along Lisbon Street during the noon hour and visited selected businesses to provide information and materials.