Notes from the Field

Community leaders, institutions, and even entire communities can inspire us to do great work ourselves. They can serve as role models, spark new ideas in us, or provide us with a place to place our energy. There are a great deal of community members and places left unsung or only recognized by a narrow population and while we can never show all of the people that deeply affect and serve their communities, we hope to shine a light on and share the stories of some of those people and places and what they mean to their community.

Pinpoints Concept Paper

January 20, 2017
Submitted by: Paul Riley

The most important way to understand one's own humanity - one's own desires, dreams, fears, passions, aspirations, weaknesses - is through the humanity of others. Hearing the stories of others allows us a chance to reflect on our own lives, finding commonalities in the buried details of anecdotes where on the surface we saw only difference. In fleeting glimpses of others, we notice that which separates us: different hometowns and religious beliefs; variance in hues of skin; the gender of the hands they hold; buttons promoting our political rival on their shirts. But by stopping to listen, we can let the stories wash over us and wear away our own barriers to connection. We discover that they too have celebrated personal success or mourned what once had been. We learn that they who once seemed so different care about what we do: being connected to others in a healthy community.

In the United States, we have used technology to connect ourselves to others, both old friends and strangers, in incredible ways. Seconds with a touchscreen bring us face to face - or text to eye - with people on the other side of the country. We are linked in ways unimaginable to most of us only twenty years ago. Yet while we've reduced the distance of communication to the nano level, we remain emotionally and spiritually miles away.

Pinpoints is working to change that. Pinpoints is a gathering place, both online and in person, where people can share their passions, creativity and politics. We seek to use the powerful technological tools available to us to build stronger communities in this country, outside of the digital realm. There are millions of people whose daily work brings people together. They're the small businesspeople whose stores are lighthouses, guiding people home again. They're the musicians whose voices overcome language barriers. They're the travelers who seek the unfamiliar, the thinkers who teach others about the complexities of life. In telling the stories of everyday Americans, we shine a spotlight on what is possible through simple acts.

We also know that people will act when asked. By promoting a wide variety of political causes and actions, we aim to tear down the barriers to participation. And by providing the individual human perspective on each cause or action, we encourage others to act.

Our goal is to document the lives and communities of our people, to provide them an opportunity to share their part of the world and the work they do in it, to promote the issues they're most concerned with. We will share these stories through video documentaries and promotion of their work on this website, illustrating their connections to each other and to the visitor. In doing so, we intend for everyone to recognize the ties that bind us to one another: a love of friends and family; a respect for one's neighbors; hope, faith and effort we show in closing "the distance between the American promise and American reality."*

*This quote comes from Bruce Springsteen's remarks at the Vote for Change Rally on the Ben Franklin Parkway, October 4, 2008

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