Choose Wisdom. Those words, alongside powerful imagery, have popped up across Rochester as part of a communications campaign created by the Mayor’s Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) and local filmmaker Shabaka Mu Ausar, along with campaign consultant and community leader Amen Imhotep Ptah.
“My team and I hear powerful stories every day, and we need to share their perspectives with people experiencing the same thing across the city,” said Victor Saunders, the City’s Advisor on Violence Prevention. “Many people think they’re alone in their experiences, but they need to know that there are people who understand where they’re coming from, and that help is available."
Saunders said the campaign is designed to help people “Choose Wisdom” ...in hopes that residents will – and spread their own wisdom with the goal of preventing further violence in our neighborhoods.
OVP offers numerous resources including:
Pathways to Peace - a street outreach program which provides support and nonviolent alternatives for youth who are resorting to violence to settle disputes or becoming involved in gangs and drugs;
Reentry Program - which provides critical resources and services necessary to successfully navigate and transition from prison to a life of freedom;
Advance Peace – Peacemaker Fellowship - an urban gun violence disruption strategy that works to end cyclical and retaliatory gun violence by investing in the development, health and wellbeing of young people at the center of the violence crisis;
Rochester Peace Collective - a collaborative effort of currently 20 organizations that guides investments from local funders into innovative and proven programs that work to prevent violent crimes; and
Office of Neighborhood Safety - which serves as a central hub to coordinate a community-wide Violence Reduction Strategy that will guide public and private sector investments in social programs.
The campaign will capture and share the voices of Rochesterians who have grappled with violence and important life choices, elevate awareness of available resources through OVP, and encourage people to get involved to help others.
Watch 30 second Choose Wisdom video below:
As Ptah said in his interview in the OVP short film, “To me, ‘Choose Wisdom’ means to pull from your experiences and use them to your advantage."
The current centerpiece of the campaign’s website is a 3-minute short film created by Mu Ausar, who is well known for his documentary “Young Black Male.”
Mu Ausar is an independent producer, director, writer and editor from Rochester, New York. He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 1999 with a Master of Fine Arts in Film/Video Production. He began UTCHAT VISION in 2000, a production company that produces video content and facilitates courses in multimedia production. Shabaka has more than 23 years of teaching experience in media production from the elementary to the collegiate level, and is an active supporter and volunteer with participants in the Rochester Peace Collective.
Mu Ausar will continue working closely with Saunders and his team to capture and share additional voices, stories, and resources. The website will be continuously updated throughout the coming year.
“Anything that happens in our community is all of our business,” a ROC OVP Video Testimonial shared.